(Really) Valuing Customer Feedback

by smartamarketing

Brian Monger

The biggest obstacle to knowing what customers really think about us is fear.

Many fear what their customers will say so the don’t ask and run from real feedback that appears to be critical.  This is very apparent in the way many firms think of  Social Media

We fear they’ll tell us our product stinks, and that we’re horrible people

Yet most organisations never hear that type of painful feedback. Successful organisations with strong word of mouth and customer devotion use customer feedback to drive their marketing strategies, product development and customer service expectations.

The less successful approach is to proactively gathering customer feedback or waiting for it arrive on its own. Research firm TARP has found that for every person who complains, there are 26 who do not. That means if you have 1,000 customers and 100 of them complain, another 260 may have quietly dumped you, never to call again. To know what customers are thinking, you need to ask.

Organisations that operate as feedback machines make improvements to their operations quickly and efficiently.

10 Rules:

1. Believe that customers are not fools and possess good ideas

How often does someone in your organisation respond to an innovative idea by saying, “Our customers don’t want that.” Asking customers to participate in your problem-solving and idea generation is not an act of weakness.

2. Gather customer feedback in every situation and at every opportunity

Every customer interaction is an opportunity for feedback.

3. Focus on continual improvement

As Peter Drucker once said, a business has two purposes: marketing and innovation. Enlist the aid of your highly affiliated, passionate customers to help you improve your business.

4. Actively solicit good and bad feedback

Try asking “what is the one thing you would change or improve about your experience with us or our product?”

5. You do not have to spend a lot of money doing it

Short, regular surveys deliver better response rates and allow you to react rapidly to issues raised. Solve one or two problems at a time, not everything at once. Tell your customers how their feedback directly contributed to your changes.

6. Seek real-time feedback

Call 8-10 customers every day.   (this takes some skills – I can help you get them)

7. Make it easy for customers to provide feedback 

Employ multiple input points: in person, email, Web sites, point-of-purchase cards or receipts, conferences and the telephone.

8. Leverage technology to aid your efforts

Programs like SurveyMonkey.com makes it very easy to gather feedback via a Web-based survey. It (among others) is fast, efficient, and inexpensive. It automatically tabulates data and doesn’t require a techie to launch. Your data is virtually complete within 48 hours of sending customers a link to the survey.

9. Share customer feedback throughout the organisation

Responsibility for customer feedback extends beyond the marketing department. Ensure that everyone in the organisation knows what customers are thinking by sharing customer feedback; product and service decisions will be better informed as a result.

10. Use the feedback to make changes – quickly

You may not be able to move a mountain in a day, but you can make it easier to climb by making a path.