Customer Feedback And The Building of Solid Relationships

by Jim Berkowitz on March 31, 2010

Here are several excerpts from a post by Ariel Maayan, the director of professional services at Kampyle, Customer Feedback And The Building of Solid Relationships:

Like any successful relationship, the one between an e-tailer and a customer relies on two-way communication. The forward-thinking business owner wants to know what customers are doing on her Web site and why, and the customer — who can choose from any number of sources for goods and services — wants to know that his voice is heard and heeded by the merchant he has selected.

For this relationship to work, the e-tailer must collect customer feedback. But how? Where should that feedback go? What should the business owner do with that feedback once it is collected? Most importantly, how can an e-tailer demonstrate to her customers that she is acting on their input in real time?

Listening is key to building a relationship with customers. Their satisfaction, loyalty and repeat business are dependent upon proof that you are not only asking for their feedback, but that you are acting on it. You might offer several options for customer engagement, but finding a channel that reaches the customer in a personalized way on his time schedule isn’t always easy…

Web analytics meet this need, but only partially. These tools and platforms provide you with four out of the five W’s: who, what, when and where. But they leave you guessing about the “why” in customer behavior. Understanding that “why” is crucial to your relationship with customers. Acting on that understanding in a timely manner is even more important.

Before you invest in a customer feedback solution, consider what you hope to gain from it. How will you solicit customer feedback? What kind of information do you expect to receive? What will you do with it once you have it?

Once you answer these questions, you can begin finding a customer feedback mechanism that you can integrate into your business. The right selection can help you increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, retention and conversion rates. In short, the right feedback tool can help you build positive, mutually beneficial relationships with customers.

So what tools are available? Perhaps you’ve experimented with a few. If so, you might already know that there are some options out there that only do part of the job.

Many companies have long used traditional outreach tools such as surveys and polls. Surveys — which come in a variety of formats including emails, online pop-ups and survey landing pages — give you a surface-level understanding of activity on your Web site based on a statistical review of answers to pre-set questions.

Surveys can be useful in extracting information about “site-level” issues, such as: “Where did you hear about our site?” “What are you looking for?” “Who are you?” Responses help you know your users better, but they don’t give you qualitative information about user behavior.

An online customer feedback mechanism is an option for establishing a managed communications channel. With this type of solution, you provide your customers with a feedback button on each of the site elements you wish to monitor. This invitation to customers to begin the conversation and discuss what is important to them elicits honest, timely and unique user feedback.

This online feedback channel not only delivers site owners the elusive “why” regarding customer behavior, it does so in a manner that is less intrusive to users than some other options. The user decides when and where and for what reason she will reach out to you. When you give the customer this power in your relationship, she is more likely to communicate with you and give you candid, actionable feedback.

Regardless of what tools you use, the most important aspect of establishing strong relationships with customers is to hear their concerns and illustrate that those concerns matter to you. Too often, companies implement a survey or provide opportunities for users to offer praise, criticism and feedback, and then the engagement ends. This resulting silence can be a relationship killer. Your customers want to talk to you. Let them, and then prove that you are listening.

Here’s the most complete listing of Customer Feedback Solutions on the web.

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