Customer feedback management
by Michael S. De Lio
After identifying who your customers/visitors are, and what drove them to your web site initially, there still remains the challenge of retaining them. How do you ensure their faithful (and frequent) return? At least part of the answer lies in accurately and efficiently capturing customer feedback.
The first approach is to solicit answers to a standard customer satisfaction survey. It is important to set the threshold level for "filling-out" such surveys. Many visitors refuse to spend precious time evaluating service in an impersonal manner - such as a survey - and are more apt to describe the level of service offered (good or bad) to their friends and family. Remember that a sizeable segment of the world's population is more apt to complete surveys if there is a monetary or gift incentive. Here are some other essential rules and guidelines:
1. Keep the survey very short and to the point.
2. Don't ask personal questions unless you intend to provide feedback to the customer.
3. If the customer gives you his/her name, address and phone number, then he/she will likely be expecting something in return. This may give you the added opportunity to interact one-on-one with the customer.
You will also need to set expectation levels for those solicited responses. In general, people are more likely to provide negative input instead
Providing customer service at the time of interaction/transaction will supply you and your company with immediate feedback. Many web sites are now using "live" feedback or help options for their customers. With the click of a mouse, a web chat can be enabled or the customer can schedule a callback.
This typically involves the use of third party applications, and is accordingly more expensive than a survey. However, based on the price of your products and the length of your sales cycle, this may be more optimal. It also allows you to stop a negative customer experience/trend from progressing to the point of no return. There are now a handful of vendors that have entered this arena, and while some of the processes can be outsourced to the vendor, some of the processes can also be directly implemented by the client.
Before making any decisions about what approach to take, make sure that you have calculated the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and what you expect as an ROI (Return on Investment).
Lastly, the information gained from either approach should be shared with your customers along with a clearly articulated solution path to resolve any identified issues. This reinforces your commitment to your customers that their input was taken seriously and was valuable in creating a much more satisfactory user experience with your company.
Michael De Lio is a Director within E-Solutions, responsible for assessment, solution design and project management for clients engaged in e-commerce/CRM initiatives, for marchFIRST an Internet Professional Services company in Chicago, IL.
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This was first published in January 2001