Loyal customers are the lifeblood of any business. When properly engaged, customers can grow a business faster than any sales and marketing strategy. Research also shows that it costs businesses at least five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.
However, without setting up a clear mechanism for gathering and analyzing customer feedback, management has no way of knowing what drives customer satisfaction.
Understanding the ABC Strategy
Collecting feedback is generally easier said than done. For starters, what kind of questions should business owners ask their customers? What type of feedback should they prioritize?
It's here where methodologies like the ABC Strategy come in, providing actionable guidelines for understanding the customer experience. The ABC Strategy presents a 3-step model where the mnemonic ABC represents each stage of the feedback collection process.
A. Ask for Feedback
This stage of the strategy focuses on data collection and frames the feedback conversation on a specific issue, such as customer service, product feedback, or brand loyalty. Consider these three feedback collection strategies as a starting point.
- Create an Online Community Hub
An online portal, such as a forum or even a social media group, offers a convenient way for gathering customer feedback under the supervision of a moderator. An online community not only creates an accessible platform for sharing suggestions and opinions, but it also encourages people to have authentic discussions with each other. This can be a valuable source of customer satisfaction insights.
- Engage the Customer Support Team
Consider asking questions such as, What support documents do customers frequently use?, What are customers most disappointed in?, and What changes to the product do customers commonly suggest?
At its simplest, a user test can be a face-to-face session where the subject interacts with a product and responds to questions about their experience. More advanced usability tests use software with heatmaps that visualize a user's clicks and movements on a website.
B. Organize Feedback in Boxes
The next step is to organize all of the gathered data to prepare them for analysis. This part of customer feedback management can be slow and tedious, but it also lays the foundation for accurate analysis.
One way to make things easier is to sort feedback into boxes based on category. Consider the following examples.
- Product literature issues
- General positive feedback (e.g., I enjoyed using this product.)
- General negative feedback (e.g., I was disappointed in the product.)
- Junk feedback (this is for spam and nonsense feedback)
- Miscellaneous feedback that is hard to categorize
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it nevertheless provides a good starting point for organizing data.
Next, businesses can decide what tools and methods to use to organize these categories. While spreadsheet programs like Excel are reliable and accessible, consider using customer feedback management software. These programs offer advanced features such as Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and customer feedback surveys among others.
C. Make Changes Based on the Findings
Any actionable insights gathered from customer feedback must be shared with internal stakeholders and acted upon with the appropriate level of urgency. Then, let those customers know that action has been taken on their feedback.
This process creates a feedback loop, which begins internally with stakeholders in the business and closes as customers are notified that their concerns have been heard.
When acting on customer feedback, the first step is to communicate findings internally with the organization's leaders and other stakeholders. This means visualizing the feedback sorted into boxes and providing recommendations based on their analysis. To make the presentation impactful, use customer stories, quotes, and testimonials. This
humanizes the feedback and puts the customer at the center of the problem.
Because businesses have a variety of teams and departments, the feedback presentation must address each manager's view in a story-like manner. Managers typically think along the lines of, What does this feedback mean? and What should we do to fix it?
After presenting the feedback to managers, it's time to cascade the high-level insights to other employees. This helps them to take ownership of the customer experience.
Letting customers know that they are being heard is perhaps the most critical step of this feedback loop.
Research shows that nearly half of consumers don't bother to leave feedback, whether it is in the form of reviews or messages because they feel companies won't listen to their suggestions. Companies that limit themselves to passively collecting feedback are missing an opportunity to build stronger relationships with their customers.
Methods to act on customer feedback include sending personal notes and/or merchandise packs to customers, publishing a report detailing how the company responded to feedback, and actively responding to customers on social media with authentic messages instead of scripted responses.
While there is no single method to collect customer feedback, The ABC Strategy provides an organized feedback management system that almost any business