In the humdrum routine of daily operations, it’s easy to miss warning signs of trouble ahead. Failing to notice customer dissatisfaction is like missing oncoming shark fins while you’re surfing the waves. If you don’t respond in time, your profits could disappear into the toothy mouths of hungry competitors.
The horror … the horror.
An influential 2011 report from Oracle goes into chilling detail. A devastating 89 percent of the consumers surveyed said they’d jump ship to a competitor after having had a bad experience with a company. Fully 86 percent indicated they’d willingly pay more for a better experience, and half said having to wait a week for an answer to their question was enough to drive them away.
That’s disturbing enough, but it gets worse. The report discloses that a startling 79 percent of the surveyed consumers saw absolutely no response to complaints they posted online about poor customer experiences. Snubbing unhappy customers doesn’t sound like a recipe for roaring success, does it?
A wonderful opportunity.
With eCommerce competitors a mere mouse click away and social networks ready to pounce on the smallest scandals, paying attention to rumbles of discontent is mandatory. It’s not all gnashing teeth and frothing mouths, though. Widespread consumer dissatisfaction with non-responsive brands is an opportunity for your own company to eat the profits of inattentive competitors.
Listening to your customers.
Ironically, initial success at many companies is itself the problem. Procedures meant for a smaller operation may not scale well. Customer experiences begin to get lost in a welter of bureaucratic inertia. Uncaring or undertrained line employees start to routinely blow off consumer complaints while telling out-of-touch managers that everything is peachy.
Fortunately, fixing this problem isn’t hard. Instead of relying on random observations, you can set up strategic customer feedback loops wherever they make sense. eCommerce websites lend themselves perfectly to such feedback mechanisms.
What’s a customer feedback loop, anyway?
It’s as simple as discovering what customers think of how your company is treating them and then reacting to that feedback with thoughtful improvements. Setting up a customer feedback loop could be as easy as putting a clearly marked button on a sales page that pops up a quick form for gathering comments on the sales process, which then go straight to the sales manager. The button might be accompanied by the following text: “Did you have a good experience? Please tell us how we’re doing!”
The sales manager or whoever else is responsible for customer care might have a detailed manual of responses or maybe just a few Post-it notes stuck to the wall, but the reaction is always the same. Learn why a customer is unhappy and make that customer happy. Change the company’s procedures so that other customers will be happy too. Ask line employees what other improvements would boost customer satisfaction. The same logic applies to shipping speed, product quality, service quality, and every other company operation that directly affects your customers.
An expansive toolkit for all needs.
Truth to tell, the toolkit for smart businesspeople is expansive. Surveys, community forums, social media reviews, feedback forms, follow-up calls, personalized after-sale emails — the list goes on and on. You’ll have no trouble finding the right tools for creating customer feedback loops that work for your own business.
Smooth sailing ahead.
Having effective mechanisms in place for tracking and responding to customer concerns and questions isn’t the whole story, but it’s a big part of it. Listening closely to your customers means the difference between merely keeping your head above water and surfing huge waves of profit. The presence of strong customer feedback loops at all levels of your eCommerce company will lead to smiling faces, rising profits, and smooth sailing!