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Three reasons why real-time customer feedback is now essential.

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Covid-19 has made everyone cautious. Discover the best way to give your customers confidence to start spending again.

Covid-19 has disrupted life for you and your customers and the changes aren’t subtle, they’re seismic. It’s changed how companies have to deal with their customers, and it’s created huge uncertainty for customers.

Is this a time to watch and wait? Or time to work out what you can do (safely) that will make customers confident to engage with you again!

Recent economic growth figures reveal a mixed picture, the impact is different for each sector. But what’s crystal clear is that whatever sector you’re in, business is already better for the companies that are seizing the opportunity by learning and adapting.

The challenge is knowing what to adapt ‘to’.

You can’t rely on past experience, because this has never happened before. And you can’t guess how customers feel because the pandemic has affected everyone differently.

So instead of guessing, keep it simple and just ask them! The best way to find out exactly how to rebuild your customers’ confidence is to make sure your customer feedback processes are match fit. Then you can know for sure what’s working well for people, and what still needs to be done.

Ditch any ideas of using the old ways - long, turgid surveys that make your people sigh and your customers yawn. Instead impress your customers with how easy you can make it to give feedback and how responsive you can be to their changing needs.

Replacing traditional surveys with real-time feedback makes a huge impact.

What is real-time customer feedback?

Real-time feedback is a better way of measuring and improving customer satisfaction in which feedback is collected as a natural part of your everyday business processes, rather than a separate survey project conducted from time to time.

The key to success is not technology, or the latest fashionable acronym - it’s clear thinking, and having the confidence to replace common practice by common sense.

Because while traditional surveys have their place, they’re a very poor method for improving customer experience. The main disadvantage is that sending a large batch of surveys delivers too much data at once for each response to be assessed and followed up in a timely way. That means customers who give feedback in good faith are left with the highly unsatisfactory feeling that they’ve been ignored.

In contrast, real-time feedback is collected continually, at relevant times and points in the customer journey. Therefore feedback arrives at a rate which allows customers’ responses to be actioned intelligently, which is a much better outcome for customers.

Critically, feedback is delivered simultaneously to operational roles as well as analysts.

That means urgent ‘cries for help’ can be resolved immediately (‘service recovery’), and the root causes of systemic problems (issues with products, systems, policies and so on) can be identified and fixed (‘service improvement’).

The benefits of real-time feedback are dramatic - the company’s quality of service improves continually as problems are found and fixed quickly, and customers have a much more positive experience.

This naturally leads to an increase in Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), but satisfaction measures are proxies which may or may not reflect a financial benefit. More significantly, companies who use real-time feedback report improvements in ‘harder’ KPIs, including customer retention, word-of-mouth referrals and average spend.

As a bonus, the positive experience of giving feedback means customers have a strong incentive to do so the next time you ask, and a virtuous circle of feedback and business improvement is established.

All this can be achieved without additional headcount.

That’s because ongoing feedback simply helps people to do their everyday jobs better, whereas engaging with separate survey projects always feels like a burden to people who are already busy.

Why is real-time feedback so important post-Covid?

From talking to our customers (hundreds of companies around the world who collect feedback this way) we’ve identified three big new themes.

1. Customers want to be heard, now more than ever.

Customers are keen to get things going again and they want you to know what’s important to them.

Our data shows that response rates for Covid-related satisfaction surveys are on average 78% higher than normal.

What are they saying?

It’s a mixture of constructive feedback and good ideas:

  • This is what you need to fix before I’m comfortable to return;
  • Here’s a suggestion that would make things even better;
  • You’ve done what I expect you to, I feel reassured.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a list of exactly what you need to do (and what you’re doing well) to get the tills ringing again?

2. Customers want you to be safe and responsible.

Interestingly, the feedback shows that customers aren’t just concerned about their own safety and wellbeing.

Customers want to see that you’re:

  • looking after your staff properly;
  • following the national safety guidelines;
  • being socially responsible and helping the community.

The evidence from our customers shows that the companies who are seen to be doing the right thing are the ones who are building trust and being recommended person to person and on social media.

By making it easy for customers to give feedback, and acting on it swiftly, you can give your customers the reassurance they need.

3. Customers hate feeling ignored.

We know - we’re always hammering this point home.

But no apology - even though this is the most important part it’s still the most badly executed.

Without follow-up you’re just ‘measuring’. With follow-up, you’re making a positive impact on customer experience and business performance.

For example, if you’re a customer and you give feedback that you felt uncomfortable because staff weren’t wearing face coverings properly, and the next week you go back and there’s no change, then you’ll stop going back and you’ll warn your friends.

And even if you do stay, you won’t give feedback again because why would you? When you tried, it was a waste of time.

Measuring Net Promoter Score, or CSAT, or collecting comments achieves nothing by itself. Roles, responsibilities and processes for follow-up need to improve every bit as much as the way you collect feedback.

If you want to emerge from the pandemic as a stronger and more agile company, with happy, confident customers, then switching to real-time feedback with systematic follow-up is one of the most powerful changes you can make.

Contact us! We’d love to help, even if you just want to talk it through.

Learn how to do it well with these guides:

Read more:

How to reduce customer complaints sensibly and sustainably

If you ever feel helpless in the face of complaints, it’s time to stop. They don’t happen at random, they happen for a reason. We’ll show you how to to break the cycle, and dramatically reduce complaint volume.

Top Tips for Handling Customer Complaints

Complaints are great for your business. They’re your chance to win a customer for life. Follow our five step guide to make sure you make the most of them!

See how CustomerSure could work for you

To find out more about how CustomerSure could help you, get in touch today.

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