Customer feedback is the most direct way to impact customer experience. According to Walker, by 2020, customer experience, will be the standout distinguishing characteristic of business strategies for B2B companies. Price and product are secondary, but customer experience stands head and shoulders above the other elements as the most important. It’s incredible, really. We live in a business culture where we’re often told that the best product for the lowest price wins. However, the delivery of that product, and the way the product resonates with the human purchaser, are the factors that reign supreme.
Needless to say, customer experience is important. However, most companies don’t know how to instigate improvement in customer service within their companies. Mangers tell their employees to try hard, repeat mantras like “the customer is always right,” and hope that pure willpower will take customer experience to the next level. These efforts, while admirable, aren’t especially productive. Most importantly, they’re not measurable or sustainable.
To create lasting customer experience improvements, companies should partner with a customer experience research expert. Among other things, customer experience researchers develop customer panels, or groups of customers who give honest and open feedback. Customer panels are invaluable for many reasons:
Statistical validity of customer feedback
When customers decide to participate in a panel, they do so voluntarily. Customer experience researchers can make sure to pick and choose customers that are representative of the whole, based on factors like shopping location, income, type of customer and other demographic factors. The feedback from customer panels is intended to instigate change, so making sure the data is accurate and representative of the customer base as a whole is vital.
Actionable and diagnostic
Using customer panels benefits the sponsoring company because the feedback is unequivocally significant to customers. By probing on different customer experiences and interactions with the brand, a business can affect change in the most direct way possible based on the most pertinent and important feedback.
Identifies individual employees
Customer panels can be accessed at different points of purchase/interaction. As a result, individual employees can be identified. This isn’t intended to persecute employees, but rather, to help provide the most targeted and specific customer feedback possible. Feedback that is too general falls on deaf ears for employees, or doesn’t render itself important when they think about their job duties and responsibilities. However, providing direct feedback from customers about individuals inherently demands employees’ attention. Employees learn about their own job performance from real-life case studies, and the quality of the feedback leads to meaningful lessons and actions for improvement.
Iterative feedback may be the most important benefit of customer panels. By routinely collecting scores and evaluations, companies can learn about their own improvement and the overall direction of customer experience within their company. Without iterative feedback, managers have no way of knowing whether their efforts are helping, and have no goals to work toward. Regular, statistically valid feedback from customer panels creates the framework for continuous and incremental improvement in customer experience.
While different for each company and type of business, customer experience is directly related to revenue per customer and customer likelihood to refer new business. CSP serves as a customer experience research partner with the experience and capability of developing a statistically valid customer panel. CSP’s Voice of the Customer Research turns that panel into actionable insights managers and executives can use to drive revenue through a proven model.