Wednesday, 31 May 2017 13:41

Maximize Your Customer Feedback

We’ve talked before about the importance of balancing the pursuit of customer acquisition with the need to develop and retain customer relationships. We know from firsthand experience in the hardwood lumber industry there is no room for complacency regarding one’s customer base.

Chances are each interaction your company has with your customers can provide significant value to someone within your group to further enhance the customer experience. For example, some of the benefits you can gleam from active interactions with your customers include:

  • Learning about what’s working and not working with your product line.customer feedback
  • Understanding where your customer service/support efforts may or may not be succeeding.
  • Better insights into how customers use your product, which in turn can trigger new ideas about potential upgrades.
  • An improved understanding your customer’s needs, (both stated and unstated).
  • An enhance relationship that improves your chances of building customer loyalty.

However, whatever potential benefits you uncover cannot help your organization unless you actively cultivate and share the customer feedback you receive. This involves more than occasionally putting out a message to your employees in your company newsletter or distributing a once-a-year customer survey. To be actively cultivating and sharing feedback we find it is best to focus on a few things.

  1. Provide a variety of feedback channels for your customers. Your customers are all unique, and they all have preferred methods of communicating with their suppliers. It’s up to you to cater to those preferences, by offering multiple points of contact—from email and phone to texting and website communication formats.
  2. Share sales & support lessons internally. Your front line sales and service personnel gather the most firsthand information in your company. Find ways to have them quickly and easily share their finds with others. Develop formal programs such as lunch & learns and informal sessions to get people to talk about their recent customer interactions whenever possible.
  3. Test and analyze often. Even the best feedback is just information if you don’t do something with it. If you embark on a true customer feedback program, make sure you do something with the data. Conduct tests, try new things, pilot new programs and analyze your findings. Don’t be afraid to fail and when you find something that works be sure to go all in on leveraging it for new business.

Some our most memorable improvements or programs came from sharing feedback. The development of some of our proprietary grade walnut products, certain sawmill lumber cutting techniques, and even some of our hardwood lumber yard sorting capabilities can all be traced back to actively cultivating and sharing customer feedback.

Do you have any similar experiences? What can you recommend going forward? Let us know!

Tony Cimorelli
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