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Confidentiality does not excuse you from follow-up

Customer Survey Research - dealing with confidentialityWhen planning your customer survey research, one of the items to consider is whether to ask customers if they are willing to share their responses (referred to as confidentiality) or tell them up-front their individual results will be shared in an effort to improve the relationship.

There are pros and cons to each approach. However, neither excuse a company from taking action and closing the loop with customers. 

If you choose to ask customers the question, it can make the follow-up activity a little trickier. For this situation, consider these best practices:  

Send a follow-up thank you letter letting the customer know the feedback is appreciated. Reinforce their individual results will be kept confidential. The letter might say something like:

Thank you for taking the time to provide your candid feedback. It is greatly appreciated. Your individual feedback will be combined with feedback from other customers and used to identify areas needing improvement.

Once we have reviewed the collective feedback, we will share a summary and the improvement areas with your account manager. At this time, your account manager will schedule time with you to share the information and discuss how the improvements will benefit you individually.

Share a summary of the results with the group in charge of the customer follow-up. Include the areas of focus, explaination of why the areas were selected, and the anticipated outcome if improved. During this stage, it is also important to educate them on the follow-up process. Be sure to include:

  • Their role
  • Why it is important to follow-up with customers
  • What you want them to share with customers
  • What you don’t want them to share with customers
  • What you would like them to do after the follow-up

Conduct the follow-up. During this stage, it is important to listen carefully to see how the aggregate information aligns with the individual customer need. During the conversation, consider asking these questions:

  • How closely does this feedback align with your experience?
  • Will these areas of focus have the greatest impact on your experience or are there others that would have a greater impact?
  • While the company is looking at these areas for improvement, are there any additional suggestions that we can focus on to improve the value you receive?

Ask the person who conducts the follow-up to record feedback from the discussion in a central location. This step is important because it allows you to understand the sentiment of the individual relationship, build account specific needs into the account plan, and quantify the anticipated return of improvements for that customer.  

Closing the loop on customer feedback is an essential ingredient in your customer retention strategies. It will help you build trust, retain their business, and grow market share. 

About the Author

Leslie Pagel

Leslie Pagel

As vice president of customer experience, Leslie is responsible for incorporating the voice of Walker’s customers into the solutions development process. To do this, Leslie spends the majority of her time interacting with Walker account teams, clients, and prospective clients to understand their business challenges. She coordinates several listening posts that are used to drive strong client relationships and enhance our consulting and technology capabilities.

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