Do you listen to your customers? Prove it.


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A lot of companies ask their customers for feedback, far fewer prove they actually listen. Sending a survey isn’t the end of the feedback process; it’s the beginning. Show your customers you value their feedback by being accessible, and by taking action to follow-up with them personally.

A great customer experience program captures the voice of customers at every critical touchpoint. That can be at a store, on a website, or as part of call center support. In each case it should be easy for the customer to share feedback. In our experience, that means carefully designing and wording your survey so it is consistent with your brand, cutting out questions that don’t produce business decisions, and being timely.

Building on this last point, surveys need to come as part of an interaction, or minutes thereafter. A powerful channel is mobile—it’s the best means to capture feedback and respond in-the-moment.

Mobile is also a channel where most companies fail to be accessible. Their surveys are intended for desktops and they simply don’t fit mobile devices. Customers have to scroll around their screen to make their selection. It’s frustrating.

Case in point: our clients have an 18% overall drop-off rate. Across every survey we run, 18% of customers start to complete a survey and abandon it before reaching the end. Clients who do NOT have a mobile-specific survey have a mobile drop-off rate of 27% (27% of customers completing the survey on a mobile device drop-off). Clients with a mobile-specific survey have a 10% drop-off rate. When a survey is designed for mobile, people are way more likely to share their feedback.

As we set out at the start, collecting customer feedback does not prove you are listening—you have to take action and follow-up with a customer. Again, mobile can play an important role; your employees should be able to access feedback on their smartphones and tablets, at their fingertips. This means having direct access to an app that can keep them updated through alerts and other data if at-risk situations arise. Being closer to feedback creates service legends that begin to (re)define the company culture.

For example, at one retailer a customer was frustrated with long lines at the cash register. They received a survey invitation moments after completing their purchase and filled it out as they walked out into the mall. The Store Manager received the survey responses on his mobile phone instantly, and called the customer to address the problem. This entire process, from survey to callback took seven minutes. The customer was still in the mall, came back to the store, and became an incredible advocate for the brand. The story is part of new employee training—real-time action proves they listen.

Demonstrating that you’re listening has an important benefit—it encourages customers to provide more feedback. Sending a compliment or complaint into a black hole isn’t very satisfying. When the company cares enough to make feedback easy, then replies with speed and relevance, customers engage more. They can improve your social reputation, or inspire new products and services. That’s the value of listening.

Sam Keninger
Sam Keninger is Head of Product Marketing at Medallia, Inc. The company is the global leader in SaaS-based customer experience management (CEM) and enterprise feedback management (EFM) software, which companies use to capture, understand, and act on customer feedback to make customers happier and increase revenue.


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