|Image courtesy of rovingisydney|
One of the most important best practices of any world-class VoC initiative is to close the loop with customers. They take the time to tell companies what they like and don't like about products and services; as a result, companies must listen and respond, both by making changes and by letting customers know what improvements have been made.
Unfortunately, so few companies actually close the loop with their customers. By now, you know the Gartner statistic: 95% of companies collect customer feedback. Yet only 10% use the feedback to improve, and only 5% tell customers what they are doing in response to what they heard. It's a statistic from years ago, but I believe that it's still representative; companies are still not telling customers what they're doing with that precious customer feedback.
Closing the loop with customers is one of the first steps in operationalizing your VoC efforts. It lets customers know their feedback:
- has been received
- has ended up in the right hands
- is being used to make improvements, and
- has been (is being) acted on (and how)
Closing the loop takes a couple of different forms, from the tactical service recovery efforts to the more-strategic product, service, and process improvement announcements. It is a valuable part of your VoC efforts because it shows that:
- you care
- you value your customers and their feedback
- you do something with their feedback
Closing the loop also helps to:
- increase future survey response rates or the likelihood that customers will provide feedback again in the future... because they know it hasn't been a waste of time, i.e., you are actually using their input to make improvements.
- increase their likelihood to recommend, simply because it's an unexpected delighter; in my experience, when customers respond to surveys, they honestly don't expect that companies will follow up with them, even if they say they will.
So, imagine my surprise when I received the following email from United last week:
We want to continue hearing from you. We are committed to creating a flyer-friendly experience for our customers, throughout all their travels and across all of their interactions with us. Again, I appreciate you taking time to let us know about your experiences via our travel experience survey and hope you continue to do so as we work to build the flyer-friendly airline that you expect. On behalf of my more than 80,000 co-workers at United, I thank you for choosing to fly with us and look forward to seeing you on board again soon.
This is a great example of how to follow up with customers after they've provided feedback!
Interestingly, I received an email from American Airlines yesterday morning with the subject line: Annette, we’re investing $2B in your travel experience; in it, they outlined their plans for "going for great." I wrote about American several times last year, as they were going through their rebranding efforts; I was disappointed then that they didn't really focus on the customer experience during those efforts. In yesterday's email, they gave a high-level overview of what they were doing to improve "your travel experience" and also provided a link to a splash page with more details. While I'm pleased that they are focusing on the customer experience, I'm wondering if they are investing in the things that matter to customers most, those parts of the travel experience that are important to you and to me. Nowhere in their messaging did they say anything to the effect of: We heard you! We're investing $2B in the things that are most important to you during your travels!
We'll see how that works out for both airlines; it'll be interesting to find out how they both rank next year in the various airline rankings. Better yet, it'll be even more interesting to compare the two airlines' travel experiences in the coming months.
But I digress...
The message here is: Listen to customers, analyze their feedback, act on it, and let them know how you've used their feedback to improve the experience.
What makes Superman a hero is not that he has power, but that he has the wisdom and the maturity to use the power wisely. -Christopher Reeve