Nurturing the great value of customer feedback
Tips & watch out’s by Motion5
Several studies show that if customers are very satisfied with your products or services, their loyalty towards your company will increase significantly as well. That’s why many organizations focus their customer surveys on that particular topic of ‘satisfaction’. However, if we have the chance to talk with customers about their current satisfaction level, why not extend our research with topics that are directly impacting the future? How can we evolve from only taking snapshots to adding sustainable value?
10 considerations to improve value
1. Differentiate from standard NPS studies
Yes, Net Promoter Score (NPS) studies are valuable. But these scores do not tell the whole story. Talking to customers is an opportunity to capture their current perception of the partnership, including elements that are highly valued vs. elements that need improvement. However, the interview or survey should also address qualitative statements and questions triggering the customer to share ideas and suggestions going forward. For example: “If the customer could advice us on future investments, what would that advice look like?”
2. It’s not a ‘nice to have’
Make sure that you position the interview or survey in the proper strategic context. How will the customer feedback serve as input for the organization’s strategic priorities? As a management team you should not only understand the strategic importance of performing customer interviews. It is a necessity to practice what you preach: being customer centric.
3. Target the right customers
Are we going to target those customers that are willing to participate because our current relationship is strong? Those that we see as future strategic customers? The ones that are complaining or even former customers? There is not one answer to this question: thoroughly discuss upfront which target group is most relevant (linked to your objectives) and stick with your choice.
4. It’s a gift:)!
Stakeholders should perceive the invitation for the interview as a gift. How to achieve this? Make sure the responsible Strategic Account Manager (SAM) personally asks the stakeholder if (s)he is willing to participate. Let the SAM also explain why the customer is selected to participate and share the strategic context of the interview. Also, make sure that the (external) interviewer knows about the details of the partnership and stakeholder preferences before the interview itself. Preparation is key.
5. Feedback as part of a partnership
Sure, we can call our customers once to retrieve their satisfaction levels. However, we know that their scores are only snapshots in an ever-changing reality. Real value is achieved over time and through repetition. When you call the customer for the first time, it’s mostly because your organization feels it’s a good time to do so. In other words, YOU need it. But don’t we want the customer to experience our sincere interest over a longer period of time – like a true partnership? Our advice: repeat customer interviews at least three times. Listen, reflect & give back. The psychological effect is immense. Also, did we move the needle? Repeating measurements enable you to assess the real impact of customer centricity.
6. Assess the capabilities of the interview(er)
Depending on your main goal, telephone interviews, online surveys or even face-to-face interactions can add value. Regardless of the method, we know that the quality of the questions and the capabilities of the interviewer are crucial. Make clever use of pre-framing, introducing the topic to the customer in a constructive and favourable way. The professional interviewer is prepared, introduces the interview properly, checks understanding and is to the point. On average, three main topics is a good standard. All other questions or statements need to contribute to gaining a deeper understanding on those 3 items.
7. Thank you for your time!
And then…? Treat customer feedback like gold dust. Capture the information given by the customer and report back to the SAM as soon as possible. Having a closed feedback loop means the organization can directly act upon feedback and show appreciation & willingness to learn towards the stakeholder. You can waste the good will created during the interview, by not reflecting back what you have done with the feedback.
8. Customer satisfaction vs. employee perception
Organizations learn a lot by comparing customers’ perceptions with those of the involved commercial team members. What are the differences and similarities? Also, does perception meet reality? By answering these questions, you assess the likelihood that both parties will eventually enhance the business relationship or stay silent.
If we talk about closing the feedback loop, this comparison is an essential part as well.
9. Quantity versus Quality
How many interviews is enough? This depends on your goal. If you want to assess the overall situation with averages, our experience is that 30-40 is enough to capture the average view. More than 40 interviews usually do no produce more unique info, but mainly contribute to the validity of the research. However, if you take in mind the personal approach, as described above, each individual interview further contributes to build on a sustainable relationship with the stakeholder.
10. Incorporate the power of gratitude
What would happen if gratitude was incorporated into customer surveys? What if, instead of asking customers what had gone wrong, companies asked them what had gone right? In a recent Harvard Business Review article, researchers investigated the effect of making yourself lovable. They found that if you have sincere intentions and are not performing below average, asking for compliments increases the customer’s feeling of well-being. And positively influences the relationship with the customer.
After a sincere and open interview, you do not only retrieve information on the topics you prepared for, it might also occur that you spot new business opportunities. Therefore, use the interviews to optimize the quality of the data in your CRM system. Report back to the involved account manager and/or customer service members.
About the author
Frijke is Managing Director and Consultant at Motion5. She has been supporting international companies in sustainable change processes for the last 10 years. She specializes in Health Care, working with health insurance companies, Pharma- and MedTech companies. In addition, she is an organizational psychologist and has researched the power of beliefs and how they affect setting individuals in motion in a sustainable way.