Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tracking Customer Feedback -- Good and Bad

Last month, the Gourmet Retailer had a great article on paying attention to customer compliments as much, if not more so, than complaints.

What I like about this article is that it makes a point of identifying happy customers and keeping them happy.  While it's important to fix customer complaints in a satisfactory manner, customers who are currently satisfied are more likely to be promoters of your brand.  Knowing these customers and what they like about you helps identify ways to improve or change your offerings to better fit their needs.  In the book The Ultimate Question, the authors state that the single most important question to ask customers is "would you recommend us to a friend?".  Knowing how many satisfied customers you have is even more important than knowing how many unsatisfied customers you have; these customers will bring their friends, who then are more likely to turn into customers themselves.

For the most part, I agree with the article, but there are a few caveats:

Positive feedback doesn't outweigh negative feedback.  Unhappy customers can't just be ignored, unless the company is purposefully redlining them, as in those who don't pay bills or who are too unpleasant to work with.  Even then, redlining customers must be done carefully, as social media can create a wildfire of bad publicity.

One thing that kept coming up in the Kitchen Nightmares series, run by Gordon Ramsay, is that business owners use customer compliments to lull them into complacency.  If sales are dropping, if people aren't coming into the shop, then all the compliments in the world don't change the fact that the business is suffering and needs to change, especially if those compliments aren't recent.

I enjoyed reading the article, and especially like the stories of how this company grew more connected to its customers through the use of positive feedback.

Bayless, M. (2014). Build on What's Working.  The Gourmet Retailer, Feb / Mar 2014 issue.

Reichheld, F. and Markey, R. (2011).  The Ultimate Question 2.0.  Harvard Business Review Press: Boston, MA.

Image via landsandlots.com

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