Listen to Your Customers - They're Expecting Results!

In many organizations, gathering feedback is simply an isolated, every-so-often activity.  This activity is often treated as just that: an activity, rather than a medium to understanding and responding to customer needs.  Not only is it viewed as just an activity, but it often becomes an incomplete activity; many organizations that gather customer feedback do nothing with the information they collect!

The failure to take action on this feedback is not only a lost opportunity, but it is also a major step backwards in guilding client confidence and respect.  Having been asked for their feedback, customers are then expectant and watchful for changes brought on by this feedback.  Consequently, if they see none of these changes being implemented, they question whether or not their voices are being heard or if the organization is simply going through the motions.

To be successful, feedback gathering must be viewed not as just an activity, but as part of an ongoing process of improving relationships with customers.  Consider the following questions when considering customer feedback collection:

What are your objectives?  Are you looking to assess client satisfaction? Find out what they describe as being important, what's changing around them that might affect your services, or if they truly understand the nature of the services you provide.

When should you gather feedback?  Are you collecting information at the start of the business relationship, periodically during the relationship, when there are important changes within your organization, or perhaps at the first sign of dissatisfaction?

How do you want to collect feedback?  Will you use surveys, interviews, focus groups, periodic meetings or casual conversations?  Often times these can and should be used in combination.

What will you do with the information you've collected?  Will you assess the need for service or product changes?  Will you seek additional feedback to clarify unclear responses?  Will you communicate your findings to your customers?

The feedback gathering process is and should be intricate. These questions are a good starting point for developing a detailed plan of action.  Even if you start off simply, ensure that you value and apply the feedback, and don't just go through the motions!
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