Completing the Customer-Feedback Loop

Updated: January 03, 2008

Issue

Why wait for an irate customer to lodge a formal complaint to find out how your company's products and services are stacking up with the general public? That's the thinking prompting an increasing number of companies to turn to EFM (Enterprise Feedback Management) technology. EFM is software that collects and manages feedback from customers, typically via Web-based surveys.

 

Analysis

 

These days, it's not enough to simply inundate customers with time-consuming questionnaires. Rather, said Esteban Kolsky, a research director with Gartner, "The difference between a survey package and Enterprise Feedback Management is the ability to analyze the data and integrate it with existing customer data so that you can come up with new and improved customer-service ideas."

Take, for example, Vovici's Web-based EFM solutions. EFM Feedback helps companies create personalized experience surveys that generate a continuous flow of feedback, enabling smarter decisions and prompting immediate resolution of issues. By seeking honest responses to questions such as, "Were your customers' issues resolved to their satisfaction?" and "Is your help desk providing satisfactory support?" companies can strengthen interactions with their customers and reinforce their customer-centric focus.

Armed with such a treasure trove of accurate customer data thanks to the help of vendors such as Vovici, Confirmit and Satmetrix Systems, Kolsky said that companies can do more than simply ascertain customers' concerns; they can make — and save — money. "You can affect the bottom line by implementing actions, workflows and better processes based on what customers want and need," said Kolsky, who offered an example. "If you actually retain customers and reduce the number of times they call to complain by offering better products and services, then this results in bottom-line savings and revenue increases."

Not to mention the impact happier customers can have on a company's employees in the form of high morale, overall job satisfaction and call-center work force retention.

Soliciting feedback is one thing. Making sure that feedback is an accurate reflection of a customer's true feelings, however, is an entirely different matter. After all, how many times have you bluffed your way through a Web-based survey just to be able to read a restaurant review or check out of an online shopping session?

"Not only are companies not getting the most accurate gauge of customer satisfaction, they're not getting any useful information. For a survey to be valid, it needs to be something that benefits both the user and the company," said Kolsky. After all, he added, "If you don't think there's going to be any benefit to you, why would you even take two minutes to answer the

survey?"

 

Recommendations
 

For this reason, Kolsky recommends that companies carefully craft their questions to generate targeted responses. What's more, he suggested creating incentives for respondents to supply honest and accurate responses, such as a purchase discount or a gift item. Nevertheless, don't expect EFM to perform miracles. These days, Kolsky said that a mere 30 percent is considered a "good" response rate to a Web-based survey.

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