Customer Feedback Systems – 3 Principles that Guarantee Business Benefits.

Guy Letts
Business Benefits

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Setting up a customer feedback system can revolutionise customer satisfaction and drive customer numbers higher.

Or it can waste everyone’s time and make no difference to the bottom line.

(This unfortunately happens all too often – when was the last time you gave customer feedback and it actually did lead to an improvement in your experience as a customer?)

Now, if you’re finally making time to do something about customer feedback I really do hesitate to delay you. So I wouldn’t post this unless I thought it would increase your chances of success.

The good news is that taking a moment now to decide HOW that feedback will benefit your customers (and therefore your business) will enable you to GUARANTEE satisfaction. You’ll improve retention & word-of-mouth referrals and get a confident grip on all the issues that are important to your customers.

Which is a bit better than just collecting a pile of feedback that you’re not geared up to deal with, and leaving your customers feeling like they’ve been ignored.

So the key question is, how do we guarantee a customer feedback system that will deliver results for the business?

3 key principles for successful customer feedback systems.

Customer feedback can deliver quick wins and lasting benefits, but even when you’ve decided to commit to achieving those benefits, there are some principles to follow and some bear traps you’ll need to avoid.

1. Focus on business benefits.

  • You’re not just doing this because customer satisfaction is a good thing, you’re also doing it because it’s the key to growing revenue, profit and morale.
  • If business goals are not central nobody will do the things that unlock the benefits.  You’ll start with good intentions, but unless everyone’s convinced there are substantial long term benefits, then at the first panic elsewhere in the business (and it’s often about short term sales) this project will fall by the wayside and the rewards will be lost.
  • It needs to be supported, communicated, measured and celebrated as much as any other initiative that’s important to the long term success of the business.  Linking it in everyone’s minds to business benefits gives it the profile it needs.

2. Make it easy for customers to have their say.

  • Customers need to contact you for all sorts of reasons.  Make it easy for them to access the best person for their particular problem and they will thank you for allowing them to get their issue resolved quickly.
  • Don’t assume that everything’s OK just because you’ve done your best; sometimes it won’t be.  Check for satisfaction when you’ve delivered a product or service.  You will be amazed (and often delighted) by what you learn, as I was.  You will also learn many things that will surprise you.
  • Satisfaction checks (or surveys) should be designed with the customer in mind:  short, fast, relevant, and sent at a time that’s appropriate to them.  Maximum five questions; maximum one page.
  • Send a survey straight after you’ve done something significant for a customer.  Choose the time when it would be most appropriate from their point of view.
  • Make it easy to give unsolicited feedback.  It will happen much less often, but usually when it’s more urgent.  The easier you make it for a customer to contact the best person to deal with their issue, the happier they will be.

3. Act on customer feedback.  Immediately.  Every time.

  • Be prepared.  It’s great to have our say, and terrific when someone makes it easy for us. But what a disappointment when there’s no response (or at best an automated one) and we feel like we’ve been completely ignored, despite investing time and effort giving considered feedback.
  • Don’t analyse it (yet).  Act on it.  You can analyse and look for as many insights as you like, and prepare powerpoint slides and charts to your heart’s content – later on.  The customer doesn’t benefit from your insights, they benefit from your actions.
  • Because you have made it easy, and because you have indicated that you care, you will get replies
  • If it’s praise, celebrate it with your team and make sure you’re displaying reviews to attract customers.
  • If there’s a problem, fix it.  Twice.  First solve the problem for the customer, then fix the underlying cause so it doesn’t happen again.
  • Respond appropriately.  Praise does not always need a reply, a problem does.  Use your judgement on what the customer might expect or appreciate.
  • The test for most actions is: “What will make this particular person most likely to recommend us to their friends and colleagues?”

Providing you act on feedback, satisfaction will go up, spending will go up, and personal recommendations will multiply your customer base.

I learnt this and other lessons about what does (and doesn’t) improve customer satisfaction over several years running a large customer services operation. I’ve distilled that experience into a series of short articles which you’re welcome to have (they’re free).

If you find this useful, feel free to sign up for more updates using the sign-up form below. If not, the comment field’s also below – let me know!

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