To get the best out of your customer feedback program you need to have the right approach to customer feedback for your business.

1) What’s the true nature of your customer relationships?

The most important step is to consider the sort of interaction you have with your customers: is it transactional or relationship-based?

  • Transaction-based: you don’t know who your customer is, it’s pretty once-off and don’t know when they’re coming back
  • Regular transactions: you know who your customer is, and quite a number do business with you regularly
  • Relationship-based: you live and die by your deep ongoing customer relationships

Outstanding listening is about choosing the right approach – and there are different listening approaches depending on how you interact with your customer base.

There’s a real opportunity to follow your ongoing relationships over time – to really understand what’s changing with them and to understand if what you’re doing is working. Not only is there a chance to flush out fresh insights that are based on how customer relationships are trending, but listening really well to customers is a relationship strengthening exercise in its own right- yes, outstanding listening is a money generator!

Consider these three kinds of deep ongoing relationships:

  1. Ongoing customer relationships
    For enduring individual customer relationships, understanding transactions doesn’t take you the whole distance if your business lives and dies by its ongoing relationships.
  2. Strategic account relationships
    Are you leaving yourself vulnerable by only hearing from a few people at the top, in your strategic account relationships? You need a listening approach that hears not just from the top, but also from others down the line who your various people have a relationship with. Following a good spectrum of these people over time tells you what’s working, based on how their sentiment is trending.  Then you can map this out and take it back to those people at the top. They’ll learn as much about what is going on as you will, because they tend to hear mostly the negatives and little of the good stuff that’s going on.
  3. Partner relationships
    It’s easy to end up with a listening approach that’s born in B2C and that’s never going to do the heavy moving a partnering business needs. First thing is that partnerships are 2-way, so the big opportunity that’s usually missed here is to not involve both the people at your partners as well as your own people who deal with them.  This means you can start to get on the front foot with the internal:external gap, which is at the heart of good partnering. And by following these individuals over time, you’ll see what’s working and what isn’t.

2) Are you measuring the right thing?

Consider that there are two parts to any customer feedback program: metrics and taking action (responding).  The opportunity to deepen your customer relationships is through really listening to your customers (measuring the right metrics) and then doing something about the information you collect (acting on the insights).

One challenge is that there are a lot of relationship businesses who are using transactional approaches to measure the success of their business.  Because NPS is well-known and popular, people do it because everyone else is.  However, if you take a closer look you’ll likely find it’s not delivering what people really what.

Good transactions don’t guarantee good relationships.  Another challenge is that you might be doing a great job of transactions, but does that mean you’re doing the best for your customers?  Or perhaps consider that just because you have successful transactions, it may not mean you have a successful business.  In this case, does something lie above successful transactions that you’re not aware of, let alone measuring?

There’s also often a contradiction about what businesses say, and what they actually measure.

For example – if your brand promise and your collateral all talk about valuing customer relationships, but all you’re measuring is transactions – then you’re not really delivering on your brand promise or your business objectives.

3) Where are the opportunities to do better?

Taking into account the type of relationship business you’re in, and what you should be measuring, you can look for opportunities to do better with your feedback program.

It may be that a simple change such as adding a complementary cohort to your existing program, and intervening at opportune times over the course of the relationship, will give you a much greater insight into the relationship over time and whether what you did worked.

You might just be surprised at what you find.  Maybe these people who you think are merely transactional, actually have a sense of relationship that you’re underestimating. Is it an opportunity missed?

Check where the opportunities lie for your business: complete this quick program review.

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