I often describe the analogy of the ‘Three Pillars’ of effective digital customer feedback, which include collecting the right feedback online and properly analysing this data. The final stage is the one which brings all that hard work to a useful conclusion – turning insight into action.
Closing the loop is a key concept in customer experience management – essentially you are aiming for a profitable conclusion by ensuring customers and prospects ultimately buy from you and remain happy, loyal customers. Customer feedback is not only valuable for fixing online sales and service processes; it is also an ideal opportunity to convert an interested visitor into a customer.
In my two previous blogs I have written about how to improve online conversions by collecting feedback within online ordering funnels and how to analyse the data properly. In this blog I will share my top 6 tips on how to take the customer insight you have harvested and turn it into actions that will address any issues and help you to close the loop and secure orders:
1. Have clear objectives in mind
The first and perhaps most vital step in addressing the needs identified by your customer feedback insights is setting the right objectives. It would be very easy to waste resources and the valuable time of your team if you fail to identify not only what your customers want but also the benefits to your business.
For instance, customer feedback may show that a particular product or service offering is too expensive or that your online sales process is difficult to use. As well as examining the issue you also need to take a view on the profitability of addressing it. It may be that the profit margin is too low for you to lower the price further or that the typical customer segment that is identifying it is not particularly profitable to your business anyway. It is vital to take a broad view and to prioritise the actions available.
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2. Identify the needs and the stakeholders involved
The next step is to identify which departments and company processes the identified issues involve. If it is an apparent fault with your online ordering funnel it could be an ordering system failure, which will need the attention of your IT department. Equally it could be a problem with the web portal design or layout, which would mean the involvement of your web development team.
It is important to identify exactly who needs to be involved, but equally not to disturb the teams that are not connected to the issue. If it is a pricing problem your sales team will need to be involved, but if there are specification issues it may need to be your product development department. To keep your operations highly reactive yet efficient, it is vital to properly understand this.
3. Understand internal and external actions
Your customer insights actions will inevitably fall into two categories – those which need to be done internally and those which need to be conducted externally with customers and the public. Internal actions will generally involve fixing the root cause of the problem (such as a technical or online funnel process issue) whilst external actions will involve the customer, sales lead or site visitor.
Of course both internal and external action will be linked and it is important to appreciate that one will influence the other. Once the customer insight has identified the problem the feedback mechanism will alert the business and the appropriate teams, then the issue can be diagnosed, a fix put in place and the customer informed.
An efficient business understands the symbiotic nature of the internal and external processes and will use both to drive the best solution for the customer and for the business.
4. Set specific timescales and follow-up points
Once your internal stakeholders know about the issue and their involvement in resolving it, it is also important to set the timescales for the fix. When it comes to online channels, customers generally want a resolution as quickly as possible, so it is advisable to bear this in mind internally. Put simply, if a customer has to wait more than a reasonable period of time they will take their custom elsewhere!
It is also very helpful to include a schedule of follow-up points following the resolution. You will want to see what the results are from your actions, not only from the individual feedback customers but also the overall trends, to ascertain if it has generated the benefits you wanted. Equally, it is a good idea to follow up internally to ensure the company processes worked and were as efficient as they could be in finding and actioning the resolution.
5. Track the progress of your solutions and keep everyone informed
Not all resolutions are possible in a short space of time (perhaps a number of hours or even a day or so) so it is important to manage the expectations of your audience accordingly. This could be directly via your online customer portal, social media or customer support centre (with IM or email).
For an outside audience there is nothing worse than your business going silent on an issue – it is much better to show you are working on a resolution and value the opinions of your ‘fans’ (as well as your detractors!)
It is especially important to stay engaged with the individuals that specifically needed your help – treat them with respect as this will build future customer loyalty and will boost your reputation.
6. Let all the parties know once the issue has been resolved
This may seem obvious, but it is all too easy for both internal stakeholders and customers/prospects to miss out on the news that the issue has been resolved. Naturally the consequence of not letting the customer(s) that gave the feedback know; is that you will possibly lose a sale, but it is equally important to let all the stakeholders know.
If you have been courting social media followers, they will also want to know the issue has been resolved. This may be because they are awaiting this confirmation before purchasing from you, or it may be that they have suffered similar problems themselves. Many businesses/brands have their loyal ‘fans’ and social media is an important channel for maintaining and cultivating this valuable community.
You will also want all your stakeholder teams within the business to be aware too. This could be the technical teams that maintain your sales funnels, the sales teams that set pricing and also (vitally) the customer service teams that deals with customers on a day to day basis and will be asked the question!
All three stages of the customer feedback process lead to the inevitable need to take action to enhance your sales proposition – so it would be a shame to fall at the last hurdle!
It is all too easy to collect the wrong feedback or to simply keep the data as some kind of vanity project, but listening to customers and making things better is the crux of the whole process. Your business needs to make sure it is listening to its customers but equally you are reacting to this in a way that benefits them and your bottom line profits as well.
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