Act on Customer Feedback the Right Way — Make Your CX Team Effective
Have you ever wondered how to act on customers’ feedback to ensure they stick around? The secret lies in how you handle it. The power of attentive listening, timely response, and consistent improvements cannot be understated. This blog unravels the imperative of acting on customer feedback – from addressing immediate concerns to rectifying long-standing organizational and cultural challenges to where your CX leadership could reside within your organization.
Let’s start with basic customer expectations. For example, when we are asked to give feedback about a product or service from a provider, we have several expectations. First, we expect someone to listen.
Listening means not becoming defensive if the feedback is negative. Most of all, it just means to listen.
Second, we expect a response if there is a problem or opportunity. Responses can run the gamut, but we want and expect an appropriate response.
Lastly, if we give feedback identifying continuing problems with the product or service, we expect things to improve over time. These expectations mirror many customers in the B2B markets we serve. They want to not only be heard by the vendor, but they want to see their problems solved and improvements made. If the providers’ customer experience improves, their lives will be easier.
There is an imperative to act on customer feedback. When there is a problem, opportunity, or even a positive comment, it is vital that frontline workers respond promptly. In addition to responding to near-term issues and opportunities, it is necessary to identify and address the processes and culture issues that cut across the organization to improve CX. This complexity is why carefully considering where your CX leadership is housed is essential. Strong CX performers can respond effectively to the “now” problems and solve the longer-term issues, such as broken processes, training, and creating an effective culture. Where should CX leadership live in your company?
Options for CX Leadership
In most B2B companies, there are at least four organizational spots where CX leadership could reside. These are: Marketing? Continuous Improvement? Operations? Independent? Let’s consider the pros and cons of each.
- Marketing: Putting your CX leadership in the marketing organization is different from one I recommend. The changes needed to improve CX in a B2B company typically involve many other areas, especially operations. Having CX leadership puts the marketing organization at a disadvantage, given its usual focus on generating new business. Having CX in Marketing does allow for a better connection between customer referrals and the overall marketing effort. I have seen situations where the CX team becomes another part of marketing.
- Operations: When we first started our ExperienceConnect service in the early 2000s, I worked exclusively with operations people to implement our CX improvement process. One of the pros of having CX improvement in operations is that the managers are involved in the daily operations and are in the best position to respond to the more immediate needs of the customer. The most significant negative is that, too often, the operational focus is almost entirely on present issues, with less regard to the longer-term issues such as improved processes/technology, better training, and cultural issues that inhibit excellent CX performance. The necessity of delivering goods and services overtakes the need to examine how the processes and culture could be improved to deliver better CX performance.
- Continuous Improvement: Many companies have a continuous improvement function. It typically focuses across the entire organization and is charged with improving processes. One of the reasons I like having CX and CI together is that many of the changes needed to strengthen CX cut across the entire organization. The problems customers raise in the feedback often cut across internal silos. For example, I read feedback from a customer of one client who talked about how much he liked doing business with this company except for one thing—it took too long to get invoices. Slow invoicing is not a problem that operations could solve alone. A well-positioned CX/CI function would be an excellent place to work with operations and accounting to improve the experience for the customer.
There is no one right “home” for a CX leadership function. Each organization is different, but having a CX leadership team that can help frontline workers effectively respond to immediate customer issues and deal with longer-term issues such as broken processes, better training, and a more positive culture are essential to better CX. The imperative is to respond to both long and short-term issues. If you ask a customer how to improve, they will tell you. However, they will tune you out if you never act on this feedback!