How much feedback does your organisation receive from your customers? Of course, some of it’s free, some you do need to invest time and money in order to receive it. The sheer volume sometimes makes us overwhelmed, but that no longer needs to be the case. With an effective customer experience management framework in place, your feedback won’t decrease. In fact, it will most likely increase. But there will be a way to help you action the feedback. Most organisations spend so much time trying to validate the feedback, which is a fair thing to do. However, validating feedback takes time and is done on the basis of doubting customers. Therefore, the following points will help streamline feedback to work better for your organisation.
1. Listening to customers
Sometimes in our lives we just need someone to lend their ear to us. We get things off our chest and we suddenly feel much better. It can be about a complicated problem or even about the good parts of a work day. The point is we need to be listened to. Customer feedback operates in exactly the same way, but too often we think that the feedback will all be negative. Sometimes it will be, but sometimes it will be positive. Whilst we want to try to increase the positive feedback, research has shown that minimising negative feedback gives organisations a far greater return, suggesting this has a greater bearing in creating customer advocates. But, in this context, I want to talk about its relationship to the organisational culture. The attitudes that are developed through the employee experience are assisted by the flow of customer feedback, which is cascaded and reported back to each and every team member on the frontline. Internal communication plans such as these demonstrate to customers that there is a full loop with their feedback and it will be listened to.
2. Insights from customers
As we interact with our customers we continually receive feedback. Sometimes this is anecdotal, whilst other times it can be formally given verbally and even formally given in written form. The point in this example is to look for actionable insights that we can get from this customer feedback. Some of it will be glaringly obvious and, in some cases, it might be a little hard to find. Looking for insights is often overlooked when organisations simply try to validate feedback rather than seeing what they can learn from it. This is only one part as, by this stage, the feedback is already lagging and there is no concrete action that stems from it. The danger here is to collect a list of insights which become so long that even the largest of organisations are unable to action them. Like the term suggests, the point of an insight isn’t to create a list, rather to gain accurate and deeper understanding of what the customer is experiencing. This enables you to deliver on that customer care promise of improvement.
3. Improving with customers
There are many organisations that get so caught up in seeking feedback that they are too overwhelmed to do anything with it. Creating surveys is quite exciting sometimes and we feel that we want to ask everything. Even things that aren’t relevant but are asked out of habit as well as things that aren’t relevant but might be relevant in years to come (at which point the data is outdated and needs to be asked again). Improving with customers is a phase which is all about demonstrating to customers that you want their help to make improvements for their benefit. The desire to do this stems from the customer intelligence that we’ve previously received. It suggests to us that we have things to do, but can’t do alone. When there is a product or service failure, we want to acknowledge it and look for opportunities to demonstrate we are human and recover the customer rather than pretend that it’s not our fault.
4. Planning for customers
Too often, feedback is always reactive. By definition it has to be, but there comes a time where it just looks silly when organisations are always only reacting to customer feedback. Customers will also get the message that the organisation is not obsessed about customer service as they say they are. Organisations that seek for and look at feedback to prevent recurring problems are truly demonstrating that they are focusing on increasing the value for their customers. This feedback is part of the user experience design process as it helps build the overall customer experience ahead of time. Calculated planning is an essential part of business, but it is usually the customer that is left out over other competing and conflicting priorities that come first. Usually this is because there is no customer advocate on the executive team; however, in the absence of one, this key step of planning things for customers can make sure that the customer is always considered.
Chris Smoje is a customer service speaker, trainer, facilitator and founder of the DIME™ Customer Service approach. Chris works with organisations and their people to develop a common interest and excitement about delivering exceptional customer service results: www.dimecustomerservice.com