Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Why customer feedback is important

By nature I'm a fearless person. I've always been appreciated for that, sometimes criticized too, but that is how I am. Although the one thing, and probably the only thing which literally scares the wits out of me is an angry customer. Not death, but an angry customer. At Work Advantage, any time a customer issue turns up, all hell breaks loose. Thankfully it doesn't happen frequently, touchwood. But when it does, I lose my cool. I do not believe in the concept of mitigation plans, because why should there be an issue to mitigate in the first place? If not perfect, can't you establish a nearly foolproof system which would sustain on its own?

Let's face it, the customer is the king. I have always and will always stress on that. It's not the guy helping you earn revenue, it's not the big brand partner you can show off to sell your product. It's the end user who can either make or break your company. Being active in the startup community, everytime I hear about a failed company, 90% of the times there is a single reason for the same: it failed to engage customers on its product/platform. As an entrepreneur you are so hung up with processes, revenue gen, funding, dev, marketing and sales, that you tend to forget about the small piece of the stack who is holding all that up, that is the already-acquired user. Hence I always take customer feedbacks very seriously, sometimes more seriously than I should take. Are you capturing the user-attention right? Are you just spamming him/her or actually pushing relevant details? Are you taking customer ratings seriously or the rating feature is just for the sake of it? How good is your IVR if at all present? Does it actually help with some feedback or is blocked on truecaller as spam? And most importantly, is your product actually usable? What can you add to the product to make it more usable and embraced?

I love Oyo's IVR. A human being calls you (not an automated voice) and asks you just 2 simple qns: 1) was your stay satisfactory? and 2) will you recommend that particular oyo room to others? and once you answer these two, they just thank you and hang up. That's it. Simple and sweet, doesn't even take one minute of your time. Something I do want to implement eventually at Work Advantage too. Till that happens, we've started the 'rate your experience' feature. Just a 1-5 star rating with an optional comment section. And everytime a new user rates, I send him/her a personalized email from MY email ID. It properly has my email signature at the end of it, making the user feel special and hence rate the next time too. And that works like magic. The ratings have started increasing exponentially since I started doing that. There was no gamification, no incentive for the user to rate. It's just that knowing that the company really cares about your rating encourages you to keep giving feedback. Simple and sweet.

Grievance resolution is equally important. In our initial customer service days, we had no idea what to do with the customer who has been denied the deal. With time you learn, and we realized that if we take our agreement with the vendor lightly, the vendor does too. The moment you create a hue and cry about it, the vendor will also take the same seriously the next time. We started apology-redemptions for dissatisfied customers who were wronged. And once apology offerings started, the results were amazing. People who claimed 'I will never again use this product' became regular users of it. Because they knew we screwed up initially because we were new to the system. The whole concept was new to the system. But we care and want to improve the process. Customers are human too, they understand if you make them. They'll be patient if you're empathetic.

Customer relations is also a huge part of retention. Putting a face to the name, a voice to the brand. Assign a brand manager, a relationship associate to each partner. Not only does that help in maintaining long term relations, that also builds a trust among you and the other brand, plus people have contacts which they help you with. After all, the whole entrepreneurial ecosystem works on the funda of favors. You do good unto others and what goes around always comes around. Peace out. :)