Why Collecting Customer Feedback Isn’t Enough
If you have mechanisms in place to regularly collect customer feedback, congrats - you’re already one step of a large majority of service businesses (around 50% according to the latest research by Metrigy). But don’t get the champagne out just yet. Your work here is not done, in fact, it’s only just begun. As Trevor Flegenheimer, Director of Customer Success at Zego points out, while feedback itself is important, it’s what you do with customer feedback that counts.
He says “While the survey itself is important, I would argue following up on each response is more important. Talking to customers to get the input behind their score can reap far more benefits than the number itself.”
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.
Collecting without Acting
Working with feedback is like a game of hot potato: you’ve got to be quick, efficient and pass it on to the right person, otherwise, you end up getting burnt. You’d think that, in a business model that relies so heavily on experience, service brands would be nailing it when it comes to feedback mastery. But reality is, only 16.3% of service brands are making the most out of their customer feedback, connecting it to the right teams and setting up workflows to act on it.
What are the repercussions of collecting without acting?
- Results lose impact.
When your business receives constructive feedback, you want to act quickly, when the feedback is still useful and relevant. If you take too long to analyze customer feedback, trends and research questions you wanted to answer, the results quickly become obsolete. Let’s say you're a wellness clinic offering a range of beauty treatments, skincare packages and massages (sign us up). You send out a large customer survey to better understand why customers love the most popular treatment so much. But by the time you’ve analyzed all the data, or better yet, made time to act on it – your customers have their eyes on a new treatment. The feedback you’ve gathered has become irrelevant and you’ve got to start the survey process again. This dangerous cycle leads to a surplus of customer feedback and a shortage of meaningful action.
On the other hand, if you collect quick snippets of feedback on every customer interaction, every day, you can keep your finger on the pulse. More importantly, your customer facing teams can get direct line of sight on what they’re doing well, in real-time. Do customers like your greeting style? Were they annoyed that you didn’t tell them you were running late? Did they love how an issue was resolved?
People learn best when feedback is specific, and immediate. If you wait to analyze customer feedback, and hand it back to your people in a large, generalized hunk of company-wide memos, you’ve achieved next to nothing.
- No real-time action = no real solutions.
If you keep collecting feedback without acting on it, no real solutions are ever reached. Let’s say you want to learn more about the reasons for customer churn. You send out a survey that asks customers who opt out of your business why they decided to do so. You gain a variety of reasons, great! The issue? They’ve already left. The damage has already been done, which creates a tidal wave of far-reaching consequences. Alternatively, collecting and acting on feedback in real-time helps you solve customer problems before they even come into fruition.
Someone who has experienced this first hand, is Chris Wong from New Zealand Home Loans (NZHL). Prior to using AskNicely, it would take up to three months for meaningful feedback to reach the frontline. He explains that by the time the frontline received feedback, they “had already lost the chance to follow up or solve the issue”.
The saying “the future is now” feels out of date these days. The truth is, the future was yesterday. Clunky, manually managed surveys make it harder to follow up on customer problems in real-time. And in this fast-paced world where coffee runs hot, and everyone wants immediate answers, not solving customer problems quickly can mean losing them for good.
- Losing leads and recommendations.
On the other hand, action doesn’t have to start with customer issues or negative feedback. Positive customer feedback and praise presents an opportunity to strengthen your customer relationships through upsells, referral requests and rewards. After having a positive customer experience, consumers are 52% more likely to make an additional purchase. Yet, if you don’t use the opportunity to interact with customers when they’re feeling the most impressed, you’ll likely lose out. Catching your customers while they’re riding a high is crucial for referral requests and driving brand advocacy. NZHL found that customers pleased with their services would recommend others in need of a home loan. But by the time NZHL got around to following those leads, they had already found another home loan provider.
What did they do to fix it? Find out how Chris and his team uncovered the power of fast feedback loops here.
- Customers get bored, or worse frustrated.
Finally, when you keep sending out requests to gain customer feedback, without acting on it - customers get bored, or worse, frustrated. Think of it like this: you’re sitting around a staffroom and the boss asks you what facilities you’d really like to have. You say, a new microwave, as the current one doesn’t work properly. The boss says “great!”, but never installs a new microwave. Now imagine having that meeting ten more times, with the same outcome. Eventually, your opinion feels unvalued, you get bored, and stop turning up to the meetings. When it comes to feedback, you have a short window of opportunity. Use it wisely. Ask the right questions, and act on the answers, before your customers stop showing up too.
All in all, these repercussions emphasize that surveys don’t drive business results. It gets the car started, but to get it moving on the road to success, you need to share feedback with the right teams and set up workflows to act on that information.
The Solution: Collecting, Sharing AND ACTING on Feedback
Enough about the problems. Let’s talk solutions. How can we make the most of customer feedback?
Make It Real-Time ⏳
The benefits of real-time feedback and interactions with clients are boundless. Real-time feedback is proactive, not reactive. Meaning you're dealing with problems as they happen instead of after they’ve been and gone. Customer churn is avoidable by 67% if an issue is solved during the first engagement.
Streamline & Coach 🏊♀️
Short, simple, streamlined surveys conducted after an interaction always win over long, complex ones at a set time. In his presentation at the Global Frontline Experience Summit, Ethan Andelman, Chief Marketing Officer of Lendmark, mentions getting massive intel out of 20 seconds of a customer’s time, which he calls “20 seconds of magic”. Many argue about what the right number of questions is, but really, all you need is two questions: “How likely are you to recommend this service to family or friends?” and “Why?”
Once you’re receiving streamlined feedback in real-time, the next step is to use it to coach your frontline teams. Using generalized coaching is like coaching a gymnast on what their teammates aren’t doing well. While some of it might be vaguely useful context, it doesn’t actually make any tangible impacts. To create change, the gymnast needs to be given personalized coaching that is unique to them. Same goes for your frontline teams. Effective training is about reinforcing service standards over time, in a way that is personalized to the needs of each person being trained.
Set Up For Action ✅
Feedback is dynamic and quick. You won’t get a speeding ticket for getting feedback too quickly, but you will suffer for acting too slowly. It’s all about the action and having a flowing rhythm so that customers and the frontline can keep on the beat. This is where workflow management comes in handy. Workflows empower the frontline to immediately take action on customer feedback through automated triggers and advanced alerting. Remember: feedback needs to be easily accessible to all relevant members of a team.
Of the best in class service brands (the top 16.3% who are regularly tracking, sharing and acting on feedback), well, the results speak for themselves. These business see:
- 41% increase in revenue improvement
- 68% increase in employee efficiency improvement
- 105% customer satisfaction improvement
Let Feedback Determine Your Strategy
Having the ability to act on feedback, fix customer problems in real time and ask for referrals will get your brand 10 steps ahead of your competitors. Beyond that though, using feedback to coach your employees and guide your wider business strategy is when the real magic happens. When you can use customer feedback to guide your business strategy, you simultaneously create a customer-obsessed culture whereby everything you do, truly serves your customers. It means better product and service developments, more impactful customer relationships, a better employee experience and ultimately a growing, loyal customer base.
At the end of the day, feedback doesn't really matter until you do something with it. And what you do with it, can seriously put you ahead of your competitors, creating big shifts in revenue, employee efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Ready to start driving action? Book an AskNicely demo.
Want to dive further into the stats? Get the full scoop on the State of Frontline Work here.