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The Power of Customer Feedback

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In this article, you'll learn...

  • How a customer feedback program can be pivotal to the success of your business
  • Why you should use customer feedback insight across your entire company

First, a plea: please don't keep your marketing insight languishing in a silo, away from your core business processes. The technology exists to generate real business value from this often-untapped information, so take advantage of the opportunity to link this valuable asset—knowledge about customers—to the rest of your business.

By fully embracing your customer-feedback program, you can achieve transparency into customer attitudes and learn important truths about today's buying behavior and the evolving attitudes that will determine future buying behavior.

A comprehensive understanding of customer attitudes enables you to build processes to prevent customer churn and drive cross-selling opportunities. The marketing department can use a customer-feedback program to drive tailored marketing campaigns and strengthen the relationship between your brand and your customers.

These programs are not just about making customers happy; they can also deliver real commercial value.

Communicate for engagement


By implementing a feedback program, you initiate a conversation with your customers, helping them to become truly entrenched in your brand—from product creation to problem resolution.

Such increased engagement forms far tighter purchasing relationships and builds significant brand value. Constant, relevant communication also provides an excellent platform for the creation of personalized, relevant promotions, creating a win-win that further builds the relationship. Better still, you will be able to make better-informed business decisions when you capture customer experiences and embed that insight into your business.

Learn how to share

This all seems ideal, but few organizations today have created the tightly integrated framework required to truly maximize the value of customer conversations across the company. In many cases, feedback data sits in a series of silos. Keeping it completely separate from other customer data reduces its value to little more than "mildly interesting."

The lack of visibility into customer data by the marketing team means that, irrespective of investments in customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing resource management (MRM), Marketing's interaction with the business remains, at best, a sporadic provision of leads to the sales team.

Time is of the essence

Timing is crucial in getting the most from the feedback you gather. If one of your customers has a poor experience with your contact center and defects to the competition, there is little point in contacting that customer three months later. The moment has passed, and the opportunity has been missed. Had you gained insight into that customer's attitude when the problem occurred, with alerts to the relevant customer complaint team, the issue could likely have been resolved immediately, and the defection avoided.

Volumes of evidence show increased loyalty among customers whose issues were resolved successfully. Improved customer retention and increased loyalty—what's not to like?

Marketing harnesses customer insight

Timely, focused surveys can transform the speed, relevance, and value of product-development campaigns and foster unprecedented customer loyalty and commitment. The information derived from surveys is critical to infusing the value of customer attitudes directly into your business.

Consider this example, in which loyal customers shared their experiences to great effect. Egg, the world's largest online-only bank (now a Citigroup division), used its feedback program to develop an innovative new product in five weeks—compared with an industry standard of around 12 months.

Egg surveyed 30,000 customers about the customer proposition being contemplated. A key success factor was the familiarity of Egg's customers with regular personalized online contact. The company had been using online surveying technology for five years to manage the customer experience. The customized nature of these surveys, which included customers' names and recent activities, led to higher response rates.

Building a program that enables you to continually take your customers' pulse and build an ongoing dialogue in times of trouble is crucial for aligning your business with your customers' attitudes. To avoid generic feedback that you can't act on, ensure that this "pulse-check" happens in conjunction with key customer interactions. For example, a retailer feedback request might coincide with a purchase, return, or contact center inquiry. With the right tools and approach, an alert system ensures immediate action to avoid customer defection and resolve customer dissatisfaction.

It is only by combining a real-time understanding of customer attitude with business processes that you can fully enjoy the benefits of creating a customer dialogue. Banish your silos, and reap the rewards of sharing feedback across your entire business.


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Carolyn Hall is product marketing manager at Confirmit (www.confirmit.com), a global vendor of software for customer feedback, employee feedback, and market research. She can be reached at carolyn.hall@confirmit.com.

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Comments

  • by Daniel Foster Wed Apr 20, 2011 via web

    Super article, Carolyn! Here at TechSmith we haven't perfected this by any means but we did just publish a story about how customer feedback from 450,000 people helped us bring one of our software products to the Mac platform, while saving $500,000. http://bit.ly/dHiHEi

    Thought it might be timely to share; we'd be happy to answer questions about the details, just tweet us up @TechSmith!

  • by Liz Hoffman Thu Apr 21, 2011 via web

    Super article! We are the largest regional full service pension/DC firm in the Northeast - hhconsultants.com. Just started getting the management team on board with reaching out to our customers- they were worried about it being too difficult, time consuming, expensive etc but are starting to get the idea that conducting surveys is the best way to find out what we are doing wrong and what we are doing right. We hope for alot of great feedback! And in terms of the cost, it will always cost more to lose a client.

  • by Nick Stamoulis Thu Apr 21, 2011 via web

    If a customer is willing to give you their opinion, why not take the time to listen? Understanding your customers is critical to developing an effective marketing strategy. If they are willing to talk, pay attention. You never know what insight you might find.

  • by Ursula Ron Tue May 17, 2011 via web

    Of course we here at Kampyle couldn't agree more. To leverage customer feedback is one of the smartest and most effective online strategy there is. It is so important to bring this message across, and you certainly did that very well. Great article, Carolyn!

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