Your Customer Satisfaction Survey Stinks: 4 Ways to Make Feedback Matter

Creating an online survey is simple. Choose one of the hundreds of existing builder sites, check a variety of drop-down boxes, add some questions and click submit. However, as we've recently discussed in our blog series, creating an effective survey is much more difficult. 

Once you've managed to craft a customer feedback tool that accurately measures satisfaction (and not an experience with your call center), it becomes vital to determine how best to implement the feedback. I've seen far too many businesses get complacent once they start gathering these metrics, only to do nothing with the data. Remember that your customer feedback can be the most powerful tool you have! 

Although every company is different – whether you sell lawn mowers or Learjets – there are commonalities when it comes to implementing change based on customer feedback. Let's dive in. 

1. Pick out the Patterns

Sifting through every piece of feedback you receive is likely to be an exercise in futility, not to mention an excessive waste of time. In fact, as individual data points, customer feedback is relatively useless. There are so many variables that can influence the way a customer responds to your survey or inquiry, which makes a single response relatively unlikely to be representative of any issues your customers have toward your product or service. However, the larger your data set becomes, the more likely you are to see patterns emerge. These patterns are the ones you'll want to respond to. While combing through data, ask questions such as: 

  • Which phrases arise constantly?
  • What requests are recurring?
  • Why are these common themes? 

Finding trends can be simple if we use the clues and tools provided. Across the Web, tools such as Google Analytics or Kampyle exist to help us make this analysis easier. Dive into your feedback results, locate trends and then begin making a plan to apply them. 

2. Enable Everyone

Once you've identified patterns in your data, you'll begin to think about what kind of changes your business needs to make. While many leaders take it upon themselves to change practices from the top down, I believe this is a mistake. Don't forget your employees and team members are valuable sources of feedback as well! 

To begin, ensure all of your team members are free to suggest changes based upon the results. Gathering feedback from these team members will help you understand the challenges they face on a daily basis and where certain pain points for customers may arise. Further, make sure your employees are empowered to enact change themselves, not just wait for directives from the C-suite. As Whitney Wood, managing partner of the Phelon Group, explains in an Inc. Magazine article,

“Employees are able to be much more valuable when armed with the knowledge and the support or resources to address customer concerns … And customers are more likely to give feedback to someone they believe is empowered to act.”  

3. Divide and Conquer

Not all feedback requires immediate actions and change. Divide the major patterns and pressing issues into a tiered system, with priority targets attached to each. From there, the feedback must be reconfigured into actionable plans and projects aimed at fixing the problem (or augmenting the success, depending on the feedback). Like all aspects of our business, the projects need to have a clear purpose and clear end goal for the system to succeed. Wood explains,

“Once the feedback is divided, ensure that each organization or function in your company has three roles to play: to receive the feedback, to be conditioned by the findings, and to participate in the determined course of action.”

Depending on your business and the feedback, not every customer pain point or need will need to be addressed immediately. This doesn't, however, mean these points of feedback should be ignored. You'll still want to build a time table for implementing changes, even though the targets may be later down the line. 

With this step, communication is key. Let your team know your end vision for these changes, and then rely on them to help you build the steps to reach that vision. 

4. Close the Loop

We've heard from our customers, we've heeded their advice, we've implemented changes. Now what?

Tell them!

It always amazes me the percentage of well-run companies that neglect this step, which is among the most important in the customer feedback process, as it begins the cycle anew. If our customers can see that we've made changes per their requests, they'll feel valued and will be much more willing to provide new feedback moving forward. In the digital age, we often forget how much our customers value human connection. Whether it's with an email or a well-structured marketing campaign acknowledging our customers' input, demonstrating our gratitude for the feedback we've gained can help build our credibility in the trust economy. 

To look to one good example of such a campaign, Domino's Pizza Turnaround showed they had listened to their customer feedback and made changes based upon criticisms. The campaign was a huge success, boosting profits and sales, a rarity for the industry at the time. 

Make Feedback Matter

Regardless of the size of our business, devising a system to gather and implement customer feedback is essential for your growth and success. Ensure these themes are at the core of your customer feedback strategies, and I have no doubt your business will be better for it.

What challenges has your business faced in implementing changes based upon customer feedback? We want to hear about it. Tweet us @EidsonPartners!

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