What is the return on investment for customer feedback?
What we are really looking for is customer engagement. Note that recent research by Gallup shows that 71% of B2B customers are actively disengaged. They view vendors as a function, not a brand.
The dollar value of a lost business-to-business (B2B) customer can be in the millions. Customers who are surveyed periodically, have been shown to be more loyal and profitable.
Moreover, what you learn about current customers’ needs can be used to win new customers. The dollar value of new customers and better tools to attract and keep them is the additional return on your customer feedback investment.
How do we go about gathering feedback?
There are many situations in which interviews are the best tool. Structured interviews and focus groups can be valuable if they ask the right questions in the first place. Standard questionnaires can be of limited value since many decline to answer or hurry through them. We work with you, our customer, to figure out the best methods of obtaining the information that will lead you to a competitive advantage.
Our first step is to make sure we ask the questions that matter most to your customers, your employees, and you. Our approach is different every time as each of our clients face a unique environment that changes over time.
It is also common to find different groups of customers with different needs. This could be based on their size, frequency of order, product classification, or industry. We have the tools to pull out any significant differences so you can act on them.
What if my customer base is small?
You may have only a few customers but how many business units do they have? Each unit should be considered an individual customer.
For small customer bases simple but structured interviews may be the better approach. They address what you need to know while giving your customers a chance to tell us what matters to them. You get the advantages of a survey combined with those of an interview.
There are times when you will want feedback only from your largest customers. In a way, they are a smaller customer base. While you care about every one of your customers, this group may be one whose needs are unique.
How do we handle sensitive issues?
We understand the importance of handling customer inquiries gently. If there seems to be a particularly sensitive issue to be researched, we jointly decide the most tactful way to learn more. We will keep you informed of the hot buttons we encounter as the project goes forward.
In general, customer satisfaction has two tiers. The first one is those elements that make a customer want to come back repeatedly. These are factors that will make them happy or what motivates a move to a competitor. The second set is made up of those elements customers view as “givens.” They don’t necessarily make customers happy but failure to deliver results in irritation. Let’s make sure we have a good grasp of the which issue belong with which category.
Can good customer relations be a competitive advantage?
The one thing your competitors can’t copy is who you are. Your competitive edge comes from what makes you unique and competitive in the marketplace. The aim of our process is making customer service and relationship management work to reinforce this position for both you and your customer base.
One of our goals is to help you figure out what you are doing well. These strengths can be incorporated into your sales support materials. The areas needing improvement will also come out giving you a chance to correct them. In the rapidly changing environment in which we work, this is valuable information. We have worked with companies with limited experience as well as those who have been in their respective businesses for years.
What are the advantages of gathering feedback internally?
Of course you talk to your customers and pay attention to the feedback they give you. However, there are advantages to having a “second pair of eyes” take a look at the process.
Is the quality of responses is declining? Do you collect and analyze narrative comments? Keep in mind that while your customers may answer your questions, this doesn’t mean these are thoughtful responses.
They might be completing feedback forms just to get you to stop asking. If you haven’t seen steady improvement in customer service, maybe your surveys aren’t serving their purpose anymore.
We have the experience in survey design which means much more than what questions to ask. How questionnaires get distributed, the timing, and so forth are issues that often make a significant difference in not only the total number of people responding but also the quality of the responses.
Using your sales staff to gather feedback? Sales and research have very different goals. Professional sales people are worth every penny for their ability to sell. However, selling is persuasive by nature. Research is not as it must take a neutral approach to be effective.
Since we work with a variety of companies, we can bring new ideas to the table. As a first step, we look at the questions you are asking as well as the format. Seemingly minor tweaks can improve the quality of information you have to act upon.