Customer feedback is the most effective way of improving the financial performance of a business – Interview with Guy Letts of CustomerSure

Number 1

Today’s interview is with Guy Letts, founder and Managing Director of CustomerSure, a cloud based software firm that helps businesses gather feedback from their customers – not as an annual marketing exercise but as part of day-to-day business. Guy joins me today to talk customer reviews, customer feedback, a better way to do it and that most firms are doing it wrong.

This interview follows on from my recent interview: Brands with purpose build better relationships with their customers – Interview with Jeremy Waite – and is number 143 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to their customers.

Highlights of my interview with Guy:

  • Even now, not many people make the link between delivering great service, higher growth and building a better business.
  • Guy founded his business based on the lessons he learnt in his last job, where he had to grow the business by 10% per year but also deal with 10% customer attrition/leakage rate as well.
  • Guy believes that in many cases customer reviews have limits as a feedback process that can drive operational and service improvement.
  • The way that customers experience reviews and feedback is not great and this is an area of business that can mature in many areas.
  • Reviews have a limitation because they are often driven by the marketing or sales part of the business.
  • There is no question that reviews done well can improve sales.
  • However, when it comes to feedback many systems are designed to benefit the business and do not make the experience useful for the customer.
  • Guy cites an example of a mainstream hotel that he stayed in where after being in the room for 7 hours he received a 53 page feedback survey.
  • Delever something that is of benefit to the customer rather than something that is written purely to benefit the business.
  • If you flip it round, however, then the customer benefits and the business accrues benefits with interest.
  • Simple and short tends to be a good rule of thumb to adopt when designing a customer feedback survey.
  • Focus on generating actionable feedback not stats and response rates.
  • Don’t send reminders to customers about completing your feedback form as that’s not to their benefit. That’s all about the company. If your customer can and they want to give you feedback, they will.
  • Even now, whilst there may be a lot of feedback generated from customers much of it goes to the wrong people and it isn’t collated, disseminated, distributed to the right people or acted upon.
  • This can often leave customers, with live problems, feeling ignored.
  • Make sure you deliver feedback to the right, operational teams that can fix the problem.
  • Feedback should act as a warning system for a business to take care of and fix their customers problems. This should happen first and before any analysis is done or any service improvement initiatives are started.
  • Service recovery first and analysis second.
  • Customers aren’t saved by analysis and averages but rather by specific direct action in a very timely way.
  • You keep customers exactly the same way that you win them: one by one, treat them as individuals and tend to their individual needs.
  • Reviews tend to be managed by marketing but feedback tends to be managed by customer service.
  • There is an opportunity to combine the two and use one process to gather feedback and a review at the same time, publishing only the review part.
  • Guy provides an example of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) where one team in their online bookstore used CustomerSure (case study) and had such a great year that another team demanded access to the system so that they too could reap the benefits. They are now rolling out to a third area of the business as their success becomes infectious.
  • Better service drives sales and improvements in your business in ways that you won’t understand until you start to ask your customers.
  • The value of customer feedback, in Guy’s 30 years of experience, as a way of improving business is unquestionably the single most effective way of improving the financial performance of a business.

About Guy (taken from his Customersure bio)

Guy LettsGuy gave up a comfortable job at Sage to set up CustomerSure. Soft-spoken and empathetic, Guy believes in the power of happy customers.

At Sage, he helped turn around a business unit losing 10% of its customers each year. He did this by ditching annual surveys and making customer feedback part of daily business.

In his free time, Guy chauffeurs two teenage children around. He also bakes a delicious focaccia with rosemary, olive oil and salt.

You can find out more about CustomerSure and sign up for a free trial here.

You can also connect with Guy on LinkedIn here and do say Hi to them on Twitter @CustomerSure.

 
 
 
Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

8 comments On Customer feedback is the most effective way of improving the financial performance of a business – Interview with Guy Letts of CustomerSure

  • Adrian,

    Feedback is definitely critical to improving the customer experience and to business success. I think one thing that companies need to remember is that surveys are another touchpoint in the customer journey. Care must be taken to design the survey (and the subsequent closed-loop processes) so that the experience is a great one for customers.

    Annette 🙂

    • Very true, Annette. I also think that firms need to get better at the ‘closed loop’ bit, which historically they are not good at. This is key in managing and preserving the customer’s experience.

    • Annette, I agree wholeheartedly – ‘another’ touchpoint is exactly how I see surveys. I meet some people who approach surveys as a business tool for gathering data, which is a rather sterile exercise compared to treating it as an additional channel through which customers can choose to communicate. It boils down to whether you’re taking a company-centric or a customer-centric approach to feedback. Sounds like we’re all agreed on which works best, and we have a huge amount of data supporting the benefits of the customer-centric view!

      Thanks for taking the trouble to share your experience.

  • Yes ! This will always be the truth in business, anytime, any day, anywhere.
    Customers are the KING in business.
    This simple concept has been the secret of success for any top company you can find all around the world…

    For great business ideas and tips, please visit: http://www.effectivebizideas.wordpress.com

    Cheers!

  • Pingback: A degree of humility always succeeds in business | Adrian Swinscoe ()

  • I loved to read what you wrote, I thank you very much for your work and wish you a good continuation

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