Ah… remember when April Fools’ Day was just a case of looking out for whoopee cushions or being duped by prank calls? Nowadays, we’re more likely to be the victim of a prank delivered directly to our inboxes or social media feeds.
It’s all in good fun, of course, and most of us are happy to laugh at ourselves when we realise we’ve been duped. Plus, it’s a great way for brands to build their human side, while hopefully generating some jovial press coverage. But there’s one trick that customers certainly don’t like – and sadly, many brands inadvertently play it all year round. Capturing customer feedback and not taking action, or even responding.
When feedback becomes the ultimate customer prank
Feedback is a hugely valuable resource for brands. It helps you understand customer needs, letting you know what’s going right, what’s going wrong, and where you stand to improve – both in terms of quick wins, and long-term strategising. Done right, it’s also a great way of building customer engagement, but all too often, brands get feedback wrong, and risk damaging the customer experience as a result.
There are two major problems that leave customers feeling like they’ve been pranked - the first is deceptive feedback requests. In an effort to secure insight, it’s tempting to promise the customer that the process is going to be quick and easy. But when a ‘brief, two-minute survey’ turns into a twenty-minute box-ticking exercise, customers are rightly going to feel fooled.
The second issue is failing to close the loop. When customers give feedback, the reality is that they’re not doing it for the sheer joy of filling out a survey, it’s because they want to see action. Whether that’s improving on a dodgy process, or making sure that a frontline agent’s exceptional behaviours are replicated across the business, they want an organisation to respond accordingly.
However, most of the time, clicking ‘submit’ is the last the customer hears about the insight they’ve provided and, as a result, the customer experience is damaged. By neglecting to follow up on feedback you receive, you inadvertently send a message that you don’t value your customers’ time, or really care about how you’re making them feel.
A fool-proof plan for customer feedback
Fortunately, both of these issues are easy to avoid. Solving the first is just a matter of being up front, and providing a few different ways for your customers to give feedback. If you’re asking people to fill out a survey, always be honest about how long it will actually take. Or, if you’re concerned that you won’t be able to attract customers to take a longer survey, consider taking a fresh approach to feedback by minimising the amount of questions you ask and allowing customers to tell you exactly what matters to them by allowing them the opportunity to leave open verbatim comments.
You could also try gathering feedback via some punchier, faster methods – like Listening Posts, which let the customer communicate as much (or as little) as they want to. Then, you need to make sure you have a platform in place that can actually process and interpret the data you’re collecting. Granted, this can be a time-consuming job – particularly if you’re lucky enough to have collected significant amounts of insight. Upland Rant & Rave’s Sentiment Engine can help with this task, using Natural Language Processing to extract tangible insight.
Fools (don’t) rush in to close the feedback loop
Finally, it’s time to actually close the loop and act on the feedback you’ve received. That might be a case of directly responding to criticism in a timely and sensitive manner. Or, it could mean sending out proactive communications about a large-scale improvement you’ve made as a result of feedback. Say you’ve implemented a new billing process after customers complained about the old one. You might be tempted to just wait for them to use the new system and hope that they notice the difference – but by actually alerting customers to the change, you can make it clear that you’re listening and acting on the insight they share with you.
The really good news? You can get double the value from all of these strategies – because they’re equally applicable to your employee feedback processes. Although your employees have day-to-day insight into the running of your organisation, they’re not psychics. The same loop-closing rules apply for creating employee engagement, so when people in your organisation take the time to give feedback, acknowledge it and make it clear what you’re going to do in response.
Don’t fool around with the customer experience
Gathering, interpreting and acting on feedback is a huge job for any brand. With more pressing matters at hand, like actually providing customer service in the first place, these tasks can fall by the wayside. But when you fool around with feedback, you risk compromising the whole customer (and employee) experience – so take the time to get feedback right, and you’ll leave people smiling for all the right reasons.