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Companies are always looking to stay on top of evolving customer expectations. They collect as much feedback as possible and leverage multiple touch points to do so, including social media, SMS, email and calls. 

But an extensive feedback collection process doesn’t automatically translate to creating improved experiences. Gathering feedback is just one part of the process. What’s important is what you do with the data.  

This is where many companies tend to drop the ball, especially when you consider the customers who just leave without ever complaining.

Customer feedback contains a treasure trove of insights that can not only improve customer experience but also help marketing generate more leads and R&D teams launch products that are in tune with what customers want.

So, how can companies put customer feedback to good use?

1. Clearly Acknowledge Feedback

One of the most fundamental things you can do when you receive customer feedback is to acknowledge it. But it’s alarming to know that most companies haven’t made a process for this. A recent study found out 90% of companies do not acknowledge or inform the customer that an email has been received. 

I can’t stress how important it is to let the customer know that you’ve actually heard them. People feel supported and more confident when they are actively listened to. Active listening also makes you come across as authentic and trustworthy. But don't confuse acknowledging customer feedback with a canned we’ll-get-back-to-you-shortly automated message — it's impersonal and doesn’t serve any purpose. 

Getting an actual support rep to do the same makes a world of difference. Inform the customer you’ve received their feedback, explain how you intend to act on it, and most importantly, provide a precise timeline for resolution.

Related Article: You've Collected Customer Feedback: Now What?

2. Categorizing Customer Issues

If you have a large enough customer base and survey them regularly, the feedback you collect can become overwhelming. It’s not just about the volume but the wide range of feedback you receive — which can make it harder to analyze and action this data. 

This is where segregating customer feedback into different categories can help. Make it a point to classify any and all feedback you receive based on its nature. For instance, all feedback regarding product bugs can be put together and forwarded to the product or R&D teams. Everything on shipment/delivery of products can be routed to the operations team. Also, look out for feedback about the quality of support itself — that can be a separate category. 

Classifying the customer feedback you receive in this manner can help you arrive at actionable steps and ensure they are handled by the relevant teams. 

Related Article: Not All Customer Feedback Requires Change

3. Addressing Negative Feedback in Real-Time

Feedback presents a great opportunity to not only drive long-term improvements in processes, but increase customer loyalty by promptly addressing issues. 

How quickly you take action on a piece of customer feedback can make all the difference between the customer championing your brand or them switching to a competitor. Imagine a customer complaining about not being able to modify an order on your site, but then moments later, you fix the issue and notify them about the same. You’ve not only turned a negative experience around, but moments like that result in positive word of mouth.

So, how do you equip your teams to give feedback in real-time? The first thing you need to do is make sure you’re collecting feedback at every possible opportunity to stay on top of things. Use net promoter score (NPS) and customer satisfaction surveys to gauge customer sentiment following interactions with your brand. 

Once you have a process for that in place, configure your customer service software to alert the relevant stakeholders whenever there’s negative customer feedback. For instance, you can get notified in real-time whenever the customer has rated you below four on the survey. 

Related Article: Transforming Listening Into Action: Fortifying Voice of Customer Programs

4. Using Positive Feedback to Drive More Business

As important as it is to act on customer complaints quickly, so is leveraging happy customers to grow your company’s reputation. 

A lot of people make buying decisions based on what other customers have to say. For instance, SurveyMonkey found 82% of people trust other customers more than brand messaging.

So if you’re in the habit of collecting feedback from your promoters (happy customers), make sure your marketing team has access to it. They’d want to showcase it at every possible opportunity — it could be on your website, as part of an ad, or even on a third-party platform. Moreover, if you’ve got a healthy rating on review platforms, display them on your website and other relevant platforms. 

And when you receive positive feedback, chart out a plan to work closely with these customers. You could do a campaign on social media around your happy customers, send them gifts, create a dedicated referral program and more. 

5. Having Company-Wide Customer Huddles

Most companies silo customer feedback within the support team. This is one of the main reasons why feedback data isn’t able to fuel customer experience improvements.

When feedback from customers is tied to product, marketing or sales, you want all of these teams to actively participate in discussing and analyzing the feedback. Zappos CEO Tony Hseih said it best: “Customer service shouldn't just be a department, it should be the entire company."

Actioning feedback, therefore, should be an organization-wide commitment. Have regular company-wide huddles where your support team shares lessons learned from customer feedback. What is the overall customer sentiment based on all the recent feedback you’ve gathered? What are they most happy/disappointed about? What are the most crucial insights that can be derived from the feedback you’ve collected?  

Apart from ensuring everyone gets a thorough understanding of the customer’s pulse, such company-wide meetups help stakeholders draw up actionable goals and objectives for their respective teams that are aligned with current customer needs.

Don't Let Customer Feedback Go Ignored

Never forget that customer feedback data is rich with insights. You can always learn so much from it — not only about your customers but about your internal processes and policies. It provides an all-encompassing view into how your organization works. But you'll only tap these benefits if  you stop letting data languish and instead use it in a timely way.