The Gift of Negative Customer Feedback

The Gift of Negative Customer Feedback

Kumaran ShanmuhanBy Kumaran Shanmuhan
4 min read

The Gift of Negative Customer Feedback

Every company loves positive feedback, but the truth is it’s the negative feedback that really drives the company’s long-term success. How so? Just like any real and important relationship, only when customers complain, do companies truly discover, and hopefully solve, customer problems as they arise.

It’s tried, true (and free) data about what goes wrong and what can be improved, about what customers like and dislike, enabling a brand to grow and evolve. However, customers are not always prone to share with a company the experiences they may have had with their products or services. For every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent! And the ones who do share, usually they will complain on social media sites rather than contact the company directly. Therefore, every complaint is really a precious opportunity. As Bill Gates once said, Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. Let’s look at some practical benefits:

Fueling Innovation

What drives innovation in your business? Are you truly listening to the wants and needs of your customers and working to improve your product to meet their expectations? These are questions every brand needs to ask themselves, yet today many companies overlook their most engaged, creative and cost-effective source of innovation — their customers! These customers who use their products and services. You might have the best expertise in the industry, but professional knowledge will never be more valuable to business performance and innovation than a single customer who uses a product or service and offers real world feedback, especially negative. At the same time, collecting customer feedback is just the first step to ensuring product innovation. It’s what you do with the feedback that truly matters. In fact, a Gartner study shows that 95% of companies collect feedback. However, only 10% make improvements based on this feedback. The bottom line is listening to your customers and acting on their insights is the only way to guarantee you create a product or service that evolves in line with their expectations, solves their problems and fulfills their needs.

Improving the Customer Experience

A happy customer is a retained customer, and since it costs six to seven times more to obtain a new customer than to retain an existing one, it’s worthwhile to keep your customers happy. That’s why constantly keeping a finger on the pulse of customer feedback is critical to providing the best customer experience at every touchpoint. And while positive feedback can be a helpful indication of what the company is already doing well, understanding why a customer is angry is even better. Negative feedback in a customer service setting can help a company reveal flaws in the product development and the customer service process. If product marketing is making promises the product is not fulfilling, this too will often emerge in the feedback. At the same time, in many cases, an unhappy customer who experienced a problem with a product or service, but it was quickly addressed and fixed, often shows more loyalty to a brand than a customer who has never been disappointed with that same product or service. In fact, studies show if a brand resolves a complaint in the customer’s favor, they will return to do business again 70% of the time, while up to 95% of first-time customers will give you a second chance if you handle their complaint in a timely manner. In the end, your customers make or break your business, so use the insight from customer feedback to create a consistent customer experience that will keep them coming back for more.

Marketing Research Intelligence

When businesses and organizations make critical decisions that determine business strategy and planning, it would be incorrect to assume that only intensive, elaborate and expensive market research can provide the necessary information that organizational leaders need in order to make those strategic decisions. As customer feedback is the ultimate source of tangible data and insight into how customers really feel about the product or service businesses deliver, this feedback is also critical to guiding strategic business planning and marketing decisions. For example, before investing time and money in new products or services, it makes good business sense to offer them first to your customer base for their feedback. Without first tapping into the perspective of their customers, companies are missing out on a critical source of data that can help determine the sustainability of a brand’s long-term success.

The bottom line is that brands that embrace and utilize their customer feedback across all channels are the ones that will develop a product or service that customers want to buy, and an experience that exceeds their expectations, enabling growth and success, now and in the future.

[About the author]Dylon headshot Dylon Mills is the Director of Marketing Content Strategy & Development at Uniphore. As such, Dylon’s main responsibilities are to strategize, create and deliver content for Uniphore’s product portfolio that align with the global Go-To-Market strategy, corporate positioning, and marketing campaigns. Dylon’s prior work experience includes Product Management at one of the top Fortune 500 Technology companies, Symantec Corporation. Outside of work, Dylon enjoys problem-solving and any project that includes building/tinkering with tools. Dylon holds a BS Consumer Economics from the University of Georgia.

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