Good customer service is so hard to find.

It fascinates me to think that in some areas of business we have come so far over recent years, but in others like customer service, there are so many organisations that really haven’t learnt a thing.

All the marketing experts tell us that the best way to understand your target market is to ask them, understand their needs and wants and listen to your client’s feedback. If I have had a great experience, or a particularly bad one I will usually take the time to leave feedback. Unfortunately people are much more vocal when they have not had a good experience and this can compromise your brand if not handled correctly. Especially within social media and the apps that are available that allow you to rate and review nearly everything we utilise and consume.

But regardless of the type of feedback, what are companies actually doing with this information?

Our inbox and mobiles are constantly being bombarded with automated messages asking for just a few minutes of our time to complete a quick survey, and sometimes they will entice you with the opportunity to win something. Have you ever won anything? Have you ever received a phone call by a real person actually thanking you for taking the time to provide your feedback?

We were recently asked to provide detailed feedback for a couple of our service providers that we put a lot of thought into. We wanted to ensure we were constructive and our feedback incorporated areas and activities that were going well in addition to the areas where there was room for improvement. Unfortunately, we haven’t even received an email thanking us for our time, even though we have worked with these service providers for over five years and have been a reliable customer who have helped grow their business.

I know I’m constantly getting automated emails and calls from companies wanting feedback on their services and/or products that I have used or engaged. Nothing is more disengaging than utilising a service provider, having them ask for feedback and you take the time to provide it – only to learn that they have probably ignored it. In fact in my example, it has probably turned a relatively positive relationship and engagement into a now average one, just because they have failed to acknowledge or work through the feedback that we provided.

Whilst I am a huge advocate for continuous improvement and I know that we can’t improve what we do if we don’t ask our clients for feedback, if you are going to ask for feedback, make sure you take the time to acknowledge it.  This also means you need to be realistic that not all the feedback you get is going to be positive. If it is negative feedback, take it on board. Some of the suggestions may be legitimate areas that you are working on, others may have just been an unfortunate once off incident. Either way, it is also a great opportunity to turn that negative experience into a positive one. Your clients are usually a lot more receptive to an organisation that takes ownership and accountability for things, products and services that didn’t provide a great outcome or experience, than those who chose to ignore it.

One thing I know for sure is that once you find a great product or service provider you will always recommend them or engage them in the future. Within reason, you are also almost always willing to pay a premium for that service because you know that the right outcome will be achieved, with minimal hassle.

If you are looking to implement a customer feedback process into your organisation, make sure you consider the whole process and how you plan to review and address the feedback you will receive. If you want to really understand your target market and your clients, listen to what they have to say. Some of your customers may have some fantastic ideas and concepts that could be a game changer for your business and they will also become your greatest advocates.