Virtually every business collects customer feedback, or at least offers a way for customers to provide their feedback on a job well done…or done badly. But how many companies actually use this valuable data in a meaningful way to make their future customer experiences — and their businesses overall — better? Possibly fewer than you might think. It’s the reason why proper use of metrics such as Customer Effort Score (CES) can be such a game-changer when done correctly.
According to Gartner research analysts, 95% of companies gather feedback from their customers. However, while that might sound promising, only a miniscule 10% of these use the feedback to get better, and only half of those — a measly 5% — inform customers about the changes they’re making in response to feedback.
That’s bad news. Customer feedback is a direct channel of communication between a business and their customer. Furthermore, the feedback comes from the ideal source: A party that’s interested in your goods or services (otherwise they wouldn’t be a customer or potential customer), but probably isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.
How should companies respond to customer feedback for maximum benefit? Here are some key suggestions.
Thank customers for their feedback
The only obligation a customer has to your business is to pay whatever sum you set in exchange for your offered goods or products. Feedback is therefore an example of customers going above and beyond what is required of them. That’s true even if they’re contacting you to complain about something that failed to measure up to their expectations.
You should show appreciation for the customers who provide feedback, with personalized responses that address their points. If they’ve left positive feedback, you can use your response to show that your company values its customers, which will cement whatever positive impact your service has already made. If the feedback is negative, your response — and, in particular, the way you link feedback to proactive changes you will make — can help mitigate the bad experience on the part of the customer. A bad experience is never ideal, but showing that you run a business which listens to its customers is important. Do not be afraid to apologize.
Share feedback with your team
Gartner’s statistic about companies not informing customers about the changes they make in response to feedback is questionable. But not properly sharing feedback with your team is downright egregious. Good customer feedback can be a major motivator to your team, letting them know that their hard work isn’t in vain. Depending on the industry (and this effect has only increased during the pandemic), face-to-face interactions with customers may not happen that much. Sharing a report about how a particular bit of customer service made a positive impact on a customer, and potentially transformed them into a loyal recurring customer, is a great way of spurring your team to continue living up to these high standards.
When feedback is positive, do your best to single out particular team members in your praise. Not only will this make them feel good, it should get other team members to look and see what their colleague is doing so right. When it’s negative feedback, that is equally important to share — although make sure that it is presented in a way that allows employees to learn from it, and do things better in the future.
Having large quantities of feedback is great. But it needs to be in a format that’s not only consistent and understandable, but also actionable when it comes to making changes. Customer Effort Score (CES) is a useful customer service metric designed to measure customers’ experience with a particular service or predict, and their overall interaction with a business or organization. It asks customers to rank experiences on a seven-point scale from “Very Easy” to “Very Difficult.” Smart technologies such as Sentiment Analysis tools can further help unpick this data so that companies can better use it to make proactive decisions.
Solve the issues
This is, ultimately, what it’s all about. There is no point in gathering customer feedback if it is not going to be proactively used to make your business better. By following the steps above, you can motivate your employees, and ensure that the data you’re gathering from customers is in a format that offers the maximum opportunity to action it. After that, you need to ensure that you make changes and tweaks to reflect common pain points in the user journey experienced by your customers.
No business is perfect and not every customer experience is going to be optimal — but when there are clear trends that emerge about repeated issues, you need to be willing to make those changes. Tools like CES should make it more straightforward to determine how to act on certain issues, who should be in charge of these changes, and how quickly they need to be made.
Finally, while business owners might be skeptical that the public are interested in these internal changes, they are important to be open about. Nothing speaks more loudly about the values and ethics of a company than one that is constantly striving to better itself. By being transparent about listening to customers, businesses also invite more feedback in the future — allowing the improvement cycle to continue.