As consumer expectations continue to rise, the margin of error for brands vying to meet or exceed those expectations exponentially declines. To remain competitive, brands have to consistently deliver top-tier experiences AND maintain the flexibility needed to adapt as market conditions change; a tall order, indeed.
The most successful brands are not only proactive in meeting consumers where they currently are in the marketplace, they are equally proactive in maintaining communication throughout the entire customer experience; covering every touchpoint along the customer journey. To effectively build strong relationships, foster brand loyalty and deliver on marketing promises, winning a customer’s business must be seen as the beginning – not the end.
Since we are a market research and data analytics company specializing in customer experience development, it should come as no surprise when I say that listening to customer feedback is the key to creating memorable brand experiences. Your customers want their voices to be heard and they have a lot to say, it’s up to you to effectively communicate and engage in a way that empowers and inspires customers to speak up when called upon.
When thinking about customer feedback, we instinctively think of post-event surveys or follow-up conversations regarding experiences that have already occurred. These efforts will most certainly provide valuable insight and data-driven action items, so they should remain an important part of a broader customer experience strategy. But as consumer expectations and competitive levels continue to rise, how can brands evolve their customer feedback strategies? Where can they bridge the gap between reactive and proactive solutions? Is there opportunity to transition from after-the-fact to in-the-moment insights?
Over this past year I’ve been putting more thought and energy into the idea of real-time, onsite feedback as a way to capture that raw human emotion as it happens. If done effectively, onsite feedback offers several different points of value for both brand and customer producing both short-term and long-term impact.
Here I’d like to share some of my thoughts regarding onsite feedback; touching on ways that (YES) in-the-moment feedback can benefit your brand, areas that (NO) might be counterproductive or hurt the overall experience, and things (MAYBE) that warrant further consideration or discussion.
Yes, you should include onsite feedback as part of a larger research strategy.
Any time you collect data, it’s important to consider how it fits into the overall business intelligence landscape. It’s easy to fall into the habit of conducting ad-hoc research projects with a specific objective in mind. But this results in siloed, fragmented data sets which not only presents missed opportunities for cross-analytics and in-depth insights, it will become a headache as the data continues to pile up. The next thing you know, the disorganized data is overwhelming and it’s difficult to make any sense of it at all.
Yes, you should focus on tracking actionable metrics that will guide decision making.
Think beyond the standard metrics of satisfaction and customer sentiment. It’s great to know how customers are feeling, but it’s more important to determine WHY they’re feeling that way. By measuring specific attributes of the customer experience your team will gather insights that guide action rather than simply making observations.
Yes, you should get creative with the data collection platform.
A commonly overlooked aspect of collecting customer feedback is the role it plays in the overall customer experience. While of course at its core the purpose of any data collection instrument is to collect data, it’s still a branded touchpoint and should be viewed as any other marketing or promotional piece. Especially with onsite data collection, this is an opportunity to create a point of brand activation or a present a unique way to engage customers as they share feedback.
No, you shouldn’t treat this solely as a way to gather contact information.
Customers are constantly bombarded with marketing, promotional and sales messages. In general people are becoming more reluctant to offer up their contact information, and if/when they do it’s often fake information that offers no value. So when brands use feedback opportunities, contests or games as a way to gather contact information, the efforts are usually transparent and aren’t fooling anyone. From a sales and marketing standpoint, customer contact information will always be a valuable asset; so this isn’t to say all data collection should be anonymous. Rather the point is, presenting feedback opportunities with the underlying intent being building a contact list can cause more harm than value added.
No, you shouldn’t use this as a full replacement for follow-up surveys.
Onsite customer feedback is best treated as a supplementary, targeted data collection platform. Identify specific experiential attributes and stick to that. Shifting a full customer experience survey from online to onsite will not add any value. In fact, response volume and feedback reliability will drop. Choosing focused aspects of the customer experience to track and measure over a period of time will provide valuable insight about the effectiveness of new initiatives or areas in need of attention.
No, you shouldn’t allow disruption of the existing customer experience.
It’s important to remember that creating memorable customer experiences is the ultimate goal. Collecting customer feedback is a means to improving those efforts, so it’s counterproductive if they’re interfering with or disrupting the experience. This is why we refer to them as customer feedback opportunities. You want to provide a communication channel that’s easily accessible for customers who are motivated to share input, but it needs to be passive enough that it doesn’t impede on the experience overall.
Maybe consider video recording as a feedback collection method.
One of the benefits of collecting onsite feedback is the chance to capture raw human emotion as it happens. However just as with text messages or emails, it can be difficult to understand the true sentiment through written words. Things like sarcasm or humor can be misinterpreted and thereby skew results analytics. Consider a video recording booth allowing customers to express their opinions, whether positive or negative, capturing not on the experiential context but also the intangible sentiment associated with their feedback.
Maybe explore gamification of feedback opportunities to further engage customers.
As seen with the popularity of loyalty programs, people like to earn points and rewards. And as seen with the popularity of apps like Candy Crush, people like to play mobile games. Collecting customer feedback doesn’t always have to be a dry, methodic process – in fact, it shouldn’t. Capturing the human element and emotion requires tapping into parts of the customer that reach beyond rating scales or checking boxes. So exploring ways to merge fun activities with useful insights will be the next generation of data collection.
Maybe look into geofencing as a way to connect with customers at the right time and in the right place.
Technology advancements are enabling marketers to reach customers with targeted messaging at the point of highest relevance. For example, geofencing allows push notifications for deals and promos to be sent when customers are inside a store. This strategic approach can also apply to onsite feedback collection. Perhaps a survey is sent to customers as they leave a location rather than the next day.
As you can see, there are a lot of strategic and logistic variables to consider when it comes to onsite customer feedback. It all depends on the ultimate objective, or how the data will be used, which in itself can be a challenge. Sometimes it feels counter intuitive, but the complexity of customer feedback research is often in the process of simplifying the scope of focus.
For over 30 years we’ve been applying our proven approach to leveraging data-driven insights for customer experience development – bringing our partner brands to new heights. If you’re ready to explore new ways to engage customers, strengthen relationships and maximize your brand’s value, give us a shout!