Ignoring Customers is Risky Business

Consistently providing great service was the foundation that made my businesses successful. Continuous communication and training ensured all employees deeply understood our customer service culture. I believe that all customer feedback is good, including feedback about problems. That is valuable information we can use to improve. In fact, a problem handled quickly and effectively often results in a more loyal customer. So, it amazes me when I interact with businesses that don’t seem to care and in fact, ignore customers. I had a bad experience with an upscale restaurant and sent in a web form about the situation. A month later, they haven’t responded to me. I know they received my web form because I immediately started to get marketing emails from them! A timely response would have had much more impact. Customer service is changing but it isn’t going away. Business can’t ignore customers. 50% of customers give a business only one week to respond before they stop doing business with them and 89% began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. So, I ‘m left wondering why this restaurant, as well as other businesses, ignore customers. Here are four of the top reasons I think businesses don’t respond. They don’t care  Businesses are willing to let bad service go unaddressed. They view problems as a part of doing business. Things do happen but customers deserve and want a response and an apology when things go wrong. 68% of customers expect higher levels of service than they did one year ago. Individual situations should be handled but more importantly, businesses should look at feedback over time...

Are Your Surveys Like the Election Polls?

The 2016 presidential election was significant for many reasons. Many feel it may be the most important election of our lifetime. The incredible inaccuracy of the polls stands out as one noteworthy aspect of the election. The political news reporters were shocked and embarrassed by how they blew the prediction of the election outcome. This is a clear demonstration of how decisions can be based on erroneous information. Some of the inherent flaws in polls are similar to problems with surveys. Poll predictions use several factors that are supposed to be representative of the population. Like polls, surveys are the responses from a subset of people who theoretically represent the whole and the results are based on those who are willing to respond. The accuracy declines and results are skewed for several reasons: We are inundated with surveys and, many of us don’t respond, leading to a smaller sample of the whole. I spoke with a business leader recently who was frustrated that only three people out of 750 responded to his company’s survey. His compensation was affected by the satisfaction ratings, but the results were worthless. Customers have been tainted by long surveys with endless pages of questions. No upfront indication of the length or the time it will take to complete result in high abandonment rates. Requests for extensive demographic information may benefit the business but send a message to the customer that the survey is not focused on improving the customer experience. Businesses need on-going customer feedback to continuously improve. So, how do they get it? Business can start by focusing on their customers’ needs, not...

Feedback Without Action is Worthless

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine leased a new GMC vehicle. As part of the lease, he received a complimentary 3-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 a 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 who care about customer experience put the feedback they receive into action. Consider the hotel chain who got consistently negative feedback from guests about its air adjustable beds. While 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 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...

Why Online Ratings Don’t Tell the Whole Story

We’ve all read online hotel reviews prior to planning a trip. Those reviews are important to us as well as to hotel management. But beware!! If you look at the numeric rating but don’t spend time reading reviews, you may not be getting a true picture. A study by researchers at Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research recently published a study, “What Guests Really Think of Your Hotel: Text Analytics of Online Customer Reviews,” analyzing text from 5,830 TripAdvisor reviews for 57 different hotels. Business travelers were found to write the most online reviews and couples wrote the second most online reviews. The study found that negative comments carry a lot more weight in a guest’s rating than positive comments do. So averaging the positive and negative scores doesn’t provide a true picture of a guest’s opinion. The written review is much more valuable in understanding the guest’s true feelings about their stay. The study also found that guests value different things at upper tier hotels than they do at lower tier hotels. The guest experience strongly dominated reviews written about high-tier hotels while amenities and location come up more frequently for middle tier hotels. Value and the mechanics of a stay, such as check-in, were most commonly mentioned in lower-tier hotels. Can we extrapolate these findings to other businesses? Perhaps we can. It certainly makes sense that high-end retail customers are interested in the experience and relationship more than customers at lower-priced stores. And the intensity of a negative review may far outweigh the value of a typical positive review across most business segments. Surveys provide one level...

Comment Cards Waste Resources

On a recent visit to my workout center, I noticed an issue I wanted to comment on. When I asked how I could get in touch with management, I was surprised to be directed to a far corner where comment cards and the dusty comment box were located. Why was my upscale workout center still using an antiquated method for obtaining customer feedback? After asking for a pen, I completed the comment card, including my contact information. It took about 15 minutes of my time to find and complete the card. Then I waited to be contacted… I’m still waiting. The situation made me think about comment cards. Why would a business still use them? Comment cards are cumbersome for customers Comment cards are hard to find, often tucked away in a secluded area. If and when customers find them, they have to search for a pen or pencil to complete the card. For many situations, there just isn’t enough space on the card to say all that needs to be said. When filling out contact information, customers are left wondering if they will now be subjected to a surge of marketing emails and unwanted phone calls. These issues turn customers off from commenting directly to a business and turn them on to social media and review sites which offer easy, fast access. Comment cards are difficult for businesses Comment cards aren’t only problematic for customer use, they create more work for your business. Someone has to take comment card information and input it into your company’s tracking system if you’re going to analyze and use the information. Your human...

Peoplocity Provides Feedback Platform for WINweek Events

Peoplocity is providing the feedback platform for the second annual WINweek in Noblesville, Indiana. The Peoplocity app provides a easy way for event attendees to share their feedback. Rather than completing a survey at a later time, attendees use the Peoplocity app to immediately share their feedback on events and speakers. Attendees who send feedback will be entered in daily drawings for gift cards provided by Sweet Home Cupcakes, AH Collection, Maurice’s and Heidi Pops Gourmet Popcorn. Presented by Noblesville Chamber of Commerce, WINweek events are planned by and for women business leaders in Noblesville and provide a week of opportunities to connect, learn, empower, inspire, share, support and laugh. WINweek kicks off with a Colts tailgate celebration on Monday. Other events will be held throughout Noblesville and will focus on healthy habits, volunteer opportunities, generation gaps and work-life balance. For more information, click WINweek....