We’ve entered a new age of business. No longer does price or quality alone dictate a business’s success. Today’s deciding factor? Customer experience. Exponential increases in the availability of technology mean that customers face more choice than ever before—and more access to information about your business. Every single interaction a customer has with your business can be written about online, shared on social media, and spread by friends and family. Thankfully, customers are willing to pay a premium for the right customer experience. It’s mission-critical to your organisation’s success that the customer experience is managed well. And you know what they say… You can only manage what you measure.
Opening the door to feedback can be a daunting process. No one enjoys those conversations with customers where you leave feeling embarrassed, demoralised, and frustrated. Feeling like that’s all feedback is? This couldn’t be further from the truth…
For decades, mystery shopping has been the industry-standard form of gathering customer feedback and customer-centric businesses have relied on it to get insights into their customers’ experiences. Engage a third-party provider, they send in undercover customers, you find out everything you need to know about the customer experience and keep an eye on your staff at the same time… sounds great, right? Unfortunately, it’s not quite as clear-cut as that – not only is this old-school approach ineffective for judging customer experience, it could even be considered borderline unethical in today’s business environment. But why?
In the past, when you’ve wanted to know what your customers think, you would have generally gone straight to a market research team. They would have talked to 20 or 30 of your customers, or sent out an in depth survey that would take your customers 10 or 20 minutes to complete. From there, you’d get a comprehensive report some four to six months after bringing them on, ready with your customer’s thoughts on your business.
Fairly obviously, we’re big believers in the power of customer feedback. If you want to be truly customer-centric, then knowing what your customers actually think is vital. But if you’ve never asked for feedback before, then it may not be immediately clear how it fits into your business.
Getting instant, actionable feedback doesn’t have to be complicated – it can be incorporated into existing channels and processes to enable you to gather the most insights possible. Below, we’ve outlined how the feedback process works – and it can easily fit into your business.
Have you ever gone into a store or business and wished you could give feedback but just find it’s too hard? Giving it in person seems a bit daunting (96% of us won’t do it), or you have to find the feedback link buried on their website or even find the phone number to call them up. All of which are inconvenient and take too much time (unless you REALLY have something you want to get off your chest). So why do we make it so hard for our customers to give feedback? And how could we be making it easier?
Everyone makes decisions based on instincts. And everyone makes decisions based on experience. But the truly effective businesses are the ones that make decisions based on cold, hard facts. The reality is “Fact beats opinion every time”.
We believe it comes down to customer accountability. If your business is fully focused on the customer, then it makes sense to seek out data about them, and, in particular, seek out their own feedback to discover what they want. That enables you to make decisions that are based on what truly matters – what your customers want and don’t want.
So how can using data from validated, instant feedback allow you to make better decisions?
You’re in a shop and you experience some brilliant customer service; the staff go above and beyond to help you. When you leave the store, what do you do? You might walk away satisfied – you may make a repeat purchase or even tell one or more of your friends about the experience, but it’s unlikely you’ll let the company know what a great job they did.
If you’ve had a bad experience? That’s another story. 96% of people who have had a bad experience are don’t tell the company and research suggests they tell up to 8 or more people about it – friends, family, but not the company in question. Social media can make that number hundreds or even thousands!
When businesses are used to only hearing that negative feedback, it’s understandable that opening the door to feedback can be a daunting prospect. So if your experience is that customers are more likely to complain than compliment, then it is understandable that you would question why you would even ask for feedback?
It can be easy to get caught up with all the different theories and perspectives of how to run a business – and what opportunities you should pursue and implement for your own organisation. Devouring and implementing too many “best practises” can often cause a swinging pendulum scenario, where you swing from one extreme to the next with no real understanding of the implications of what you are doing.
I recently heard an interview with a business owner who made a comment that “if you don’t have repeat customers you don’t have a sustainable business”. While this isn’t strictly true, it does point out that any business striving to achieve truly sustainable growth should, at their core, value existing customers.