The days when focus groups and surveys from sample groups were the only tools to glean customer feedback are long gone. Businesses now have access to a far broader set of tools to access insight from their entire customer base. Andrew Mabbutt, CEO of Feefo, the global feedback engine, explains how businesses are increasingly using customer feedback to drive customer satisfaction.

89% of consumers read customer reviews, making them an important factor in decision making and crucial to online reputation. But reviews can also offer unparalleled customer insight. No organisation would admit to not caring about what their customers think of their products and service – and the best way to find that out is by talking to them.
Focus groups and surveys have a clear role to play in market research, but retailers are increasingly moving away from mystery shoppers for feedback. Not only can they be spotted a mile off, they can only ever offer feedback on one transaction, for one moment in time. Instead, businesses are increasingly choosing to invite all customers to leave feedback, providing them with access to the opinions of their entire customer base.

Customers are already talking about you

Search for any business and the chances are that a review will appear in the results. Plenty of open review websites exist, but they often give consumers a skewed or even false perspective. Review sites that are reliant on customers actively seeking them out will always drift towards the extremes, with the views of the happy ‘silent majority’ often omitted. The lack of verification also means that fake reviews are common, misleading consumers but also skewing the feedback.

By taking ownership of the review process, businesses can actively invite all customers to feedback, creating a far more representative view of the customer experience. In fact, the average Service Rating is 94.5%, suggesting the vast majority of experiences are positive – but, importantly, inviting feedback provides a business with the opportunity to improve.

Verified feedback means actionable insight

Genuine customer opinion is a valuable tool – and, when traced to individual transactions, verified feedback offers businesses actionable insight, particularly when it provides both quantitative and qualitative data – management information that can feed right in to Key Performance Indicators.

For example, feedback analysis allows businesses to identify performance trends and flag areas of improvement that may not appear in conventional management reports, particularly when splitting out product and service reviews. This analysis ranges from identifying reasons behind product performance, through to identifying a recurring problem with, for example, a delivery company that is bringing down ratings, a feature that could be easily rectified.

We find that reviews where the rating is negative give twice as much content than positive reviews – great insight to provide businesses with the knowledge of what customers don’t like and what improvements are needed to increase satisfaction.

Are you delivering on your promises?

Customer feedback can also act as a mechanism to monitor and measure the actual perception of a brand, to understand whether customer experience aligns with a business’s brand values.

If a business prides itself on offering excellent service, an analysis of negative feedback might identify issues where the perception from consumers fails to align with the brand’s expectations. Such insight can define the requirement for staff training programmes, new product features or the renegotiation of supplier contracts.

Similarly, if customers are consistently submitting positive feedback about a particular employee, store or product, a brand is able to confirm alignment to core values and, for example, reward high performing individuals – which team member doesn’t like to hear good things about their efforts?!

Customers are getting to know you too

Providing potential customers with direct access to relevant feedback also improves the customer experience. Allowing consumers to observe experiences and interactions with customer services teams, influences the consumer’s purchasing decision, even in the event of negative ratings. For online businesses, displaying feedback also reduces the chance that customers will navigate away from a website to find reviews elsewhere, increasing sales conversions.

It’s now believed that 80% of future business revenue will come from just 20% of existing customers. Asking for feedback offers a touch-point to engage with customers post-sale. The ability to engage with customers and build brand loyalty will play an increasingly important role in determining success.

Customer reviews provide direct access to a wealth of information that can make a significant contribution to customer research. If businesses truly want to get to know their customers, a simple way to start is by simply asking them for their opinion. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.

Andrew MabbuttAndrew Mabbutt
Andrew Mabbutt is Chief Executive Officer of Feefo, the global feedback engine. Established in 2010, it is a leading provider of verified customer ratings and reviews. Andrew is passionate about the business benefits of genuine customer feedback and has turned Feefo into a global business, active in 19 countries and with offices in Hampshire, New York, Hong Kong and Melbourne.

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