What Should Businesses Do with Feedback?
No matter how well you collect feedback, the information won’t do you much good if you drop it into a computer sub-sub-sub folder and leave it there untouched.
In two previous articles, we've discussed the collection of systematic feedback from clients and customers. Part 1 explained why you should not only collect customer and client feedback, but also the benefits of making it systematic. In part 2, we outlined what kinds of feedback you might want to collect.
We've also mentioned that if you are ready to start improving your business with the benefits of systematic feedback, Pulse For Good has the tools and services you'll need to build surveys, interact smoothly with customers, and curate and utilize the information you collect.
In this article, we'll talk about that last aspect--curating. What should you do with the data you collect? This is perhaps the most important question within the systemic feedback process because no matter how well you collect feedback, the information won't do you much good if you drop it into a computer sub-sub-sub folder and leave it there untouched.
If you are interested in collecting systematic, meaningful feedback for the benefit of your organization, there are (at a minimum) six things you should do with the data you collect.
1. Respond to it.
As mentioned in part 2 of this article series, asking customers and clients for their thoughts and opinions is enough to prompt many of them to return to patronize your business, even if they decline to provide you with the feedback you request. Responding to feedback strengthens this bond. Responding to negative feedback in a meaningful way, for example, can turn a critic into a brand ambassador. Fixing problems based on customer feedback increases your favor and trustworthiness among your customers and potential customers.
2. Ignore it.
Okay, don't actually ignore it, but don't let negative feedback get you down. Keep in mind all those uplifting sayings about mistakes, like "a mistake is just a lesson you haven't learned yet," and "if you're not making mistakes, you're not trying hard enough." Collecting feedback will help your organization, but there's no pleasing some people. Also, understand that when you ask for feedback, you're going to get everything from glowing praise to withering criticism. Use your negative feedback, but don't take it personally.
3. Share it internally.
It's critical that feedback is shared with the relevant members of your organization in a timely fashion. Praise and positive feedback about your staff, for example, will encourage them to maintain organizational standards. Other feedback will help identify opportunities to provide additional staff training, make appropriate policy changes, and correct oversights and missteps. This should happen sooner rather than later, but just make sure the feedback you collect is shared in a confidential way, only with the appropriate teams or individuals.
4. Share it externally.
Positive feedback is its own form of marketing, so share those 5-star reviews and glowing comments with your existing customers and clients, on social media, or wherever it might help out. Conversely, if your business is dealing with an ongoing problem that has been noted by a group of customers, an effort might be made to share your remediation efforts with the public. Be sure to protect confidentiality by either asking permission to share customer feedback or by making it clear that all feedback might be shared!
5. Close it out.
Certain feedback situations call for immediate action and resolution to keep the customer or client satisfied. All complaints or mistakes should be addressed as quickly as possible and they should be closed out with customer sign-off. Don't let a fear of an unpleasant interaction enable a customer-service problem to fester, even if it requires numerous follow-up interactions. Remember, dialoguing with customers can turn the worst critic into the most loyal supporter.
6. Leave it open.
Earning 5 out of 5 stars in a customer product or service review is a wonderful thing, but what if something goes wrong for that customer a week later? What about a year down the road? Watching a 5-star review get downgraded to 3 stars might be painful, but missing a problem that doesn't show itself right away will almost surely result in lost customers and business. So, allow your customers to revisit and amend their feedback. Better yet, follow-up with questions about mid-term and long-term satisfaction.
7. Hang on to it.
If you are a data nerd, you know that there is nothing like a nice, long-term dataset. Tracking trends, finding patterns, and watching improvement (or the opposite)--all these things can happen only with a rigorous dataset that spans a lengthy timeframe. Be sure to carefully consider your data collection methods, survey questions, and database construction at the beginning of your process, so that the design will last. This will enable you to compare early data to that which you collect much later. A robust dataset can reveal remarkable ways to improve your organization.