Column: Feedback without action is worthless
Commentary by George Klein
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine leased a new GMC vehicle. As part of the lease, he received a complimentary three-month subscription to OnStar, the service that keeps a driver safe, connected and ready for the road. As part of this service, he receives a diagnostic report on many aspects of the vehicle, including transmission, emissions, brakes, airbags, tire pressure and oil life remaining. The report also reminds the driver of mileage and maintenance needed. It really is an amazing report full of feedback on the condition of various systems of the vehicle.
The diagnostic report is great feedback that helps a driver maintain a vehicle and keep it functioning safely. What if the driver got feedback that there was an issue and didn’t take action to address the problem? The report would be worthless. The same is true for customer feedback. It is worthless unless it is used to make improvements.
Businesses that care about customer experience put the feedback they receive into action. Consider the hotel chain that got consistently negative feedback from guests about its air adjustable beds. Although the beds were initially loved by guests, they wore out quickly and became more uncomfortable than regular beds. Management at the hotel chain listened to the feedback and replaced the beds over time. Obviously, this was a costly change but one that kept loyal guests coming back.
Take the example of a quick oil change company. Management had gotten negative feedback from customers that the television stations in some of the waiting areas were showing soap opera programs that were inappropriate for young children who were waiting with their parents. Senior management saw that consistent feedback from customers and put a company-wide policy in place to guide television channel selection.
Many businesses capture feedback from web-forms and phone messages. I have even seen businesses use the old-fashion comment cards to get feedback! They hire someone to type the these comments into a spreadsheet. When I ask what they do with the spreadsheets, I often get a blank stare. Management occasionally scans the spreadsheets but basically does not put customer feedback into action.
What does your company do with customer feedback? If customers care enough to give you feedback, use it. Look for trends and patterns and evaluate how to put that valuable feedback into action to improve the customer experience.