The key to successful customer feedback is collect feedback and act on its findings to improve the customer experience. Correct?

“Good but not good enough” to quote the recent Carling ads. Smart companies go one step further: they integrate feedback into the whole customer journey process and, more importantly, their CRM system.

Stand-alone feedback applications, and that is the majority of them, provide everything needed to collect feedback across multiple channels, distribute role-relevant reporting and provide action management tools to create and track actions. A comprehensive, single application for managing the whole feedback process. What could be wrong with that?

A lot. The whole premise of a standalone application for measuring and improving customer experience, separate from the core system used for managing customer relationships is fundamentally flawed.

Standalone feedback applications create a number of problems, costs and lost opportunities:

  • The complexity, time and cost of building and importing survey participation lists and sending out survey invitations and reminders.
  • Maintaining consistency of opt-in and survey toxicity rules across multiple systems with the associated (high) risk of inconsistencies.
  • The costs, training and adoption issues associated with yet another software system.
  • The challenges of having customer interactions in multiple systems making it impossible for agents talking to customers to see a complete view of the customer they are communicating with.
  • The failure to generate more significant customer insights available from a true, single view of the customer.
  • The lost opportunity of turning positive feedback into up-sell and advocacy opportunities because feedback is isolated from other customer data.
  • A sub-optimal approach to personalised messaging: does it make sense communicate the same way with satisfied and dissatisfied customers?
  • The work of moving key feedback results from the feedback app to other core systems.

The smart approach
I believe a different approach is needed; one that puts CRM systems at the heart of a company’s feedback process. Smart companies integrate feedback in CRM, making feedback an inherent part of both the customer journey and the single view of the customer.

Smart integration of feedback in CRM is much more than a link to a completed survey against a contact record. Addressing all stages of the feedback process it involves:

  • Managing survey participation (including opt-outs and survey toxicity rules) as part of a complete customer contact strategy embracing all marketing communications.
  • Automated deployment of surveys that are contextualised and timely. Contextualised means far more than simple personalisation: it involves tailoring the content of surveys to the individual, their role, preferences and the specific interaction triggering the survey.
  • Extension of a single view of the customer visible across the company by embedding survey scores, comments (including text analysis) into CRM records.
  • Holding & sharing feedback results against the individual customer, their company (if applicable), and the triggering event to provide visibility of feedback to all staff that deal with the customer. This enables them to shape their next interaction cognisant of the customer’s feedback.
  • Triggering and tracking closed-loop actions by automatically creating tasks in CRM to prompt the appropriate people to follow up individual cases of dissatisfaction.
  • Linking feedback with other customer data to enable deeper insights into the relationship between feedback, purchase activity and other interactions for key customer segments.
  • Automated regular, role-relevant reporting at all levels of the company through clear dashboards that show trends, comparisons and highlight areas requiring attention.

This integrated approach delivers significant benefits:

  • Improved customer experience: staff have the customer’s complete picture in front of them, allowing them to respond to recent feedback.
  • Cost reduction from automation of the administrative elements of the feedback process
  • Automation provides more time for using feedback to improve the customer experience and thus improving retention, cross-sell and advocacy.
  • Lower software costs – leverage investment in CRM.
  • Increased adoption of the feedback process from using a familiar system and presenting feedback in a useful form for staff interacting with customers.
  • Constant visibility of feedback strengthens a customer first ethos.
  • Improved sales and campaign responses from greater personalisation.

How do we know that the integration of feedback and CRM makes a difference? A webinar co-hosted by Clicktools and Aberdeen Research, presented research showing that CRM is the technology used most by best in class companies to improve the customer experience.

How do we know that the integration of feedback and CRM makes a difference

This quote sums up why collect, centralize and act beats collect and act every time:

“If you are not linking feedback to your CRM database you are seeing only snippets of information but never really going to see the big picture and act on it comprehensively. That is the vision and the goal.”

Melinda Gonzalez,
Director of customer advocacy, loyalty and experience

It has certainly helped with their phenomenal growth. It can help your company too.

David JacksonDave Jackson, CEO, Clicktools

David Jackson, is CEO of Clicktools, the world’s leader in customer feedback integrated with CRM. He is widely recognised as an expert in the field of customer focused organisations, a topic he is passionate about. David is a popular speaker and writer. He has authored hundreds of papers and several books, including “Dynamic Organisations”, selected as Blackstone’s “Business Book of the Month” when first launched.

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