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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Why customer feedback is critical to your brand

It can be tempting when one is building a brand to simply stick with the vision, and assume that your core customers will find you and follow along. However, this is not necessarily the best way to approach things. For you will encounter people who WANT to be loyal customers but have some issue with your product or service that they need to express to you in order for you to better serve them. In short, you need to hear what your customers have to say.
 
In Creating Customer Evangelists by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba, the authors call this "Customer Plus-Delta." The Plus part is what customers like; the Delta is what they don't. They offer "10 golden rules" in this regard; they can be boiled down to the following 5 (quoted from p. 32 of the book):
 
"1. Believe that customers possess good ideas.
2. Gather customer feedback at every opportunity.
3. Leverage technology to aid your efforts.
4. Share customer feedback throughout the organization.
5. Use input to make change--and communicate changes back to customers."
 
What should you ask customers? The authors state (p. 34)
 
"1. Do they recommend your product, brand, or company?
2. If yes, why? What's the one thing they value most? What do they say when they recommend you to others?
3. If no or don't know, why? What must you improve to earn their recommendation? When was the last time you angered or disappointed them?"
 
As you gather feedback, remember not to change your brand to suit customer tastes; rather, use the input to make sure that you are delivering on the brand promise. To go back to the case of Disney, if I write and tell them that I find the brand "artificial," that doesn't mean that they should change anything--artificiality is part of the brand. However, if I write and tell them that the theme park is too crowded, they should do something about that--as part of the brand promise is ACCESS to the dream.