There's a lot of different activities that go into an effective customer feedback program, but not all of those activities have equal value.
Based on my experience, some of the high-value activities are:
- Closing the loop with individual customers
- Coaching and training individual employees using voice-of-the-customer data
- Discovering and improving customer pain points and broken processes
- Disseminating customer feedback throughout the organization in a way that's relevant to each business user
- A/B testing of different ideas for business processes
Some of the activities which tend to have less value include:
- Calculating and tracking survey metrics
- Paying bonuses based on survey scores
- Disciplining employees for poor survey scores
- Building high-level survey dashboards
- Collecting survey data with little or no free-response feedback from customers
Keep in mind that less value does not mean no value. There is certainly some value in tracking survey metrics. But there's a lot more value in having a closed-loop process--and ideally a feedback process should have both.
And yet many companies seem to spend almost all their effort in low-value activities, completely ignoring the things which are most likely to lead to better customer experiences and a more efficient business. These companies have little to show for the effort they put forth to improve their customer experience.
The common thread among the low-value list is that they are all centered on improving customer survey scores as a goal in itself. A company which focused on improving metrics but ignores the underlying customer experiences has fallen into the trap of becoming metric-centric instead of being customer-centric.
It's easy to fall into this trap. Survey scores are concrete, quantitative, and measurable. Executives and managers can make the mistake of thinking that improved survey scores should be the goal, instead of a side-effect of achieving the true goal of becoming customer-centric.
In contrast, the activities on the high-value list are all focused on using specific customer feedback to directly improve the customer experience. Some activities, like closed-loop processes and coaching to the voice of the customer, work at the level of the individual employee or customer. Others, like A/B testing and identifying pain points, are higher level.
So just because your organization puts a lot of effort into the customer experience does not mean anything is likely to improve. You need to ask whether your activities are truly helping to understand customers' stories and improve the experience, or whether you've fallen into the trap of becoming metric-centric and spending a lot of effort on low-value activities.