"Sure, customer feedback is great, but I've got no budget. In my organization customer service is a cost center, and I'll never get approval for a survey."
It seems like too many companies spend lavishly on customer research when it comes to marketing and product development, but begrudge every dime that goes to customer service, the one place where the company gets the opportunity to touch customers directly. If that sounds familiar, here are some simple things you can do to (and may already be doing) to bring customer feedback into customer service:
- Inventory Existing Customer Surveys: Many companies have multiple customer satisfaction surveys going on. Find out what's out there, and what useful data might already be collected.
- Ask to Be Included on Relevant Distribution Lists: If there are weekly, monthly, or quarterly reports which go out about customer feedback, get included. Even if the data isn't directly about your area, you will learn what other people are considering important enough to track.
- Identify Important Goals and Metrics Used Elsewhere: Just as in #2, even if the specific goals used in other parts of your organization can't be applied to you, it's helpful to know what's important.
- Identify People Responsible for Customer Experience: Many companies now have someone with "Customer Experience" in his or her formal title, but even if not, there may be someone with that formal or informal responsibility. Find that person and introduce yourself.
- Set Goals Based on Existing Data: So there's no budget for customer surveys--is there something else out there like data from another survey, or published third party research you can leverage? Just make sure the data you're using is relevant.
- Identify Root Causes for Individual Customer Problems and Complaints: Even without a formalized feedback process, you may be getting complaints or customers with problems. Make a point of taking the time to identify root causes and identifying solutions.
- Report Findings to Customer Experience Owners: Remember the person you identified in #4? Tell him or her what you've discovered and how you can improve.