There’s no doubt that customer feedback is an important part of better understanding your customers, and ultimately, optimising your customer journeys, sales and service overall.
But how do you collect the feedback you need, and what should you do with it? We spoke to NEXA’s Dennis Singh, Director of Customer Experience (CX) and Adam Heaney, Director of Development and Professional Services, to find out exactly how you should collect customer feedback, and how to use the data you collect to optimise your customer journey. Although many of the feedback tools and applications they discussed were from experiences within the medical industry, they believe that their findings are relevant for most industries. Here’s what they told us:
Customer feedback – what isn’t working
The best type of feedback is collected on an ongoing basis and in real-time. However, the ‘usual’ tools that are considered industry standard for gathering feedback do neither. For example, a ‘rate our service’ question prompt only collects stagnated feedback and doesn’t provide guidance on how to improve or why a person would or would not rate your service. Another tool used regularly, although ineffectively, is satisfaction surveys. The main issue with these is that they aren’t tailored to anyone’s exact experience and as a result, they don’t return specific feedback. They need to be more structured, Dennis explains: “This is a more structured model for feedback where you can ask your participants or your respondent a set of questions, and give some evaluation or scoring criteria that may give weight." Suggestion boxes are yet another feedback tool that cannot deliver real-time and ongoing insights. The main issue with these is the timing factor because from data capture, to analysis, to measurement, it’s not unusual for a lot of time to pass.
How to make the change when your feedback mechanisms aren’t working
Despite the fact that many common feedback tools don’t work as well as they should, it can be difficult to change the tools you use, especially if you’ve been doing something a certain way for while. For Adam, it was actually a personal experience that helped him to realise that common tools used within the medical profession were simply not adequate. His daughter was admitted to hospital and upon receiving a postal survey three months later, he reflected and thought: “There has to be a better way to be able to collect this feedback so the hospital can get more realistic results of how my experience and my daughter’s experience was." If you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is to acknowledge that what you’re doing might not be ideal, but then make a plan as to how you’ll gather feedback in real-time, and on an ongoing basis. To do so, you’ll need to collect multiple forms of feedback, and you’ll also need to design your feedback tools so that you gather feedback in a way that suits your business and how customers interact with you, says Dennis: “Look at the types of ways you see your customers interacting with your health care service, or even your brand today and ask yourself what kinds of methods do they use? Do they warmly welcome an SMS message, or do they prefer to do things in their own time?" Once you’ve figured this out, use this interaction as the basis for how you’ll collect feedback.
Effective tools for collecting feedback
There are three main tools you can use to collect feedback. These include collecting quantitative data (for example, collecting information for detailed surveys), collecting qualitative data (for example, interviewing a select group of customers), or using a Net Promoter Score (asking your customers whether they would recommend your service to someone else, on a scale of one to ten). Each method suits different scenarios, and each has their own unique benefits and disadvantages. Quantitative methods are ideal for everyday use as they utilise an entire experience to tease out wants and pain points. They are also inexpensive and give a predetermined set of questions, which can make the results easier to understand, however their major flaw is that they don’t have the ability to tell you the ‘why’ or the reasoning for certain responses. On the flip side, qualitative methods can combat this issue as they often use small sets of customers to ask targeted questions, or interviews to discuss the details of certain ideas. However, these are expensive, and more difficult to run regularly. Finally, using Net Promoter Score can be considered a good generalised approach. However, both Adam and Dennis concurred that this score must not be used in isolation and as a tool it has more value when used in conjunction with all other mechanisms.
How to measure feedback
Collecting feedback is the important first step – but feedback isn’t useful in and of itself. To make sense of your feedback, you need to understand where in the customer journey it was collected, and how this might have influenced the interaction, which in turn will give it some context. Adam explains: “Feedback should be captured as close to the time of the interaction as possible, so you’re getting the true meaning and true value out of it.” Not only do you need some context for your customer feedback, you also need to be able to benchmark it against something. Comparison is key when it comes to feedback, as comparing results over time can give you a good indication of how well your changes are forming, or how customer expectations are evolving. For example, Adam says: “We look at certain areas over time where we could have seasonal changes… there’s lots of data metrics that can feed into those results and it gives us the opportunity to start looking at where our patterns are over time and where can we improve”.
Sharing feedback with your customers…and beyond
After you’ve collected and measured your feedback, the final step and one many organisations miss, is to share feedback with customers. This is essential as everyone wants to know what you’re doing with the feedback you received, and what’s being improved as it’s being improved. Sharing your feedback need not be a complex process, though. It can be as simple as sending an email that says something like ‘You said this, and we did this. ’Beyond your customer base, internal stakeholders can also benefit greatly from understanding feedback. Feedback can help everyone in the organisation see how they’re doing, and similarly, set a benchmark for what needs to be done. And once these benchmarks have been set, you need to ensure that you create real, actionable goals and give them a timeline. Dennis explains: “Prioritise your goals and highlight the quick win goals you could look at implementing in the next month… and mention the longer-term goals.” Collecting customer feedback is vital in understanding your customers and implementing continuous improvement, so ensure that you use the right tools, measure correctly, and share your feedback for optimal results.