Updated: 2017.02.22 In this article we cover: Why efficient communication is important for business; Typical communication needs of a foodservice company; How a virtual phone system can help small business owners; MightyCall and Homegrown Sustainable Sandwich Shop: user experience A recipe for accessibility: backstage of foodservice business The foodservice industry is one of the most…
5 Ways Successful Businesses Optimize Customer Feedback
Amit Kalantri famously wrote, “Nothing consoles and comforts like certainty does”. While that concept applies to most areas of life, it has quite a special message for business. To feel certain that the product or service you’re offering is exactly what your customers want is one of the most powerful goals a business can have.
Getting customer feedback may sound straightforward: send out a nice email, pop up a 5-star rating box, and voila! you’ve got a review. But let’s step into user shoes for a moment. Let’s remember how often we take it for granted that a product intuitively grasps our needs or is stuffed to the brim with cool features. Or how many polite feedback requests we’ve ignored in the past month. Only then can we understand the limbo which businesses go through to optimize the customer feedback loop.
When you’re on the business end of the interaction, how do you work towards the certainty that you’re putting your best foot forward for your customers? As it turns out, there are several key indicators.
To dive deeper, we talked to five business owners, managers, and specialists in a handful of industries from around the world. Each of their stories comes from a place of deep personal experience.
Here’s what these businesses do differently to get maximum ROI from customer feedback — and what you can start doing today!
1. They project their voice across multiple feedback channels
Company info: OpsRamp | SaaS | California, USA
Any time when you struggle with a substantial amount of ignored feedback requests, it’s time to rethink your customer feedback strategy. The problem is most likely the communication approach, which is not convincing enough to your audience (even if it works for someone else).
Gerardo Rodriguez, Senior Technical Support Manager at OpsRamp, relates how a revamped feedback strategy impacted his company. “Previously, our Customers had a very limited amount of ways they could deliver feedback to us. Once we started tracking how feedback was coming in, we noticed our engagement was quite low, so we decided to make changes to our processes.”
The changes implied a greater range of feedback channels and results were quick to show. “Since we’ve given our Customers multiple options for providing feedback and we follow up on it, it helps us make better decisions.”
“[Formerly], engagement on feedback inquiries was below 8% but is now at 34%,” Gerardo adds.
Tracking your active customer interaction channels is key to getting the most productive feedback. Feedback channels can be as varied as: your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Case Management System (CMS), Phone, E-mail, Social Media, Google Reviews, web reviews, Chat, Surveys, and more.
Tip: As Gerardo puts it, “Make the voice be heard everywhere. From your organization’s signature to your website, your product, etc. It’s important that the channel is not the bottleneck.” If you aren’t doing so already, offer a special discount, promo, or free gift card in return for feedback. Remember that your clients’ time is precious, and they owe you none of it. By offering a reward, you show that you respect your customer’s time and encourage them to care in return.
2. They don’t leave customers second-guessing (and don’t do so themselves)
Company info: Edge Marketing | Digital Services | Gold Coast, AUS
A lot of failures in life are a result of second-guessing. Instead of plainly asking, we lose hours ruminating over what other people think and want. In a business environment, second-guessing is even more ridiculous and will always lead to poor ROI. If we turn the tables, though, the same applies to your clients. You should never leave customers wondering about the credibility of your business.
After receiving feedback from customers, Sean Clancy, SEO Director at Edge Marketing in Australia, became aware of a customer service problem. “As we are an online agency, people expected us to be on Facebook messenger or emails all day every day. [The most surprising feedback] was us not being available 24/7.”
Thanks to timely feedback, Sean implemented digital tools that help users in different geographies feel equally heard and cared about.
“We did implement auto-responses on our FB and email systems to let people know our working hours and when they are likely to receive a response if they contact us outside of those days and times.”
For an online business, where 30%-50% of sales go to the business that responds first, such a simple tweak in customer experience made a lot of impact.
Tip: Sometimes it’s the simple things, easily fixable, that will make a huge difference for your ROI. As an online business, you will find that the demands and feedback tone of your audiences will vary based on demographics and geographic location. You can address many of these concerns immediately with cloud tools for small business — as long as you know what’s missing!
3. They prioritize human interaction over AI
Company info: MightyCall | SaaS | California, USA
In marketing and sales, businesses use a lot of automation tools to facilitate processes. But like every digital tool, automation can become a wall between you and your clients when used as a replacement for human connection.
Anna Miranchuk, our own award-winning Product Manager at MightyCall, explains the importance of picking up the phone and finding a personal approach to every client. “We use several feedback channels. Some, like our live support, e-mail, and feedback forms, are always available. When launching new functionality, we always include a feedback request right in the new interface.”
If you’re a growing business, getting live feedback over the phone shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“It’s usually thoughtful, rather than spontaneous communication that gives the best results,” Anna underlined.
Here are the essential components Anna mentions as critical to informative customer feedback over the phone:
- Select your target audience prior to the phone call
- Share the subject of your conversation in advance
- Allow the customer to schedule the date/time by themselves
- Map out the goal of the conversation, why you wish to talk to this person in particular, and jot down important questions
- Always be flexible and get a feel of the person you’re talking to, adapting your questions as you go. Often it’s the unexpected turns that lead to the deepest insights!
Tip: In customer feedback, it’s customer stories, not 5-star reviews, that are most valuable. A cloud-based phone system for business (also known as VoIP) offers a business “backstage” tools for managing customer feedback and all business communications. Cloud telephony includes dozens of customer care and team features plus built-in contact management. You can make and receive business calls on the go (not just in the office) and route calls to any device you and your team use.
Learn more about using MightyCall and virtual phone systems for business
4. They get information across to the right people
Company info: English Blinds | E-Commerce; Retail | England, UK
Being in retail and online businesses at the same time is a tough double act. For such companies (or any growing business), gathering feedback from many channels is only half the deal. The critical part is getting information across to the right people. Unfortunately, that is precisely the stage where many businesses stumble.
John Moss, CEO of English Blinds, shares a story where feedback could’ve easily been overlooked. Instead, it became a game-changing impulse for his business.
“We manufacture and retail window blinds and dressings and our showrooms are divided up into specifically themed sets,” John says. “One [set] was carpeted, prompting a comment on the feelings and associations generated by that new carpet smell. [It] was something of a revelation for us was when a customer commented on the…impact that [smells] have on the shopper experience and buyer journey.”
Sensory marketing is a popular “trick of the trade” in food industries (e.g. that fantastic freshly-baked bread smell in your local supermarket makes you eager to shop). Nevertheless, it’s easy to see how feedback like that could have been ignored in the home improvement sector. Instead, John’s team gave it due attention and passed the right info to the right people.
The resulting changes, John adds, were considerable.
“We built on this feedback to… produce an immersive shopper experience, and targeting multiple senses, particularly one with such a strong association with memory as smell. [It] became something of a game-changer for us.”
Tip: Organize all the feedback received from different channels into a single backlog. On a regular basis, send this document directly into the hands of both the CEO and top managers in your organization. Make a roadmap of upcoming tasks and developments based on relevant customer feedback, including long-term changes.
5. They use customer feedback to boost company values
Company info: Hollingsworth | Logistics | Michigan, USA
Feedback comes in many shapes and sizes. There’s positive, sunny feedback that makes your day brighter. There are angry social media trolls who project negative vibes to ruin your day. And then, there’s feedback that will leave you thinking because it’s not about some cool feature or service to implement, but your deeper company values.
This is something that Pat Donovan, Director of Operations at Hollingsworth, a logistics company catering to the whole of North America, encountered. “One client asked us to provide a waiting room because truck drivers are often exhausted and want to be comfortable,” Pat shares. Many a company would overlook a concern that wasn’t “top priority”. However, Hollingsworth saw it as an opportunity to invest in values.
“We know their concern is valid and want our clients to feel like family. [As a result] we revamped our waiting rooms and made them more interactive and friendly with snacks and drinks.”
The fact that the company noted this feedback expressed by one client speaks tons about its customer service and core values.
Tip: Based on your industry, you will get feedback about customer service, product features, facility improvements etc. However, a small portion of requests will be aimed at the purely human experience of interacting with your company. Take special note of these. Sometimes one person’s small feedback can uncover a large segment of opportunity which will project your company values better than any marketing or sales campaign.
Customer feedback is like the building blocks that shape your business and inject it with serene certainty that you’re doing the best you can. But for feedback to work on a deep level, managers and employees need more than good listening skills. They need an effective strategy supported by everyone involved: CEOs, employees, and customers. Because when it’s known to fall into caring hands, feedback becomes a pleasure to both give and receive.
Looking for more ways to provide the best service for your customers? Learn about the importance of using call recording for customer feedback and customer service.