One of the biggest complaints about customer feedback is that it isn’t actionable.  Two simple considerations will set you on a clearer path:

  1. Plan for taking action before you even start getting feedback, and
  2. Use ‘two lenses’ to look at the feedback; the big picture (strategic lens) and the relationship (individual lens)

1. Plan for Taking Action Before Collecting Feedback

Think about the process first.  One of the biggest sins is to wait to see the results and then ‘decide what we’ll do from there’.  This can easily be decided well in advance, so when the feedback comes in you can impress with the decisiveness and speed of your response.  Most companies sit on their hands while deciding what to do, but for participants the clock has starting ticking. Three things you can do are:

  • Decide in advance how action items will be routed, based on the direction in which the relationship is heading. It’s usually pretty obvious what to do with negatives, but what about rising scores or highly positive ones…. Or those stuck in the middle?
  • In advance of the feedback, ask your team what they think will be the top positive and negative factors. You’ll be amazed and frightened about how little unanimity there is, so here’s your chance to get your people aligned around agreed issues once the feedback can be seen
  • Meet early in the process to identify the issues you know will come up and decide the hymn book that you want everyone to sing from.  Maybe fixing things is not the way to go- instead it might require the coordinated management of expectations.

It can’t be anonymous. That’s right, in order to take action based on the feedback you receive, attributed is best.  How else can you address what’s being said directly with the people saying it?  You might think there will be resistance to an attributed approach, but results and response rates tell us that’s not an issue (in fact, quite the opposite!).

Track feedback and actions over time.  If you’re not gathering a history of what participants have said and the actions you’ve taken over time, how will you be able to tell whether or not your actions have worked?  If someone stays angry several times in a row your actions obviously aren’t working and you need to try a different approach.

2. Look at the Feedback with Two Lenses

Feedback serves two very different stakeholder groups.  Senior management and marketers are usually interested in the bigger picture and strategic insights.  Relationship managers are interested in what individuals say so they can strengthen that relationship.

By following individuals over time you can do both.

The Strategic Lens

As leaders, you won’t get a fresh big picture from the same old feedback collection methods.  You need to do something different.  For example:

  • Following people over time to see what is changing with them will enable you to form strategy from the change-based insights of seeing what direction an individual’s feedback has headed since last time
  • If you want to drive a personalisation and customer-centric culture you need a method which understands individuals better
  • If you want to bring a more accountable attitude to managing relationships and experiences, then you need to ask for feedback from the people with whom there has been an intervention.

The Relationship Lens

Your relationship managers want to serve individuals better, so they need individual stories over time.  That means they can:

  • Identify and get onto individual problems early
  • Use the positives to do better business like asking for a reference or a case study
  • Convert individual problems into sales opportunities
  • Understand whether the actions they have taken have worked for individuals by re-contacting them.

Make sure you design your feedback program, choose your method and action taking approach with both strategic and relationship stakeholders in mind.  Then you will truly unlock the potential in your relationships.

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