Managing Customer Feedback Data Is Like Raising Kids


I’m still a fan of the show “Undercover Boss.” As I was watching it the other night, I listened to an employee share with the “new hire” (really the CEO of the company) how corporate gathers a lot of customer feedback, but there are some aspects of it that just don’t relate to their specific location, or even geographical area, and that she wished corporate would also take “local” data into consideration.


This got me thinking – much like parenting, it’s good to take a close look at all types of feedback coming in. ¬†While it’s good to look at things from a more overall, company wide level, there is something to be said about looking at more granular information, and maybe even gearing your feedback toward this.


Now, what does this have to do with parenting, you might ask? For any of you with more than one child, you know how different they can be. I have three children, who were all raised by the same two parents, in the same enviroment, and they could not be more different from each other. While parenting them, there are some global aspects that relate to all of them, but sometimes you need to take a different approach with one compared to the other two, to be effective.


This holds true for multi-location companies. In the example from the show, she said that corporate was pushing a particular dessert, because feedback was overwhelming trending toward customers enjoying it. However, from her experience, she knows that this particular item is more popular in other parts of the country, not in her neck of the woods. Customers tend to enjoy a different item much more, and are disappointed when all they have is the one corporate believes “everyone” wants.


It’s a good lesson to think about – what works for the company, in many respects, works for all locations. However, taking a closer look at the feedback coming in can make a difference. Here are some things to consider when running your feedback program:


1. Look for global trends, but refocus on location: if you’re only looking at the composite data, you may be missing out. Sure, customers tend to rate one item as very popular overall; however, if you refocus on a particular geography, or set of locations, does this still hold true? Drilling down and looking at the data from different angles, whether it’s geography, time of day (maybe weekends show different trends than weekdays?), or any other metric might be able to shed some light on what different sets of customers want.


2. Customize your feedback surveys: most programs can customize surveys based on location or district. If not, it might be time to reconsider the program you’re using. If you’re seeing a particular trend in only some locations, change up your survey to ask more targeted questions about these issues, but just at the affected locations. You may get another perspective that is really relevant to that set of customers, and you may find ways to increase satisfaction and loyalty


3. Talk to your employees: they are on the front lines, after all, and know your customer best. On this show, they ended up creating a “board” of district managers who would meet on a regular basis to discuss trends and ideas related to their particular set of locations. This, in conjunction with customer feedback data, can help to gauge what’s great and what needs improvement, as well as specific ways to tweak service levels or product offerings to better satisfy customers, while still falling into line with the corporate brand.


Making sure you’re treating all of the locations the same to create consistent brand messaging, while making sure individual needs are taken into consideration, can make a great impact on your business. Much like parenting, it’s a tricky road sometimes to make sure you’re setting your approach to each individual personality, but it can be done.



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