You ask, you listen, but do you act on what you’re hearing?

I really enjoyed Sean Ashcroft’s recent feature on surveying customer satisfaction (The Quest for a Satisfied Customer, May). He made some very interesting points and the central premise, that satisfaction is a “powerful force”, is undoubtedly one we all agree with.

He made some very interesting points and the central premise, that satisfaction is a “powerful force”, is undoubtedly one we all agree with.

Everyone understands the importance of satisfied customers, in particular the tremendous impact it can have on your bottom line. These days most businesses also understand the need to pro-actively gain customer feedback in order to monitor satisfaction levels. So far, so good. But many of us still fall at the final hurdle, namely when it comes to responding to the feedback being received.

Obviously listening to customers and understanding their view is the crucial first step. We are constantly asking ourselves if our customers are happy. Growing competition and sensitivity means understanding how we perform commercially and in terms of service delivery is increasingly important.

You can’t rest on your laurels. You must actively find out what customers think against different criteria. Do it continuously, and then act on the feedback before it’s too late. Understanding perception across stakeholders is also key. It’s definitely worth taking the time to gain insight from different groups, in order to get a rounded view across all touch points. Marketing to procurement, finance to store colleagues, all of their views are valuable.
We’re in the process of staring a new in-contract monitoring programme at the moment, designed with all this in mind. The goal is to show existing and potential clients that we’re continuously listening, and more importantly, that we act on the feedback we receive.

As part of this we’re encouraging teams to think about what good service looks like to them. What is it about dealing with other businesses that makes you actively want to return? The examples they cite might relate to businesses that are very different to ours, they might sit entirely outside our B2B world, but this wider perspective is important, and the principles of good service and enjoyable experience remain the same, regardless of the context. Getting the experience right is absolutely the best way to encourage brand loyalty and build long term customer value.

This is a big issue, but one that can be tackled with relative ease, you just need to take the time to do it properly. Start with the survey, end with the action. In today’s competitive market place, being truly aware of how your customers feel about you, and responding accordingly, can be a key differentiator. All healthy relationships are built on honest, open dialogue. So the question is, do your clients agree?