‘Customer feedback’ is not a cool new buzzword but it seems like we have been hearing this term more and more recently. The concept of real-time customer feedback has been around for ages. We have long used surveys, conducted researches and even relied on mystery shopper evaluations to collect customer feedback. Why discuss it now?
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It’s 2019 and we live in a digital world. We are living in times of hyper-adoption and hyper-abandonment. A simple click of a mouse or a tap on a smartphone can open up a world of options for customers today. They are spoilt for choice and switching to another brand is easier than ever.
Today, it is not enough to just sell a good product or offer great prices. In order to rise above the competition, businesses must also sell a great customer experience (CX). Listening to your customer has never been more important.
Broadly speaking, there are two major goals of collecting real-time customer feedback:
- To learn things about your business that you did not know
- To act on well-informed decisions
However, here is the problem: It’s all about the timing.
Between 54% and 70% of the customers who register a complaint are likely to buy again if their complaint is resolved. This ﬁgure goes up to a staggering 95% if the customer believes that the complaint was resolved quickly.
The Problem with Traditional Feedback Programs
While surveys, researches, and mystery shopping evaluations definitely have their merits, all these traditional methods of managing customer feedback have their limitations as well. It usually takes days, weeks and even months to collect and process the feedback from these sources. By the time you get around to solving the problem, it is most likely that the customer will have moved on to another brand.
A prolonged period between a customer’s experience and feedback collection increases reliance on the customer’s memory. Contrary to popular belief, a customer’s memory of an experience is not the average of all the moments of the customer experience but the feelings they experienced during peak moments of the service and the end of the interaction. This is also known as the Peak-End Rule. If a customer had a negative experience and you reach out to the customer for feedback a week later, you actually risk reinforcing the negative memory in the mind of the customer.
They say that bad news travels fast. Customers are more likely to share a bad experience than a good one. Social media and review sites have created so many platforms for customers to be heard. You do not want to be in a situation where you finally respond to a customer’s feedback only to find that they have already published and broadcasted their bad experience all over the cyberspace.
Most importantly, it takes much effort on the part of the customer to complete a feedback survey. Not all customers may be inclined to take time out from their busy day to tell you what you can do better. They’d rather move on to another brand that is already doing better. It is no secret that most feedback requests are simply ignored unless a customer has had a profoundly positive or negative experience.
The Solution: Real-Time Customer Feedback
This method helps you find out what your customers are feeling or saying at that exact moment so that you can intervene immediately if necessary. Real-time customer feedback is one of the best tools to put customer experience at the center of everything that you do as an organization.
Real-time feedback empowers organizations by enabling them to ask the right questions and gather qualitative data using a preferred medium- verbal feedback, texts, emails, tablets, kiosks- immediately following an interaction.
This feedback is then processed quickly and shared with people in the business who can then act on it swiftly. Real-time customer feedback systems come equipped with dashboards that make it easy to stay on top of feedback, drive improvements and identify any red flags that require immediate attention.
Benefits of Real-Time Customer Feedback
1. Reliable and Accurate Feedback
We have already discussed how a customer’s memory can impact his or her feedback. It is therefore extremely important to collect feedback as quickly as possible. Oracle recommends a 24-hour window from the time of the last transaction to collect feedback. This is also endorsed by research by Gartner that found that opinion collected at the point-of-experience within 24 hours is 40% more accurate than feedback collected 24 hours after the event. This is a significant difference.
2. More Responses
Traditional methods of collecting customer feedback require customers to make an effort. When you engage with the customer in real-time, in order to collect feedback, you make customer feedback an effortless experience. This, in turn, gets you more responses, even from customers who typically do not take the time to participate in customer feedback programs.
3. Better Decisions
To stay afloat, businesses today must factor in customer feedback when they make important decisions. When you have a huge volume of responses that are reliable and accurate, you automatically assume a more informed and objective position as you make decisions that impact your marketing and operational efficiency and other business strategies.
4. Relevant Information
In a dynamic business environment, data can lose relevance quickly with the passage of time. Feedback received a while ago may not necessarily apply in the current business scenario. Real-time feedback gives you the most current picture. You are not limited by data that may not be as relevant as before.
5. Minimized Manual Intervention
Typically, devices such as mobiles, tablets, and kiosks are used to collect feedback on a real-time basis. This reduces the scope of human intervention. You are not required to manually collect and analyze the feedback. This also reduces the scope of any process lapses or errors.
Implementing a real-time customer feedback system may seem like a costly proposition initially. You may choose to invest in real-time user feedback software. You may also have to buy devices to collect feedback such as tablets or kiosks. However, owing to the reduced manual effort, it may prove to be cheaper than traditional feedback programs in the long run. These systems will also most likely pay for themselves just by enhancing the organization’s customer retention efforts.
Collecting feedback real-time shows that you do not just want to close a sale, but that you care about your customer’s experience and that you are serious about how they feel or what they have to say about your product or service. Customers are usually reluctant to participate in feedback programs as the results of their feedback are rarely made apparent to them. Customers are bound to be delighted when they find that a business has taken their feedback seriously by acting upon it quickly. All of this can fuel customer retention and even turn customers into brand advocates over time.
8. Swift Remediations
Real-time feedback allows you the opportunity to step in and control the situation immediately. With real-time feedback, you can respond to a situation within a matter of minutes, before it escalates into a bigger issue. This can especially help brick-and-mortar stores, where a ranting, a disgruntled customer can negatively impact the shopping experience of other customers in the store.
9. More Context
Real-time feedback can also add context to the feedback. There may be various factors that affect a customer’s feedback that may not necessarily be obvious in answers received from survey questionnaires. However, collecting feedback real-time can provide businesses with even the smallest details that may help them understand why a problem occurred in the first place. Levels of customer service can be noted for various dates, days, times of the day and even departments and locations. This will further enable businesses to identify problem areas.
10. Continuous Improvement
Businesses are constantly innovating, reinventing and changing things up to remain relevant and keep up with the competition. More often than not, the results of any such changes are not immediately apparent and take time to manifest. However, the first impressions of these changes can be collected immediately by way of real-time feedback. This can accelerate and fuel ongoing improvement.
Some of these changes may even have resulted from customer feedback. Imagine that a customer provides you with some feedback. The customer then receives a follow-up mail, a few days later, informing him or her what you have done about the feedback. The mail then goes on to ask the customer how he or she feels about the action that was taken and if you can do better. In either scenario, real-time feedback can facilitate continuous improvement.
Most customers believe that collecting customer feedback is a cursory exercise or a marketing gimmick for most businesses. However, by collecting feedback on a real-time basis, you establish yourself as a business that genuinely cares. When timely attention is paid to a customer’s feedback, a negative experience can be reduced to a minor bump in the road to customer retention. Timing is everything. Real-time feedback can take customer experience to a whole new level.
Nilam Oswal is a Content Marketing Head and Brand Strategiest at SoftwareSuggest. When she’s not hard at work, she can be found wandering, reading, and just generally having a good time in life.