What Customers Say About Your Company

“If customers say you’re just ‘all right’, you’ve not done enough. You have failed to delight.” – Ron Kauffman

Given that the marketplace is so rushed, and competition is on the rise, many companies make the mistake of forgetting to read reviews or make the effort to know what customers say about their company. The fact is that even if companies forget to read product and company reviews, at least 90% of prospective customers read reviews from current customers and users before making a buying decision. It is the duty of every company to help its prospective customers make informed decisions.  Companies should help customers by providing accurate and updated information regarding the benefits of their products and services. It is a known fact that while, a reasonably satisfied or even happy customer may not write a review, unhappy customers definitely post comments that could be potentially damaging to a company. It is therefore imperative for any company to remain aware of what customers say about it, and be ready to respond appropriately.

Given that, any company, at some point, could have a few or many unhappy customers it becomes imperative and critical to monitor what customers say and be ready to respond. The moment an unhappy customer posts a review, or a blog about a company on-line, the ‘message’ is instantly available and accessible to a very large audience. It is this visibility and immediacy, which should be the guiding force for any company to monitor constantly what customers say about it. Damaging posts and comments spread like ‘forest fire’ in the digital world, and if a company is not prepared, it could find itself in the midst of spiralling negativity that would be very hard to manage and control. Repairing damage and loss of trust are possibly the hardest things for any company to manage – they are time consuming, result in serious financial losses, and sometimes the damage from such negativity can be permanent. Research too, has proved that remaining aware of what customers say and what their levels of satisfaction may be, is critical to long-term profitability and sustainability of a company.

The main advantage of remaining aware of what customers say is that allows a company to put in place pre-emptive measures to insure customer happiness, which in turn would ensure that every comment posted about the company, is positive. The truth is that customers want an interactive relationship with customers, and it is the onus of every company to ensure that they provide opportunities for customers to ‘talk back’ and connect. In order to gain feedback and know consistently what customers say, a company must proactively ask for feedback and given the number of tools available, there is no excuse. Managing customer feedback after it is received is crucial – companies must know what to do with customer comments, how to implement any suggestions, and then close the loop by letting customers know what the company did or plans to do with their suggestions. In addition, a company must pay constant and focused attention to its existing loyal customers, by rewarding them and putting in place special incentives for them. Loyal customers prove to be the biggest asset for any company, and with time become ardent fans and vocal brand advocates. Since prospective customers first read reviews and comments, it would prove highly beneficial for any company to receive top reviews from people who are already using their products and or services.

When a company is customer-centric, the levels of customer service are bound to be top class, which in turn would forge stronger relationships between customers and the company. It makes sense for a company to be able to count on the positive things that customers say, and while it may require effort, time, and money to set up and monitor a feedback system, investing these resources would prove highly beneficial for any company, given the importance of knowing what customers say. Staying aware of how customers feel and believe about a company, forms an integral part of understanding customers and getting to know them well. Any company that ‘knows’ its customers, is able to provide customized solutions, tailor-made products, and form bonds with them, which in turn would lead to positivity and great comments from customers. What customers say really is a reflection of how a company may have treated them, and hence largely, both positive and negative comments would be highly believable and true.

To know what customers say is not that hard any more. Their opinion / feedback can be had by sending out emails requesting responses, or through multiple choice feedback questionnaires, or even face-to-face interactions. Some companies offer incentives and freebies to customers for completing their surveys within a pre-determined timeframe. Customers – existing and prospective, are more likely to be encouraged to send in their assessment of a company and its offerings when they can see the benefit in doing so. The good news is that there are several online tools and ready formats of survey forms available. In addition, there are professional companies that help companies run feedback campaigns, doing all the ‘leg work’, and finally submitting a report enlisting feedback, percentages, customer demographics, and other such vital information.

Post receiving feedback / knowing what customers say, many companies falter in knowing what they need to do with the feedback. Without knowing how to use the comments and opinions, criticism and praise, all this feedback would be a sordid waste, and in addition would irritate customers since they would perceive this as the company’s attempts to ignore them and treat them as unimportant. The point of asking for feedback should be to gain a better understanding of the customer base, know what customers say, and gain opportunities to improve. For example – a reoccurring complaint from several different customers would be a clear indicator of a problem within the company that would require immediate attention. It would mean that there are some inherent weaknesses and lapses in the company, which are translating into service and product related problems. Without knowing what customers say, it would be tough for a company to get to the root of problems and remove them.

The fact is that, what customers say is knowledge and such knowledge can prove to be extremely valuable and powerful for any company. It would bring problems to the surface, and solving them in their initial phase can help a company save itself from several other and bigger problems that could trouble the company in the future. Very often companies lose even those customers who the companies believed, were happy and satisfied with their service. By not having a grasp on what customers say, companies could lose several customers – and anyone running a business knows that retaining customers is a lot cheaper and easier than attracting and gaining new customers. Existing customers would have already traversed the paths of trust and engagement, and hence would be more effective at helping the company gain a sound reputation in the market and building business.

The most potent benefit of remaining aware of what customers say is that it provides a company with the ability to change customer behaviour, aligning it to the business needs of the company. Of course, a company must put the feedback into action by ensuring positive experiences, and service excellence for customers. Starting with this thought will be the best encouragement for any company to know what customers say about it, even when the company is not part of the ‘conversations’.

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