As a customer, we seem to be surrounded by people asking for feedback.
Some do it quite well, but most do it fairly badly.
And the problem with bad feedback is that it’s usually worse than no feedback at all: this is because:
- It’s incomplete (and therefore misleading)
- It ignores the silent majority
- It doesn’t build customer loyalty
- It detracts from the customer experience
- It gives a false picture of things being better than they really are (most ‘less than delighted’ customers just defect to your competitor and don’t bother to give you any feedback at all).
On top of this, because most systems are so poor, most organisations mistakenly believe that customers ‘don’t care’ or ‘only care about price’: they get increasingly disillusioned with the idea of ‘feedback’ and believe that it’s ‘too hard to get customers engaged’.
They couldn’t be more wrong.
Engaged customers can be seen all over the place: they consistently and continually pay high prices for quality goods and services that are not trendy and generally not heavily advertised. Brands such as Barbour, Tiptree, and Ritz Carlton are poorly advertised yet deliver world class levels of customer loyalty … and profits.
And customers also remain fiercely loyal to online and offline organisations that now dominate their marketplace (like Amazon, Waitrose and Apple).
With bad feedback systems (and lack lustre customer experience) the customer on the other hand becomes more and more frustrated … and in the absence of anyone rising above the sea of mediocrity will definitely shop around on price.
So what are the three essential rules for effective customer feedback, and what can we practically do to crack this problem of perceived customer disinterest?
- Slow Down: See customer feedback as a key valuable process that’s an investment in customer loyalty, customer attraction, reputation and innovation. Put some real budget into encouraging it, asking for it, and making it easy for the customer to give it. Make it clear on everything you do and publish that you REALLY want to hear what the customer has to say, and that you’ll listen and respond to anyone who contacts you. Don’t hide this away: make it a key marketing process: shout it from the rooftops!
- Put a proper marketing budget into a ‘blow their socks off’ response system as the key part of your feedback process: they need to know that you practice what you preach. Slow down and develop great systems (step by step) to immediately acknowledge all feedback, investigate it, respond to it, and close the loop and thank the customer. Gathering feedback well is a start… responding to it effectively is dynamite!
- Engage an external professional adviser and auditor to make sure you’re slowing down, getting this right, auditing your systems, continually improving and keeping on track with this essential area. You cannot afford to get this wrong, and, with respect, in the same way that you can’t audit your own accounts, we suggest that it’s virtually impossible to effectively audit your external feedback and response systems … you need an external perspective to do this properly.
So now you know what the three essential rules for effective customer feedback are, all you have to do is to take some action.
Slow down … stop the daily rush … and spend half an hour getting this off the ground today!