As part of our series 5 Top Tips from the Experts, KyteMark Solutions Ltd. Market Analyst Matthew Wright provides his Tips on How Customer Feedback can transform your business.
In this blog, Matt outlines:-
1. The limitations of online surveys
2. The difference between hard and soft information
3. What to consider building a customer feedback process
4. Customer interview techniques that work
5. Why outsource gaining customer feedback
KyteMark offer a Customer Feedback Service starting from £500.00 plus vat to take care of your customer feedback needs. See the end of the blog for details. (This is really good value and can be repeated as many times as you need during the year!)
Thank you, Matt, – some really useful tips here!
1. The Limitations of Online Surveys
Customer feedback should be a regular pro-active process.....not a reactive 1-off event.
Look at any world-class organisation, especially those in the service economy such as hotels and restaurants; they live or die on their customers’ opinions, which in the modern internet-connected economy means online reviews such as Tripadvisor, Facebook, and the like.
For these organisations, paying lip service to customer feedback by offering a couple of boxes to tick (disgruntled customers usually refuse to fill them in) or by instructing a disinterested staff member to utter the cursory ‘Did you enjoy your stay/meal’ platitude whilst processing the bill at the same time (unhappy customers often just grunt and get out of there asap) does not count as customer feedback. Especially when the self-same service staff are incentivised to garner as many ‘5*’ reviews as possible. This then leads to positive review bias and a suppression of negative feedback....hence the business ‘kids itself’, existing in a vacuum whilst constantly repeating the mistakes of the past.
Customer feedback should be hard-hitting – at the one extreme, you are looking to turn the views of contented customers into written testimonials, and at the other, you are trying to convert unhappy customers into advocates by listening to their concerns and taking the appropriate action.
This cannot be achieved just by online surveys.
Don’t get me wrong – online surveys do have their place; they are great when canvassing an ‘interested’ audience (e.g. members of a society or organisation) on their opinions, say whether they prefer A, B, or C. They are not so good, however, when entrusting the future strategic direction of a business to a few tick boxes – either the question is inappropriate or the answer lacks nuance.
2. The Difference Between Hard & Soft Information
Hard information (quantitative) are statements or facts.
Soft information (qualitative) are opinions or views.
However, often the distinction between the two can become very blurred, with matters of opinion frequently being translated as cast-iron statements of fact!
This is where live interviews are so important – they allow businesses to gather the right information at the outset and act upon it accordingly. By comparison, online surveys attempt to force respondees into pre-determined boxes which may or may not be either appropriate or relevant.
With most respondees, there tends to be a spectrum of responses, with hard information at the one extreme, soft information at the other, and a wide range in between. The trick for the interviewer is to pick apart these responses, to determine where there is genuine praise or complaint and act upon it accordingly; i.e. turn praise into testimonials and turn complaints into positive action.
3. What to Consider Building an Effective Customer Feedback Process
• Tailor the feedback required to your business type and requirements
Depending upon the nature of your business and transactional frequency, have a regular customer feedback interview, ranging from the completion of a job (if sizeable and infrequent) to an annual check-up (if there are numerous, frequent transactions). This will also help to inform the level of feedback required ensure the business continues to provide an exceptional service.
• Embed customer feedback into your customer service process
If you communicate the importance of feedback in your process – i.e. why, when, and how you’re doing it – your customers won’t view it as additional administration. You can set this up with your client as part of your service to ensure you are always listening and care about their ongoing experience.
4. Customer Interview Techniques That Work
I’ve included a few suggestions below that a skilled customer feedback interviewer will make use of during the course of the live interviews in order to maximise the usefulness of the feedback for the client.
• Understand your client’s objectives
Online surveys tend to be long-winded because they are too prescriptive and try to cover every eventuality. By understanding your client’s objectives, you can rephrase questions, keep the interview on track, and approach the answer from a different direction. An interview is a live human interaction.
• Ask provocative questions
Rather than ‘How happy are you with....’, ask ‘What would you change...’ or ‘How would you improve’ This way you get ideas as well that you can use to develop your business.
• Build upon what other customers have suggested as improvements
For example, if one customer suggested a regular 6-month strategy review, ask another whether this would be a good idea (if appropriate obviously), and if so, how would they go about it? People love to be asked their opinions and how they would do something.
• Use and test out marketing collateral and key messages
If Company X really reckon they are the ‘leading provider of [insert here] services in Greater London’, ask their customers. And if not, why not....who is the leading provider....why are they better....etc?
• Align your opportunity radar
Keep your ears open for opportunities to upsell or cross sell other services. Gaining customer feedback can be a great way of engaging with your clients and opening up more opportunities to work with them. This can be the door opener for more work.
5. Why Outsource Gaining Customer Feedback
If you haven’t got time or the internal resources to obtain customer feedback yourself, rather than just leaving it on the to do list, outsource to an expert. This will ensure that it gets done professionally plus your customers may find it easier to give truthful feedback to an external 3rd party.
Great Value Customer Feedback Service
This is something that is proving very popular with many of my business coaching clients.
KyteMark offers an entry level Customer Feedback service which comprises of:
3 core questions – representing the client’s ‘must have’ answers
10 ‘live’ customer interviews – written up verbatim on an Excel spreadsheet
Print-ready customer testimonials – during the course of the interviews, testimonial quotes are sought, polished, and signed off with the customer
‘Opportunity radar’ soft information - guided by KyteMark (depending upon the answer to the 3 core questions) and consisting of:
• strategic input;
• market knowledge;
• competitor feedback;
Actionable report – containing:
• polished testimonials (can be copied and pasted straight over);
• summarised customer feedback, and;
• KyteMark suggested Action Points
KyteMark have also developed a series of excellent Pathfinder products, to aid customer research: Customer, Competitor, Market and Prospect. They can provide the level of market and customer insight that you require to grow your business.
Do you want Customer Feedback to Transform your Business?
Let us know what you are looking for and we will put you in touch with the right help.
Make the most of Customer Feedback
To make sure you think through and take the action you need to – to improve and grow your business, working with a business coach will ensure this happens.
For an initial conversation over coffee or chat on skype book an appointment with Jackie
More details about Jackie’s Business Coaching