When was the last time you were asked to provide feedback as a customer? You probably don’t remember. The truth is, you probably were asked but ignored or declined the request due to some level of inconvenience, or you simply didn’t recognize the request.
More importantly, when was the last time you solicited feedback from your customers, and what level of input did you receive? In an age where customer experience is a strategic priority, if soliciting feedback from your customers isn’t part of your ongoing strategy, you’re missing out on not only another touchpoint, but also an opportunity to collect invaluable data about your customers, company, and service. That data can then be appended to existing data sets to understand even more about what drives customer satisfaction and where you may have opportunities to increase service levels and revenue.
But, in order to get the most value out of your feedback requests, there are several variables to consider.
When is the best time to solicit feedback from your customers? Of course, that depends on several variables: did the customer just make a purchase, or call into your customer support center with a problem? Are they transacting online, on the phone, or in person? And, of course, what kind of information are you looking to gather? A pizza shop and a furniture store, for instance, will have very different timelines if they’re looking for
customer feedback on purchases. If the customer just finished an engagement with a customer support agent, and you’re asking them to evaluate their experience with problem resolution, the feedback cycle should be immediate.
If you’re looking to understand their experience with your agents or staff – regardless of medium – it’s imperative to engage them as quickly as possible. In a retail setting, for instance, it can be the final stage of the checkout process, either online or in-person. Contact center agents can be trained to ask customers – whether they are using voice, text, chat, or even social media, if they would be willing to answer a few quick questions about their experience. Generally speaking, the best time to solicit honest feedback is as close to the experience as possible. It’s when customers are most willing to provide input, it’s when their experiences are fresh, and they haven’t moved on to other activities. While that may also mean you’ll get some negative feedback when customers haven’t had a chance to “cool down,” immediate feedback is typically the most honest and provides significant insight to how to adjust strategies.
What are you looking to achieve? In order to maximize the value of any data, you have to collect the right information. What are your goals, and what questions will help you achieve them? If you’re looking to understand customers’ experience with a new website design or physical store layout, product feedback shouldn’t be your first priority. Or, if you’ve recently launched a new loyalty campaign, your focus should be on elements that drive (or detract from) customer loyalty. If you want to measure the quality of your customer service teams, you should focus on the specific interaction and agent with whom it took place.
Be aware of the length of your mechanism. Many customers are willing to provide some level of input, but there are limits to how far even your most loyal customers will go. You don’t have to collect all information at once. Limit yourself to those questions that are directly relevant to your objectives, and make sure they can be translated into actionable intelligence. Even then, try to keep your questions to a minimum to maximize your response rate. A larger sample size will give you more accurate information and will normalize extreme responses. It also helps to (briefly) explain why you’re asking for feedback.
Along with making sure you ask for relevant feedback that will help you develop better business strategies, targeting the right customers is also critical. Specific product or service related feedback is relatively simple. But, for an online business, for instance, understanding why some customers spend more time than others on your site in general, in your IVR system or contact center queues, or in your account management portal, can provide critical feedback system or site design, functionality, and usability. It can also provide valuable insight into why customers are engaging at certain times in their lifecycle or through specific mediums.
If you’ve integrated an artificial intelligence engine into your customer engagement platform, targeting specific customer groups becomes easy, and you can solicit different types of feedback from different audiences based on specific criteria (time spent, products considered, nature of their calls, customer spend, abandonment rates, etc.)
While some customers will be more than happy to provide feedback, providing a small incentive can significantly increase the volume of response you receive, increasing the value of your feedback exercise. Incentives will vary based on your business, but small loyalty point bonuses, discount coupons, and entries into giveaway drawings often work well. Incentives have the additional benefit of building loyalty – they all work towards ensuring future business. This is also a good time to ask customers for their preferred communication methods, allowing you to continue to engage with them on a platform of their choice.
Using Your Data
You can collect all the data in the world – what you do with it is what will help you differentiate your business through effective strategies. If you’re able to collect the right data from the appropriate customers, appending that information into your already massive data repository will allow you to use your analytics capabilities and AI engines to extract value from the data, including correlating sentiment with business results and defining triggers for specific follow-up actions. You will be able to better understand where your operations are successful and where your opportunities for improvement lie, who your at-risk customers are and who are your most loyal advocates and identify new opportunities for increased revenue.
Data is everything, and there is a tremendous amount available without asking for any feedback. But, customers are the lifeline of your business, and getting their input regarding your product quality, service levels, site or store design, engagement strategies, or any other element of their experience, will help you better understand which strategies are most successful and are likely to drive additional revenue. If you’re not engaging your customers to get their feedback, you’re missing out on valuable data that can help you take your business to the next level.
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