I´ve been researching customer feedback for my organization and I highly recommend two books for those who want to edge out their competition. The first is T. Scott Gross´ book, When Customers Talk. Scott looks at the process of gaining quality customer feedback and discusses the key steps. Most importantly, he emphasizes the importance of using data to make your decisions.
Customer Evangelists, Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba, give several great cutting edge examples in their book, Creating Customer Evangelists.For example, if Proctor and Gamble changed their way of getting feedback, then its time you did too. Both of these books make the case for maximizing feedback so if you have doubters in your organization, they can help you build your case.
They both offer examples of how you can use customer feedback to exceed your customers´ needs. Inspired by them, I spot checked a few Web sites to see if they offered easy to find information on how to provide feedback when customers want to initiate the contact. Here´s what I found:
Sears–3 clicks to get to their e-mail screen
JC Penney–3 clicks
Delta Airlines-3 clicks (Delta and all of the above offered "Contact Us" at the top of their home page.
Wegmans Food Markets 2 clicks (but "Contact Us" located at very bottom of home page)
Not surprisingly, Nordstroms goes a step further and offers "live chat" from 5 AM to 11:30 PM PST. (2 clicks away.)
Interestingly, it only took 3 clicks to get to SouthWest Airlines "contact us" page but they proudly make a point of not offering an e-mail option. See their explanation for details.
But the clear winner is Amy´s Ice Cream, an Austin, TX–based chain of 12 retail ice cream stores. Rather than the generic "Contact Us" favored by everyone else, Amy personalizes the process by calling it "Dear Amy." Check out their drop down box. Amy makes it easy to give positive as well as negative feedback and includes a survey asking for a customer response.
Amy personalizes her Web site. Remember the old days when you used to write letters to your relatives? Amy´s reminds me of a letter I, as a child, would write to my far away friends. The other Web sites remind me of an efficient, professional yet cold, business letter.
What´s in your Web site? Do you offer easy to find contact information? Is it the same as your competitors or, like Nordstrom´s and Amy´s, do you do something to set yourself apart from your competition? Can you personalize your Web site to make it warmer?
In the early 1990´s, research by Xerox revealed that the company´s very satisfied customers were six times more likely to repurchase products over a span of one to two years than were merely satisfied customers.
–Creating Customer Service Evangelists. McConnell and Huba. P. 23.