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SPOTLIGHT

Six tips for collecting customer feedback

, July 11, 2014

By Ahmed Al Akber
Collecting customer feedback is one of the most important things management can do to improve their customer experience. 
 
Feedback can help guide your decision-making and point out subtle tweaks that may benefit your product or service. It’s also essential for measuring customer satisfaction among your current customers. 
 
Yet many organisations either collect feedback on an ad-hoc basis, or don’t collect feedback at all. 
 
Here are six things to keep in mind when collecting customer feedback:
 
1. Be clear on your objectives behind collecting customer feedback. Before running a survey or focus group, be clear on the business goals behind collecting feedback. If your business is losing customers, you may want to use the survey to ask important, existing customers what they think and then ask a few past customers why they left. 
 
2. Be specific with your questions. You want to simplify what you ask as much as possible. Customers value their own time as much as anyone else, so limit your questions to a focused set that ask the most important things that you are willing to take action on. Anything else is ‘nice to know’ and not essential.
 
3. Hire a 3rd party customer feedback provider. The best way to get objective, non-partial customer feedback is to hire a professional to help you obtain it. Doing it yourself will be painfully inefficient and divert your attention from what you are supposed to be doing. Consultants can run customer feedback projects much quicker and more effectively, saving you the time and energy that you’ll need to focus on other core aspects of your business. In hiring any good consultant, you should expect a good understanding of where you stand in terms of your customer experience and an actionable set of recommendations that will significantly improve your business. 
 
4. Take action as soon as possible. The fundamental success factor in collecting feedback is what is done once it’s received. A customer may say you don’t have a big enough selection of products, so you can then work on expanding your inventory. Another customer may say that your staff are too slow, in which case you can offer training and provide them with tools to make them more productive. 
 
5. Close the loop. It’s amazing how many organizations don’t follow up after a customer survey to tell them what happens next. If a customer complains about a particular aspect of your product or service, then use this feedback as an opportunity to get back to them and rectify the situation. Tell them what you’ll do to improve your offering. They will appreciate it, and remain your customer. 
 
6. Track results. Once you have taken action, you’ll be able to improve your offering and use future feedback initiatives to continuously improve your offering. Today’s feedback results will be tomorrow’s benchmark to improve upon.
 
Actively listening to your customers and obtaining feedback is a must for any business looking to stay competitive and improve their business.
 
 
* Ahmed Al Akber is the managing director of ACK Solutions in Bahrain.



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