What Feedback?

People wish for praise for the things they have done well, yet in trade negative feedback is more commonly given than positive. Do something wrong and the customer will shout it out loud for the whole industry to hear. The truth is thatnot everything relates to "Likes", the world has even more "Dislikes".

On the other side of the coin it is not possible to assume that normal trading relationships mean everything is okay; anothertruth is we cannot assume the customer is happy unless they complain.

Every business ought to be leveraging customer feedback to a greater extent in order to improve the products or services provided, yet to do this they must be prepared to listen to all a customer may say; in other words,be aware that feedback may be both negative and positive, and correcting problems is key to improvement of the product or service. The truth is your product may rated poorly, as may all competing products;perhaps people are buying yourssimply because itperforms less badly than the alteratives.

The Way the Customer Feels

In the current business climate the purchaser is becoming ever more demanding than ever before, and rightfully so, because if they are going to spend a lot of money it must provide exceptional value or solve many problems. They demand higher quality products to be madeavailable, at a more attractive price, by a company that really cares about its customers and solving their problems.

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This is as true in a consumer/retail scenario as it is in a B2B environment.

One of the challenges that can plainly be seen is the gap that exists between customer expectations and the service they receive. Most businesses don't pay this enough attention when building products or designing the services they offer, and many times it is both the product and the service levels that are a vital part of the value proposition provided.

By looking at any value proposition the customer is looking for a partnership, not simply the supply of products, which is one reason why any supplier needs to close the gap between the perception of what a product offers and the service that is actually provided. Some customers believe it is better to have a poorer quality product if the service associated with it istruly excellent.

Consider: The typical "wronged" customer will probably tell between 16 and 20 people how dissatisfied they are with their provider's service.

This figure could be even greater when the client feels more aggrieved or outraged by something your company has done, irrespective of whether or not the feeling is justified. It's a sad, yet proven, fact that very few people write glowing letters of praise about the things you do, even when prompted; so much so that should companies receive them they feel obliged to frame them on their 'wall of fame' and unsolicited feedback means so much more than the type of feedback that is requested from a customer, yet it is so rare and food for thought for any small business, but the reality is all businesses face tough times.

An Ongoing Discussion

An ongoing dialogue is necessary between any supplier and their customer and this is something that shall be investigated over the next few days. Knowing the way the customer feels is only part of the solution. Managing any feedback and understanding the customers perceptions of your business as a supplier is vital and will form the next element to be discussed in this series of three articles about how we treat customers.

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