In theory it’s so simple: ask your customers for feedback all the time, and you will always know what’s going on with your business. You will never lose sight of your customer’s needs again – your customers will be happy all the time, and your business will naturally succeed.
This is surely the thinking behind most ongoing feedback programs.
But think again. Because unfortunately, even with all the will in the world and the very best of intentions, most ongoing feedback programs eventually suffer from a lack of engagement.
The notion that a perpetual feedback loop ensures an unwavering grasp on customer sentiment, resulting in high customer satisfaction and inevitable business success, underpins many ongoing feedback programs. But in reality, asking the same questions all the time, of roughly the same group of people (no matter how large that group is), will ultimately result in the same answers. Without proactive efforts to reignite interest and relevance, feedback efforts risk stagnation. Your customers think, why are they still asking me this? I already told them! And your staff think, why am I still hearing the same thing? Haven’t we solved that yet?
Over time, participants and stakeholders lose interest, complacency sets in, and the program’s effectiveness goes into decline.
What can you do about it?
Unfortunately, a lot of traditional ongoing feedback programs are easy to ignore. Feedback is delivered without the frequency or the creativity to make it feel fresh and relevant, and is too often reduced to numbers, percentages, trends, and targets. The personalities behind the feedback are lost – their voices removed or never collected in the first place; their stories locked away in dusty Excel files. Far from bridging the gap between staff and customer, these types of feedback programs only serve to widen it. The success of the program is measured on response rates and quantity of feedback, rather than quality. We collected2000 responses last month! Rather than: 200 staff members listened to this one fascinating customer story last month!
But there are ways to stop this from happening. Here are three methods we employ to keep the feedback we collect front-of-mind:
1. We are constantly looking for new, innovative ways to socialize customer insight
2. We apply a human layer of curation to all our feedback, ensuring we surface the best insight
3. While we collect both, we focus our efforts on qualitative feedback – the ‘why?’ behind the ‘what?’
So are ongoing feedback programs on the way out?
Absolutely not. Maintaining an ongoing connection with your customer base is still the best way to ensure that you’re meeting their needs, but it’s vitally important that as the novelty wears off, the program isn’t reduced to a box-ticking exercise. Just like other key components of your business, your feedback program needs constant reinvention and revitalization to thrive.