Optimize Your Feedback Loop: Grow Your Business by Embracing Your Biggest Critics

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Bill Gates famously said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Why? The biggest complaints can give you the best insights into where your business needs to improve. By strategically embracing feedback as part of your customer experience strategy, you can build stronger relationships with your most valued customers while simultaneously making improvements that will have a long-lasting positive impact on your business.

In this article, we will review the best ways to optimize your feedback loop so that you can create a culture of feedback that helps your business grow.

Drive feedback through internal channels

Many businesses rely on online reviews as their primary source of customer feedback. While a great source of information, this channel also broadcasts the complaints from your most dissatisfied customers, thus damaging your reputation. Research has shown that one negative review can turn away up to thirty prospective customers, which means you can calculate the direct damage in dollars for every bad review.

Instead of being reactive when responding to online reviews, be proactive by driving feedback directly from your customers to your business. This allows you to segment your guests into detractors and promoters, and while you certainly want to push your promoters to post online, you want to keep your detractors within your realm so you can address their concerns directly. This also allows you to strengthen your relationship with your detractors, so not only are you learning about your biggest friction points, but you can recover from service failures that arise in your business.

Use service recovery to turn your critics into fans

The recovery paradox shows that effective complaint resolution can lead to satisfaction levels from dissatisfied customers even higher than customers who are satisfied. This means that complaints must be embraced, not avoided, to manage your customer experience effectively. There are several methods for service recovery, one of them being the LAST model, which has proven effective in a wide variety of service recovery scenarios of all scopes and sizes.

This often requires a mindset shift within organizations that strive for 100% satisfaction scores and no complaints. A business that receives no complaints does not mean that they are delivering 100% satisfaction… it means that their customers aren’t speaking up. Studies have shown that less than 4% of dissatisfied customers complain. Hence, the more complaints you get, the more you learn about your customer experience and the more data you can gain for your business intelligence.

Use the data to gain intelligence

The external actions of your customer feedback strategy are all about strengthening the relationship with your customers. The internal actions are about compiling the information and extracting meaningful data that guides your decisions. One complaint on its own is exactly that: one complaint. In the grand scheme, you shouldn’t make major business changes based on one customer’s opinion. But as they add up… that’s where you’ll find aggregated quantifiable demand. Divide your feedback into the most critical areas of your customer experience, such as:

  • Price and value
  • Safety and security
  • Cleanliness
  • Service and friendliness
  • Product quality

Look at all of your customer feedback over consistent blocks of time. Consider everything: the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you take a one-month snapshot, for instance, you can compile all the data together and see what rises to the surface. By doing this, you gain the intelligence that can drive your decisions toward addressing the most pressing friction points.

Improve the most pressing friction points

By compiling the data, you now know what the biggest issues are that must be fixed quickly before they continue to damage the customer experience. The problem that most organizations take, however, is that they treat the solution as if it’s the opposite of the problem. Customers complaining that your prices are too high? Lower your price. Food is taking too long? Hire more kitchen staff. Customer service rep was rude? Fire the team member and replace them.

The problem is that none of these are actually solutions. They are simply bandages over a larger problem that influences customers’ perceptions. Rather than solving the problem, focus on altering the perceptions. When hotels receive complaints that the elevators are too slow, instead of investing in technology to accelerate the speed of the elevators, they put mirrors in the elevator hall and see their guest complaints drop drastically. Why? Because now they’re so focused on looking at themselves that they forget how long the elevator is taking.

Review the impact of your actions

By this point, you’re driving feedback internally, resolving service failures, gathering data, and improving. This final step is where you truly achieve the optimal feedback loop. If you are reviewing aggregate data in consistent blocks of time, such as monthly, you can review the direct results from your actions after you begin making improvements. Are your scores improving? Do you have a new biggest friction point to resolve?

The biggest takeaway from this fifth step is that the work is never complete… and that’s a good thing. Customer feedback can and should be regularly driving the growth of your business. Allow every customer to provide feedback, not just during peak times of business or at random. Strengthen your customer relationships and prioritize your efforts around the biggest friction points. You will see your satisfaction continually grow, which leads to a stronger reputation and overall customer lifetime value.

For more information, check out this free webinar, hosted by ROLLER, on leveraging sentiment data to drive business growth.

Josh Liebman
Josh Liebman is the Guest Experience Evangelist for ROLLER, the modern all-in-one venue management software for the leisure and attractions industry. Josh specializes in guest experience, including hospitality standards, complaint resolution, and guest feedback. Josh’s role with ROLLER includes hosting The Guest Experience Show, which covers industry insights, operating strategies, and advice on how to grow your business by focusing on delivering an amazing guest exp

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