Customer Feedback and Customer Service

Saw a blogpost this morning on customer feedback, and how critical it is, but a couple of salient points were missing, so I thought I’d elaborate a bit. These points are all in our Customer Service course (E21), bu here are some high points:

1. Customer feedback helps customer loyalty. If customers know that they can pick up the phone and talk to a live person, or voicemail, or send an email, and know that it will be responded to, (AND THE RESPONSE IS KEY) it makes a great deal of difference to the customers.

2. Customer feedback helps firms determine what they could and should do differently in their product and service offerings. Loyal customers, and even disloyal ones (as they’re going out the door) will probably have something to say about your offerings. LISTEN and don’t be defensive. At the same time, you have to evaluate what customers are telling you, the cost of improvement and how broadbased the acceptance of the improvement might be. You can’t do everything for everybody, although you’d like to. If you decide against doing a customer suggestion, call the customer back or send him/her an email about your decision…maybe another solution can be thought up, and will be more broadbased. Either way, you customer will appreciate the time you took to call/write them.

3. If you’re the head of a small firm, or even if you’re not, make sure you get to at least see adverse customer comments, because it’s a good way of staying in touch with those who put the bread on your company’s table. Make yourself accessible; I recently read that Howard Schultz of Starbucks even sits in on shifts in the customer call center from time to time. Not a bad practice.

4. Take feedback on customer service, too, because customer service is a powerful differentiator of both goods and pure services. There’s always a service component to a goods purchase, and again, the effectiveness of the service component sets your goods apart (for good or bad).

5. All your customer service people should ask the customers they serve for a rating on their service, say on a scale of one to five, five being the best. The ‘feedback loop’ is how you develop good service, by hiring good customer service reps.

6. Give your customer service reps a lot of latitude in settling customer issues. You might find their mistakes painful at first, but the best reps show good judgement and don’t make the same mistake twice.

Customer service and customer feedback are huge issues, and we’ll have more to say about it in the future as other blogs pass our electronic desk.

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