Picture a game of dodgeball. On opposite ends of the court are two teams lined up shoulder to shoulder. Once the starting whistle blows both teams go sprinting towards the stationed balls in an effort to control the environment and eliminate the other team. No matter which team you are on or where you are on the court, one thing can be certain – dodgeballs will come flying constantly.
Working in customer service can often feel like a game of dodgeball if your team is not given the correct resources. From the beginning of the day, there is a little bit of chaos as you and everyone else try to find your footing. This tends to be the case because of the high volume of help requests as well as feedback from clients. It may be somewhat overwhelming, but clients have a lot on their mind regarding your company. Realistically, it would do you well to have some organization in this area to reduce the chaos and better assist your clients in a timely manner. Entrepreneur John Rampton highlighted why this should be a priority, “Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Their needs and wants to impact every aspect of your business, from product development to content marketing to sales to customer service.”
Attempting to streamline a feedback system that is closer to chaos than corporate assistance may sound like biting off more than you may be able to chew. The good news is we are here to help with a few concrete ideas. To make this topic a little more digestible, we have also gathered the advice of a few people with customer service experience.
Familiarize yourself with every feedback channel
It is literally impossible for you to count on both hands how many different ways consumers may reach out to, or publicly discuss your company. Somehow, new ways of doing so continue to emerge. This inherently makes streamlining feedback difficult as you are essentially trying to understand a waterfall of information. That being said, this large number can be a massive benefit if you play your proverbial cards right. It starts with getting to know each and every feedback channel.
“If you’re unaware of any client feedback out there in the world, you’re reducing the likelihood of innovation within your organization,” said Emily Saunders, Chief Revenue Officer at eLuxury. “Some of the best ideas have come from outsider feedback. .”
You may be well aware of the existence of a feedback platform along the lines of Twitter. But do you know how the platform operates? Could you give an idea of what a consumer might say on this platform? Do you know how to properly respond to and interact with clients on this feedback channel? All of these questions are vastly important to the process of familiarizing yourself with the feedback available. Unfortunately, the answers to these questions cannot be uncovered in an afternoon. You will need to be diligent in this respect.
“Five years ago, it felt like we had half as many feedback channels in client business relationships as we do today,” said Andrew Chen, Chief Product Officer at videeo.live. “I’d bet in another five years we will be saying the same thing. All I can suggest is to stay in the know concerning where people talk about you.”
Implement world-class software
Modern technology seems to have a solution for every problem under the sun. From food to hobbies, there is nothing untouched by the tidal wave of technology. Everything having to do with client feedback is in a similar boat. Years ago, it was either a face-to-face conversation, mailer, or, if you were lucky, a phone call in order to hear from clients. Nowadays, companies rely heavily on the power of the internet to ensure they secure every client-related detail.
“It should be no surprise to learn that there are computer programs which make organizing consumer feedback easy,” said Joshua Chin, CEO of Chronos Agency. “Obviously, with something so useful there is a learning curve as well as pros and cons to the programs themselves. But it can make a world of difference.”
If your company has a long-standing history, this may be quite the undertaking. You have a near set-in-stone way of things. Including how you interact with your clients. Making some sweeping changes to this system could do more than just confuse a few people who are used to the old way of doing this – it could mean the end of someone’s business. Without a doubt, this is the last thing you want to happen. And yet, shifting to a software approach could open up your virtual doors to a whole new clientele.
“Everyone and their dog are online in some regard. Sure, that is an exaggeration but you see my larger point about the prevalence of the internet,” said Lyudmyla Dobrynina, Head of Marketing North America at Optimeal. “I can’t see any other way forward in terms of getting your client feedback organized other than to meet this digital world with a strong software tool.”
Make decisions based on software output
Speaking of strong software, one of the key perks of using top-tier client feedback software is that it will do more than collect and organize data. These programs will provide detailed analytics on the trends involving your company. These trends should allow you to make decisions based on sound reasoning rather than simulating a blindfolded walk in the park. On top of being a more responsible way to handle the decision-making process, it also saves time.
“So many companies use more time than they should try to find the perfect response to customers raising an issue,” said Phillip Akhzar, CEO of Arka. “I’m all for finding the most appropriate and effective way to respond but analytically focused software speeds this up tenfold.”
Chances are if the concept of this kind of analytic software is somewhat new to you, you do not have much if any, experience using them within your company. This fact should not deter you from integrating software of this nature into your company. Realistically, there are two ways to go about this. Option A, learning the software yourself, requires a little more elbow grease. While Option B, outsourcing or hiring an expert, is a little more expensive. Either of these will help you streamline client feedback.
“Software has revolutionized my company’s ability to make sense of all that my clients have to say,” said Sasha Ramani, Associate Director of Corporate Strategy at MPOWER Financing. “But that didn’t happen overnight. It is the result of a tireless effort to ensure we were getting the most out of our client feedback systems.”
Sort the wheat from the chaff
No matter how much you may want to avoid it, or even work to avoid it, there is a certainty about client feedback – only some of it is valuable information worth using. The flip side is that there is a whole lot of empty, and subsequently useless, information. Some people like to use the ancient adage of sorting the wheat from the chaff to describe what to make of this – simply put, prioritize what will further your efforts and then leave the rest behind.
“Just because you have an inbox full of client opinions does not mean any of it is of value or even helpful in any way,” said Scott Annan, CEO of Mycube Safe. “But you’ll never know either way if you don’t find a way to uncover the good stuff.”
What exactly is “the good stuff?” Well, truthfully, the answer to this question is entirely contextual. For example, maybe your company recently completed the largest financial partnership you have been part of to date. Listening to the other party’s input on your company rather than a stranger on the internet would be the correct move in this situation. But in another, maybe that stranger on the internet is just what you need.
“Only you know what kind of client information can benefit your company,” said Lilian Chen, Co-Founder, and COO at Bar None Games. “There is no checklist outside of, ‘Can my company build off this in any way?’ If the answer is yes, start organizing this information by what applies to your current goals.”
Do something about it!
Everything described above is all well and good, in a vacuum. In fact, it might even seem straightforward. But when it comes to reality, are you able to respond to all this feedback? Does what you are receiving from clients make sense and can you do something about it? All the hypotheticals in the world do you no good if you cannot bring them into reality. Streamlining and responding to client feedback is no different. If you cannot do these two things in unison, suffice it to say, that sledding will be tough.
“Once you start interacting with clients and solving your problems, you’ll feel much better about the whole thing,” said Matas Jakutis, CMO of Forcefield Digital. “It is intimidating at first, certainly. But the longer you wait, the more the feedback is sure to pile up.”
Another wonderful aspect of rising to the occasion per se is that it can have a snowball effect. It is likely that more than one customer is having the same issues. So it stands to reason, if you can solve it for one party, you’ll be able to solve it faster for another. In the grand scheme of things, this means streamlining has been achieved.
“Solving a customer’s problem for the first time should hopefully be the longest interaction your company has on this specific topic,” said Ryan Azimi, Director of International Development at ETIAS.com. “From there, this problem should only be solved quicker. Assuming you’re being proactive about dealing with feedback.”
To say everything above is a lot to digest is an understatement. From top to bottom, there are a ton of potential implications as well as actions to take. Doing so may be the most worthwhile endeavor of your career. But only if you are incredibly intentional about it. The founder of the Customer Experience Professionals association, Bruce Temkin, put it best “Don’t waste customers’ time asking them questions unless you are prepared to act on what they say.”