3 Actions Marketers Aren't Taking With Customer Feedback, But Should

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Reviews not only influence purchases, they also hold the key to improving products and services.

When it comes to providing quality customer experiences, there's almost no such thing as a bad review. Nearly 90% of customers claim that online reviews influenced their buying decisions, according to a 2013 survey conducted by Dimensional Research and help-desk software company Zendesk. While a bad review can certainly discourage patronage, brands—especially the marketers at those brands—can study this customer feedback and make improvements based on that input. But marketers often stop short when reviewing and internalizing this valuable feedback.

“[Marketers] should really dig into the next layer. The emotion, the sentiment, even the sarcasm that people publish about companies, products, and services,” says Susan Ganeshan, CMO at customer experience management company Clarabridge. “If you aren't paying attention to the voice of the customer now, and you don't plan to do it in 2015, your competitiveness in the marketplace is going to tank.”

There are many ways to improve the customer feedback process at a company, with the best being dependent on each particular business. However, marketers may find it beneficial to start with these three actions:


Asking customers what they think

Part of using data better is understanding it. Though surveying customers is still  popular practice, too many marketers construct these surveys in a counterintuitive manner. Long surveys that continuously prompt customers to rate their experience may end up doing little to improve those experiences. To remedy this, Ganeshan recommends marketers ask more open questions on survey, while keeping the surveys short. “Instead of asking [customers] to rate their experience ask them to describe it,” she says. “That way the customer tells you what they experienced at the root versus you leading them to a particular outcome. It's about letting the customer drive the conversation.”

Combining customer voices across channels

“Some marketers aren't combining customer voices from all the places they reside,” Ganeshan says. Even if marketers find a way to better contextualize their data, that context may end up useless if it exist in a vacuum. Ganeshan points to a fictional hotel business as an example; one where the people who monitor survey feedback, social media, and the contact centers are all different individuals who don't communicate. “Some businesses silo their communication like this, which really segments the brand's interactions with the customer,” she says. “You might find that the worst experience customers have with your hotel is the room keys based on surveys, but the pool might top the list in social feedback. Maybe callers had issues with reservation.”

“It's only when you put all three of those together that you find that the most common concern across all those communications channels is the bed. It may have been number two or three on each channel, but its presence indicates a consensus.”

Digging deeper into feedback and reviews

Like other measures of success, it's easy to focus on the numerical scores or averages when looking at product or service reviews. “You might roll out a new product, query your customer base, and find you're scoring a  seven out of 10 in customer satisfaction with that product,” Ganeshan says. “If you dig deeper into those reviews, you might find exactly why you're getting a seven. It could be an easy fix.”

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