SOS Feedback

Tuesday 4 August 2015

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SOS Feedback

Often people ask me what I think the term ‘customer experience’ implies. For me it is all about pure emotion, the feeling the customer has when leaving the store. But this raises as many questions as it answers. What are the crucial factors that influence customer experience?

Mainly speaking a winning customer experience is created by a clear proposition that is consistently translated to: assortment, staff and process, branding and communication and design.

In this column, I would like to pay attention to ‘staff’. In particularly the effect of handling feedback on the overall customer experience. I would like to put the customers in the spotlights, which take the effort to share their customer experience, negative or positive.

In practice this process is often not seamless, to express myself mildly. Something that happened to me recently: not long ago I was shopping and decided to treat myself with a tasty sandwich. So I looked for a nice place and ordered a sandwich goat cheese out of the oven. Delicious! I was looking forwards to it. All the ingredients for a great customer experience seemed to be there. The customer is in, and is really looking forwards to it. The potential for a beautiful review and attracting new customers. Unfortunately, everything that could go wrong did. It started with a long wait, followed by the disappointment of a very particular interpretation of goat cheese. Some cheese was visible, but by further inspection it seemed to be only the crust that in the past had contained cheese. I ate some of it, but it is clear that my customer experience had reached its lowest point.

This is the moment most customers ask themselves how to react. This is the moment for a brand that it is still possible to act and prevent the customer to leave you forever. I decided to provide this chance. But this offer was thanked for. If looks could kill… The woman who had been serving me started to dissect the sandwich and inspected the crust. And concluded irritated that she did see some cheese while tapping her foot with frustration. To me it seemed clear that it was a better idea to never return as a customer, not only for me, but also for those I was going to share my experiences with.

I would love to see openness and transparency. How great would it be if more brands dared to place a large sign in their store saying: Feedback please! Positive or negative, we want to know! It would be even better if feedback were rewarded, because there is so much to gain. Free customer insights, just in front of you. This way you can collect new ideas to develop your formula by getting insights in those elements that strengthen your concept, but also its weak points that need improving. I am sure customers would love this! Customers feel more connected and can even become ambassadors of the brand.

When you receive negative feedback, this is your chance to make up for it. Even a small gesture can be enough. My experience would have been completely different if they had said: ‘we are very sorry, can I offer you a coffee for the road?’  The risk of bad reviews averted and maybe even transformed into a positive one.

The bottom line is that appreciating feedback is something that should be part of your corporate identity. This means not only pushing traffic and sales, but also customer experience.

Focus on the attention of the translation of the proposition and brand promises to your staff who are the ones in contact with clients is crucial. The employees need space, allow them the possibility to make a gesture towards the customer. Too often staff has been a closing entry, concessions are made. And this is at the expense of the customer experience.  


- Lieneke van der Laan 



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