Why Customer Feedback is Critical

“Listening to feedback makes customers feel more appreciated and part of the value creation process.” – Ray Poynter

If someone were to ask companies whether they believed that customer feedback is critical, we are certain that all heads would nod vigorously. However, they might simultaneously also believe that the data and analytics they have provide enough insights into what their customers expect and want from them. This is where the problem lies – while data and analytics might give a company a fair idea of what customers expect, the most accurate way to ‘feel the pulse’ of customers would be to gain their opinion and feedback by asking them directly.

Customer feedback is critical for any business because it provides definite lead into why customers behave and respond to companies and brands, the way they do. It helps a company understand the customer’s reasons for buying or not, and why customers would buy more frequently from others and less from your company or maybe suddenly even stop buying. By asking customers directly, there is usually no room for ambiguity as to what customers think and feel about your company. It is a lot easier to understand the problems, their possible solutions, and what kind of ‘attention’ to give to certain customers. Doing so would help a company deliver top class experiences, which in turn would lead to engaged customers. The bottom line is that customer feedback is critical and necessary as a means of truly understanding customers and giving them exactly what they expect and deserve.

Most companies do not realize how much information and value-added insights customers can provide. Their feedback can help a company develop better products, provide consistently better service, and create solutions that would be customized and most suited to the needs of customers. Customer feedback is critical for any company as it provides invaluable help in building stronger relationships with customers, which in turn increases customer satisfaction levels, and brings down customer churn numbers. Feedback from customers can serve as a roadmap for building better products and creating suitable solutions. Customers are the reason for a business to exist, and customers are paying for products and services, hence it makes sense to listen attentively to what customers have to say.

Customer feedback is critical because it proves to be an actionable guide for a company to make better and more informed decision. Customers will be the end users, and hence learning directly from them about what works and what fails, would be the most prudent and effective method of learning and improving. Feedback and reviews let a company know which of their customers are not completely happy with what they receive, and could potentially leave. Understanding these feelings would help a company take remedial action instantly, which in turn would prevent the customers from leaving. In addition, customers would highlight problems they may be facing, and if a problem seems to be recurring or common across a number of customers, the company could proactively remedy it. Customer feedback is critical as it enables companies to gain an in-depth understanding of their customers. A better understanding would enable companies to provide service and experience to increase customer retention and satisfaction, and remove any obstacles that would obstruct top class service to customers.

We know that customers prefer to do business with people they like and trust, and a company that affords them opportunities to provide feedback and talk. They would be more amenable to provide feedback, build a strong business relationship, and do everything possible to help a company succeed. Customer feedback is critical for a company to know which customers could be potential brand ambassadors and which ones could be allowed to go. There is no point wasting time and resources on customers who would never become loyal and would be with the company only to gain benefits, discounts, and rewards. Every company needs customers who would rave about its products, serve as a brand advocate, and provide referrals to increase business. For any company, gaining more customers through word of mouth is possibly the most efficient and cost-effective method, plus it is great for a company’s reputation too.

Another very important reason why customer feedback is critical for a company is that silent customers, does not mean that everyone is happy with a company. Research indicates that for every one customer that complains, at least 20 remain silent and is usually the reason that companies falsely believe that all is well with their customer base. As a result companies forget that customer feedback is critical, and hence do not make the effort to understand customers. This in turn leads to dissatisfaction since their expectations would be left unfulfilled, and this is why customers leave a company and never return. This is a big cost to pay for neglecting customer feedback – is it not? A customer that leaves, unfortunately for a company, is not the only one. Research shows that such a customer would share their less than satisfactory experiences with others (up to 20 other people), and would do so via the most visible platforms such as social media. Such negative comments are then viewed by a larger audience, which would negatively affect the reputation of the company.

Given that customer feedback is critical for any company, it would seem rather surprising that so many companies still do not have a hold on how to gain and use customer feedback. Given that, there are so many tools and so much information available to guide companies on how best to gain customer feedback, companies do not have an excuse for not doing whatever they can to gain feedback. The simplest of the tools is to ask customers for their feedback. The mistake most companies make is assuming they know especially if the company would be in existence for a long time. However, given that customer needs and expectations are dynamic in nature, it would be extremely imprudent for any company to assume that whatever worked to fulfil customer needs previously, would continue to be effective. As needs change, so also must the company’s methods of meeting them.

As a company if you know that customer feedback is critical, a great way to find out how your business would be faring with customers, is to experience being a customer with the company. This means, employing mystery shoppers, or using a senior leader from a different location to be a ‘pretend customer’ and walk through the company’s stores or call the company to ascertain the kind of service customers receive, and other such means. Depending on the experiences through these ‘exercises’, a company would gain first-hand knowledge of what it would be doing well, and where it would be failing to even meet customer expectations.

Of course, there are other means such as feedback surveys, focus groups, special events, and getting feedback from the frontline customer service staff on what they hear from customers daily. A company may want to give its customers the best, but without understanding what customers want, it would be hard to keep customers barely satisfied. All the resources and effort would be in vain, and hence simply knowing that customer feedback is critical, would not suffice. It would be necessary to use the right methods to get the feedback, use the feedback constructively, and then close the loop by letting customers know what the company did or proposes to do with customer inputs. Customer feedback is one of the key components of a profitable, growing, and sustainable business.

 

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