What should you do next for a powerful customer feedback program? Today, businesses are talking more about “customer experience.” Things may have progressed further at your company, and management has approved starting a formal customer feedback program. A variety of other activities are underway to launch this customer experience improvement effort.

You are wondering privately, “Have I done everything need to do?” Or “What should I do next?” These are common questions. So much energy and effort go into getting a Customer Feedback program off the ground that sometimes managers overlook some of the important “what next” questions. Some of the questions are not “what next?” but “what now?”

Here are some of the essential things to consider. These are five considerations for an effective Customer Experience program. If you have not already included them, do so. These are the things that will help you get the most out of your Customer Feedback program.

1.     CREATE GOALS

Create clear goals and/outcomes and share with your team

Having goals and objectives sounds basic, but sometimes they are absent or not evident. Saying, “We want to create memorable experiences for all customers,” does not translate well to frontline employees, where the Customer Experience desires come face-to-face with company reality. Alternatively, consider the following

Identify three to five (no more) specific customer experience outcomes that matter the most to your customers.

Be sure to include an outcome for response time to specific customer issues. When a customer takes the time to raise an issue, they implicitly expect a timely response. Acknowledge the customer’s issue and work to resolve it as promptly as possible. Generally, a 24-hour window for acknowledgment works the best, and with a clear time-to-resolution objective.

Having broader performance objectives around NPS (Net Promoter Score), CSAT, or other metrics are fine. Be careful not to tie these too closely to individual manager compensation. We have found that strict individual goals for metrics can sometimes backfire and encourage unhelpful behaviors.

Communicate the desired performance outcomes clearly and consistently throughout the organization

There is an adage in the marketing world that consumers have to see your message at least seven times before they recall it. This guideline is right for Customer Experience communication as well. Keep in mind that new employees who come into the organization need to know the desired outcomes. For existing, busy employees, it is crucial to keep up the ongoing communication.

Identify why better Customer Experience matters to the company’s overall strategy

In one client’s case, they acknowledged that many of their products were commodities and hard to differentiate from the competition. But as one senior manager told me, We can differentiate our service, and this is crucial to our company’s success

Identify why better Customer Experience matters to both customers and employees

Try to step into both customers’ and employees’ shoes and think about what better Customer Experience means for each stakeholder group.

2.     CONTINUOUSLY IMPROVE

A powerful customer feedback program requires ongoing care and feeding.  It is not a set it and forget it effort.

Communicate customer feedback results to the organization regularly.

I know of one client, in particular, that does a great job communicating results. Every month, all locations get a dashboard showing how the company and each location have performed. Sharing the information has caused healthy internal competition. It has also caused some of the lower performance locations to ask for advice from their better-performing brethren.

A good CX program will yield lots of constructive ideas

Make sure you have a continuous program in place to take advantage of these ideas. One client started a simple continuous improvement program aimed at the seemingly little things that annoy both employees and customers. In addition to eliminating the ankle biters that annoy people, it has also resulted in some more significant improvements. Perhaps most importantly, this process signaled to employees that improving processes was an expectation within the company.

Include Employees in Powerful Customer Feedback

3.     DON’T FORGET EMPLOYEES

Employees are too often overlooked when creating a powerful customer feedback program.  It is assumed employees know what to do when the feedback happens. They may not.

Here are some ideas:

Define what a great customer experience looks like.

Be as straightforward as possible. One client has customers talk about the elements of a good Customer Experience. They have a library of short customer videos that they share with employees.

The definition of what a great Customer Experience looks like needs to be continuously communicated. For example, at one client’s regular all-hands meeting, they share recent examples of real customer experiences. Most of the time, these are the positive ones. At other times, they share what did not go so well. There is much to be learned from both.

Accountability and ownership are required for success in powerful Customer Feedback

Do employees have the appropriate amount of autonomy and control to ensure the customer experience is a good one? In our company, we follow the notion that it is far better to ask forgiveness than to beg for permission. Try to apply this axiom to your company. There is an axiom that applies to Customer Experience work, which is It is better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.”

Share success stories

One of the best ways to motivate employees is to share success stories. Years ago, I was visiting a client, and they had installation a video presentation system in the company. They were sharing the Good Jobs (customer recognitions) coming from the feedback program. I happened to go by a breakroom and saw several techs watching the monitor, looking for the customer recognitions. The managers said that the customer feedback was something the technicians loved to see.

4.     CREATE POSITIVE CHANGE

Create positive change for your customers and employees.  Creating positive change for your customers and employees is the ultimate objective of any Customer Experience effort. Acting on the feedback in ways that make a difference is critical. There are several steps you can take to create that change.

Encourage people to read customer feedback surveys

It doesn’t take a great deal of time but what can be gained is enormous. While scores from the customers are interesting, what is more useful are the comments that customers make. It is from these comments that the most significant change opportunities arise.

At one client, customers were asked in what ways could the experience have been better? Invoice accuracy was a frequently mentioned problem. They also discovered that customers who mentioned this needing improvement had a significantly lower NPS® than other customers. This finding led to uncovering a quirk in the invoice system that was causing problems for customers.

Encourage managers to network to share lessons learned from customer feedback

In any company, you will have areas of the company that perform well and others less so. High performing areas have great lessons for other areas.

Do not ignore the chronic underperforming areas of your company

Often, such chronic underperforming areas have more to do with the local management approach. Ignoring such problems only sends a message to the better performing areas about how serious you are about improving CX.

Communication in Powerful Customer Feedback

5.     CLOSE THE COMMUNICATION LOOP

Closing the communication loop in a CX program is mostly about communications, internally and externally

Internal communications are apparent in Customer Feedback

Let employees know how the company is performing, the successes, and the areas of needed work. Part of this Communication is also about celebrating successes, which will be there.

An example of this is a client who read a survey from a customer. He was complaining about the equipment rental prices. The manager contacted the customer to discuss it. He found out that the customer preferred the equipment brand he offered, but sometimes, the price got in the way. He made the customer an offer. The manager adjusted the pricing, and, in turn, the customer agreed to use his company as a sole supplier. Quite a success!

Often overlooked are external communications with customers

Be sure to communicate what changes you have made that will benefit customers. After all, they agreed to provide feedback; now, they want to see something in return. Tell them!

In conclusion, if you are starting on the Customer Experience journey or have been at it for a while, consider a question.

Are you thinking beyond the feedback? Are you following these steps for a powerful customer feedback program? Think about the day you start getting unsolicited feedback from customers, like the comments one client recently received.

“Communication, parts availability, delivery. It all seems to be improved. We’re really thankful for that.  I know some people have put some effort into improving our experience, parts availability and things like that. That I appreciate. It’s going really well.”

It is a nice plan when it comes together!

Net Promoter®, NPS®, NPS Prism®, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. Net Promoter Score℠ and Net Promoter System℠ are service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

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