Responding to customer feedback is an essential component in creating a better customer experience so that customers remain loyal, spend more and tell others about you.
However, the act of responding to customer feedback is just one part of the equation. Companies that are successfully retaining customers are doing so partly because of their rapid response rates.
So how fast is your response rate?
World-Class (within a few hours) – A customer’s feedback is received and immediately delegated to a company employee. This employee assesses the feedback first to determine the best potential solution and contacts the respondent about the feedback they left.
A company that is committed to response times is KLM. One clear example is the response time indicator on their Facebook page. And while this is about questions or requests that customers make rather than customer feedback surveys, it highlights a clear commitment to not just responding to customers but responding quickly.
Respectable (1 day to a week) (median response time of CustomerGauge clients = 4.5 days) – Maybe you don’t have enough employees to address feedback immediately, or you carry out your surveys in big blocks resulting in massive amounts of feedback. Either way, you are committed to responding to your customers, and your customers are thankful for it but don’t become too complacent. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “well they didn’t mind one week, what then does two or three matter.” Remain diligent!
Slow (2 to 5 weeks) – Responding to customers is definitely not the number one priority of your company. It’s been three weeks or more and the effect of a quick response to resolve issues or upgrade customers is no longer there.
Maybe in a few months, probably never – If you are at this stage, responding to customers is not even part of your customer experience plan. Callbacks are done when “people get the time,” which is usually never, and only because the company feels it needs to tick that box to tell itself that it is doing customer experience.
Note: B2C & B2B – Addressing B2C and B2B feedback is different. Concerns raised in B2B feedback often take far longer to solve, meaning the total time it takes, for a company, to resolve fully an issue can be longer than B2C cases. However what is not different is ensuring that first contact as quick as possible. Let respondents know as quickly as possible that you have heard them and are listening, even if it is just a simple email or text saying “we have received your feedback and will be responding to your soon.”
Improve your response time: Common problems & solutions
One of the most frequent problems that we see is the bottlenecking of feedback concerning responding. An inherited problem from market research methods, companies release surveys to thousands of people all at the same time. As a result within a few days, a company is swamped with feedback, which it cannot possibly respond to all at once.
Stagger the release of surveys. If you wish to survey a large group quarterly or half yearly, slowly trickle surveys out to those in your database over the course of weeks to months. Alternatively, one can survey respondents after they have completed a transaction or after any touchpoint with the company.
But what if surveying large numbers at once can’t be avoided, and bottlenecks seem to persist? Then it’s time to borrow a medical technique known as the “triage.” This simple yet effective method evaluates the worth of each customer to your company and creates a hierarchical response evaluation. Maybe just 20% of your customers make up 80% of your revenue; if this is so, then this is your focus group, especially if they are showing signs of disloyalty. Don’t waste time on customers that bring little worth yet demand a lot when others that are much more beneficial wait in line.
Beyond implementation and tackling large feedback sets, what is the process by which a company handles feedback? Do you employ a piece of software that involves everyone in the company; can easily push issues to all parts of the company and the relevant people?
Can you track issues along their resolution journey; who has responded, what was discussed, what actions are being taken, when and if the issue is closed, and how long all of this took?
Don’t look like a fool either asking questions of your customers that you already have the answers to, tie your customer feedback survey in with the already existing data you have on your customers. Imagine before ringing a customer, with a simple click you can see their entire purchase and touch point history; you don’t just stop acting foolish but have an understanding of how to best address each customer.
Motivate, your employees, to energize your response rate
By creating engaged employees, responding to customers is something they actively pursue rather than actively avoid. To do so, set targets to motivate everyone in the company.
Internal benchmarks can be created and make sure everyone in your company knows about best practices. Make customer feedback and any metrics you may be using, always present and not something hidden away – for example through digital signage.
While Lastly, you could even make it a KPI, using it as a measure for giving out bonuses. Motivating employees is just as important as the process by which employees resolve issues, for disinterested employees, will act no quicker or slower if they do not feel the impetus to do so.
Responding is good, but responding fast is even better
One CustomerGauge client and global B2B company made a decision that to improve their Net Promoter® score they would focus on response time.
Before the outset of this goal, 25% of feedback was being responded to within 48 hours. Within a year, they had increased their response rate to 80% - 85% within 48 hours. The result of was an eleven point increase in their Net Promoter® Score.
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