The Customer Experience Benchmarking Series: Tracking, Sharing, Acting on Feedback - What Does Maturity Look Like?
Here at AskNicely, we believe that service businesses who invest in their frontline teams experience higher levels of customer satisfaction, retention and profit. To put our belief to the test, we partnered with research and strategic advisory firm, Metrigy, to conduct a one-of-a-kind study that analyzed over 200 service businesses across the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany. The survey is unique in that no other study has been conducted at this level to tie investments in frontline workers to improvements in business outcomes. Read more about the study here.
The results from the State of Frontline Work study have allowed us to solidify what leading service businesses are doing to excel in customer experience, and create a benchmarking framework to help service brands measure up.
Service businesses live or die on their customer experience. You don’t return to a mechanic because you love the car parts they used, you return because of the friendly service, quick turnaround times and easy booking system. You don’t necessarily rebook a with a cleaning company because you like the cleaning products, you rebook because the cleaning is done to an immaculate standard and you’ve built a rapport with the team of cleaners. The experience is what makes you want to come back for more and refer your friends (or run for the hills and find another provider).
A perfect customer experience, though, is formed through the careful collection and action upon customer feedback. Without it, you’re left guessing what your customers find valuable, and risk missing the mark. Customer feedback is your fuel, the food source for not only improving your customer experience, but growing your business as a whole.
The catch is, just collecting feedback won’t get you very far. How and when you capture customer sentiment, and how you use it is what really matters. We know from the State of Frontline study, that service businesses with the highest levels of feedback mastery see dramatic increases in employee efficiency, customer satisfaction and revenue improvement. In this day and age, how you collect and use feedback will determine your level of growth and success.
So where do you sit on the spectrum of feedback mastery? Read on to find out.
On the lowest end of the customer feedback spectrum, is the Rookie. These businesses have no formal mechanisms in place to collect or act on customer feedback. Surprisingly, or perhaps worryingly, 17.2% of service businesses in the study make up this segment. When you consider that service businesses live and breathe on their customer experience, you’d think gaining customer insights would be made more of a priority, but as it turns out, a large proportion of brands are still relying on unsolicited comments or no feedback at all.
What are the repercussions?
A Lack of Understanding About Customers
A lack of feedback generally equates to a poor understanding of your customer. The more insights you have, the better you can fine-tune the experience to meet their needs and expectations. Personalization is becoming evermore important to today’s customers, since 66% of them expect businesses to understand their unique wants and needs. Without feedback, personalization is near impossible.
Products and Services Don’t Line Up with Customer Needs
Without proper feedback tools, you don’t have data-driven results on who your customer is and what they care about. You're at the whim of your gut feeling on who your customers are and what they want, which negatively impacts the success of new product developments and marketing campaigns.
Customers Don’t Feel Valued
When someone asks your opinion on something, it makes you feel like your voice is valued. But when no one asks your opinion on anything, it’s easy to feel undervalued. A Microsoft study found that 77% of customers view a brand more favorably if they proactively accept customer feedback. Creating customer feedback channels strengthens customer relationships and builds trust. So without it, you lose out.
Your Frontline is Lost
Feedback should guide business decisions, and it should also guide the frontline. Part of delivering an experience that resonates is knowing what customers value the most. For example, customers might value a feeling of belonging when joining a fitness program whereas others would value the therapeutic value of exercising itself. When your frontline knows these nuances, the quality of their customer service will increase.
The good news, if you’re collecting some form of customer feedback, even if it’s infrequent, then you’re one step ahead of the 17% of other service businesses. Meet the Apprentice. The Apprentice makes up 31.1% of service businesses, who collect customer feedback infrequently. Their methods include sending out a survey once in a while, or occasionally holding a focus group.
What The Apprentice Is Gaining:
While it’s not an ideal scenario, collecting some customer feedback helps you gain a deeper understanding of your customers than the Rookie. Perhaps you have data sets on specific topics, e.g you may have sent out a survey asking which service your customers like the most and why. This data, although not completely substantial, is certainly better than nothing.
What The Apprentice Is Missing Out On:
The main downfall of irregularly collecting customer feedback on a reactive basis is that by the time you collect and analyze the feedback, the results are often obsolete. Customers' expectations and needs are rapidly changing, so if you were to send out a survey asking which service customers like the best, by the time you’ve collected the feedback, customer preferences could have changed.
A company that knows the highs and lows of being an Apprentice is New Zealand Home Loans (NZHL). Prior to using AskNicely, it would take NZHL up to three months for meaningful feedback to reach NZHL’s frontline. By the time the frontline did receive feedback they “had already lost the chance to follow up or solve the issue”. However, after connecting feedback to their frontline in real-time, the company saw dramatic improvements, including a 7x increase in referrals. Read how NZHL went from being an Apprentice to a Master of Feedback here.
The Seasoned Pro
When you’ve reached this stage, you’re comfortably ahead of the pack and sit amongst the 35.4% of businesses who regularly collect customer feedback, and track ratings at a company or team level.
What The Seasoned Pro Is Gaining:
The Seasoned Pro has a strong understanding of who their customers are, and how to meet their needs, expectations and preferences. At the lower end of the Seasoned Pro, companies are tracking customer feedback ratings on a company level, and review results monthly. At the higher end, companies are tracking ratings at a team level, and reviewing results weekly. Either way, the Seasoned Pro is receiving a regular influx of customer feedback, that is shared weekly or monthly with teams responsible for customer experience.
What The Seasoned Pro Is Missing Out On:
Although the Seasoned Pro is doing a pretty good job at collecting and sharing customer feedback, it’s not good enough to win on customer experience. To do so, the Seasoned Pro must collect feedback in real time, use that feedback to coach frontline teams and set up clear workflows to act on the feedback while it’s hot. The Seasoned Pro is missing out on the meaningful actions that arise from customer feedback, that ultimately work to improve the customer experience and increase repeat business and referrals.
As Julie Gessin, VP of Operations at Schweiger Dermatology Group says “your feedback is only as good as your ability to act on it”.
Beyond following up and talking to customers, utilizing feedback to coach your frontline teams and guide your wider business strategy is what will set you apart from your competition. Which brings us to the highest level of feedback maturity…
Full Feedback Mastery
Just 16.3% of surveyed businesses demonstrate full maturity in feedback mastery. These businesses not only collect customer feedback in real time and connect it directly to their frontline teams, but have mechanisms in place to act on the feedback, start meaningful coaching conversations and learn from it rapidly to guide wider business strategy.
These companies see dramatic impacts on employee experience, customer experience and a company's bottom line. Specifically, 41% greater revenue improvement, 68% greater employee efficiency improvement, and a massive 105% greater customer satisfaction improvement.
Want to read about Master’s of Feedback in action?
Check out some of our customer stories here:
How Do You Measure Up?
Shockingly, only 53.5% of companies surveyed collect feedback regularly, and 22.1% of service businesses don’t collect feedback at all. This leaves a substantial blindspot for a large swathe of companies who rely on positive customer sentiment to grow.
When it comes to the type of feedback collected, only 16.3% meet the Customer Experience Maturity Model’s definition of mastery – tracking ratings at the team and individual level, in real time.
Mastering these four areas often requires significant business change, which means making a strong business case. To help you along that journey, AskNicely offers free benchmarking, where you can map your business alongside the results of this study, and suggest next steps to get the biggest impact for your efforts.