Love Your Customers by Listening to Them

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The dialogue between you and your customers is the lifeline of your business. The media industry has a bevy of digital and traditional tools for communicating with their customers. Online forms, focus groups, social media, and surveys provide businesses with mountains of customer data to make real-time decisions, but none of it is useful unless companies act on the information. Feedback-driven change is a powerful way to stay in touch with your customers and earn their loyalty. But, companies need a strategy to keep the communication flowing.

Here are seven tips on how to gather customer input and then act on that feedback to deliver a better customer experience.

tin can telephone with string forming a heartSet Strategic Goals
Before asking your customers for feedback, understand what your objectives are in gathering this data. Establishing goals, whether it’s to uncover flaws in your business or gather ideas for better services or products, will help you get the most out of your customers’ feedback. 

Ensure Appropriate Timing
Context and timing are also critical when asking customers for their input. Why are you gathering customer feedback? What will you do with it? Asking customers to fill out a form as soon as they visit your website or walk into your store creates a poor first impression. Take the time to engage your customers first. Following up with an email after a customer completes a transaction, or clicks through your website several times, is a more relevant way to ask for feedback. 

Use Multichannel Customer Feedback
Make it easy for your customers to share their thoughts with you by offering multiple feedback channels. Decide what fits your budget, whether it’s soliciting feedback through a mix of online forms, email, focus groups, or social media. The Boston Globe, for example, last year launched a smartphone app with a chat function that transmits the customer's information to the associate and also retains a history of the conversation preventing the customer from having to repeat himself if the problem persists and he needs to contact the organization again.

Empower Your Employees
In addition to gathering feedback through surveys, create a culture in which your employees are looking and listening for opportunities to provide a better customer experience. It is also critical that you empower your employees to act on those observations. Employees can provide better services when armed with the knowledge and the resources to address customer concerns. Additionally, customers are more likely to give feedback to someone they believe is empowered to act.

Take Action
Once you’ve gathered customer feedback, make sure you act on the information. Deciding where to start can be difficult, though. Make the information manageable by dividing it into sections. For example, section one can be requests that need immediate attention like red alerts or quick solutions. Section two can be actions that will impact revenue and the customer experience over the coming year. Section three can be long-term suggestions.

Measure the results
Customer feedback can spur numerous changes from short initiatives to business transformation. As you launch feedback-driven changes, track the impact, as well as which of your customers offer additional ideas.

Close the Loop
Don’t forget to let customers know that you’ve implemented changes based on their feedback. Close the loop with customers who were part of the feedback process by acknowledging them. Customers will be encouraged to give their input if they know they are being heard. List the ideas that were implemented, or are in the process of being implemented, on your website and via social media. Overall, customer feedback programs are most successful when the entire company listens and responds to the voice of the customer.

The media landscape has shifted dramatically. With the move from static to digital media, companies can now more easily collect customer feedback through a variety of digital technologies and channels, and then use that data to provide interactive experiences.

Some media outlets are taking this shift seriously and finding ways to be the first to provide their customers and audiences with customized information in the channel of their choice as it happens. But, a solid foundation is first created by gathering the critical data to be able to deliver real-time and personalized messages—a necessary step in order for media brands to survive in an industry in constant flux. 

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