Customer Feedback: When and How to Use it

May 9th, 2014

Are you listening to your customers when they tell you what they want and if so how do you use it?

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing archives

Earlier this week a LinkedIn Post by Gregory Ciotti talked about how Steve Jobs didn’t listen to his customers.  The basis of the statement about Steve Jobs focused on creative and innovative approaches to new ideas that go beyond trying to deliver what customers wanted and onto figuring out what they wanted before they know it.  It wasn’t that Steve Jobs didn’t listen to his customers, he was just focused on the type of feedback we used from them.  Using this approach, Apple and dozens of cutting edge companies like them were able to continue delivering fresh and ground-breaking products to the market that customers couldn’t have talked about wanting in a feedback survey because they had no idea that something was even possible.  They only knew they liked it when they saw it.

Being able to develop new products in a vacuum may work for some companies like Apple, but the majority of companies can’t afford to ignore their customers’ ideas and have customer bases that would resent even trying this approach.  That is why finding out what customers (both internal and external) want without directly asking them and then using that feedback to determine where the problems are without relying on them to tell how to resolve those issues is the key to effectively using customer feedback.

Discovering without asking – The process of uncovering feedback without it being direct is key to getting effective information to improve procurement department’s processes.  When questions are asked that uncover how the customer felt during the process and what worked for them and did not work for them the basis of what the true issues are is developed without asking the customers to begin solving the problems.  Knowing that they were confused with where the priorities of the project fell is the beginning of understanding the issue.  Once the issue is know the procurement team can begin finding the solution to resolve it.

Seeking the issues not the solutions – This piece goes hand in hand with the point above.  Focus on the details of what didn’t work not on the how to resolve them.  The danger with asking opened ended questions such as “Did the process work for you?”  or “What can we do differently for you?” is that it instantly puts customers in a mode of trying to deliver a solution to you because their answers will usually be, “Fix this.  Change this. If only it did this.”  These do not tell what the real issues are the way questions like “How did you feel when we finished the pre-event kickoff call?” or “What piece of information on the reporting was the most helpful?  Most confusing?” or even “Did you understand the RFP result package to the point of having clear next steps?”   Answers to these questions can then help the procurement team adjust the things to produce better results.

Prioritize the issues – As with any process like this, not everyone will be satisfied and not every issue can be resolved immediately.  Coming up with a prioritized approach of dealing with the issues uncovered from customer feedback based on severity and frequency will allow the team to focus their attention on the areas that can make the most impact and show the greatest attention to the customer’s input.

For more information on how we can help you collect and use feedback from your internal and external customers to develop stronger sourcing processes and projects or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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