Earning Loyalty Through Respect – A Customer Feedback Tale

Earning Loyalty Through Respect

Today we are excited to share with you a guest post from Nate Brown.

There are many benchmarks for CX maturity within an organization.  While you may not find this indicator on an executive dashboard, one of the most powerful signs is how a brand responds to customer feedback.

Going about my normal life this summer brought forth two contrasting experiences as a consumer.  While one brand turned a minor issue into a major loyalty enhancer, the other turned a simple lack of lettuce into a tale of CX woe.  Let’s look first at brand who knows how to handle feedback in spectacular fashion, B&H Photo and Video.

One of my (many) hobbies is photography. Anyone out there who shares this particular passion will know how gosh darn expensive it is.  It’s a big deal for me when I finally scrape together enough fun money to go buy a new camera toy.  Even so, B&H Photography’s exceptional service was able to turn a cheapskate like me into a loyal fan.  The story goes as such….I was online shopping for a new soft box.  I finally found the one I needed and made my purchase, however the search functionality did not work as well as I would have expected.  When prompted to take a survey post-purchase, I did so and provided my feedback.  As someone who has grown accustomed to hearing nothing from a survey….imagine my surprise when I received a kind and personal note from Josh C of B&H:

You recently completed a B&H Web Satisfaction Survey and gave us valuable feedback concerning your shopping experience. First, I am pleased to inform you that I have already forwarded your findings to our Web Team; I am confident that this will have directly contributed to our success.

I apologize, on behalf of our staff, for any inconvenience you endured, appreciate your patience while we continue to perfect our performance all around, and thank you for choosing B&H as your professional source.
Sincerely,
Josh C  – Web & Mobile Customer Experience Team

There are so many wonderful things about the way B&H handled my feedback:

  • The language used felt personal to me and to the situation
  • The apology is authentic
  • I took great pride in knowing that I helped the company and “contributed to their      success” as it were
  • I’m way more inclined to give future feedback knowing they value the information and will be responsive to it

When I complimented Josh C on his reply, I received this – “Your words mean a great deal to me and made my weekend!”  Josh C is a real person and clearly cares a great deal about his customers.  Now when I need to make a photography purchase my first choice is B&H, but the funny thing is I don’t think about it as B&H anymore.  I think of Josh C and his team of real people who will work hard to help me if needed.  This is a prime example of how respecting customer feedback earns behavior-altering loyalty.

Alternatively, a major fast food brand (famous for their chicken sandwiches and “cow” themed marketing) provided a classic lesson in what not to do with customer feedback.  Before I write another word, let me articulate how much I love this particular brand.  Despite my love for their food and their service in general, this incident was bad enough to undermine even the tastiness of their spicy chicken.

I had completed my survey from a past visit and was kindly rewarded with a free sandwich.  As it happens I was aware that a person can pay a small fee to upgrade that free basic sandwich to the deluxe version with cheese, tomato and lettuce. Unfortunately, my cashier let me know my only option was for the basic.  Recognizing this as a “First World” problem, I decided not the press the issue. Things become somewhat comical, however, when my wife repeated the same steps five minutes later and did receive the deluxe sandwich.  This proves two things: First, people generally treat my wife better (she is far kinder than me) ….and secondly, there was an obvious inconsistency in the process.

Coincidentally, a young lady came up to our table with an iPad and asked how our experience was.  I let her know exactly what had transpired, and put the ball back in her court to make it right.  To my amazement, she tapped something on her iPad, gave a curt thank you, and walked away.

Oh the irony!  I would have never thought twice about my visit that afternoon were it not for this employee’s behavior.  If she cared at all for the experience she was soliciting data about, she could have made it right for about 25 cents and thirty seconds of time.  This is a clear example of a critical CX principle –

Never ask your customers for feedback unless you are ready and willing to do something about it.

When you make the decision to ask your customers for feedback, you are accepting a great responsibility.  Your data collection and dashboards are secondary.  The reality is you are asking a human being to offer up their time and energy to help you improve.  This effort should be highly valued for the gift that it is, whether the feedback is positive or negative.  A few key learnings in conclusion:

  • Always close the loop on both positive and negative feedback…prove to the customer that you value their effort to provide insights
  • Solidify the process on how feedback will be handled long before you ask that first question
  • Ensure the best brand advocates for your company are the ones responding to the feedback and empower them to make it right
  • Be personal in your response to feedback and demonstrate how it aided your brand in making a change

These two examples show just how critical the feedback moment is for the customer.  It’s a fantastic opportunity to create a brand advocate, however if mishandled there is no faster way to give birth to a detractor.  May these tips help you harness the power of responding well to feedback and paving the way to life-long customer loyalty!

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Nate BrownNate Brown is on a quest to improve the agent experience and the customer experience through creativity, knowledge, and hard work.  In addition to being a Director of Customer Experience at UL, Nate is the VP of Communication for the HDI Music City C
hapter and a well-known speaker in both the ICMI and HDI communities. You can read more on his blog, Customer Centric Support.

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