How to benefit from customer feedback

By Terry Wiley | 17 Sep 2019 View comments

How can you best manage brand reputation and customer feedback? We live in a world where consumers have more choice than ever before, are increasingly influenced about purchase choices and are more willing to share their experiences with the world. The voice of the customer has become a powerful influence on both brands and consumers and will only become more influential in the future.

To put this into perspective, independent research shows that 88 per cent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

A business can no longer get away with providing customers with a poor experience and if they do, it can be very damaging. Yet the rewards can be very lucrative if customer experience is positive.

For example, one negative review can cost a business 30 customers. On the flip side, provide a great service and it’s possible to increase annual revenues between 5 and 10 per cent through referrals and improved online ratings, according to a recent Harvard Review Study.

So how are local businesses dealing with this?

The reality is that most small businesses undervalue the importance of understanding their customers experience and the impact on their online reputation. Companies often preach the importance of their customers and the service levels they provide. However, few actually understand whether their customers are happy, loyal, or if they have already decided to purchase elsewhere next time.

Bain & Company research shows that 80 per cent of companies believe they provide excellent customer service yet only 8 per cent of customers agree. There is a huge disconnect between the service levels many companies provide versus actual customer experience.

Unfortunately, most businesses see the implementation of a customer feedback program as a cost to the business rather than an investment and an important part of a company’s growth strategy.

It can be incredibly powerful to have a program in place that determines what is working well and not so well. And it’s actually a lot simpler and more affordable than it sounds. After all, there is a reason that approximately 95 per cent of the world’s major enterprises run a customer feedback program.

What should I expect of a customer feedback program?

Your customer feedback program should be seen as a communication tool with your customers. It’s an opportunity to increase your membership and loyalty programs and enhance marketing opportunities through further engagement with your customers. The program is also a revenue generation and protection tool because it can promote positive experiences, recover customers after a poor experience and avoid negative sentiment being socialised.

It is important to be able to ‘close the loop’ and ensure you email/SMS customers who take the time to provide feedback to ensure they feel you care and take their feedback seriously.

A good survey is short, sharp and engaging to promote participation. Customise and tailor the surveys to a specific audience or process within your business.

The program needs to auto-redirect survey participants while they are engaged in the feedback process to your preferred online review/social media platforms. This is a proven and highly effective way of quickly and easily boosting review volumes and ratings.

It is crucial to provide the most cost-effective program system integration with your customer CRM system, removing the need for manual and administratively intensive processes.

What are the key benefits of an effective program?

There are five clear advantages to integrating customer feedback into your business.  The program:

  • assists businesses obtain real-time customer feedback on a product or service offering
  • helps connect businesses to customers, build brand loyalty and drive improved customer experience
  • provides business performance insight
  • manages and drives positive online reviews to improve ratings and brand reputation
  • enhances company growth and profitability

Implementing a suitable program within a franchise business can be particularly valuable due to the nature of the business structure. The two-way benefits can be significant where there are multiple business owners running their own business, and who often need help.

Franchisors have the ability to set KPIs, benchmark each location and track on a continuous basis which are all essentials in determining the level of customer service each location provides. This is the best way to understand how each location is representing your brand. Also, a good feedback program often negates the need to run mystery shopping for a number of reasons.

For franchisees, the key aspects of the service are the ability to drive new business via improved online reviews and the insights that help understand what is working well and not so well in their
business. These are tangible and often measurable benefits. A well-executed program is a value-added initiative from head office and this benefits all parties.

More and more businesses are starting to appreciate the value in understanding their customers experience and the impact on their online reputation, don’t be left behind.

Make sure your customers are happy, as if you don’t someone else will …