How to Build Employee and Customer Engagement through a Feedback Loop
It’s a tale as old as the Internet. Essential basics of human interaction get lost in the flash and promise of technology. Time and again, we have to take a step back, reconnect, and make sure the technology is serving us, and not the other way around. I see it happening again with Big Data and customer analytics. We now have immense power to collect, correlate, and manipulate data to produce more precise customer profiles, marketing strategies, and sales trends. These capabilities are nascent in most companies; many are still figuring out which metrics will produce the most valuable insights. But metrics and models will never give us all the answers we need to understand the voice of our customer. The most valuable messages can get lost in the deluge of data, and even the best analyses still require expert human interpretation before they can be put to practical use. Without true engagement, I see all those insights mined from surveys, customer tracking, and social media as gold nuggets piled high in carts but stuck below ground in the mine. We have to finish the job by bringing them out into the light and using them to barter for real answers and actionable feedback. Most companies fail to grasp their customers’ needs and opinions beyond a one-to-five rating scale. They may have mechanisms in place to collect information from customers, but they lack a repeatable way to build on it by getting to a deeper understanding and then acting on it in a reasonable timeframe. Survey results end up sitting around like those mine carts. Those results may tell you what is wrong (or right) but they don’t tell you why and they don’t provide the next steps. Understanding the root causes behind your customers’ feedback is the key to rolling out successful initiatives, products, and services. In feedback loops, the output of a system or process is used for new input, which then generates more output carrying those characteristics. High quality feedback (and deeper understanding) feeds more successful results. The reverse is also true—junk in, junk out.