By Nick Boxall-Hunt, Sector Manager at Rant & Rave

For too long, businesses have felt the need to lead customer service, rather than simply being led by the customer. Flipping the focus to customer feedback is vital for businesses to adapt, create change and keep customers happy. After all, according to Gartner, 80% of a company’s revenue comes from 20% of its customers — the loyal ones. Successful companies keep the customer voice at the fore, and then take action on what they have learnt.

One of the most effective ways of empowering the customer to communicate with your brand is through the use of real-time feedback.

So, what action can you take to ensure customer service is being led by the customer?

• Recognise the importance of feedback

The contact centre is the emotional hub of the business, and profiling customers’ emotions is becoming one of the most important measurements of customer experience, bringing a whole new level of insight and helping to inform both tactical and strategic decisions by effectively taking the customers feelings into account. Hard measures such as call handling time, resolution and conversion can give you the ‘what’, but they don’t necessarily give you the ‘why’. Contact centres can easily discover this by taking advantage of the vast amount of customer intelligence available to them. Emotional responses captured in real-time can give businesses powerful insight into what they’re doing right or wrong and allows them to take action and prevent issues from becoming formal complaints. Scottish Water has seen an incredible 50% response rate to their SMS feedback requests, all by giving customers the opportunity to say how they feel, in their own words.

• Use feedback to create change

If you have customer engagement software, exploit it! Capturing feedback in real-time brings the customer to the fore, enabling them to tell the business how they are feeling and what is important to them, rather than what the business wants to ask. It also enables the business to take rapid action to recover poor situations or champion and amplify positive experiences - a crucial element in today’s fast-paced competitive environment. It’s also important to focus on solving queries the first time -if you agree with your team about the top ten complaints then you can go about fixing them now, saving time and effort for the customer and your team.

• Make it easy for customers to contact you

In today’s digital age, customers expect to be able to contact you at any time of day, through a variety of channels-be that email, voice, web chat or social. But all too often, brands will switch contact channels to suit them, for example, receiving customer feedback on social media but encouraging them to go on to fill in a web form, or call their customer service team. Your contact centre doesn’t have to be a one trick pony; take a multi-channel approach and remember your customers’ preference to create an effortless experience.

• Celebrate success within your team

A great customer experience will never be delivered by a disengaged employee, which is why it’s important to get all staff members — from head office to those working on the ground — involved in your voice of the customer strategy. In the contact centre for example, sharing real-time feedback with agents enables them to self-coach, understand how they are performing, what their core strengths are and areas they can improve on. The real-time element here is key, giving them the opportunity to see their feedback immediately and take appropriate action before the next call. At a higher level, team leaders can see how all of their agents are performing, and this insight can then be used to instil friendly competition, refine training practices, champion success and implement change across the business. OVO Energy has the right philosophy when they say “make decisions as if customers are in the room with you”.

Businesses should remember that the customer is still king, and according to research it costs five times more to attract a new customer than keep an old one. By surrounding your team with the voice of your customer and taking appropriate action, you can ensure that the customer remains at the forefront of your business, leading the service that they deserve.