Modeling customer feedback: a strategic choice

The need is clear for all involved parties: customers need to ‘have a voice’ – options enabling direct communication with the corporation, while the latter needs to have insight on customer’s beliefs, satisfaction levels and drivers, general comments and product ratings. Information technology offers powerful solutions for effective communication between the parties, thus empowering a smoother operation of the market.

new type of consumer
From a consumer perspective it is of great importance to have a formal, effective way to submit comments/ ratings on products, services or aspects of a specific customer experience. Either positive or negative, this option becomes a necessity for modern corporations: consumers are now sufficiently ‘educated’, aware of how the market should work – ready to choose a competitor offering better service quality and/or lower prices and/or more efficient customer support. This new type of consumer expects to have a communication channel that will enable to submit feedback in a asynchronous, distinctive manner. Ignoring customer feedback can prove to be a major failure/ limiting your ability to identify trends and react with proper decisions.

The feedback-enabled corporation
Projects related to customer measurement, analysis, modeling and similar needs, have been traditionally assigned to market research agencies. Even in cases characterized by profound results, there have always been significant limitations due to lack of continuity, limited data integration, near-zero automation and poor standardization.

Additionally, it is the competitiveness of the modern economy, which makes these ‘offline’ marketing tools rather inefficient: although stand-alone surveys and focus groups can provide some feedback or post-crisis insight, they are isolated from your customer base and business intelligence infrastructures and hence they provide limited or zero interaction in data analysis and cross-modeling.This narrows the capabilities of analyzing customer responses in the correct context and also eliminates any data integration and automation scenario.

Traditional satisfaction surveys are:
  • Expensive, not considered from small or even medium-sized companies
  • The have limited effectiveness, taking into consideration the typical analysis needs of modern corporations
  • They provide limited or no data management & integration options, results are delivered as summary reports with no possibilities for customer level metrics and analytics. Not feasible to enhance customer database with consistent customer metrics
  • They have by definition limited continuation. In the best possible scenario you will have at least some time gaps between survey executions.  

Online feedback management systems are superior in all of the following:

-  Depending on options, implementation type, integration level can be a low cost solution (long term) or even as a service (with basic functionality and integration levels) making it feasible for medium or small enterprises.

-   A modern feedback management system may be even near real-time accepting customer experiences as they occur just after a transaction or a certain interaction with your customer. The feedback may have the form of (a) standardized service/ product/ experience evaluation through industry –aligned and validated (micro) questionnaires, (b) less structured complaint submissions, (c) requests for specific information or spontaneous customer comments. In all cases where free-text information is involved, text mining can automatically generate meaningful scores and thus suitably classify cases and allow further statistical computations.

-  Unlimited possibilities for data integration and automation: ‘transactional’ integration with customer databases is feasible, thus enriching information at the customer level. That is, you continuously enrich customer history records (also containing information on other ‘events’ in the lifecycle of the customer). In contrast with ‘old-fashioned’, ‘disconnected’ surveys, your feedback system may provide continuous flow or customer opinions and comments to be cross-analyzed against time, customer segments, scores, and all of your favorite dimensions.

As a summary, modern customer-centric corporation should allow any customer to provide feedback at any time through all available channels, spontaneous or systematic, in-bound or outbound, structured or open-text. At the same time, each single piece of feedback submitted, must instantly become available across the corporation: top management access live satisfaction dashboards, customer care professionals cross-analyze feedback in order to identify patterns, trends, anomalies and deviations from normal patterns, campaign managers use customer feedback to fine-tune their campaigns, while product development managers search for the next idea in customer complaints and free-text submissions using text analytics and pattern browsing tools. 

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