Great customer feedback programs need great leaders. Here's nine factors that make or break your pathway to greatness.
Gathering customer feedback is the only way for a company to truly know and understand its customers’ needs, wants, concerns, and issues, as well as create more and lasting value for them.
However, while most companies receive customer feedback, whether unsolicited (e.g. via comments, suggestions, complaints, questions, concerns, etc.) or by proactively soliciting feedback through surveying, many still struggle to manage and act upon that feedback in real-time.
More importantly, sometimes crucial customer concerns and issues aren’t being heard by the people who need to know most.
Regardless of whether customer feedback is managed by a single person or multiple people in an organisation, or even a third-party provider, companies need to ensure that they are putting the right Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs and processes in place to support their organisation’s collection, management and use of that data.
Below are nine habits shared by leading customer feedback managers that your company may want to consider emulating:
1. Well-defined goals
Successful customer feedback managers have a roadmap for collecting feedback data that includes specific goals and objectives. They also ensure that their roadmap is in-sync with their company’s goals and objectives. They not only know what kind of data they need, why they are collecting the data and how they are going to use that data, but they also know what types of reports they need to produce and who within their organisation needs to have access to that information.
It’s vital to identify an accurate and clearly defined group of people to survey and weigh both the pros and cons of contacting those individuals, prior to reaching out to them.
Ensure you have the right mix of demographics for your survey audience, so that survey results are balanced and truly reflect the bigger picture.
2. Executive buy-in and internal support
Aside from being mere champions for their VoC program, highly successful feedback managers work alongside their company’s executive team in communicating and sharing important customer feedback and VoC program goals and objectives with all employees.
You must strive to keep VoC programs top-of-mind with executives and employees by including customer feedback and VoC metrics in executive dashboards and sharing positive customer feedback with others during company meetings.
What’s more, make sure teveryone in the organisation has/uses the same definitions and language when talking about customer feedback and engagement.
3. Two-way communication
Great feedback managers ensure they set up multiple communication channels for customers to communicate with the company, whether it’s through the web, e-mail, comment cards, a letter, a kiosk, etc. Once these channels are established, these managers help their company create and implement formal processes to support their customer feedback data collection and management, ensuring that they implement the right technologies to support a centralised and unified VoC program across their organisation.
You must set up processes that ensure you can rapidly respond to customer feedback – a quick response is not only important to preserve and improve the relationship that a company has with its customers, but also impacts how likely customers will be to buy from a company again.
Great feedback managers ensure they set up multiple communication channels for customers to communicate with the company
4. Central collection
Best practice customer feedback managers are smart about how they collect and manage customer feedback data. They use enterprise feedback management (EFM) solutions to not only centrally collect, store and manage feedback, but also design and conduct surveys.
This is important because research recently conducted by Loyalty 360 found that “organisations of all sizes utilise multiple vendors to accomplish their loyalty programs – often leading to potentially high duplication of effort and cost.”
The report further concluded that “Reducing disparate vendors and separate processes into fewer tools and procedures simplifies the workload and lowers cost.”
The yield on the data collected through a single system is much greater while loyalty practitioners can realise greater insights and program results by combining disparate programs together.
5. Customer advocacy
While a company’s feedback management processes help drive the effectiveness of its VoC program, ultimately what makes the biggest difference to the customer is how the customer is treated once their feedback is received.
Best practice customer feedback managers not only serve as a true advocate for customers from the moment that a customer’s feedback is received, but they also ensure that any issues that the customer has get resolved. They also:
- Rapidly and courteously respond to customer feedback.
- Ensure that serious complaints and unhappy survey responses are automatically escalated to the right senior person.
- Keep the customer informed about the ongoing status of their issues and requests.
- Ensure that the feedback loop gets closed with customers.
- Let customers know when the company uses one or more of their suggestions.
- Do their utmost to help their organization address and resolve chronic customer complaints, concerns and issues.
- Track, measure and monitor customer feedback response times, and continually work to improve those (e.g. Average response time, average time to resolution, etc.).
In small organisations, one individual may be solely responsible for closing the loop with the customer and ensuring that a closed-loop process is in place. However, in large organisations with multiple departments and locations, multiple people may be responsible for following up with customers and closing the loop with them.
6. Share feedback
Successful customer feedback managers quickly distribute real- time customer feedback, and create and share reports and survey data findings with others in their organisation—from the C-suite to top-line managers and employees—so that everyone in their company can better serve the customer.
They also openly share actionable insights with employees and conduct post-mortem meetings to discuss what did and did not work, and what the organisation needs to do to improve.
7. Real-time collection
An important ingredient in building strong, lasting and engaging relationships with customers is gathering and responding to their feedback in real-time. To accomplish this, best practice customer feedback managers make it easy for customers to submit feedback (e.g. comments, complaints, suggestions, concerns, etc.) at virtually every interaction point, whether over the phone, on the
Web, through the mail or in person, and even anonymously if the customer wishes. They also regularly conduct surveys and use the knowledge that they gain from every survey to create and conduct their next survey.
An important ingredient in building strong, lasting and engaging relationships with customers is gathering and responding to their feedback in real-time
8. Integrated across the business
Customer feedback data is only valuable if it gets to the right people and is integrated into a company’s business processes. Leading customer feedback managers not only develop feedback management plans, establish priorities and take action on their customer feedback and survey data, but they also work with other departments throughout their organisation to ensure that the customer feedback they do collect gets incorporated into their company’s strategic planning and goal-setting efforts.
What’s more, they work with company leaders to identify problem areas and best practices; address and resolve the most critical issues; share best practices among departments and different office locations; identify longer term areas of need; and roll-out organisational changes in phases.
Finally, leading feedback managers tie feedback programs to business outcomes. They do this by measuring and monitoring customer-related metrics such as customer retention, average number of products purchased per customer, likelihood to recommend the company’s products or services, likelihood to purchase again, etc.
Or they create a hybrid measurement that uses more than one metric. They also benchmark their programs against other industry leaders and are driven to constantly improve.
About Rita Balgeman
Rita Balgeman is a Senior Research Manager in the Diversified Sector at MaritzCX. Rita works across teams to design, implement, and report on both CX and custom research programs. Rita ensures the program meets the client’s business objectives and uncovers insights into their key issues while maintaining a focus on research best practices. Rita has a M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. from Valparaiso University in History, Political Science, and Secondary Education.