The Positive of Negative Feedback

Posted by on Sep 6, 2014 in Customer Service, Feedback | 1 comment

We all love to get feedback when it’s positive, without exception this is true, and conversely the opposite is so for negative feedback which tends to make us instinctively defensive.

It’s not surprising this is the case, if we put in vast amounts of time, effort and perhaps money into building a product or business that we ourselves believe in, then quite naturally it causes in us the emotions of anger and perhaps even pain when someone is critical of it, or the opposite is true if the feedback is positive as it makes us feel a sense of recognition for our labour.

With all feedback it’s important to remember that in most cases the person giving it sees nothing of your effort, nor are they aware of the time you’ve invested, or indeed even understand your intentions or objectives in trying to create something great, they merely see the results of your work and their feedback is simply their experience of these at a single given time.

Since one of your primary aims in business is to make as many customers as happy as possible as much of the time as possible, it makes feedback and each and every customers perspective important. On an individual level it gives you the opportunity to change a person’s negative opinion, and when taken collectively with other customer feedback it can stop you investing your most important commodity which is your time, into things in which your customers may perceive have far less value than you do yourself. Feedback can be a real guide in directing your efforts within your business.

A rather simplistic but useful example of this for illustrative purposes might be in a restaurant perhaps, in which a conscientious chef may love his own grandmother’s particular family recipe for a pie. He may spend extra time preparing this particular dish since it’s a speciality of his and indeed his wife’s favourite too, but if more often than not customers feel it contains too much pepper then the chef would be wise to listen to this feedback, and hold back on what is a minor ingredient rather than seasoning to his own taste. The chef may not prefer the pie himself, but the customers will be happier, the restaurant will sell more pie which is the ultimate objective, and the chef can always be more liberal with the pepper when he next makes the pie at home for his family.

The point being listening to feedback allows you to give the customer what they want, not just what you think they want. Feedback creates an opportunity to save your time and your money, especially negative feedback whenever you can obtain it so it should be welcomed and indeed highly valued. By listening to negative feedback you can achieve greater success, as by adapting your business to accommodate the wishes of your customers you will achieve more repeat business. Positive feedback can also prove useful, giving confirmation of when you are getting things right. A word of caution though in that all feedback is merely a snapshot, and continuously seeking more feedback is essential to maintain standards and to ensure any example of positive feedback isn’t a minority held view, or simply proof that you got things right on one day out of seven.

Listening to feedback

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CXM for Small Business

Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Customer Experience Management, Feedback, Voice of the Customer | 0 comments

Often it may seem Customer Experience Management is the preserve of large organisations with vast resources at their disposal, however this isn’t necessarily true and one of it’s key components customer feedback certainly isn’t, indeed some aspects of good CX it could be argued might be easier to achieve within a small businesses environment.

When you stop and consider one of the primary requirement of CX is for closed loop feedback, allowing management to continuously listen to customers by taking feedback at as many customer touchpoints as possible and then responding to this feedback and starting to anticipate their problems and needs, then advantage perhaps could be with the smaller organisations maintaining just a small number of close relationships. CXM is in its infancy and a tight definition yet to be formed, but it would be safe to say it is as much about strategy and a way of viewing your relationship with your customers as it is about technology. Large businesses turn to technology for a solution due to the vast numbers of customer relationships they maintain requiring this, and for these large corporations the systems investment can often be huge and solutions complex to achieve effective CX.

On the face of it this technology will give the large organisation a massive advantage over smaller companies, with software automatically analysing purchase history and feedback responses from customers and responding directly to the latter, but surely that cannot compare to the small business owner responding timely and with a personal touch, or when someone complains for example most people would much sooner have a response from someone of influence within the business, that can empathise and then perhaps bring about change rather than simply pacify.

A further advantage for the small business in terms of CX is if you think of the typical levels of management between the CEO of a large corporation and the end customer facing staff, and then compare that against the proprietor of a sole trader businesses for example who oftentimes themselves is customer facing. Unlike the CEO, the sole trader can get the feedback direct and then tailor the customer rescue response for example rather than have to follow a guideline or be shackled by a limit of authority in terms of what they can do. The small business also isn’t without the assistance of technology and too can now employ simpler low cost feedback schemes for VoC feedback on products and services, and so in conclusion by utilising these and by also taking the time to engage with customers direct as often as possible, it is possible that a small business could be much more successful achieving effective CX than many larger companies.

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Customer Experience Management (CXM / CEM)

Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Customer Experience Management, Feedback, Surveys, Voice of the Customer | 0 comments

Customer Experience Management (the acronym for which is CXM or confusingly also CEM) is relatively young, and really has only recently been fully embraced by organisations.

So what is CXM?

CXM seeks to refocus an organisation towards customer service, and provide each customer with a tailored experience. It manages an organisation’s relationships with their customers, and monitors what the customer or client expects to experience in terms of service and/or a product, and sets this against what they actually experience, which are often two very different things in reality, CXM then seeks to rectify any difference between the two.

So what in tangible terms is CXM?

At the centre of all CXM systems is the critical component which is closed loop feedback. This involves gathering data from all existing customer touchpoints, but often also involves being more pro-active with Voice of the Customer (VoC) solutions such as Incentivised Feedback Surveys.

With a closed loop feedback scheme in place, taking feedback from surveys and indeed all customer touchpoints, negative feedback then triggers intervention where necessary, sometimes referred to as ‘customer rescue’, which is then followed by obtaining further feedback and intervention where necessary throughout the customer lifecycle.

CXM should ideally be seen as a pro-active approach to customer service and sales, marrying the two, initiating anticipatory contact with customer when appropriate to do so, and then reacting to feedback often on an individual basis.

Why do organisations need CXM?

According to various studies, it costs over five times as much to gain a new customer as retain an existing one, and this is why CXM has become the main focus for many organisations. The ultimate goal for CXM being avoidance of customer churn and maximising the customer life cycle, maintaining greater loyalty to a product or service. CXM also seeks to make advocates of their existing customers, gaining new business by increasing word of mouth after providing customers with an exceptional  experience.

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Survey QR Codes

Posted by on Aug 15, 2014 in Customer Experience Management, Feedback, Surveys, Voice of the Customer | 0 comments

In the last couple of years you may have noticed QR codes (Quick Response codes) move their way into the mainstream of marketing, however it may surprise some to learn QR Codes were actually invented in Japan way back in the 1990s initially for use within automotive manufacturing. Following the arrival of mobile devices with inbuilt cameras and internet access, QR codes have been given a new occupation beyond their original perceived usefulness, gaining traction within B2C marketing in particular, as essentially scanable quick links for website pages.

So, should your organisation now be using QR codes to link to your online surveys and in your general marketing materials?

Well, right now at time of writing, the best answer would probably be perhaps, so long as you’re targeting a suitable audience and your expectations of their use are realistic. There is certainly a school of thought, that QR codes seem to be a box ticking exercise for many companies. Perhaps they see them on a competitors marketing materials and feel compelled to use one, indeed inventing a use for them, often a use which makes little or no sense.

A problem with QR codes is that to-date their readers have not been adopted as out-the-box technology in most mobile devices including the current crop of iPhones (at time of writing running iOS7). As such for many scanning a QR code isn’t as simple as just pointing your mobile device’s camera at the code and having the browser open up to the correct URL, its in fact a case of scrolling through your apps to find a QR code reader, selecting that, waiting for it to run and then finally pointing your device at the QR code and then waiting for the scanning process, and finally your browser to open and the intended web page to load…all that of course assuming the user has in advance downloaded a 3rd party QR code reader application.

While these convenience obstacles are in place I can only surmise that QR codes will be used in the main by those technology intrigued audiences, dedicated to using every one of their chosen mobile device’s features, and as such, listing a memorable domain name will surely for the immediate future remain the best way to help people arrive at your online survey.

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Incentivised Feedback Surveys

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014 in Customer Experience Management, Feedback, Surveys, Voice of the Customer | 0 comments

With many large companies currently grappling with the implementation of Customer Experience Management (CXM/CEM) systems, one tool currently being deployed is the Incentivised Feedback Survey.

In the UK, retailers particularly have adopted this tool on mass, with such companies as New Look, Primark, Mountain Warehouse and supermarket giants Morrisons and Tesco all having recently implemented such schemes. Fast-food is another sector in which this tool has also gained popularity, with brands KFC and Pizza Hut leading the way.

Incentivised Feedback Survey schemes themselves are designed in most cases to tempt customers into taking the time to complete a feedback survey with respect services and/or products, with the reward often being in the form of entry to a prize draw or a discount against future goods or services.

Typically Incentivised Feedback Surveys are based online, and utilise a unique URL (sometimes arrived at via a QR code scanned into a mobile device) directing the user to a site separate to that of the company’s main website, or redirecting to 3rd party survey services. In either case this extra site usually functions solely as a bespoke online survey tool that has been tailored to suit the author company.

It is important to recognise that the design of these surveys are currently not always to suit their customers too, often lengthy, there are some poor examples of this tool now in existence which can give rise to a high abort rate. Further to this when analysed, one struggles to find evidence that the data from Incentivised Feedback Survey schemes will be from a full cross-section of a company’s customer base, indeed there is clearly a danger that data will more often come from lower socio-economic groups who will be more motivated to sacrifice their time for entry to a prize draw, or for a relatively small future discount against goods and services.

Despite their drawbacks, Incentivised Feedback Survey schemes certainly do provide extremely valuable data to many organisations as part of a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program, but managers tasked with introducing CXM do sometimes make erroneous assumptions that it provides a total closed loop feedback solution which it clearly does not. Indeed the Incentivised Feedback Survey should ideally be used in conjunction with other feedback tools, and the feedback from all customer touchpoints rather than as the only the one instrument within a CXM system.

A touched on a good CXM system does requires as an integral part a closed loop feedback system for which an Incentivised Feedback Survey scheme doesn’t ideally tick the box, though some vendors have sought to adapt their systems to try to with ‘customer rescue’ as an option within the Incentivised Feedback Survey process. In devising feedback schemes as part of CXM systems it is vital to remember that the primary goal is to avoid customer churn, therefore catching real-time opinion by way of closed loop feedback from the customers who are disgruntled (and therefore less likely to fill out long surveys) and who are motivated to imminently change suppliers, is worthy of a greater focus than the general feedback data obtained from Incentivised Feedback Surveys.

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