We all know that if our business is to perform, and our customers are to enjoy the experience they deserve, customer feedback is vital. But do we understand why?
Before you can exceed customer expectations, you have to meet them. Many companies provide the product or service that they can, rather than the one their customers actually need. It’s not always a big problem, since customers are pretty good at bending your offering to meet their own needs. But it’s not perfect either. If the gap between your offering and their needs is big enough, you’ll lose them to a rival with a better idea.
For example we recently worked with a conference organiser who learned, through OMBEA, that their customers expected hot food at lunch. Up until that point, the organiser had provided sandwiches, assuming they were more convenient for networking opportunities. They focussed instead on quality presentations and venues (which are also important). Now they know that the food, if it isn’t up to standard, is just as much of a problem as the venue or the speakers.
Now that you know how to meet the minimum standards expected by your customers, how do you grow? Your service or product needs some changes but how do you know what those are?
Unsurprisingly, it’s back to customer feedback: Your customers know what they want, and they probably know how close you are to meeting their needs. Ask them the right questions often enough and you’ll see where those improvements need to be made.
As Business icon Richard Branson put it in a recent blog, “Your education really begins on the day that you open the doors to customers.”
In our opinion, understanding how to meet, and then exceed, customer expectations are the most important reasons why you should listen to customers at all. There are other less tangible benefits too. If you listen to customers then it shows that you care what they think. Hopefully this will lead to greater customer loyalty and advocacy.
Here at OMBEA we understand that customer feedback is oxygen for any business, which is why we have created our OMBEA Response system: It makes light work of capturing customer thoughts, opinions and ratings within a focus group setting or conference.
However it’s likely that you’re not running those frequently enough to get an ongoing stream of feedback. So why not engage your sales force? They meet your customers all the time. If you get them to add one or two OMBEA questions to the end of every presentation, the ongoing customer insights will mount up quickly!