Maximizing Feedback from Customers

  • Heather Bunn
  • Vice President
  • Rafn Company

In our last issue you got to hear from one of our favorite business associates, Ann Amati. She shared a bit about how her unique approach provides a different level of customer feedback than a check the box survey. In this issue, I thought I would share a bit on the next step... what do we do with Ann's 'ah-ha' moment information.

Every customer who has provided their unique perspective on our business deserves to know that they have been heard. We endeavor to make sure that each type of feedback gets an appropriate and timely response. Ann has been great at providing information to us that preserves the anonymity of the speaker if they desire, but sometimes a client will share specifics that they want us to hear. There are generally three categories of information that comes back to us:

  • Items specific to a company or a person i.e pet peeves or a striking perception
  • Items specific to one of our teams or employees i.e. asking too many or not enough questions
  • Items that are thematic or pervasive that the company needs to pay attention too

Our job is to ensure that we first put things in the right categories. While that might seem straightforward on first glance, it can be harder than you think. In my experience, the best approach is to spend more time with the customer to learn more about the event or circumstances that lead to a specific comment. This opportunity to learn more about the customer or their company is a great by-product of the survey. The next step is to figure out the best avenue to either resolve the concern or to leverage the enthusiasm, depending on the nature of the client's comments.

From this point we can then incorporate specific actions into our work plan and report back to the customer on the actions that have been taken as a direct result of their feedback. In 2015, more than half our annual business plan and supervisor trainings were centered around a couple of themes that arose out of customer feedback.

One event that I like to use as an example, illustrates how simple it is to miss what is important to a customer. We got feedback through Ann from one of our best customers (I will call them Company A) that what they really liked was that their banker came into their office once a year to provide a more formal presentation about their company to the decision makers and leaders at Company A. Our immediate response to this piece of feedback was surprise because "we see these people all the time", over lunches or ball games or at job meetings. And "we have worked together a long time, they must know as much about us as we do." Our immediate reactions were off base. We took the time to create a more formal opportunity to do a little show and tell for them and the reception was delightful.

We learned a lot from that one little example. The most important thing we learned was that client relationships, just like our relationships at home take some effort to keep fresh and invigorated. In some ways you could liken it to a "date night". It is an opportunity to do something a little different, a bit special, and to share more authentically what you have both been up to.

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