Generating value from real-time feedback

Customer feedback can be some of the most valuable information available to your business and today’s connected world allows you to ask and act upon it in real-time. Collecting feedback in real-time ensures you get more accurate and relevant data, minimizing the negative consequences of errors as well as confirming to your customers that your organization values their opinion.

Successful businesses tend to value the collection and analysis of feedback as a key input towards business improvement and developing customer relationships. However, limiting these processes to quarterly – or even monthly – surveys has inherent shortcomings. Memory can be unreliable, and even relatively short delays after the customer’s most recent dealings with a business can impact their opinion. For instance, a customer opinion may be skewed by a satisfactory product, thereby masking issues they might have encountered with your service. In effect, feedback that is not gathered shortly after – or at the time of – a customer’s interaction with your business, could be biased and lacking in objectivity.

A recent study commissioned by The White House Office of Consumer Affairs indicates that an unhappy customer influences an average of 9 to 15 other people – by sharing their experience. 13% of customers will even get the word out to more than 20 individuals (1)! So, in a world empowered by social networks, where consumers are well-equipped to research, compare and share information about their experiences, not having real-time feedback will limit your ability to address negative customer experiences, promptly and effectively.

Acting on customer feedback in real time results in higher customer retention

The following quote, from Karl Albrecht and Ron Zemke’s classic 1985 book “Service America in the new Economy” (2), is still relevant today.

“Of the customers who register a complaint, between 54% and 70% will do business again with the organization, if their complaint is resolved. That figure goes up to a staggering 95% if the customer feels that the complaint was resolved quickly”

Service America in the new Economy by Karl Albrecht and Ron Zemke

Therefore, promptly routing unhappy customers back to a relevant agent could significantly boost your service recovery efforts.

Brief, but targeted surveys can radically enhance the capacity of a business to monitor its customer service standards, as well as the effectiveness of ongoing offers and initiatives. While engaging customers has actually been a fairly common practice during promotional activities, real-time tracking takes this one step further; by employing the strategy on an ongoing basis. Digital channels have enabled far more avenues and opportunities for interactions with customers. For that reason, well designed surveys, that consider the client’s time, can take advantage of these channels, to generate extremely valuable data.

Collecting feedback on an ongoing basis enhances customer engagement

96% of unhappy customers don’t register their complaints (3), but almost 91% of those leave and don’t come back to the brand. By engaging these customers promptly, you can help limit the negative effects of their discontent. Furthermore, by giving your customers a means to express their concerns can make them feel that you are genuinely interested; and will take steps to resolve their issues. From the customer’s point-of-view, soliciting feedback immediately after their experience shows that you care

By accurately identifying customer responses in real-time, you can also greatly enhance promotional campaigns and customer engagement in general. For instance, in the lead up to the 2012 London Olympics, beverages manufacturer Schweppes unveiled a campaign offering free entry on Mondays to a public swimming pool if they provided a Schweppes Abbey Well bottle cap. Thanks to real-time customer analytics, the company extended the campaign to include more pools and all days of the week. Eventually, 175,000 people participated in the offer, and sales of Schweppes Abbey Well products increased by 35% in a single year (4).

Constantly updated data optimizes resources and opportunities

The ability to tweak processes and strategies, on the basis of measurable changes in customer behavior, gives businesses the opportunity to make the most of market forces. And in the hands of an agile enterprise, real-time feedback can be a dramatically empowering resource. Some critical functions and parameters that you as a business can tweak as a result include:

  • Budget allocations
  • Identification of market opportunities
  • Inventory management
  • Targeting of marketing campaigns

An organization with the ability to identify variations in market forces and customer behavior, on an ongoing basis, you are inherently a more competitive and viable business.

Conclusion

Real-time feedback is an integral part of adhering to the highest standards of service and addressing any customer issues, as soon as they are identified. Effective real-time analytics allows an agile and proactive enterprise to minimize the negative consequences of errors and align itself to the needs and opinions of its target audience. Ultimately, streamlining feedback processes and creating a response mechanism – both customer facing and within the organization – are an essential and powerful tool in optimizing the performance and viability of the modern enterprise.

References