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Opinion

If you’re not responding to customers immediately, don’t bother asking for their feedback

It is one thing for businesses to provide an avenue for customer feedback, but the speed of their response has become far more important to consumers. If businesses haven’t figured out a way to collect feedback and respond in a timely manner, they are probably losing customers at this very moment.

Most businesses offer a platform for customers to provide feedback. However, if their concerns aren’t addressed immediately, customers can develop a more intensely negative opinion of the brand, than if they never had the opportunity to give feedback at all.

This is because customers want to be listened to. When a company says it is listening, then demonstrates that it isn’t listening after all, customers feel betrayed. In research we conducted, online retailers were shown to be among the biggest culprits of not listening to customers.

Our survey of 1,700 online shoppers showed customers believed their feedback gets overlooked nearly half of the time (40 per cent), regardless of whether they complained via social media, surveys, or directly to staff.

Furthermore, online shoppers have high expectations for how promptly online retailers should reply to questions and complaints. 46 per cent of online shoppers expect a response to their social media posts on the day of posting while the majority of online shoppers expect a response within a few days (82 per cent).

Getting the right kind of customer feedback is absolutely crucial for online retailers looking to compete more effectively. This means installing listening posts to collect, analyse, and act on feedback.

The right feedback will identify areas for improvement, of course, but could also uncover potential areas for business growth and further success. Failing to act on this goldmine of information just means retailers risk losing customers unnecessarily.

For example, 89 per cent of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience, and 50 per cent of customers give a brand just one week to respond to a question before they stop doing business with them.

Another study found that 22 per cent of consumers who received a response to their complaint ended up posting a positive comment about the company in return.

Google Analytics can reveal a lot of information about how visitors enter a site, where they go and how frequently they visit. This explains what is happening but does not explain why it is happening.

This is why customer feedback is vital. It lets the business actually understand the customer’s motivation and experience. In turn, this lets the business make appropriate changes to meet the customer’s needs and even predict their future needs.

Whether this leads to a remediated experience, product innovation, process changes, or even policy shifts, the net result is that customers feel listened to and valued, which ultimately encourages greater customer loyalty and more repeat business.

Bill McMurray is the managing director of Asia Pacific and Japan at Qualtrics. He has over 30 years of experience in the Information, Communication and Technology industry and has held senior executive management roles across Europe, Asia Pacific, Japan, and the United States.

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