Without capturing customer feedback, a business will find it difficult to adapt to changing customer needs or be a truly customer-centric company. While that may seem pretty straightforward, there’s more to this concept than you might think.
How do you know what your customers want or need if you don’t ask them? How do you adapt your company and offerings to better serve your customers if you aren’t capturing their voice? If you are building a business by guessing what your customers think or based upon a small handful of customers, then you have a gap between your business and your customers.
Knowing what customers want and expect requires a shift in how your organization handles feedback. You have to provide all the feedback you collect to employees, so they can act upon it. Employees in customer-centric organizations are empowered to solve customer problems, and always consider the effect each decision might have on their customers. By acting upon feedback and making customers feel heard, you will continue to earn their feedback and know how to adapt your business to their needs.
Here are three strategies that every business should keep top of mind when collecting customer feedback and striving to become customer-centric.
Listen to Your Customers for Signals
What’s the best way to know how to improve customer experience and build loyal customers? Ask your customers. Your customer’s feedback is full of signals or ideas for what they want and expect from your company, your product(s) or service(s), and your employees. Don’t just ask customers to provide you with a Net Promoter Score or Customer Satisfaction Score without also providing the opportunity for direct feedback. Ask your customers, in their own words, to describe to you what they like and don’t like, and consider asking customers to optionally respond to additional questions that are more specific to different areas of your business.
Identify the channels where your customers are most likely to engage, and solicit feedback in those same channels. Then ensure that all of your employees are encouraged and rewarded to listen for feedback and act upon that feedback. Customer feedback shouldn’t be the responsibility of just one department. For example, customers will share feedback on social media, which is likely monitored by a marketing team or agency. Whoever is responsible for reviewing social posts should bring that customer feedback to meetings and share it across departments to make an impact. Same with a sales team. As a customer success manager or account manager interacts with customers, they should be recording all of the feedback into their CRM so there is a single source of truth on the customer and their feedback over time.
To reassure customers that you are listening to them, enable all departments and all customer-facing employees to respond quickly to customer concerns and incorporate customer feedback to finetune your offerings, your customer service, or any other aspect of your business. This approach should not be siloed to a single department but your entire organization.
Earn Your Customer’s Feedback
People get tired of providing feedback that seems to end up in a blackhole. It’s an important business goal to elicit customer feedback, whether collected via a survey, a form, a report, a phone call, field data capture or some other means. The problem is that oftentimes these companies don’t know why they’re asking for this feedback or where to put it. It could just be a checkbox exercise and task. And more often than not, companies don’t respond fast enough, which isn’t ideal for a positive customer experience or for staying competitive.
Imagine that you are loyal to a small, local coffee shop. They make great coffee, but their employees are not very friendly. In fact, they are borderline rude. You are part of their loyalty program and you get an email asking for feedback. So, you explain that you enjoy the coffee but are thinking of changing coffee shops because you are tired of dealing with unfriendly employees. After submitting the feedback, you don’t hear anything back, and for the next month, you don’t see anything change. And then you get an email again, asking you to provide feedback. How likely is it that you will take the time to respond? And how much longer will you remain a customer before going to a competitor?
Customer feedback needs to be earned. If you want your customers to continue providing feedback and signals, you have to act upon it. You need to ensure that your customers feel heard and valued. Otherwise, they will stop sharing feedback, you’ll lose signals, and you’ll eventually become so distant from your customers that they will switch to a competitor.
In the example above, the coffee shop should have personally responded to the customer. Then they should have taken a macro look across all of their customer feedback to see if more customers shared the same sentiment about their unfriendly staff. They might uncover the signal that it’s time to work on their customer service in order to drive repeat customers.
This same approach applies to companies of all sizes. Keep earning your customer’s feedback. To help manage larger volumes of feedback, look for solutions that help automate the routing of feedback and get the feedback delivered to the right person so they can respond personally and in a timely manner.
Wire Feedback Throughout the Business
Now that you are listening to your customers for signals and earning their feedback, you need to bring that feedback to the core of your business. This is how you stop guessing what customers are thinking and know what they are thinking. It’s also how businesses can take signals and use them to make both micro and macro changes.
Meet your customers’ growing expectations of hyper-personalized experiences by satisfying it. That’s accomplished by acting upon feedback in real-time as quickly as possible and making sure your customer feels heard. If you’re waiting for a bi-monthly dashboard review or a monthly summary of results before taking action, you may get it right for some customers but at the expense of individuals who have specific requests. By then, you’ll probably have lost them forever.
In addition to making those micro changes to influence the individual customer’s experience, you need to look at feedback in aggregate. If the coffee shop owner sees that many customers have the same feedback on their employees and customer service, they need to make an investment into changing that experience. It could mean investing in some customer service training or bringing in new staff. For larger companies, it could mean making changes to the online buying experience or introducing a new product.
Conclusion: Customer Feedback is Gold (So Treat It as Such)
Your customers’ voices—from feedback, use cases, and personal interactions—provide extremely valuable insights and can make the most impact on your business and long-term growth. Don’t ignore or let those voices and signals gather dust. Let your customers feel heard and continue to earn their feedback over time and build lifelong and loyal relationships with customers.
This approach will put your business on the path to becoming truly customer-centric because you are engaging customers for feedback in the channels that matter to them, capturing valuable feedback, routing the feedback to employees who are empowered to respond and close the loop quickly, and earning more customer feedback while building loyalty.