If there was ever a question as to how valuable customer feedback can be, Barclays recent shift in its overdraft policies provides a sufficient answer – it’s pretty valuable.
After being hit with £290 million fine for manipulating lending rates, the bank reached out to customers to see how they can make their banking experience better. They found out that customers wanted a better understanding of how overdraft fees were broken down. The overwhelming response led to a review of these fees and a total savings of £1.4 million for over 65,000 customers; a move that likely stopped a good percentage of those customers from doing their banking elsewhere.
Despite stories like this, there is a huge disconnect between customers and businesses when it comes to feedback. An American Express survey (PDF) shows that 60 percent of customers feel like their concerns are not being addressed by businesses.
“Consumers feel their feedback is not being heard, yet businesses are working like crazy to stay abreast of online comments,” said Geoff Begg of American Express.
For businesses, this is not encouraging news as 89 percent of people surveyed by the Customer Experience Impact Report (PDF) claimed that they started doing business with a competitor after a poor customer experience.
For a small business one bad experience can do quite a bit of damage.
Relying on Customer Feedback
Getting honest customer feedback can be essential to businesses who are looking to improve their customer’s experience. However capturing their customers’ feelings isn’t always easy when you consider that 91 percent of customers don’t complain when they are unhappy because they think that taking the time to provide feedback isn’t worth the time because the business simply doesn’t care.
But if the customer knew that there would be an immediate response, 81 percent claimed that they would provide the business with feedback.
The Barclays incident shows just how valuable that quick response can be. Faced with a damaged reputation and being accused of overcharging their customers, the bank looked to lose a good portion of their business. However by collecting feedback from their customers, analyzing what they had to say and acting on their customer’s needs, that bank was able to avoid a public relations nightmare and salvage their reputation with their customer base.
Businesses could do well by learning from this example as the benefits, especially for a smaller business looking to build up their customer base, can be quite impressive. And getting to that stage is something that businesses of any size can accomplish if they listen to what customers reported in the CEI survey:
- Make sure that you are available via phone and email.
Be quick to respond to customer issues.
Listen to what customers are saying, don’t be clueless.
Make the effort to be friendly.
Get to know your customers and their history.
Most importantly, have a process in place to collect customer feedback and a way to log not only complaints, but also how you and your company respond to issues as they are reported. Being able to follow trends in actual feedback has shown great promise in a company’s ability to solve small problems before they have a negative impact on how customers view them.
Don’t Ignore the Positive
Sometimes, too much attention is given to negative feedback and customer complaints and people forget that positive feedback can be just as useful when it comes to the growth of a business.
Not only do positive words and comments tell a company what they are doing right, but they help to encourage others to take notice as well. Claims Dr. Duncan J. Watts of Microsoft Research:
The biggest obstacle to success is just being noticed.
But positive feedback won’t come unless you make sure to do things the right way.
Feedback Photo via ShutterstockMore in: Customer Satisfaction