Overview: Customer feedback is one of the most powerful ways to understand how your business is seen and used by customers. Many different channels now exist for customers to comment on the service, quality and value they received from a business. Having a process to manage these in an integrated way is critical to maintaining brand reputation, retaining customers and increasing their satisfaction.

Who Comments?: Most feedback tends to be about an issue that a customer has had with your business. Happy customers tend not to give feedback.

Feedback Channels: Face to face feedback is increasingly rare. Social media channels are now the preferred way to make issues visible to businesses.

Managing channels: Businesses with a number of feedback channels need to monitor these to ensure that issues raised are dealt with immediately and positively.

Feedback Strategy: Businesses should have a feedback strategy that ensures management, staff and customers all understand the process.

Make it easy: Customers should be encouraged to provide feedback by making it easy to do via phone, emails, social media etc.

Monitor it: Ensure that the channels of feedback are monitored  regularly. This identifies issues early and allows a rapid response

Record Feedback: All feedback should be recorded in a database or spreadsheet. This allow it to be analysed for patterns or recurring issues.

Act on it: Customer issues should be addressed immediately they become known. Positive feedback should be thanked with an appreciation note.

Train For solutions: Staff should always be trained on how to deal with customer issues. The first intervention by staff on an issue is critical.

Language matters: The words used by staff when dealing with an issue are critical. They should be positive, sympathetic and be solution focused.

Empathy: Customers may be angry because of the issue they have with your business. Focus on seeing their point of view on the issue.

Empower: Many issues can be resolved with a simple gesture. Train and empower staff to immediately resolve minor issues.

Escalation: Some issues require management action. Make sure the customer knows that their issue is being addressed by a manager.

Process + Follow up: Always inform the customer what is being done and the likely time to a solution. Keep them informed of progress.

Be responsible: The customer has the problem with your business not your suppliers. Ensure that you take responsibility for the issue and its resolution.

Solution +: When a solution is found inform the customer immediately . Many businesses also provide some compensation such as a voucher or gift.

After the Solution: Monitor to see if the customer trades with you again. If they do ensure they receive something extra that reinforces your relationship.

Lost customers: Some customers may not immediately trade with you again. Ensure that you prioritise them for discounts and special offers.

Staff Feedback: Many issues can be avoided by asking staff of things that they think impact customer service and satisfaction. Fix these immediately.

Customer Surveys: You can survey customers on a regular basis to find out how they see your business and its quality of service.

Competition Views: Monitor the social media channels of your competitors. Are they having issues that you can avoid or use to your competitive advantage?

Review : Regularly analyse and review the data you collect on customer issues and comments then review your strategy and processes.

Post the results: Your staff and management should be told of the results of your reviews and asked for their comments and input to the process reviews.

Disaster Recovery: Have a disaster recovery plan for when something really major happens that impacts the total level of service your business offers to customers.