Every businessperson worth his or her salt understands why it’s crucial to keep tabs on the way that customers are responding to your products and services. In fact, in today’s extremely competitive market environment, it’s more important than ever to remain actively engaged with your client base. Whether feedback is positive or negative, your willingness to recognize it and respond proactively can help transform one-time buyers into loyal lifelong clients.
However, despite the importance of tracking customer responses, the challenge of developing an accurate, reliable system for gathering and responding to feedback can often be more difficult than it may sound. In most cases, experts say that only the buyers at both extremes of the satisfaction spectrum are motivated to spend the time and trouble necessary to make their opinions known.
So how do you make sure that your firm can benefit from the full range of customer responses? What kind of customer feedback should you seek out, and how best to respond to it? Here are a few tips, ideas, and guidelines to help you tap into this valuable data source and make the most of it.
Establish several “streams” of customer satisfaction data. According to the leading customer satisfaction gurus, the most effective systems are those that collect data both formally and informally. In other words, it can be helpful to maintain a log of your customers’ off-the-cuff suggestions and responses in addition to your collection of more “official” types of feedback, such as surveys or formal complaints.
Develop both ongoing and periodic feedback collection systems. Many firms that conduct a once-a-year survey think that they’ve got customer satisfaction covered, but experts say that this “snapshot” approach often does not convey the whole picture. While annual survey campaigns are often very helpful, don’t neglect to create a system for constant feedback, such as setting up a comment form on your company website.
Use separate categories to track customer preferences. Although any customer feedback is beneficial, you can get the most out of your data by tracking it in several distinct categories. A small mom ‘n’ pop shop is unlikely to use the same rubric and metrics to rate your products and services as would a large corporate client, so try to take the source into consideration when you’re analyzing your customer satisfaction data.
Actively solicit new ideas and suggestions for improvement. Believe it or not, your customers can be a very important source of business intelligence. Their unique perspective allows clients to generate out-of-the-box ideas for improving service quality and expanding your offerings in ways you might never have imagined.
Act on what you learn. All the customer satisfaction data in the world won’t be able to help your business if you don’t translate what you’ve learned into actionable results. Keep tabs on customer responses, take note of trends and recurring themes, and adjust your practices and policies accordingly. After all, the customer is always right!
How does your firm collect and track customer satisfaction? Let us know in the comments.