A common denominator of businesses that have demonstrated resiliency is the ability to adapt by shaping their products and services and constantly meeting the customers at their point of need.
When a business has just entered the market, the shaping of their offering is driven by the passion and vision of an entrepreneur who has identified a need and is confident to have the secret formula to meet it in a way that is conducive to profitability.
Soon enough, however, every business realizes that their original vision is but a diamond in the rough, waiting to be shaped by the real needs of real customers. Success, therefore, rests in a business’s ability to quickly identify the best sources for customer feedback, have processes in place to manage the feedback, and have the willingness to make revisions to the direction of the business quickly enough to profit from the newly aligned offering.
In the past, listening to the voice of the customer and securing customer feedback was cost-prohibitive to most medium and small businesses. Data-driven strategy was a luxury that only large corporations could afford, leaving the small guy to make decisions based on anecdotal observations and instinct.
Thanks to advances in data capture and data analysis technologies as well as the unprecedented growth of consumer opinion / online review sites, even the smallest and newest of businesses can benefit from listening to the customer’s voice.
New and more experienced business organizations alike can benefit from tracking, analyzing, and utilizing customer feedback. If all you have done so far with your reputation strategy is respond to reviews and perhaps update a few photos, then we want to give you a few basics to help you stir up your strategy.
Brainstorm, Validate, and Reach Consensus
We know you are passionate about your business, but passion alone can only go so far. Ideas are best implemented when a business puts processes in place designed to validate an idea against the customer’s preferences.
There are many paths to capture customer opinion in association with a new concept. If the concept was created to meet an expressed need, as voiced in customer reviews, then you are already ahead of the game.
On the other hand, if someone has a novel idea that is not responding to specific customer needs, then the best way for validation is to subject the idea to a focus group.
In addition to shaping your products or services to address customer escalations, you should also seek consensus among stakeholders in the organization. Many of your managers, salespersons, and operations staff have an insider look at how your business is shaped, and their opinions can be full of actionable insights that can help further refine the concept.
Avoid Knee-Jerk Reactions: Only Make Changes When There is Supporting Data
There is a world of difference between agile response and reactive management. So avoid making significant changes to products or processes in response to a single piece of feedback.
When negative feedback does arise, conduct due diligence by verifying the facts, taking specific corrective action, and offering remedy, but do not change your processes as a whole until you are able to confirm that the problem reported has the potential to affect other customers.
Go by trends and not by anomalous reports. Let’s say, for example, a patient reports waiting at your clinic as long as 15 minutes. This is the first time your clinic receives a negative review in association with timeliness.
A reactive manager would be tempted to call a temp agency and get people in place, at whatever cost, to avoid a repeat. Strategic managers like you, on the other hand, will note the issue, investigate the causes behind the delay, and carefully watch for other escalations. If the problem proves to be ongoing, then you will make staffing changes. A knee-jerk reaction is often costly, and it seldom yields a strong ROI.
Agility Matters: Once You Know the Facts, Revise Your Direction Quickly
When the voice of the customer is repeating time after time that you have a problem, there is no reason for your organization to be passive about it.
Having the ability to make minor revisions to the direction of your business quickly and effectively will improve the customer experience and generally result in a boost in all your metrics, including revenue.
Stay on top of your trends in order to tackle them as soon as you have a good grasp of the problem, and a peer-reviewed solution to fix the trend in question.
Merge Survey-Based Data with Unsolicited Customer Opinion and Interaction
There are significant differences in the way customers will respond to solicited feedback and the way they will engage with your business and product.
The best way to get a full and clear picture of what your customer really wants is to combine and compare data, collected via surveys, to the ideas customers are conveying in unsolicited settings such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Google.
When merging both sources, you will be better equipped to understand the true needs of your customers and revise your offering to fully match their expectations.
Change the Process, but Also Change the Marketing
Knowing what your customer wants and making changes to the way you do business to meet the customer’s desires is just half of the equation. A change without proper messaging will take longer to become an asset conducive to sales and conversion.
When your product is “new and improved,” your marketing and advertising department needs to make sure that your current and future customers know about your improvements. Work together to create change and to communicate change in order to obtain the best possible results.