Feedback: are you listening?

  26 August 2014

I’m a huge fan of online reviews. I don’t book a holiday without checking TripAdvisor, a hotel without Booking.com or buy a book without checking Amazon. But even I’m beginning to wonder where the current rush to get online customer feedback is leading.

 This thought came to me last week in a moment of multi-tasking. On the one hand I was passing pages for publication in our upcoming Aftersales in the Digital Age report; on the other I was querying an item on my latest credit card bill. They may seem unrelated, but stick with me for a moment.

 One of the clear messages from the report (it will be launched at our seminar on September 10, by the way) is that price is no longer the deciding factor in where people take their car to be serviced. In these days when they can go online and check out what other people are saying about you, it’s much more likely to be customer service or reputation.

Meanwhile, within about two minutes of me putting down the phone to the credit card company, a text popped up on my phone asking how well they’d dealt with my query. The answer was they hadn’t – the item in question had to be checked with the seller and it would be seven days before I got a response.

Fair enough; but the text was plainly an automated process and, despite the assurances that ‘your opinion is important to us’, in no way related to my actual question. It was just one computer talking to another.

My point is this: we are in danger of making feedback a process, rather than a genuine attempt to listen to the customer. As a result, it becomes just as pointless as manufacturer CSI scores – often either manipulated or irrelevant. But, unlike manufacturer CSIs (which are largely internal), these reviews could be the make or break of your business. Customers like me can be very picky about where we place our business. So it pays to listen – and get it right.

Rupert Saunders

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