Welcome to Part 4 of this topic! I hope you’re finding it informative so far.
3. Deciding When (and When Not) to Take Action on Customer Feedback
Almost all businesses collect feedback from their customers. The problem is that
few incorporate that feedback into their operation or follow up with customers on
their concerns. This is often discouraging to the customers that provide feedback
in good faith that it will be used by the brand (Figure 6).
As we can see from Empathica research on the big box retailer experience in
Figure 6, survey results showed that 85% of consumers have provided some
form of feedback to big box retailers, yet only 46% of respondents believe that
brands actually use this feedback to make constructive changes to the customer
experience. In addition, only 52% believe that feedback is shared with individual
Consumer feedback overload can be a problem as well. In an attempt to be
more responsive to customers, brands often provide their staff with data but
stores/locations can be overwhelmed with the data they get from head office.
For instance, what should be done with negative reviews on Yelp or Google?
Should they direct my staff to focus on an issue because of one or two negative
comments received in the last month? Location managers don’t have the time
or expertise to digest and interpret the data. This causes a lack of focus and the
advent of social media can only make things worse. The answer lies in using
information from different sources at the right time.
Unstructured data (for example reviews from sites like Google or Yahoo) can be
very useful to observe trends at the brand level, but often contain an insufficient
volume of location specific data to be helpful to individual stores. Structured data
sources (e.g. survey responses) can be highly instructive for location specific
issues. Semi-structured data (like that from social review sites like Yelp or open ended
survey responses) can also be useful for locations as they may point to
specific issues with service or product when taken in aggregate. It is important
for brands to realize data from unstructured sources should not be given undue
weight versus feedback from semi-structured and structured sources (see Figure
7) like the customer satisfaction survey which relates to the individual location.
This is critically important to avoid location managers wrongly interpreting one or
two bad comments (that may or may not apply to their location) and changing
their approach without looking at feedback in aggregate for their location or
understanding how this impacts customer loyalty.
4. Consistently Delivering Customer Experiences That Positively Affect
With the advent of social media, ecommerce and global Internet shopping, your
customers are always just a click away from purchasing from a competitor. While
some customers, on occasion, will buy a company’s products or services even
though they have had a bad experience along the way, this has become the
exception not the rule with the variety of choice now available in the market. The
old mentality of “build it and they will come” worked in the past if the company
devised a way to completely lock up the marketplace. However, locking the
market is no longer possible in today’s globally connected competitive landscape.
Companies need to pay attention to the customer experience they deliver because
customers will post their experiences online and affect the opinion and shopping/
purchasing habits of other customers.
However, consistently delivering a great customer experience across all locations
remains a challenge for all multi-unit brands as seen in a restaurant example in
As much as overall improvement is key, just as important for brands as they grow
is to develop a consistent experience. Being good every time is far better than
being great and terrible, each some of the time.
5. Going Beyond the Loyalty Stage to Drive Active Advocacy
For many years, one of the primary goals for brand marketers has been driving
customer loyalty and thus one of the 20th century customer experiences goals
was to create loyalty (i.e. generating higher customer lifetime values as customers
are consistently delighted and buy more over longer periods of time).
The 21st century goal is to add an additional step to the customer lifecycle
called customer advocacy (see Figure 4).Why? A study entitled “Inside the Buy”4
revealed that the very idea of loyalty has changed for 97% of consumers and that
a new consumer behavior, “contemporary loyalty,” is redefining loyalty.
It was a widely held belief that consumers who bought a brand and liked it
would potentially become brand loyalists. In the past, brand marketers felt that
the demonstration of preference for that brand over competitors or even generic
store brands meant loyalty. The wake-up call for proponents of brand loyalty is
that because consumers are exposed to so much more information, especially
with the penetration of mobile devices, they are more open to a wider range of
choices in the marketplace. The study showed that consumers do a fair amount
of research (primarily online) prior to purchasing a product, from a high of 64%
before buying electronics, to a low of 25% before purchasing food or fashion.
Of those surveyed, 94% indicated that their decision to buy was “positively
influenced” by research. Around half of consumers visit a brand’s website to
research the brand prior to purchase, and 40% said they go to third-party review
sites, but almost 75% rely on general consumer reviews as their first choice for
At the click of a mouse, consumers can be persuaded by all the online content,
especially content written by other consumers, to become interested and even
purchase from another brand. Because of the proliferation of online reviews and
content, purchase consideration has dramatically changed. Brand marketers
must re-examine their views on brand loyalty because this online world has lead
to constant competition to get “wallet share” from the consumer. This presents
brand marketers with a new challenge to make sure they get their products in
front of real influencers (reviewers and consumers alike) and can result in costly
outreach “blogger” type programs. In fact, bloggers sometimes expect to be paid
for their endorsement of products and services.
Look out for Part 5 soon!
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