A look at some digital tools that can help you gather customer feedback early on.
By Giovanna Fabiano
A company releases a new tech gadget and there’s a sudden barrage of calls complaining about a design flaw. The company goes into crisis mode, attempting to appease angry customers by making more employees available to fix the problem, send out new products and issue refunds.
That’s the typical customer service response when something goes wrong.
But what if you were able to prevent the problem from occurring in the first place by using the right digital tools to gather customer feedback early on?
A number of forward-thinking companies are approaching customer care from the technology perspective, enlisting social media tools that monitor feedback and customer sentiment in real time.
“Too often, you find that customer care environments are very reactive to what’s happening around them,” said Tim Deluca-Smith, head of marketing for WDS, a Xerox company.
“What we’ve been educating the wider market on is that if there’s been a customer care interaction, it doesn’t matter how great the experience was — there’s been a failure somewhere, and it’s far better that this customer didn’t have to call in the first place. Let’s start looking at the root cause,” Deluca-Smith said.
Instant surveys can tell you what customers think at the precise moment the experience is fresh in their minds. Here’s a look at some examples.
Among the companies bringing social feedback tools to the forefront, Posmetrics, a startup primarily focused on hotels, helps businesses collect real-time feedback with an iPad app. The company operates on the principle that customers want to help businesses by telling them what works and what doesn’t. Businesses pay a monthly fee for use of the iPad loaded with a dedicated app, and it’s placed on a stand in plain view, allowing customers to answer a 20-second survey before leaving the store or hotel.
Unlike more traditional online surveys like Google Forms and Survey Monkey, Typeform designs surveys with slick images and videos and aims to engage the customer quickly upon entering a site.
Geared toward sales employees, SlideKlowd helps collect immediate feedback from a group listening to a sales presentation. The technology allows the presenter to utilize slides connected to mobile apps to display instant feedback on a screen with the entire group.
While instant feedback on products is essential, WDS recently launched a set of social media tools that go beyond surveying customers. The company’s technology utilizes big data to put in place an early-warning system to pinpoint product issues so they can be “flagged and rectified before they hit the mass market,” said Deluca-Smith.
The tools make it possible to monitor social media on a larger scale to diagnose any early issues. The technology attempts to decipher customer sentiment: how people feel about a particular product, how they view the competitor, what features they’re looking for, etc.
“All these millions and millions of tweets out there provide knowledge, but they’ve been restricted, until now, by the availability of the technology,” said Deluca-Smith.
“We can use that knowledge to enhance product roadmaps and optimize marketing campaigns based on what is the word on the street.”
In order for the tools to work, companies need to look at customer service in a different way, Deluca-Smith said.
“When you look at the processes that exist, the ability to actually use real customer sentiment is really difficult,” he said.
Not only is utilizing social media tools more efficient, it’s less costly than relying on call centers and tech support, Deluca-Smith said.
“A focus group in January may have an influence on a product released in December, but if you start scraping the social data in real-time, you can start influencing how you do business based not on what customers said 12 months ago, but this morning over breakfast.”
This article was originally published in Real Business, a website from Xerox that provides ideas and information for decision makers in business and government.