Customer Experience News & Trends

Better customer feedback starts with this …

If you care about the customer experience, you probably love customer feedback. That’s great, but there’s an even better way to get the full view of what your customers want and need.

Talk to your employees.

Then align the two sets of feedback for the clearest picture of where your customer experience stands and where it needs to go.

That’s the newest proven advice from Harvard researchers.

Few connect what they have

Most companies gather customer feedback. Many get employee feedback. Very few connect the two. By linking the two, companies can create a powerful feedback loop that engages employees and helps companies stay ahead of changing customer expectations, says Medallia Institute’s Beth Benjamin, who was one of the top researchers in the study.

Getting feedback from customers and employees is the easier part. Linking them is a bit more involved, the researchers admitted. But it’s not impossible. It takes some careful steps and well-worded questions.

Here’s what they suggest:

1. Stick to your objectives

Align your feedback system and survey goals around an existing business objective. Don’t let the surveys dictate what you’ll do. Figure out which needle you want to move, and use the feedback to determine which direction or how far it needs to move.

2. Hit the same touch points

Some companies make the mistake of asking customers for feedback based on one structure — perhaps the sales process or service channel. Then they talk to employees on a different structure or topic — such as product quality concerns or response times. Then the supposedly aligned feedback doesn’t make sense.

Instead, organize customer feedback around touch points you know you can change or improve, and survey employees who interact with customers at those points.

Here are sample questions the researchers have used. In this case, they’re specific to a customer service transaction.

Customers were asked:

  • Was your problem solved?
  • Are we easy to work with?
  • Did you enjoy the experience you just had?

Employees who worked with the customers were asked:

  • Did you solve the problem?
  • Was it easy to access the tools and resources you needed to solve the problem?
  • Did you feel proud to represent our brand in the conversation?

You can see that the questions line up, and answers can point to discrepancies and/or consistencies.

3. Set the right pace

The most customer-focused companies survey customers continuously and distribute data in real-time. Many companies can’t do that, and it’s OK, as long as they pace the customer and employee surveys at the same frequency.

The second critical timing factor: Match the surveys to the pace at which you can respond and act. You need to show customers and employees that you’ve seen their thoughts and are using them as a catalyst for change.

4. Encourage honesty

Customers will be candid. They don’t have much to lose by being crass, if they choose. Employees are different. They may fear candid, negative feedback will get them in trouble.

You can keep them honest by rewarding and honoring employees for raising difficult issues. Show them how employee feedback helps the company or the customer experience move forward.

5. Take them at their word

Let people speak their own words and express true emotions.

Ask open-ended questions. Listen to real conversations. Try text analytics and sentiment analysis to get the full picture of the emotions both customers and employees feel during interactions.

6. Act and communicate

Act on the most important feedback. You identified the goal based on business objectives when you set out to gather and align feedback. Now create an action plan tied to reaching the goal and meeting objectives.

Most importantly, tell customers and employees what you learned and what you’ll do with that feedback.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest customer experience news and insights delivered to your inbox.