Customer feedback is an immensely helpful tool in creating a product, service or business of value. Customer feedback may be about the experience they have had with the product or service, or their thoughts and ideas on potential offerings. It has been sought out since ancient times as a response by business owners to competitors that arrived in town.
Importance of customer feedback management
The next step from obtaining feedback is customer feedback management. In its absence, a business may be missing out on an opportunity to create real value that reflects both in customer satisfaction as well as in the bottom line.
The practice of customer feedback management is simple to understand. Simply obtaining customer feedback is not enough. The success of a business is driven by refining products or services until customers are a hundred percent satisfied. Businesses need to listen objectively and have systems in place to act on customer feedback.
In this article, we discuss the seven key best practices for incredible customer feedback management:
- Actively seek out feedback – Gather customer feedback at every opportunity. Every interaction is an opportunity to find out what could have been done better. Enlist customers in the growth of the business. Real time customer feedback is extremely valuable for making quick changes that create value. Both good and bad feedback should be actively solicited. Bad feedback may be unpleasant to hear but is essential for growth. Technology can be leveraged to aid in customer feedback management efforts.
- Centralized system – Even with multiple channels of feedback, collected information should be transferred to a centralized database, making it easier to organize and act on. By consolidating all data in a single place, organizational participants are able to harness the power of technology to understand trends in customer needs and gain insight into what customers need.
- Define objectives – Before setting up a customer feedback management system, a business must know why they are collecting feedback and how they will use it. Not all feedback is particularly valuable and objective metrics for evaluating ideas need to be set up. Feedback has organization-wide relevance and should not be restricted to the product development team. What customers think should have an impact on the way employees carry out their work. Online retailer Amazon, for example, requires that every employee spend two days at the customer service desk every year, so they can hear what customers are saying and understand how issues are resolved. Customer feedback should be circulated within the organization.
- Make it easy for customers – When gathering feedback, keep in mind that the process should be made convenient for the customers first, and then the business. Customers are connected to the business through multiple channels: phone, e-mail, websites, social media, and more. Having multiple channels to gather feedback ensures that a business covers all its bases and offers a better customer service experience. Feedback forms should be short and easy to complete. Incentives can be offered for providing feedback like discounts or freebies. These measures also act as encouragement to customers to provide feedback.
- VOC program – Build a Voice-of-the-Customer (VOC) program to gather and act on feedback. Having a program in place also makes feedback management a part of the routine. There should be a continual effort to listen to customers and bring their suggestions into reality. Gathering feedback seasonally is a strategy that fails to account for a crucial characteristic of customer needs: that they are constantly changing. Every interaction should be followed with an exercise of obtaining feedback and passing it on for action. Having a VOC program will facilitate two-way communication for faster and more efficient issue resolution.
- Prompt action – Businesses need to be prepared to respond to feedback immediately. When there is a VOC program in place, the action to be taken and the person responsible for action, are streamlined. Feedback should be quickly analysed, and a decision taken on what to do with the information. Acknowledging feedback with personalized replies, like thanking a customer by name, communicates to customers that their feedback is valuable. The business can set its goals for acknowledging and addressing feedback within a certain amount of time. Negative feedback must be addressed immediately. When a business has a culture of prompt action on feedback, products and services can be constantly refined for customer success.
- Company culture – Paying attention to customer feedback should be part of the corporate culture. Regular meetings on discussing customer perception and customer needs can be held. An incentive program for employees can encourage this aspect of the corporate culture. At the meetings, employees who display positive characteristics can be rewarded under the incentive program. This will encourage other employees to do similar good work. Examples of how the organization has used customer feedback to improve their products can also be discussed.
Directly seeking out feedback from customers and having protocols in place to act on it is the smartest way to grow. In our highly competitive world with companies like helpscout, businesses should make use of the most valuable source of insight they have, which is their customers.