Why feedback doesn’t work: manipulating feedback is like taking aspirin for a broken leg!

Woman laughing on mobile phone isolatedAs feedback specialists, we help businesses organisations with all sorts of feedback on-line off-line, direct and indirect, immediate and delayed.

(I bet you didn’t even know that there where so many variations!)

Now, most people are beginning to realise that feedback only has value when it is transparent, and includes both positive and negative; but there are many organisations out there, and even, hideously, feedback systems that are promoting the ability to filter feedback; i.e. you just publish the good feedback (this is a process we use to call in the good old days, publishing ‘testimonials’).

So, without me having to spell out how completely ridiculously daft this is to do this let me just ask you some questions;

  • How popular would Trip Advisor if it only had good reviews?
  • How reliable would customer reviews on Amazon be if they only published the good reviews?
  • How would EBay work if the customer could only publish a good review?

It’s ludicrous isn’t it?  Yet, so many businesses are still on this mind set of ‘testimonials’ rather than feedback!

I don’t know how we can make this clearer; manipulating feedback in any way is like taking Aspirin for a broken leg.

Feedback instead needs to be dealt with systematically structurally, using both immediate and time lapsed systems, and joined together to make it easier for the customer to tell you whether you are good bad or indifferent.

The feedback needs to be published openly so that your consumers will trust you (remember; everyone can get things wrong, just not owning up is the problem!).  And every type of feedback should generate a response that will build customer loyalty and referrals.

There are ways of doing this that are tried and tested and pay for themselves many times over.  If you don’t know about these or have any questions you know where to get hold of us.

Why feedback doesn’t work? simple: you’re not doing it properly!

What to do? you need to engage an expert: it’s a simple as that:

  • you wouldn’t get an office junior to do your tax return,
  • and you wouldn’t go to the post office when you felt ill:

so why go to anyone other than an expert when you need to get the single most important aspect of your business right?

The Key Principles of Effective Customer Feedback

The key principles of effective customer Feedback are;  Investors in Feedback Logo

  • Gathering feedback is vital … and responding to it effectively is what really matters
  • In the world of the empowered customer, not gathering feedback is suicidal
  • The method of feedback gathering must depend on the relationship you have with the customer: one size does NOT fit all!
  • Written feedback has no body language and should be used very cautiously
  • The customer isn’t interested in what YOU want to ask them: they’re interested in that THEY want to tell you: never forget that
  • The feedback process should enhance the overall customer experience: not detract from it
  • All feedback can be used to build sales and reduce costs: there is no such things as ‘bad’ feedback
  • The customer can forgive you for making a mistake: they’ll never forgive you for not engaging with them
  • In the world of the empowered customer and transparent online reputation, the winners focus on ‘return on relationship’

Want to know more? Click here to get in touch.

How do I protect my online reputation?

In today’s hyper connected world, there is a lot of talk about protecting online reputation … of course.listening how do I protect my online reputation

Customer reviews and online opinion can make or break your brand or Organisation almost overnight.

There are many Organisations offering to ‘protect’ your online reputation through technology (they constantly trawl online and take electronic actions to mitigate and minimise damage).

But little of this has any real impact because:

  • Once something is published, it’s out there: you can’t stop it
  • There are far too many forums and routes for dissemination: you can’t find it

Research shows us that, traditionally, customers will only tell YOU if you’ve got it wrong one time in 20 (the other 19 times, they tell everyone else). So what can you?

It’s not what ‘can‘ you do … the real question is now: ‘What must I do to protect my online reputation?’

Here are some pointers:

  1. Be proactive: put professional, customer focused feedback systems in that encourage feedback (you’ve got to persuade them to tell YOU first … not twitter)
  2. Genuinely aim to get it right (customers will always forgive genuine mistakes: they’ll never forgive you not caring in the 1st place)
  3. Put world class reaction systems in place (so when they tell you. you can deal with it like an Olympian)
  4. Invest in ‘Sales Through Service‘ systems (so you use these processes to proactively build sales and loyalty)
  5. and OF COURSE, get accredited: engage the services of feedback professionals, accredited by Investors in Feedback, to work with you to get this right

Remember 2 things:

  1. If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, try hiring an amateur
  2. Gathering feedback is vital, it’s how you react to it that really matters

How do I protect my online reputation? Realise that a social revolution is occurring, and start investing in feedback and acting professionally in all your processes around this.

Measures

There is an old saying: ‘What gets measured gets done’

… and it’s completely true.

  • When the NHS in the UK started measuring patient wait times, the wait times went down (Hooray!) … but patient health (and death rates) went up!
  • When Continental Airlines started measuring on-time performance (and offered a small incentive to all staff to improve it), they went from no 7 to no 1 in a matter of months
  • And look how scoreboards motivate players on the field of sport!

So, accepting that measures are SO important, isn’t it bizarre that if you ask 95% of employees how their Organisation (or even themselves) are doing, they will invariably answer ‘I don’t know’.

Imagine how a football team would play if they didn’t know the score?

They often say something like: ‘I know I’m doing Ok if no one is shouting at me’

Imagine how a football team would play if the crowd never cheered, but only hurled abuse when something went wrong!

And, when organisations Do have measures, they are usually unbalanced. What is usually measured above everything else? Money, of course.

We are back to the same problem encountered by the NHS: if you measure too narrowly, you’ll get your results, but usually at the expense of something else.

Please note and remember this: if you ONLY measure money, you will get money, usually at the expense of something else. What may be sacrificed at the altar of money … to get the measures right? Well, perhaps it’d be quicker to list what would not be sacrificed!

Does Ratners the Jewelers spring to mind, or perhaps ‘Payment Protection Insurance’?

It’s time the business world started to get real and have some balanced measures: sure, money is important (without it the system won’t work), but it needs to be balanced out with longer term measures, measures of:

  • Customer Experience
  • Customer Loyalty
  • Reputation
  • Referrals
  • Loyalty

So that, if ALL (and I mean ALL) the balanced measures are moving in the right direction, then it’s highly likely the Organisation is in good health for both the short AND the long term. let’s face it:

  • Any fool can generate money at the expense of Customer experience (and many fools do … on a daily basis)
  • Any fool can also deliver great reputation without any profit (which is also a pointless exercise)

The key lies in balance in your measures (as in all things), and a focus on the long term measures FIRST (customer experience) and short term measures SECOND (money).

Why?

Because the long term actions, produce the short term results.

Gathering Feedback is like Going to the Dentist

Essential if you want to be happy and healthy!

Ok: so many people hate feedback: they fear it will make them feel awkward or give the customer carte blanche to criticise (and to criticise unfairly).

But, we all know that if a customer isn’t telling YOU what they think of your service, they’re telling their friends instead (and the first you know of it, is when there’s negative chat about you on social media, and you reputation takes a knock and trade starts falling). So, in the world of social media and the empowered consumer, gathering feedback is no longer ‘worth doing’, it is now ‘essential activity for survival’.

Gathering Feedback is like going to the Dentist
Gathering Feedback is like going to the Dentist

Just as if our civilisation changed, and we no longer had the ability to process food, then having a good set of teeth would become an essential need for survival.

Our world has changed …. irrevocably …. feedback REALLY is ESSENTIAL for long term survival of an organisation.

Just as if you only go to the dentist when you’ve got toothache, or when a tooth falls out, you’re definitely going to end up with big dental problems … if you only deal with feedback when something goes wrong, or a customer complains, you’ll really be in the soup in today’s world!

So, if that’s the case, how can we make this ‘visit to the dentist’ as painless and profitable as possible … so we want to go every day with a huge smile on our face?

Here are 7 key rules:

  1. Never complain about the dentist: if you want good teeth, you need to go to one!
  2. Take the time to find a great dentist: if it’s that important (and that painful when it goes wrong) you need to find the best you can.
  3. Remember, the best dentists are not always the most expensive ones (and definitely never the cheapest!): they are the ones best trained and with external monitoring and regulation.
  4. Get the right treatment for your diet and lifestyle: not all teeth uses are the same. Also make sure that the dentist doesn’t make up unnecessary work: the shorter the time in the chair the better!
  5. Make sure your dentist takes the time and has the knowledge to train and coach you in how to keep your teeth as healthy as possible, and how to keep visits to the dentist to a minimum.
  6. When you get the treatment you need, say ‘Thankyou’, respond very positively and start taking the right remedial actions.
  7. Make sure everyone knows how vital it is to your organisation to have great teeth and to take the above actions. Score your dental visits (and problems) and task everyone to reduce them (and to increase tooth quality).

So, next time you go to the dentist (yes, I am actually talking about dentists in this sentence), take the time to think about feedback in your job, team and organisation.

Are you spending quality time, money and effort on your feedback, or are you treating it as something to avoid like the plague and only deal with when you get toothache?

Your customers are talking…  Are you listening?

In today’s hyper connected, value savvy global marketplace, your customers are becoming ever more the key and demanding.  They can talk about you behind your back to the world at the touch of a button and the speed of light.

To quote Jeff Bezos: ‘Your brand is what the customer says when you’re not in the room’

So are you listening?

Research shows, that the vast majority of businesses and organisations are either not listening at all, or listening ineffectively.

Not listening at all: the ostrich with its head in the sand syndrome.  There are plenty of feedback systems to at least help you get started with listening, even if you just monitor twitter and put google alerts on your brands.  If you are not currently listening, there must be a reason for this: either you are nervous and unsure what to do for the best, or you may be frightened as to how to react to feedback as and when it comes.  In either case we at Investors in Feedback can help you move forward in a very cost effective and easy to manage way:

Beware, there are plenty of snake oil salesman out there who will try and take a large chunk of your money for systems that work ineffectually or in an incomplete way.

Listening ineffectually: we find that the vast majority of businesses who are gathering feedback, are using ineffectual systems, these are systems that have the following issues:

  • low response rates
  • no real understanding of what the customer means
  • lack of true information to help you learn and grow
  • perceived unfairness
  • lack of consumer confidence that their review will make any difference (so, instead, they don’t bother to fill in your reviews, and, instead just gossip about you to the world behind your back)
  • and, probably the biggest issue of all, inability for the customer to feed back to you in an easy and risk free way, while they are still a customer to you (i.e. Before they have left you or completed their transaction with you)

Many of the online feedback systems that are touted so widely at the moment have all these issues attached to them: one thing that they do help you with is ‘search engine optimisation’, through publishing your feedback openly and transparently (and this is something that should genuinely be encouraged in all circumstances).

If you wish to know more about all these issues and find out how to put feedback systems in place that would genuinely build your reputation, customer loyalty and referrals, then we are the worldwide leader in feedback audit and accreditation to help you achieve these aims.

There is no such thing as a bad online review

In previous blogs we have discussed the power of feedback, and how important it is to get it right, do it obsessively, and make sure that it is done in a way that your customer engages with you, before they have left you, so that you can not only build your reputation with them, but are also given an early warning of any bad feedback that is about to go on to the public domain.

So, if you get your feedback systems right, and your business is built around the four empowering and common sense principles of ‘great or poor’ customer experience (for more information on these four principles, please search online for “great or poor” or contact us), then, whatever feedback you get, you can turn it into a business advantage and long-term sales growth.

How is this?

If you get a great review, it’s not only tells you what you are doing right, but also tells the world to trust you and do business with you.  It also gives you an opportunity to turn this cut one customer into a raving fan who will recommend and refer you proactively if you help them do it and make it easy for them.

If you get a “just OK” review, it gives you the opportunity to react to it online and explain what you are doing to put things right, (so potential customers can see that you are a genuine business wanting to excel), and you can get back to this customer and turn them into a raving fan by reacting positively to their feedback and telling them what you’ve changed and giving them a special deal to re-engage with you.

If you get a poor review, it gives you an opportunity to tell the world the truth about your organisation.  Other people like reading poor reviews much more than they like reading great reviews, so you will have more opportunity for sales building PR from a poor review.

If the poor review is fair, it’s not only gives you the information you need to stop yourself going out of business (for which, on its own, you should sincerely thank the customer), it also gives you the opportunity to react to it constructively in the public domain, so everyone who reads the poor review will see how caring and willing to engage with customers, you are.

Customers can easily accept that you can make mistakes and things can go wrong, but customers will never forgive you for not caring and not reacting kindly and positively to problems: a poor review is a great opportunity to blow everyone’s socks off.

If the poor review isn’t fair, you must assume that it is probably fair in the eyes of the reviewer and you react in a very similar way to the above: tell the viewer (and all the other viewers worldwide) what you think may possibly have happened, and how you always seek to accept feedback to help you continually learn and grow.  An unfair feedback is an amazing opportunity to react positively and show the world how emotionally intelligent you are and how they should rush to be your customer.

 

Investors in Feedback will work with your organisation, not only to make sure your feedback systems are doing the vitally important jobs that are needed from them, but also to make sure that you know how to react to all feedback, good, bad or indifferent, in order to turn every review or online comment into a PR triumph and yet another reason for customers to flock to you time and time again.

Why it’s important to invest in feedback

We all know how important feedback is in today’s market: customers, previously disempowered by misleading advertising, now or have the opportunity for worldwide networking, worldwide research, and opinions from users on your Product or service.

Yet, so often, they can do this behind your back, without your knowledge, and without giving you the opportunity to put things right first.

Is that fair? No

Will it help you improve and then get a better experience when dealing with you?  No

So, the problem with most feedback systems is that they gather feedback after the event…  Which means that you are unable to put it right if it’s gone wrong, or re-engage with them to continually improve it, or get them signed up to be a lifelong customer, referrer for your product 0r services, or part of your VIP club.

Most feedback systems therefore  have very limited effect.

That is why, we suggest that you not only need to gather feedback, but you need to invest in feedback.  What we mean by investing in feedback?

We mean:

  • Making feedback the number one key driver of continual improvement in your business
  • Managing customer expectations so that they give you feedback whilst you can still do something about it (rather than after the event which is lame are and second rate at best)
  • Investing time and resource to not only gather the feedback through quality systems, but also to react effectively to the feedback when you have it: whether it is good, bad, or indifferent… There is always a way forward that will build customer loyalty, reputation and referrals.

As we say in Investors in Feedback:

  • Gathering feedback is important… Reacting to it properly is vital
  • There is no such thing as bad feedback: just feed back gathered and reacted to in an ineffective way

 

 

Your brand is what people say about you behind your back

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com probably the most successful retail business of all time, is consistently quoted as saying the above about businesses Brands.

Yet, how much time and effort do businesses often put into feedback and genuinely getting close to the customer versus developing Brands and pretty Logos?

I think the point is clear: in the world of the 21st century empowered customer, transparent business processes and unrestrained online feedback, it is becoming stupider and stupider to spend lots of money on Brands whilst either ignoring or treating feedback and customer engagement as a minor issue in your business.

It is now the other way round.

We are going through a revolution in how people behave and interact with each other: for the first time in history, there is two way global information and the voice of one customer can relatively easily be more powerful than the voice of your entire marketing department.

For example, over a year ago some feedback on a car brand’s service disaster, ranked higher on google for almost four months than the official service website for that car brand. One small lapse of focus, combined with poor feedback systems, produced many hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage.

There are many similar examples across the web: please just search for further examples!

In a revolution, everything revolves.

  • Customers get information from reviews and other people’s opinion, rather than your official information
  • Customers can shop on price 24 hours a day rather than wait for your annual sale
  • Sales teams are dealing with customers who know just as much about your competitors as they do about you (and probably more than you do)
  • Customers can access products and services from around the world at the touch of a button at a fraction of the price they used to have to pay
  • And marketing is now not about polishing your brand to make it look as shiny as possible, it’s about genuinely engaging the customer, gathering feedback and investing in customer reputation loyalty and referrals, for long term product and brand success.

Investors in Feedback helps you fill the gap, revolve your systems to drive continual customer reputation, loyalty, cross sales, up sales and referrals.