Shep Hyken's Customer Service Blog

Customer Service Advantage: Use Customer Feedback

customer-feedbackTrack and Measure Customer Service

Customers have always had a voice, but today it is louder than ever. Great companies want to hear from their customers. They want their feedback, opinions and anything else that will give them an advantage. And, great companies don’t wait to hear from their customers.  They actively solicit feedback in the form of surveys and have programs in place to ensure they deliver an experience that makes their customers want to come back.

Recently I was asked about companies who have reaped rewards from surveying their customers and measuring their customer service. A few excellent examples came to mind.

Ace Hardware is one of the best examples of a company that uses surveys and measurement to stay successful. A network of privately owned stores, they are recognized for their helpful customer service. To ensure they are meeting their customers’ expectations, they participate in a mystery shopping program where a high score will “certify” them as “Ace Helpful.” Their goal is to be the most helpful hardware stores on the planet, and there is a direct correlation between a high score and a successful store.  They go up against big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes. It’s a David versus Goliath story, and they use helpful, which is their version of customer service, to win. To their credit, J.D. Power and Associates ranked Ace Hardware “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Home Improvement Retail Stores” for the seventh straight year!

American Express has had a tremendous turn around over the years. From a credit card company with typical complaints and customer dissatisfaction, they started using a short survey question that measures their “member” satisfaction at the end of a call. It’s the well-known Net Promoter Score question: On a scale of 0-10, what is the likelihood that you would recommend us? The call center employees’ bonuses are based on their scores.  The management and executive bonuses are also tied to the score. This is one of their most important metrics. It’s not how fast they get through the call.  It’s how well they take care of the customer. They are now recognized as a top customer service company, worldwide, in any industry.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car is another great example. They also use an NPS type of survey.  Over time they became the number one car rental company in the world – not just in size, but also customer satisfaction. They acquired Alamo and National Rental car, which at the time of the acquisition were at the bottom half of the top ten customer service companies in the car rental industry. Infusing the Enterprise culture of customer service and using surveys to confirm what was working and what was not, they moved Alamo and National to being top performers.

Companies that track and measure their customer service have a competitive advantage.  They know when they are doing a great job, and more importantly, they know when they aren’t. They take advantage of all data, good and bad, looking for opportunities to take their customers’ experiences to the highest level possible. The reward for this effort is more business from existing customers and new business from the excellent reputation they create in their marketplace.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times  bestselling business author. For information contact (314)692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The  Customer  Focus™ customer service training programs go to http://www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright ©MMXII, Shep Hyken)

 
  1. Alyssa Mendes says:

    Shep, I found your article spot on. I work for a company that sends surveys out and we get responses back from guests who stayed at our property. We use these to help teach, reward, and know what to do in future. People definitely take the surveys serious and put time and effort into giving good feedback. Thanks for the article, I enjoyed it.

  2. “It’s not how fast they get through the call. It’s how well they take care of the customer.”

    That’s something call center managers have to remember. Yes, you need your employees to be efficient with their time but you can’t sacrifice quality along the way. Some metrics will disagree with each other if you focus too hard on one over the other.

    • Hi Dan – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. There are other metrics to consider – always – but the core metric for that company is the focus on the customer. Another great example of the call center that is concerned with a similar metric is Zappos.com. They go to great lengths to take care of their customer and deliver a WOW experience. Google the Zappos.com nine hour phone call and you’ll see just how far they will go. They are also an amazing company.

  3. Dora Limbert says:

    Hi all, beautifully written article…It is a shame that some companies allow valuable customer feedback to go under the radar. If a business listens to the voice of their customers, it allows room to grow and further improve on service and operations.

    With advanced technology, more and more companies are using real time and on site feedback solutions like the Geteco Feedback Solution to hear what their customers have to say and further create an interactive channel with them as well. Surveys and comment cards have become a thing of the past where many companies view it as being tedious, inaccurate and a waste of resources.

    • Richard Houster says:

      Hi there, just came across this article and was reading the comments. Miss Dora I was particularly interested in your comment. We have been looking for an alternative source to gather our customer feedback for an F&B related business. Currently we are stuck with simple comment cards but your little tip on the Geteco Solution was great.

      Just checked out there website and it seems quite interesting and something maybe that could help us in collecting our customers feedback quickly and efficiently. Thanks again and great article !!

  4. Hi Shep, I’ve worked in Service related positions for all of my professional career. While I agree that feedback from customesr is vital, both positive and negative, I believe surveys are being grossly overused. In my last position with AT&T, surveys were generated for every customer interaction. The employees feared receiving less than a perfect score as it could negatively impact their compensation and evaluations. They are prey to crazy and unhappy human beings who use the surveys as a forum to vent their frustrations and negativity that might have had nothing to do with the actual interaction with the AT&T employee. Additionally, as a consumer, I am turned off by and rarely participate in surveys. In many cases where the opportunity to participate in a survey arises, I have already exhausted my patience and expendable time while utilizing the service or correcting the issue that causes the survey to be generated.

    • Hi Cynthia – Thanks for your comment. I see your point of view. I would hope that management understands all of your points and deals with them appropriately.

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