Congrats! You did it! You checked that “customer feedback” item off your to-do list. (But I truly hope that your customer feedback efforts are SO much more than that!) One question we hear is “What happens now? What do we do with what we learned?” Way too often organizations think that once the survey is closed and they have looked at the findings the process is over. But there are is so much more to do that can positively impact your customer relationships. Here are som tips for helping you take those all-important next steps.
Share the Feedback
Start by sharing the results internally. Honestly share what your customers said – the good, the bad, and, yes, even the ugly. Allow them to ask clarifying questions and discuss the findings openly. They may not agree with everything customers said and may push back. Be open and let everyone have their say. Keep in mind, the customer is not ALWAYS right. But their opinions are still their opinions. And it’s their money being spent. Where their perspectives diverge, you need to weigh both the customers’ opinions and employees opinions. Typically there is a measure of truth in both.
Also, be sure to tell your customers what you heard. In my experience, this is one of the most-overlooked parts of the process. Yes, we are collecting information for our use. But I tell you, one of the most memorable things you can do is to summarize your findings for your customers. Remind them that you reached out and asked their opinions…and are committed to acting on it. Transparency is important. So, go ahead tell them what you heard. It will serve several purposes. (1) Even if they didn’t participate, it will remind them that you took the time to ask, (2) for those that did participate, it will help them understand how aligned their opinions are with other customers, and (3) it will provide another positive touch-point; one on which you are not selling or asking for anything. You are merely sharing information with them.
Consider Digging Deeper
A feedback effort can result in knowledge and…more questions. That’s not at all unusual. As resources allow, we usually recommend dedicating time and money to a deeper dive into the findings. Perhaps some follow-up customer calls or discussions. Sometimes focus groups are a useful way to conduct an open conversation with several people at once.
We typically recommend planning a deeper dive into your findings before you begin. That way, when you do a survey you can include a way for respondents to choose to participate in a further exploration when you do your initial data collection. And, by the way, those shouldn’t be the only people you invite to follow-up call(s) or focus groups. Reach out to a variety of other customers as well.
Actually Make Changes
You may (or may not) be surprised to learn that organizations go through the effort to reach out to customers and hear their opinions – and then call it a day. I’m here to tell you that that’s just the beginning. One thing you are doing when you decide to conduct customer research is that you are setting up an expectation with them that they are being heard – and that you will act on the results. Take that commitment seriously.
But how? Here’s what’s worked for us.
- Determine a team that can be empowered to oversee and drive any organizational changes.
- Conduct a full review with them. Summarize the results into areas that appear to be the most fruitful for change. Look carefully at areas that are most important to customers and that you may not be performing as well as they would like. This intersection is ripe for making the most impactful change.
- Once these key areas are surfaced, brainstorm how best to address the, This post is not about organizational change, so I won’t dive any deeper into that part of the effort. Suffice to say, that determining the best places for change to happen is a critical part of the process.
- Once potential changes have been determined, include a discussion of them when you share results with your customers (discussed above). One of the sizable benefits this provides is that it helps customers tie together their feedback and organizational change. They will understand that their feedback is taken seriously and a serious attempt to help you improve customer relationships. They will know that their opinion matters; truly matters. And that you will act on their opinions.
The ultimate goal is not the research itself. It’s not to check a box on a check list. The goal is to obtain knowledge that will help you better understand (and take action to improve) the customer experience. And what’s in it for your customers? Exchanging their time and input to have their experience improved. Keep these in mind throughout the process.
Let’s make sure your organization has a solid path to the future. Please feel free to reach out and get in touch and let’s explore how I can help you and your business succeed. No pressure. Just an informal discussion to explore some ideas.