Getting Serious About Customer Feedback
Management - Continued
QuestBack Boston LLC
previous article in our Customer Feedback Management series,
we reviewed the Feedback Management Maturity Curve and discussed two
elements of successful customer feedback management: management
commitment and feedback objectives. In this article, we conclude the
topic of Getting Serious About Customer Feedback Management with
the presentation of two more characteristics: process and tools.
Managing anything requires a process and customer feedback is no
different. At a minimum, you need to determine what to do with the
feedback that you collect. This means some analysis of feedback is
required and some set of actions will need to be taken based on the
analyses performed. People will need to be assigned to both analyze and
act on customer feedback. You will need a communications process both
for disseminating feedback results (different analyses to different
constituencies) as well as to communicate regarding actions to be taken.
How much process you need depends on how much feedback you are
collecting and what you want to do with that feedback. We recommend
limited objectives and limited actions initially because it simplifies
things, keeps cost low and improves chances for success. At the same
time, objectives and actions need to be designed so that improvement in
the metric you choose can take place. Keep in mind that one of the
objectives for your feedback management process should be to make
customer feedback management a formal part of your company's business
culture. Communications planning is a key to doing this.
The right tools make organizing and implementing your feedback
management process much easier. Using tools that support more of the
entire feedback management process (rather than less) is a good idea.
Using tools that also integrate or interface with your other systems
(CRM, Sales automation, etc.) can be helpful as you get more "mature"
with feedback management and you begin automating your feedback
At a minimum, we think your feedback management tool set should support:
Survey design and implementation
Results analysis for aggregated response data
Results analysis for comparison of response data
against customer profile data (e.g. How do our most profitable
customer's responses compare to the aggregate responses?)
Follow up action
Period over period comparisons
There are many tools available that support one or more of these
capabilities. There are relatively few that support all of them. Price
ranges are from a few hundred dollars per user to several thousand
dollars per user. We believe there are middle tier products available
that support all these capabilities and which are available at
reasonable cost. There are merits to both low and high end solutions. As
a general rule, choosing low-end tools will require you to use suites of
products and to manually perform a number of tasks. Higher end tools
will do more within the tool and require less manual effort.
Note: We have observed that companies in the "getting started"
phase of feedback management maturity often use low-end feedback tools.
These tools offer low cost but typically require substantial manual
effort to create analyses, do comparisons versus customer profile data,
disseminate results, do period over period comparisons, etc. In fact,
most of this type of work is actually done using Excel spreadsheets or
Statistical analysis packages (SPSS). More advanced feedback management
tools have higher out-of-pocket costs but typically offer much better
cost/benefit profiles in the context of an on-going feedback management
effort as they often include analytical tools and other types of
feedback management process support as part of their offering.
As vendors of a customer feedback management product, we are probably
biased towards tools – like our own – that are designed to support a
customer feedback management process. That said, we believe the right
tools are vital to making customer feedback management an automated (or
at least automation supported) process, and we've attempted to outline
the trade-off you will need to make as you choose tools to support your
customer feedback management effort.
If you organize well, focus on limited initial objectives, define a team
and choose the right tools - achieving success with customer feedback
management can be surprisingly low in cost and powerful in results. You
can do this kind of project yourself. Very often many of the skills
required already exist in your company. For instance, if you have market
research (MR) people you can call on, they often know how to design
surveys and have experience using survey design tools. You'll need to
coach MR people on the "management" aspect of feedback management as
they are mainly "feedback" oriented. You also may have access to
business analysis (BA) skills and products. Again you'll need to coach
them on analysis for management of feedback. And lastly, it's likely
that you have access to project management people. So if you try to do
it yourself, use the people and skills available – but orient them to
the purpose of the effort, to enable the business to take advantage of
customer insights operationally.
If you don't have easy access to these skills, or if you want all of the
skills fully dedicated to your project, companies like Customer
Centricity can take them on for you. It often makes sense to get help
and guidance with organization and planning, objectives and process
definition, survey design and implementation, results analysis and
actions – all centered on your feedback management objectives. If you
have MR and BA skills available, you can always bring them on as you add
feedback cycles over time and your process stabilizes.
So getting down to getting serious isn't hard or necessarily expensive
and help is available. Doing it has a great many benefits. We hope we've
helped you understand the path to "getting serious" with customer
QuestBack is an enterprise feedback management tool for gathering,
analyzing and acting on feedback from critical constituencies. With
unique ASK&ACT(TM) follow-up capabilities, QuestBack makes customer
feedback data immediately actionable and supports the implementation of
feedback management processes. The company is based in Europe and
represented in the US by QuestBack Boston LLC.
Read previous articles in this series.
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