Why customer feedback is your competitive advantage

Dhiraj Nallapaneni

7 min read Last Updated Aug 28, 2020

customer feedback is your competitive advantage

Issues that look glaringly obvious to a customer are often invisible to employees. The best businesses are able to find and solve these issues quickly. Their secret: customer feedback.

In this guide, we’ll explore the following:

  • Why customer feedback is so crucial
  • How you can get started with a winning customer feedback process
  • How you can identify and fix operations issues. 

3 reasons why customer feedback is your competitive advantage

Collecting customer feedback may not seem like the best use of your team’s limited time, it’s an investment that pays off. Here’s why. 

  • Customer feedback wins you new business

Prospective customers value the opinions of their peers. Soliciting feedback through online reviews makes it more likely that customers will try out your business. Studies show that a stunning 92% of consumers consult reviews before making a purchase decision. 

  • Customer feedback allows you to deal with negative feedback

When you have a process to respond to customer feedback, you can listen to dissatisfied customers and deal with their complaints before they do major damage to your brand. If an angry customer doesn’t hear back from you, they might dissuade others from trying out your business entirely. But a quick response makes a big impression. According to Bazaarvoice, 41% of consumers say that when they see brands replying to reviews, they believe the company really cares about their customers.

  • Customer feedback allows you to identity operations issues 

No matter how talented your team is and no matter how much work you’ve already put in, there’s always room for improvement. There might be certain seemingly minor parts of the customer journey that can lead to significant improvements in overall satisfaction. Maybe your customers hate the atmosphere of your waiting room. Maybe there’s a way you can make your payment process more seamless. Whatever the issue may be, customer feedback can help uncover it. 

Collecting feedback through reviews and surveys 

If you want to get started collecting customer feedback, we recommend that you start with two things: online reviews and surveys. Both these methods can work together to help to identify operational problems. 

  • Online reviews: Encouraging reviews can help you identify issues that you may not have even known about. Customers will often talk about both the pros and cons of your products or services in the review text. 
  • Surveys: Once you’ve spotted a potential issue through reviews, use surveys to explore this area in more detail. Ask questions so you can find the type of problems customers are having and you’ll know how to solve them. 

Improving your operations based on customer feedback 

Once you’ve started to collect customer feedback, you can use it to identify problem areas and start making improvements. Here are three ways you can get started today.

  • Set measurable goals 

Once you identify areas for improvement, set a specific goal so that you can measure if you’re making progress. That can be something like an increase in net promoter score or overall star rating. 

  • Get accountability from leadership 

Once you have feedback and an action plan, loop in relevant leaders who can implement these goals and hold employees accountable. Make sure that the relevant team leaders are aware of the changes they need to make and the metrics you’re using to measure performance. 

  • Communicate with your team

It’s important that employees at all levels understand the importance of the metrics so that they’re motivated to hit the targets. Consider using improved feedback as an opportunity to reward employees. Feel free to offer incentives or bonuses for teams who make progress towards goals. 

Following up on negative feedback 

No matter what method you choose to collect feedback, you will eventually hear from an angry or disappointed customer. When this happens, don’t stress out. Here’s what you can do. 

  • Recognize that the situation is still salvageable. Don’t panic when you see negative feedback. Most of the time, a customer with negative feedback is simply raising their hand and looking for help. You can turn them into a loyal customer with the right response. 
  • Be prompt. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that your customers’ negative opinion of your business cannot be changed. So make sure to respond to negative feedback immediately. When you show that you are willing to take care of a service issue immediately, you show customers that you are committed to offering great service. 
  • Take the conversation offline. If this feedback comes to you in a public setting like a review site, do not turn the situation into a drawn-out back-and-forth. Give the customer your information so that they can reach out to your team directly instead.
  • Resolve the issue that the customer experienced. Remember, negative feedback is an opportunity to improve. Find out the reason for the customer’s complaint and try to see how you can resolve the issue that they experienced and stop it from happening again. 

Tracking and monitoring customer feedback over time 

Ultimately, we want to ensure that customer feedback turns into real improvements in customer experience. Here are a few tips for measuring customer feedback over time.

  • Track specific metrics over time: Tracking performance over time requires you to track specific metrics. Try measuring overall customer satisfaction through a metric like net promoter score (NPS).  If you see NPS increasing steadily over time, you will know that your efforts to improve operations are paying off. 
  • Schedule regular meetings: Many businesses have regular meetings where they go over customer feedback with the leadership team. Looking at positive feedback is a great way to boost morale and show progress in key areas. Meanwhile, negative feedback can point your team towards issues in customer experience. 
  • Get reporting software: Manually tracking customer feedback is time-intensive, but automation can help. Software providers like BirdEye help put customer feedback into easily-understandable reports. Afterwards, you can download the report to share this information with the rest of your team. 

Case study: Hillcrest Animal Hospital 

Hillcrest Animal Hospital is a full-service animal hospital and pet hotel based in Missouri and a BirdEye client. Here’s how the clinic uses BirdEye to better understand customer feedback. 

Hillcrest Animal Hospital patient feedback
  • Fix online reputation- Before coming to BirdEye, Hillcrest Animal Hospital saw that its reputation was getting hurt by a vocal minority of very angry pet-owners. After soliciting feedback from patients, the majority of reviews started becoming positive. Now, interested pet owners can immediately see the strength of Hillcrest’s services. 
  • Follow up on review feedback with surveys- Whenever a patient mentions an issue in a review, Hillcrest Animal Hospital uses surveys to collect more information. Surveys and reviews together help the clinic offer a superior patient experience. 
  • Build a winning patient feedback process– The clinic has worked out a process to implement changes. Hillcrest Animal Hospital sends feedback to the heads of relevant departments. Team leaders can then use the feedback to make changes internally. 
  • Improve patient wait– Through patient surveys, Hillcrest Animal Hospital found that many pet-owners felt uncomfortable waiting in the small lobby area. Now, the clinic gives them the option to remain in their car instead, helping to improve overall patient experience. 
  • Help patients discover existing services- After collecting feedback from patients, Hillcrest Animal Hospital found out that many happy pet owners didn’t realize that the clinic also had a kennel. Now, Hillcrest makes sure that all new owners are aware of the service right off the bat. 

With both a stellar online reputation and a fantastic patient experience, Hillcrest Animal Hospital is thriving with BirdEye. 

Want to see more tips and tricks? 

Want to know more about how customer feedback can be your business’s competitive advantage? Unfortunately, we couldn’t fit every strategy into this blog post. However, you can find more ways to collect and monitor feedback in our eBook below. It contains a list of ten ways that you can start collecting feedback today.