All parents of an infant have experienced those nights when the baby won’t fall asleep no matter what tricks they try. Many a weary parent has ended up on a long drive, hoping the soothing sounds of the road will encourage the hysterical child to give up. On one such night, after finally getting my child to sleep, I decided to celebrate my parental victory by stopping at a local Krispy Kreme donut shop on the way home. Unfortunately, the experience wasn’t great; the shop was dirty, paint was coming off the wall, and I was barely greeted by the staff. I decided to express my dissatisfaction to the leadership of the store via the shop’s website, not really expecting a response.
A few days later, to my surprise, the store manager sent me a note promising to resolve my concerns, expressing gratitude for having me as a customer, and offered me a free dozen donuts. Following this response, I have kept coming back to the shop over the past year, and I’ve noticed real improvements based on my suggestions. In short, the manager’s follow-up with me has made me a more loyal and profitable customer than I was before.
Many companies have systems for gathering feedback, but too few companies effectively close the loop on that customer feedback. This is often because there is no rigid system and process in place to make sure concerns get addressed. The lack of follow-up is somewhat astounding when you consider how much evidence there is that following up with customers has a great impact on improving customer loyalty.
1-800-CONTACTS is an example of a company that was gathering customer feedback but with no easy way to analyze it or translate it into actions that would benefit customers. The fix was somewhat simple; they added an open ended question to the end of their customer experience survey asking: “Is there anything we can do to make your experience better?”
Most requests dealt with shipping options, website navigation, etc., but a few requests were a bit more unexpected. “I could really use a pizza right now” one customer wrote, and so 1-800-CONTACTS had a pizza delivered to that customer that same night. Another customer requested a candy bar and the company immediately sent a box of candy bars, resulting in this customer becoming a vocal fan for the company. These and other actions have allowed 1-800-CONTACTS to create emotional connections with their customers and create memorable experiences. Since implementing these changes, the company’s Net Promoter Score has jumped 13 points and reorders have increased 3.8%.
Beyond surprising customers, effective use of customer feedback can help companies identify and resolve problems. JetBlue reviewed its passenger feedback and realized that specific airports kept getting flagged for providing a poor passenger experience. JetBlue responded with solutions tailored to individual locations. For example, in Philadelphia, JetBlue found dissatisfaction related to the fact that shops were not open early in the mornings. In an effort to address this passenger concern, JetBlue began giving passengers coffee, juice, and water during early morning flights. At another airport, JetBlue found that the terminal speaker was broken and passengers could not hear what the gate agent was saying. Because of attention to customer feedback, and a commitment to act on it, JetBlue was able to ensure the speaker was fixed that same day.
These changes had a big impact on customer satisfaction and ultimately revenue; in 2014 JetBlue attributed nearly $100M in increased revenue to improvements in customer satisfaction.
The companies highlighted above, and many others, have benefited from strong customer feedback systems that help to keep their customers happy and engaged. Given how hard it is to win customers, it makes sense for companies to follow their example. Leveraging customer feedback is critical to building repeat business and encouraging customers to spread the word among their friends and colleagues.