Why it’s Important for Businesses to Respond Quickly to Feedback

customer feedback

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 Shutterstock

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Drew Hendricks Drew Hendricks is a tech, social media and environmental addict. He writes for many major publications such as National Geographic, Technorati and The Huffington Post.

13 Reactions
  1. Totally agree. It’s often the only clue you’ll get regarding how you’re perceived by customers and clients.

  2. Even if you don’t have a “remedy” I’ve found that most customers get a certain sense of satisfaction from simply being acknowledged. And most are understanding if the cause is something beyond the company’s control.

  3. i think you mentioned some very important points:
    60% of consumers feeling that their concerns are not being addressed.
    89% consumers started doing business with a competitor after poor customer service
    I think it is very important that you have ongoing communication and listen to what your consumers have to say because they are using your product or service and may find some weaknesses which if improved can help your business
    What i find encouraging is that:
    if customers knew there would be an immediate response, 81% would provide immediate feedback
    Very good article

  4. That’s a good point. So many businesses are focused on the negative comments and they work hard to make those people happy while they are ignoring their bread and butter, the people who buy their products or use their services and have nice things to say.

  5. This is such a valid post. The real point here is to point out that it’s not just big businesses that need to respond quickly to feedback but it’s the small and medium sized businesses that need to respond just to keep their clients engaged.
    A small or medium sized business has a lot more to lose then a large company.
    By keeping in touch with the clients, it allows a company to be aware of any upcoming shifts in consumer direction. They can be prepared for any surprises. It’s vital to at least have one person monitoring the social media networks to see what’s coming down the pipe.

  6. Getting honest customer feedback can be essential to businesses who are looking to improve their customer’s experience. Sometimes, too much attention is given to negative feedback and customer complaints.

  7. Martin Lindeskog

    Do you have a time frame on what is a reasonable lead-time on replying to a customer? Hasn’t it become faster tempo now, since the letter, telex and fax machine?! 😉

  8. Yes! “Don’t ignore the positive” I see businesses responding to the negative feedback(not enough), but never to the positive comments.

    I often say “If someone came up to you and said ‘good job’, would you just stand there or say ‘thank you’?” They always say, “I would thank them””

    Usually a light bulb goes off after that. Also, I could argue thanking the person online is more important as the whole World can see it.

    This also lets your customers/potential customers know that you are listening and care about customer feedback.

    • Agreed. I have seen some businesses who leverage their positive feedback to their benefit. Sometimes, all it takes is a list of positive feedbacks to get people to patronize your business.

  9. This is a great article and totally agree that both good and bad feedback should be captured and reviewed. With the growth of social media and native apps like SurveyMe it means you can now get feedback at the ‘Point of Experience’ and deal with negatives right away. Also if you do something well then you need to understand why it worked so well so you can repeat it to better effect.

  10. Feedback is a great mechanism that allows a business to constantly evolve and optimize. Instead of spending time and resources to try and understand how to improve your business, one of the easiest ways is to just ask your customers or visitors for their feedback and you will most likely get the information you need. Getting feedbacks will retain current customers and increase your ability to attract new customers. Fast is good, and instant is even better. When it comes to customer service, speed is a competitive strategy that will separate you from your competition. It is also a value added advantage that customers are willing to pay for. Providing exceptional customer service will give any company an advantage over their competitors. This practice will also be an immediate mean of gaining credibility and public recognition.

  11. You can add the live chat channel into this mix rather than providing only phone and email. With live chat you can connect instantly with the customer and chat with them in the moment. You may not have the answers but by being friendly, acknowledging the issue and advising how their feedback will be handled goes a long way.
    One of our clients mentioned they love our service as now customers tend to lodge a complaint in live chat rather than going to social media and public reviews, in this way the complaint can be managed completely inhouse!