By Christopher Daniels

Whether the business is in manufacturing, telecommunications, or software, business success relies on customer delight. When end-users are satisfied with goods or services and the support they get as part of the client experience, customers will come back again and again. Just as important, companies can use customer feedback to beat the competition and boost the bottom line.

Happy customers are loyal. Recurring customers save companies money on new lead generation. Customers can also operate as a cost-efficient source of new leads, serving as inadvertent brand ambassadors if they share rave reviews with others in their network.

Gathering and analyzing customer feedback to ensure end-users are content is critical to business success. Positive comments can reaffirm a company is succeeding, while negative comments can help companies identify points in need of improvement.

This data can improve overall offerings, giving companies a competitive edge. Here’s how companies can make the most of it.

Your No. 1 Weapon: Customer Feedback
Knowledge is power, and this is especially true when it comes to meeting customers’ unique needs. With detailed feedback from real-world clientele, companies can:
• Monitor ongoing customer satisfaction levels.
• Get insights into customers’ unique needs.
• Improve product or service offerings.
• Show customers care and avoid alienating them.

All of this can add up to greater customer satisfaction, to more easily win over new customers—possibly even taking them from the competition. Companies can also nurture loyalty among existing clients, as satisfied consumers won’t be tempted to look to competitors for products or services.

Four Ways Customer Feedback Can Help Beat the Competition
Here’s how companies can use customer feedback to enhance a competitive advantage in the modern business landscape.

1. Understand Customers’ Needs to Best Meet Them
Keeping clients happy means understanding their wants and needs. This requires detailed and specific data. Leaders don’t simply want to know whether a customer is satisfied or not. They want to know what did and didn’t stand out in the customer journey.

For example, consumers might be perfectly content with a product but are turned off by a negative customer service experience. Important customer success metrics could include waiting time to have an issue resolved, or versatility of support methods (e.g., live chat, email, telephone, etc.).

Many businesses are quick to assume that dissatisfied consumers mean a problem with the product or service. The issue may be a much easier fix, like tweaking an ad campaign or updating a chat bot. It’s essential to understand customers’ needs better than the competition.

2. Gain Customer Insights into Employee Performance for Superior Service
Customer feedback is also valuable in gaining information about employees, especially those on the front lines who deal directly with clients. For example, when offering in-house telephone support, companies should ensure that workers are dealing with callers courteously and professionally.

A simple training and feedback loop for customer-facing teams can significantly impact business success. In the case of a call center, the process might involve recording calls, reviewing positives and negatives, and using data to inform coaching and future training.

With this added step towards accountability, companies can improve overall customer service experience. Many consumers will switch to a different provider after a bad service experience, so this is critical to use customer feedback to beat the competition.

3. Gather Competitive Intelligence to Assess Advantage
Companies shouldn’t just look at customer feedback—also consider the feedback consumers are leaving competitors. Scour the internet for reviews in public forums to see how products and services compare to those of the competition.

Further, companies should make sure they’re meeting the benchmark set forth by others in the same field. For example, it might seem reasonable for 80 percent of clients to be satisfied, but what if the industry standard is 95 percent? There is room for improvement in this example.

Reading competitor reviews can also help identify their weaknesses. Leverage this information to pinpoint opportunities to win clients. If clients complain about a rival’s lack of telephone support, highlight this as a value-added proposition if it can be provided with confidence.

4. Avoid Reputational Damage and Losing Clients to the Competition
Not all customer feedback is positive. That’s normal. If a customer isn’t happy with a company, be it the product or the consumer experience, find out why. There is opportunity for improvement while avoiding similar scenarios with future consumers.

Additionally, targeting negative customer feedback allows companies to fix the situation. Let’s say a person purchases a product, discovers it’s defective, and then writes a scathing complaint. There is an opportunity to remediate the issue. If they are satisfied with the response, they likely will continue to the business relationship. It’s about turning a negative into a win.

Elevating the consumer experience is becoming even more critical in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The most successful companies in the crisis were those that were able to identify and adapt to consumer behaviors, needs, and experiences. That kind of flexibility requires granular, real-world data—which is where customer feedback comes into play.

Christopher Daniels is the Chief Revenue Officer for Televerde, an integrated sales and marketing technology organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. Seven of Televerde’s 10 engagement centers are staffed by incarcerated women, representing 70 percent of the company’s 600+ global workforce.

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