AN INSPIRING STORY AND EXPERIENCE BY DR MRS ELLEN HAGAN ON FEEDBACK
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be here today to be asked to give a talk and share my experience with you on feedback and why I deem it very important in running a business.
Brian Halligan, the CEO of HubSpot, was recently voted as one of the top CEO’S in America. He helped grow HubSpot from $0 to a publicly-traded company valued at $2.9 billion with nearly 2,000 employees scattered around the world. He’s a best-selling author and was voted as a top CEO among leaders such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. When he was asked what the secret to his success was, he explained it in six words; “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
If we don’t know what’s right, we can’t do more of it. If we don’t know what’s wrong, we can’t do less of it. Without customer feedback, we are destined to fail.
If we don’t know how our customers’ feel, what makes them tick, or where they are frustrated … we will fail.
Also, quoting Bill Gates, the Founder
Microsoft, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. We see our customers as invited guest to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little better.
Giving feedback whether to your colleagues and employees or customers provides them with an observer’s insight into how their performance is progressing, as well as advice to solve any problems. But, for a number of people, hearing the six words, “Can I give you some feedback?” generates fear and anxiety. The words go through a translator in our brain and are heard as, “Can I completely tear you down?” It can be perceived that the person giving the feedback is somehow superior to the person receiving it, putting the receiver on the defense.
While giving and receiving feedback can be a delicate process, there’s no doubting its value in helping to identify issues and solve them.
As the Chief Executive of L’AINE Services limited, satisfying our customers is one of our core principles. We do our best to please our customers, satisfy their needs, and eventually to keep them loyal to our brand and services.
But how can we be sure that our efforts bring desired results? If we do not try to find out what our clients actually think about our service. Their opinions about experience they have with our brand is helpful information that we can use to adjust our business to fit their needs more accurately.
What is customer feedback
Customer feedback is information provided by clients about whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with a product or service and about general experience they had with a company. Their opinion is a resource for improving customer experience and adjusting your actions to their needs. This information can be collected with different kinds of surveys (prompted feedback), but you can also find opinions and reviews your clients post online (unprompted feedback) and collect them using Internet monitoring tools. Both sources are important to get a full picture of how your clients perceive your brand.
Here are the top seven reasons why I believe customer feedback is important in business.
1. Customer feedback helps improve products and services
When you initially introduce a new product, brand or service to market you probably have an idea about customer needs. Market research that you conduct before introduction gives you an idea if potential customers would be willing to buy it and also they can give you some tips on how you could improve it. However, only after your customers use your product or service can you can learn about all the advantages, flaws and their actual experience. On top of that, their needs and expectations evolve with time.
Customer feedback is an insight into what is working well about your product or service and what should be done to make experience better. You might have the best expertise in the industry in which your company operates, but your professional knowledge will never be more valuable to business performance than customer insights. Their opinions help you ensure that the end product will actually meet their expectations, solve their problems and fulfill their needs.
2. Customer feedback helps you measure customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction and loyalty is a crucial factor that determines company’s financial performance. It is directly linked to many benefits, such as increased market share, lower costs, or higher revenue. Many studies confirmed close connection between customer satisfaction and business performance. Therefore, there is no doubt that you want to make sure your clients are happy with your products and services. Naturally, the best way to find out if you meet their expectation is to get their opinions. Using rating-based questions you can easily estimate the level of satisfaction and consequently predict your company’s financial condition in the future.
One of the most accurate methodologies that has helped many companies measure, manage and improve customer satisfaction is NPS. The metric is based on one simple question that investigates how likely it is that a customer would recommend a brand to a friend. Response options for the loyalty questions are based on a 0–10 point rating scale, with 0 representing extremely negative and 10 representing extremely positive. This methodology is both simple and universal, so every business can apply it in customer satisfaction management.
3. Collecting customer feedback shows you value their opinions
By asking your clients for feedback you communicate that their opinion is important to you. You involve them in shaping your business so they feel more attached to your company. Listening to their voice helps you create stronger relations with them. This is the best way to gain valuable brand ambassadors who will spread positive word-of-mouth for you. And I am sure you are aware that their recommendations is probably the most effective and, at the same time, the cheapest way to acquire new customers and become more trustworthy in the eyes of your current and potential clients.
People always appreciate when you ask them if they are happy (or unhappy) with your service. It shows you actually value their opinion and that you are here for them, not the other way around. They feel that your primary business goal is to solve their problems and fulfill their needs, not to get their money. It puts a customer in the central position of your company and this is the right way to run a business.
4. Customer feedback helps you create the best customer experience
Today’s marketing is heavily based on experiences people have with products, services and brands. They do not buy Apple products just because they are good. They want to demonstrate their status and affiliation to a particular group. They do not buy Nike clothes because they are durable. They buy courage to extend their boundaries. Therefore, if you focus on providing the best customer experience at every touchpoint clients will stay loyal to your brand. And naturally, the most effective way to give them amazing experience is asking them what they like about your service and what should be improved.
5. Customer feedback helps to improve customer retention
Satisfied customer will stay with you. Unhappy customer will eventually find a better alternative to your business and leave. Customer feedback helps you determine if your clients are satisfied with your service and detect areas where you should improve. Thanks to asking for opinions regularly you can always keep a finger on the pulse. Each time a dissatisfied customer express his disappointment you can immediately react and find a solution to fix an issue. This is a perfect moment to win a client back and even increase his level of loyalty. In many cases, an unhappy customer who encountered a problem with your service, but you got it fixed straightaway demonstrates bigger devotion to your brand that a customer who has never been disappointed with your service.
6. Customer feedback is a reliable source for information to other consumers
In the times of social media, consumers do not trust commercials or expert advice so much. Opinions provided by other customers who have already used a product or service are more reliable source for information these days. When you look for an accommodation in a city you visit or you want to find a nice new restaurant to have dinner with friends you read reviews beforehand. When you want to buy new shoes you ask for opinion on Facebook or go to a trustworthy blog to read a review. Many companies today incorporate review system in their services and products. Think of Uber, or AirBnb. They all do their best to ensure that poor service will be detected and excluded from their business.
Customer feedback is as important to your business as to other customers, so you should make sure that both you and your clients have an easy access to opinions and reviews.
7. Customer feedback gives you data that helps taking business decisions
There is no place for business decisions based on loose guesses on a highly competitive market. Successful business owners gather and manage distinct kind of data that helps them develop future strategies. Only in this way they are able to adjust their products and services to perfectly fit customer needs.
Customer feedback is one of the most reliable sources for tangible data that further can be used in taking business decisions. Customer insights will help you understand clients and their needs more profoundly. Take their suggestions in consideration and thanks to that find out where you should allocate your money to get the highest return on investment. You might discover that, for instance, further product development is not necessary in your case, but instead you should focus on promoting your brand to get bigger exposure. Customer feedback is valuable source for such data, but you must learn how to listen to it and how to translate it into actionable takeaways for your business.
If you want to stay on top of things you should put your customers in a center of your business and treat their feedback as the most valuable source for information in your company. They are the ones who use your products and services, so they know best what could be improved to make them even more happy. Never ignore their voice. If you fail to meet their expectations they will find other company which will do it better than you. Use customer feedback at all corporate levels and across all departments in your company. Insights will help you develop your products, improve customer service, and manage customer satisfaction. Thanks to customer feedback you can make sure that your clients will stay with you, be loyal to your brand and in consequence will spread positive word-of-mouth for you. Having devoted brand ambassadors is gold your company needs to grow!
Remember that customer feedback is everywhere. Learn how to collect it using different tools and resources. Run surveys in different forms and search for reviews your clients post on the Internet. Do not underestimate any comment about your products and services and try to always be responsive. Your clients will appreciate you value their opinion. It is a key for developing strong relations with your audience. Customer voice is priceless for your business, so never stop listening!
Over the years, I have learnt some valuable lessons on how to give feedback .
The first is to create safety. Believe it or not, people who receive feedback apply it only about 30% of the time, according to Columbia University neuroscientist Kevin Ochsner. If the person receiving the feedback doesn’t feel comfortable, this can cause the feedback to ultimately be unproductive. If you don’t have the kind of buddy relationship with a colleague or employee that allows you to say virtually anything to each other, then I suggest you add civility and safety into your feedback approach. Don’t be mean-spirited. Your feedback usually won’t be productive if it’s focused on making the other person feel bad or make them look foolish in front of peers.
In my company, we have performance appraisals every 6 months to assess and monthly coaching sessions with our employees to assess how each individual is performing. These evaluations are done in confined environments and in confined situations and this creates opportunities to build confidence and skills. Confined situations in which people know they are being evaluated are good for giving feedback while learning skills
Secondly, be positive. When giving feedback, you must give as much positive feedback as you do negative. Positive feedback stimulates the reward centers in the brain, leaving the recipient open to taking new direction. Meanwhile, negative feedback indicates that an adjustment needs to be made and the threat response turns on and defensiveness sets in. You don’t need to avoid negative, or corrective, feedback altogether. Just make sure you follow it up with a suggested solution or outcome.
Thirdly, be specific. People generally respond better to specific, positive direction. Avoid saying things like, “You need to be more talkative in meetings.” It’s too ambiguous and can be interpreted in a lot of personal ways. Say something specific and positive pointed at the task you want accomplished, such as, “You’re smart. I want to hear at least one opinion from you in every meeting we’re in together going forward.”
Finally in giving feedback, you must be immediate. The adult brain learns best by being caught in action. If you wait three months to tell someone that his or her performance is average, he or she usually can’t grasp the changes needed in order to change direction. It’s far too ambiguous and relies on memory, which can be faulty. Productive feedback requires giving it frequently. That way, performance reviews are just another collegial discussion.
I will like to commend L’Oréal because for more than a century, you have devoted your energy and your competencies solely to one business: beauty. With your mission to offer all women and men worldwide with the best of cosmetics innovation in terms of quality, efficacy and safety, you have performed beyond standards as L’Oréal is a household name when it comes to beauty needs. You have met the infinite diversity of beauty needs and desires all over the world.