About 10 years ago (that’s a long time), the book, “A Complaint is a Gift” made its debut in the business world. The book rests on the foundation that the way we look at things matters, which, at the time, felt like revolutionary thinking. Back then, the business world was full of call centers and long wait times. It was a perfect environment for marinating unsatisfied callers and escalating service issues beyond the normal stratosphere, crash landing on the desk of the President of the Company.
Thanks to technology, a lot has changed since the book came out. We’ve got smart phones we simply can’t put down (admit it). We chat about our service needs and email our feedback 24/7/365. We can reschedule appointments ourselves, without waiting on hold or bothering a soul. Customer expectations have changed, and businesses are catching up and improving their processes. Progress.
In spite of all this, we’re still human and the book from 10 years ago is still relevant. Receiving negative feedback still makes us embarrassed, defensive, and uncomfortable. For some of us, providing it is equally unpleasant, especially when we’re dealing with people we know. We worry we’re unqualified to provide it. We worry about feelings. It’s a perfectly sticky area to improve in the coming year.
Get Customer feedback & really listen.
Today’s customers are empowered with information; and with self-service options and more ways to reach businesses, the customer experience as a whole has improved. Feedback is different, too. It’s real-time and spontaneous, comparative, and full of great ideas (or, gifts.) If you’re not collecting and analyzing feedback, you’re missing out.
When putting a feedback system in place, avoid being generic by identifying logical opportunities to collect it. Did a customer purchase a specific product that you’re testing out? Ask for feedback. Did you recently resolve a service issue over the phone? Feedback time.
Be there when you know the customer’s experience is negative, too. If a service agreement is cancelled, or a refund is requested, ask relevant questions to uncover what happened & identify opportunities to make improvements. Identifying feedback moments helps you build standard operating procedures to ask specific questions at specific times.
Don’t forget your team.
In our last post about improving communication, we made the case that employees are customers, too – and there’s profit-oriented benefits in communicating well with your team.
If you normally save feedback for yearly performance evaluations, ask yourself if it’s really enough. Consider implementing a quarterly system to review individual goals and performance targets. Nobody should be surprised during a yearly review. Provide training so that managers are comfortable delivering feedback professionally and legally.
Communication (feedback) is a two-way street. A lot of the time, we think it’s the employer’s job to provide employee feedback – and we stop there. Flip it around and ask your team for feedback, because their input is important. Everyday they represent the brand and carry-out the company mission. They’re on the phones and face-to-face with customers, vendors and co-workers day in and out, performing responsibilities you may be unfamiliar with – and they’re full of ideas you may never think of. Recognize the team as experts and ask for insight on business processes, company culture, the benefits package you offer, and the products you sell. The possibilities are endless. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions- and provide a method where employees can share anonymously and honestly. Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to get real feedback that would be difficult or uncomfortable to ask for face-to-face.
Make IT Easy:
Tons of apps are designed to help you easily put a feedback system in place. Look for ones designed with security in mind so the info you capture is stored securely. The best apps easily integrate with your current systems, and come with customizable, pre-built templates & questions. Feedback is only useful if you can run analytics reports, extract meaningful insight, and collaborate and share it with your team – so pay attention to reporting features when selecting a platform. Three popular choices to check are Survey Monkey, QuestionPro, and SurveyGizmo.