Paradox of gaining customer feedback

Paradox of gaining customer feedback

Read time: 3 minutes

In today's issue, we wanted to address the paradox of gaining customer feedback, acting on it and not getting the results you hoped for. Too regularly, you might listen to your customers and implement changes, and it backfires on you after you try to solve their problems.

It just doesn't make sense.

We are going to clarify this paradox and provide a much-needed step-by-step guide to gain tangible benefits from gaining customer feedback.

Let's dive in.

The Challenge: Mixed Messages

Customers are complex, and listening to them is possibly the most fundamental feedback mechanism for business. Their feedback is a CX gold mine, or is it?

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have conducted a series of surveys and maybe some interviews with your customers, appeared to have found a pattern in pain being reported, acted on it and then gained no tangible benefit?

You're thinking to yourself, how have we made the situation worse? We did precisely want our customers wanted.

In situations like this, the quote by David Ogilvy rings particularly true; “Consumers don’t think how they feel. They don’t say what they think and don’t do what they say.” And yet somehow, they always have an answer when questioned by your customer experience team.

The Solution: Look deeper beneath the surface

The critical thing to remember is that customers typically won't tell you the solution, but they are good at signalling problems. The difference between successful and unsuccessful businesses is that the former knows that what customers say is not necessarily what they mean. There will almost always be a more profound, more involved belief behind their feedback. To succeed, you need to tap into their more profound and emotional drivers when determining what to do with customer feedback.

But I'm not a mind reader! How can I know what someone means if they don't communicate their feelings?

Yes, customers are complex, but we have dealt with enough of them to understand what makes them tick. Below is a step-by-step guide to customer ‘mind reading.’

The Execution: 5 Steps

Step #1 Convert what they say into what they mean

This is the first and most crucial step. When customers complain about your product, they are not always unhappy with the product itself. There could be an issue with the response time, service delivery or even pricing. Asking clarifying questions can help you understand the problem better. You need to understand the customer’s mindset.

We worked with a large national company. We undertook the interview progress. Our client had very large-scale customers, mid-tier customers (construction companies) and small-scale customers (tradies). The company built a successful sales and servicing model to manage its extensive customer base. However, since the small-scale customers didn’t provide comparable revenue to the large-scale customers, they did not have the same extensive sales and support structures in place.

When we interviewed small-scale customers, they said they wanted someone to talk to, tell them what they needed, and answer their questions.

Step #2 Probe behind the answer

Once you think you have understood the problem, probe a little deeper. Why do they feel that way? This will help you get to the root cause of the issue.

Recall our client above. After digging a little deeper, we found that what they told us wasn't actually what they wanted. But it was all that they could say to us. To them, the obvious solution was to appoint a sales rep.

What they were actually asking for was support and guidance to help them quickly and seamlessly undertake the hiring of tools and machinery. They thought their problem could be solved by calling someone up and asking where ‘x’ was.

If the organisation listened to this advice and expanded its sales force and account management, it would trash its margin. Why? Because it wasn’t scalable nor commercial to do so for hundreds of thousands of customers.

The more effective, much cheaper and easier the solution is to simplify the complex sale process. Instead of making the process of ordering, tracking and delivery seamless, easy and fast, there would be no need to talk to anybody.

Step #3 Look for other signals

Customers usually don't voice their concerns directly. They might give off subtle cues such as body language or changes in tone. Try to catch these signals and use them to understand better what the customer is thinking.

Step #4 Focus on the pain, not success

Make sure you have truly understood the problem; it is essential to focus on the current issues and not try to move past the things that are most important to them. What can be done to improve the situation? How can you prevent this from happening again?

Step #5 Follow up

After taking action on the feedback, follow up with the customer. This will help build trust and show that you’ve listened and care and want to provide a great experience.

Customer feedback is essential for businesses, but it is important to understand that what customers say on the surface is not always what they mean deep down. Therefore, you often must dig a little deeper to reach the CX goldmine. By following the steps above, you can get to the root of the problem and take action to improve your customer experience.

Catch you next week.

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