Experts Find that Few Companies Act on Important Customer Suggestions

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In spite of all the emphasis on surveys and marketing research, relatively few companies may actually ever follow through with the studies that they commission. As businesses attempt to deal with smaller budgets as a result of major world events, marketing executives are likely to want to rethink how they’re promoting products.

According to one study, a full 9 out of 10 businesses don’t collect information from every feedback channel. While they maintain a variety of places that customers can use to share their experiences, many firms simply ignore some of these channels.

In other cases, product development managers have simply found that they can’t get customers to ever answer their surveys.

Encouraging Consumers to Provide Feedback

Requesting feedback at the right time is very important, because many consumers will fail to respond to a request for input when they’re already doing something else. Managers who’ve historically been unable to attract customer interest are finding that it’s best to ask customers for feedback immediately after they’ve completed their business transaction. This is especially true of those who conduct surveys over the phone.

Marketing specialists are also finding that consumers might get burned out if they’re asked to respond to too many surveys. Automation tools have encouraged managers to send out more survey requests, but many of these are ignored because they’re sent out too frequently. Simply tweaking the frequency at which these tools send out emails could be enough to increase the response rate.

Even companies that collect feedback from over half of their customers are still struggling to act on it, however. Some telling statistics indicate that most firms do very little to respond to their clients’ needs, which in turn hurts their sales prospects.

Leaving Customer Feedback Data on the Table

Judging by a few industry white papers, around 83 percent of all consumers fill out at least one survey each year but only 1 percent of them ever feel that their expectations are being met. That suggests that most companies don’t bother revising their workflows even if customers raise serious complaints about how they’re being treated.

Some of this might stem from the fact that R&D department staffers expect certain results and stay on a narrow path regardless of what customers might have to say about their preconceived notions. If the numbers don’t fit the facts in these cases, then the researcher and development teams simply change the facts. It’s likely that many people don’t even realize that they’re doing this.

Business owners might also be betting too much on technology. Market research tools are only useful when they’re applied correctly. Investing in too many of these tools simply complicate things and make it more difficult to capture accurate feedback. While it was once believed that social media would replace traditional call centers, we now know that the opposite might very well be true.

Fortunately, this trend is starting to reverse itself. Managers are starting to place higher value on customer feedback than they might have in the past. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re making the most needed changes.

Altering Business Models Based on Customer Feedback

Customer effort might be the most important metric to consider when adjusting a business’ workflows. This measurement reflects how difficult it is for customers to accomplish whatever they set out to do. Retailers, for instance, will ask customers whether they feel it was easy to purchase and return goods. This kind of metric helps managers to see what tasks consumers find difficult.

The more difficult it is to complete a business transaction, the more likely it is that someone will take their money elsewhere. Companies that work to alleviate any challenges that their customers are running into are able to hold onto their clients better. Those that pay attention to feedback regarding specific employees will be in the best position to act, however.

It isn’t enough to merely locate challenging workflows. While nobody wants to discuss employee issues, customers will often make direct complaints about how they were treated during specific transactions. Managers have to act on this kind of feedback to avoid more serious problems in the future.

They’ll also want to consider their sales channels as a whole. Online customer experience is every bit as important as how customers are treated in the physical world. When people repeatedly bring up the same complaints about their online shopping experience, it’s a good idea to make changes.

On the other hand, businesses shouldn’t feel like they need to start making changes simply for the sake of keeping up with certain industry trends. If customers aren’t talking about a certain issue, then they might have no strong feelings toward it at all. Financial and marketing experts agree that it’s more important to address issues that are the subject of frequent complaints than things that might look serious but attract relatively little comment from customers.

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