Monday, April 27, 2009

Best-in-Class Companies Embrace Customer Feedback as a Strategic Imperative

According to the Aberdeen Group's new benchmark report, called The ROI on Customer Feedback: Why It Pays to Listen to the Voice of the Customer, more than half of all survey respondents indicated that is was either very easy or somewhat easy to justify the related expenditures. More telling is the fact that 55% of all survey respondents have made zero budgetary cuts for customer feedback initiatives while 19% have actually increased their spend in this area.

These findings suggest that a majority of companies understand that customer feedback delivers a broad range of business benefits, both tactical and strategic. In fact, the insights gleaned from customer feedback can benefit multiple parts of the organization. The customer service department, for example, may use the insights to measure and improve performance in terms of problem resolution and call center deflection. The marketing organization may use the insights to understand what specific messages and offers are likely to resonate in the marketplace and elicit a favorable response or for improving website performance or any other aspect of the customer experience. The operations team may use the insights to streamline business processes and improve service quality. The product management team may use the insights as the basis for developing, testing and refining new products and services. The market research department may use the insights to identify consumer trends and competitive activity.

Aberdeen research suggests that when it comes to customer feedback, achieving the desired objectives means more than just deploying the right set of enabling technologies. Success in listening to the voice of the customer also requires a combination of strategic actions and organizational capabilities. For example, Aberdeen found that Best-in-Class companies are twice as likely as Laggards to have a process for disseminating the insights gleaned from customer feedback to key decision makers. They are also far better equipped when it comes to acting upon customer feedback across all departments and channels and then communicating the results of the actions that were taken back to customers, which is a necessary (but often broken) link in the chain.

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