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In 2010, there is no excuse for keeping your marketing insight languishing in a silo, away from your core business processes.

Thanks to today's Web-based technologies, you have an unprecedented number of opportunities to generate real business value from such insight.

By embracing a customer-feedback program, you can gain insight into customer attitudes and learn important truths about buying behavior as well as the evolving attitudes that will determine future buying behavior.

Understanding customer attitudes enables you to act quickly to prevent customer churn. Additionally, you can maximize cross-selling opportunities.

Marketing departments can use a customer-feedback program to drive tailored marketing campaigns and strengthen the relationship between brand and customer. Such programs are not just about making customers happy; they deliver real commercial value, too.

Exercises for the Brand

By implementing a feedback program, you initiate a two-way conversation, helping your customers become entrenched within your brand— from product creation to response to complaints.

The increased consumer engagement forges tighter purchasing relationships and builds significant brand value. The constant communication also provides an excellent platform for the creation of personalized, relevant promotions, creating a win-win that further builds the relationship.

Moreover, as you capture customer experiences and embed the resulting insight into your business, you are able to make better-informed business decisions.

Learn How to Share

Few organizations today have created the tightly integrated framework required to maximize the value of customer feedback companywide. 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 marketing team's lack of access to customer data means that irrespective of customer-relationship management (CRM) and marketing-resource management (MRM) investments, Marketing's interaction with the business remains, at best, as provider of sporadic leads to the sales team.

Time Is of the Essence

Timing is crucial to getting the most from the feedback you gather. If a customer's poor experience with a service representative leads that customer to defect to a competitor, there is little point in contacting that customer three months later. The opportunity has been missed.

If you had gained insight into that customer's attitude when the problem occurred, with alerts to the relevant customer-complaint team, the issue could 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 Team Harnesses Customer Insight

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

Consider the following example of loyal customers who stood ready to share their experiences:

Egg, the world's largest online-only bank and now a Citigroup division, used its feedback program to reduce an innovative product's time to market from up to one year to five weeks.

Egg surveyed 30,000 customers about the proposed customer proposition. A key success factor was that Egg's customers were already accustomed to regular, personalized online contact.

The company had been using online-survey technology for five years to manage the customer experience. The customized nature of those surveys—with customer name and recent activity— 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 to aligning your business with your customers' attitudes.

To avoid generic feedback that you can't act on, ensure that the pulse-check happens in conjunction with key customer interactions.

For example, a retailer feedback request should coincide with a purchase, return, or a contact-center inquiry. With the right tools and approach, you can use an alert system to ensure immediate action.

Only by combining  real-time understanding of customer attitudes with true business integration can you fully leverage the good work done in creating a customer dialogue.

Silos are so 2009, so get integrating!

Continue reading "Tap the Power of Customer Feedback" ... Read the full article

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Carolyn Hall is product marketing manager at Confirmit (, a global vendor of software for customer feedback, employee feedback, and market research. She can be reached at