We are in a lucky position here at Best Practice, we’re an organisation that has the opportunity to work with thousands of others across every imaginable industry and see how they do business. This allows us to compare and contrast how different organisations deal with customer feedback; be it from a positive or negative experience. One of the clearest signifiers of an efficient and effective organisation is how they use this, and can turn one customer’s negative experience into a learning exercise for the whole company.
Having said that, however, there’s nothing more damaging to your organisation’s reputation than negative customer feedback. This can spiral into a loss of customer trust from your stakeholders, with negative reviews on show to the world. It’s almost impossible to make everyone happy, but this should undoubtedly be your aim. Most customers expect to be treated with the utmost respect and to be the main priority. While the end result, product or service will obviously change, we’ve noticed that one thing always remains the same: organisations that prioritise their customers and actively take on their feedback are more resilient in the face of fierce competition and a dynamic market.
Why you should listen to your customers?
So, why is listening to your customers so important? Actively listening out for customer feedback is vital in being able to continually work on and improve your customer experience. If you’re able to actively listen to the voice of the customer, you’ll find it easier to leave your existing customers feeling great after their interaction with your business and in turn will find it easier to attract new potential customers. If you’re an organisation that has recently received some negative feedback on your products or service, it’s important that you ask yourself the question “are you listening to your customers?”. If not, it may be time to move your business into becoming more customer centric and start listening more to what your customers have to say instead of being a focus group of one.
It is vital that you make an effort to listen to customer feedback across a variety of platforms including customer reviews on google and social media in order to maximise customer retention and customer satisfaction, spreading a great reputation about your business through word of mouth referrals. All of these factors will have a profound impact on your success as a business owner. Your organisation’s customer service is key in acquiring and retaining lifelong customers that will keep returning due to their positive customer experience.
However, you can’t be expected to act upon every single customer request- particularly if you’re a large organisation. The reality is, that you are expected to at least take the feedback on board, and feed this into your quality management system. More specifically, you’re inputting this data into a dashboard, risk register or something that carefully lists feedback and complaints that should be regularly monitored, even prioritised.
This is fairly straightforward but continues to be ignored by some organisations. If there’s a common thread in the feedback that you’re receiving from your customers, you need to address and rectify it. The first stage of this could be offering that customer a partial or full refund if their experience was truly a nightmare, or at the very least acknowledging their feedback. There’s nothing worse than someone taking the time out to offer up their invaluable end-user experience, raising valid concerns, only to be ignored by the organisation. If the information is on a public forum like social media or your website’s review section, the problem is magnified even more.
As we mentioned earlier, this is an extremely important learning exercise for your organisation, so for any recurring themes in a customer’s complaints, you want to be agile in your response and try to identify the pain point or shortcoming that culminated in a customer’s negative experience with your organisation. It’s also a possibility that it wasn’t explicitly your organisation’s fault, perhaps it was a supplier or variable changes in the market that are quite literally out of your control. In this instance, one of your best options is to have a backup plan ready to go in times of a supplier’s inability, or a damage-control mechanism that makes sure the customer still feels valued even though there might be a delay in the final delivery of the product or service.
From this point onward, you can fall back on the plan-do-check-act model to monitor how well you’re improving as well as the potential risks in your organisation that could make a customer feel violated. If you implement a new policy or strategy in the business to address a short-falling in your organisation, you want to carefully monitor and measure its effectiveness in dealing with the problem and act upon any further improvements that could be made.
From here, the cycle continues, and you should raise these points each and every strategic management review session you have. Don’t underestimate the danger of ignoring your customer’s feedback- it can sometimes prove fatal to an organisation. Instead, think of this as an opportunity to identify new ways to innovate and improve your business, all the while keeping your customers and stakeholders happy; it really is a win-win for everyone.