The 3 Step Process for Implementing Customer Feedback

Emily James

Co-Creating the Future of Survey Participant Exper...

At the recent ASC International Conference, I had the pleasure of running a workshop about the chall...


Paul Hudson

    Customer feedback is crucial. While most articles centre on how to get quality customer feedback, the implementation of feedback is a topic that has acquired less focus, mainly because of the subjective nature of what works and what doesn’t.

    There are tactics that work for most but not all stakeholders, and then there are tactics that work for very few and because the overwhelming majority dislike those tactics, new stakeholders are scared to try them. So sometimes, we need a little help distinguishing which tactics will work for us. There is a three-step process for implementing customer feedback that can jumpstart stakeholder action.

    Step One: Make Sure to Generate High-Quality Customer Feedback

    Stakeholders can’t implement feedback if there’s no feedback to implement. But equally, implementing inaccurate or unreliable feedback will cause more harm than not taking any feedback into account at all. So, making sure stakeholders know how to gain accurate, reliable, and directly actionable feedback is the first step in this process.

    One way to make sure stakeholders are gaining the right insights is to understand what questions, objectives and goals that insight will work to inform. The questions we ask at the start and during the research will dictate what insights we get in the end, as these questions often inform the very bones of the research design and help it evolve into a project that will be truly relevant and worth all efforts spent on it.

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    Customer feedback is crucial, but how do stakeholders implement customer feedback in a way that ensures success?

    These questions will help point the research in the right direction; are stakeholders looking to forecast future trends and innovations? Understand consumer behaviour? Or to test a product or service out on customer beta testers to make sure that it’s the best it can be?

    Customer-centric organisations excel most at generating reliable and accurate data, with research platforms hosting long-term customer communities or panels that are fully engaged and active in insight generation activities. Customer-centric organisations also have the pathways carved out to communicate insights in ways that all stakeholders have access to and in ways they understand and can action right away.

    Step Two: Thoroughly Absorb Customer Feedback into Decision-Making Processes 

    Actioning or implementing customer feedback can be tricky, especially in organisations that haven’t embraced customer centricity. Turning insights into action is the process that most stakeholders struggle with, with a good number of firms requesting insights into customer actions, thoughts and needs, taking the insights and then making decisions still based on the metrics they’ve always used instead of using customer feedback. So how can stakeholders make sure they take insights into account more often than not?

    One way is to educate as many stakeholders as possible in how to best use customer insights. To take this one step further, this education can also cover the immense power of insights too, but as long as the processes are in place so that all stakeholders use customer insights in their decision-making processes anyway then that level of understanding will come naturally once they see the improvements and level of success rise.

    Secondly, make insights as easily accessible as possible. Those pathways that customer-centric organisations build are superb for democratising access to both insights and market research itself, meaning that stakeholders can freely obtain powerful insights whenever they need.

    Sharing insights through multiple channels such as regular newsletters, in-person insight forums, and building a dedicated data warehouse where all current and historical insights can be stored in one place means that insight teams have a better chance of engaging more stakeholders than simply using a single channel. But these channels need to be set in place, maintained and promoted by the insights team and any insights advocates within the organisation to encourage stakeholders to use them on a regular basis.

    Step Three: Measure Success and Adjust from There

    Trial and error eventually leads towards success. With each failure, we can rule out a path to take and narrow down the options that will lead to good results. This process is typically long and arduous, which puts a lot of people off trying this method, but by going back to the customer feedback already gathered and then requesting new specific feedback on the progress so far, stakeholders can dramatically shorten the time it takes to achieve success.

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    This three-step process for successfully implementing customer feedback promotes an iterative approach that can be tailored to each stakeholder business.

    Implementing customer feedback in an iterative endeavour to make sure it’s acted on in a successful way is a process used with great results by customer-centric organisations. There are a number of ways to measure the success of iterative processes, the first is through customer feedback itself, if the feedback is positive then stakeholders are heading in the right direction.

    But there are other methods too. For example, if the subject is a brand strategy, then stakeholders will see success through the customer lifetime value and the amount of churn they will need to deal with. Customer research, or feedback from customer-facing teams (such as customer service) are an invaluable resource that can help point out specific flaws within the customer journey, a particular product or service, or even an internal process if it’s impacting the customer experience to a noticeable point.

    Businesses shouldn’t rely on a single metric to measure the success of their efforts, services and strategies. Combining metrics will help stakeholders understand exactly which parts of their business works and which don’t, which will then help when identifying the alterations they should make.

    The Simple 3 Step Process

    While this process is seemingly general, it’s structured enough to provide a base for stakeholders to work from when implementing customer feedback, but loose enough to tailor or even embed within their own strategies. Taking the time to tailor it to their own needs will cement the process better within a solid business strategy, and enhance the success it will produce throughout the organisation.

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