Leveraging Customer Feedback

Voice of the Customer
Customer Experience
Vocal customers are helping organizations better know what their clients want. Mindshare's Lonnie Mayne shares six steps that businesses can use to get better insights from their customers.

Customers' enthusiasm to be vocal and share their thoughts with the brands they do business with gives organizations a goldmine of information. But as Lonnie Mayne, Mindshare's chief experience officer, puts it, unless organizations use the insights to take action, it's just data.While many businesses are focusing on voice of the customer to gather insights from their clients, Mayne believes that organizations need to stop thinking about generalizations and averages and instead focus on a "sample size of one." He highlights the importance of looking at each experience individually and then focus on making improvements on what doesn't work and reinforcing what does. Here he gives six steps that organizations should follow to get the best insights from their customers and improve the experience they deliver.

- Invite customers to give feedback: Mayne stresses that organizations need to make it as easy as possible for their clients to give their feedback. Numerous retail stores and entertainment establishments put the link to a survey on their receipt, asking customers to rate their experience.

- Leverage the insights of prospects: Those people who enter a store but leave without making a purchase can also share valuable insights that can reveal why they didn't buy anything. Mayne recommends that retail stores have employees gathering feedback from this group of prospects, giving out business cards to facilitate future feedback that also encourages them to share their insights.

- Gather feedback from different sources: Customers have numerous ways in which they can communicate with organizations; their preferences might change not only between customers, but also based on time of the day or day of the week. For example, a customer might prefer to leave comments on social media on weekends rather than answer an online questionnaire. Thus Mayne recommends that organizations give their customers a choice in how they communicate with them.

- Treat each experience differently: Every customer is likely to have a different experience with a company, thus businesses should be wary of generalizing. Instead, businesses should treat each instance individually, allowing them to see a holistic customer experience.

- Map the feedback back to the frontline: Mayne says organizations need to share customer insights with their frontline workers. This, he says, shouldn't only take place to point out mistakes and areas of improvement, but also to reward employees who are doing an exceptional job. "Inspire others by relating success stories," Mayne says.

- Let customers know what action you've taken: When a customer takes the time to give feedback, the least that a business can do is close the loop by telling the client what actions are planned to make improvements and what has already been done. This lets customers know that they weren't wasting time sharing their insights, but the organization is taking steps to improve the experience.

Finally, gathering customer feedback is not a one-time thing but needs to be a continuous process to allow business leaders to fully understand the experience they're delivering to clients and make any needed improvements.