When it comes to improving the overall customer experience for your brand (and subsequently your profitability and ROI in the long term), you'll want to start by understanding your customers first. Gathering and analysing your customer feedback—for example, through an online survey—is an ideal place to start understanding the voice of your customers.
Monitoring your brand presence in the market is another great way to gather customer feedback, measure customer experience and sentiment, and identify where improvements are needed.
If you’re still on the fence about why improving the customer experience is important, consider this: customer experience drives sales for both transaction based and membership based businesses. Research shows that customers who had the best experiences with a company spend 140 per cent more than those who had the poorest experiences.
1. Go for the customer-centric approach
Analysing your customer feedback is a great way to know where the gaps in your business are. There is no hiding from customer feedback that highlights the flaws in your customer service and experience.
Remember, your customers want to be heard and respected and to know that their feedback is incorporated into your business plan. The most effective customer feedback strategies are intuitive, and work at their best when the whole company listens and effectively responds to the voice of the customer.
Making customer-centricity the end goal for your entire business means that you have a greater chance of achieving your business goals.
2. Establish the “why”
Before getting on the survey bandwagon, establish what your business goals are. Why do you need this data and what are you going to do with it? How will you ensure that your business is makes the most of this valuable feedback?
Often, the main objective is to facilitate communication between the business and the customer. Many businesses are online these days, which makes communicating with customers directly and getting their a challenge. A survey can help address this problem.
Other common “whys” include:
- To measure customer loyalty.
- To get insights for new product development.
- To identify and understand gaps in the business.
- To gauge how effective the company's customer service is.
3. Master the timing
Establishing when it's the right time is to gather feedback can be tricky. There are some best practice pointers though, which are:
- The less invasive the better. Don’t bombard your customers. If you ask them for feedback as soon as they click on your homepage, they may be put off and leave. A natural time to ask for feedback is in a follow up email after they've made a purchase or via a quick poll if they have spent a significant amount of time on your website.
- Do it regularly. For customer feedback to be effective and provide you with enough data to measure patterns over time, you need to conduct a survey at least twice a year.
- Leverage loyal customers when they return. If your goal is to grow your loyal customer base, identify who your current loyal customers are and when they return, ask them why they did.
4. Think about the execution
There are a lot of ways to collect customer feedback, and the most effective customer experience strategies often use more than one approach. Here are a few of the most common:
- Customer-facing staff. This approach revolves around creating a culture where your employees are always listening. Giving them power to act on the feedback is essential as it allows them to add more value to the customer feedback process.
- Hire a third-party customer feedback provider. Many companies choose to hire a third-party provider to collate unbiased feedback. These providers are highly specialised and can design customer surveys that strategically meet your business's objectives. Moreover, many do more than simply gather and analyse your customer feedback, they can also provide meaningful insights about your customers.
Here at Perceptive, our Customer Monitor programme does all of the above, plus the following:
- Customer feedback tools. Using an advanced online tool can help you monitor feedback in real-time and gather your data in multiple ways. For example it can be a poll on your website, an email newsletter or an online survey.
Online surveys are the preferred method because as they are the most cost-effective and efficient means of collating data quickly. Additionally, using an online survey means you don’t have to worry about human error from a surveyor keying in data over the phone.
- Listen in. Something you can start doing on your own is to listen to your customers on social media; Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are the most common channels.
Lastly, no matter what strategy you use to gather feedback, always remember to thank your customers for their time. Even if their feedback is negative—it may even provide some of your greatest insights.
5. Leverage your results
Once you've received feedback, use it. If you don’t take action on the feedback, you might as well not have surveyed your customers in the first place. Your customers have taken the time to provide you these insights, doing nothing with them broadcasts that your business doesn't care about their opinion. Customers who believe a company will take action based on their feedback feel better about the company and are more likely to respond to surveys.
Always distribute feedback
Customer feedback is not just for management—everyone in the company stands to benefit from it. Therefore, upon getting your results, distribute the feedback throughout the company to make sure everyone hears the voice of the customer loud and clear. Most importantly, make sure your staff know how the business plans to act upon it. This will trickle back to your customers and if they know that you're listening, they’ll see you as responsive to their concerns and willing to make important changes.
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