you dismiss last week's customer complaint as unimportant,
consider this: research by US firm TARP shows that
for every 26 unhappy customers, only one will lodge
a formal complaint with Management. The real concern,
however, comes from the finding that an average of
1,560 people will hear about at least one of these
unhappy customers' experiences.
That's right. On average, each
unhappy customer will tell 10 people, who in turn
will tell 5 others. This finding makes for a compelling
wake up call for businesses that take the task of
collecting and responding to customer feedback lightly.
Send a shiver up your spine?
It's bound to generate anxiety in any recruitment
organisation serious about generating positive word
of mouth and building strong brand awareness. Indeed,
recruiters need to understand that soliciting ongoing
client and candidate feedback - both good and bad
- is crucial to their continued success.
How do you collect feedback?
Companies should look upon every
interaction with their customers as an opportunity
to gather feedback. The most effective way to do this
is to develop a multi-channel customer feedback system
that encompasses opinion from clients, candidates
Don't fall into the trap of relying
on only one feedback channel (such as paper-based
feedback surveys) because to do so results in two
(i) Accessibility - You limit
a customer's access to providing feedback. Your
customer feedback system must be flexible enough
to allow customers to provide you with timely comments
no matter how they come into contact with you.
(ii) Convenience - Offering only
one feedback channel limits feedback from customers
who wish to interact with you via a different channel.
It's no good, for example, only offering candidates
a postal address to submit feedback if most of them
prefer to correspond with you via the Internet.
Customer Feedback Systems - 5 Pitfalls
An informal and/or unstructured verbal
Feedback not recorded (for later action
Feedback system not 'owned' or 'championed'
Poor feedback communications loop (to
advise on outcomes and action plan).
5. Feedback sought
too infrequently (once a year is not enough).
Often companies cite an informal
face-to-face feedback process as an alternative to
having a formal customer feedback system. However
relying solely on verbal feedback sought by the person
who serviced the client is insufficient for companies
serious about making positive customer-driven business
improvements. The main problems with informal feedback
Lack of Consistency - a lack
of consistent criteria to evaluate and record feedback.
Lack of Accuracy - often the
difference between what the customer said and what
the consultant heard can be substantial.
Confrontational - would a hiring
manager feel comfortable about telling a consultant
that they performed poorly in a face-to-face (potentially
confrontational) situation? Some hiring managers
may. Most won't.
Accordingly, relying on an informal
face-to-face customer review performed by the consultant who conducted the assignment is clearly
not the best method of gaining quality customer feedback.
Leverage technology to
aid your efforts
The widespread use of the Internet
and the advent of online survey technology is making
the customer feedback process easier than ever. Fast
and cost effective, online systems enable the recruiter
to instantly receive customer feedback, collate information
and view reports in real time. In addition, response
rates are frequently higher than paper-based surveys
as online surveys are usually quicker and more convenient
for respondents to complete.
Some good examples of online customer
feedback systems currently in use by recruiters include:
A major ASX-listed organisation
conducts monthly post-service feedback surveys
with clients and asks respondents
to 'tick the box' if they have raised any issues
that they would like a 'Quality Manager' to follow
up with them over the phone.
A small Melbourne-based recruitment firm
surveys clients on a quarterly basis regarding hiring
intentions and salary levels and then distributes
the feedback to clients as part of their newsletter.
A large Sydney-based consulting firm
uses client feedback as part of their consultant
performance review process. A below-average client
satisfaction rating for a particular consultant
can indicate a 'red flag' issue that needs to be
addressed by Management.
A large corporate employer in
Brisbane uses an online survey tool to quiz candidates
about the effectiveness of their recruitment process
and provides an incentive to candidates for the
submission of ideas on how the process can be improved.
Online feedback systems should
not be used in isolation, however the benefits of
speed, cost, accuracy and convenience over traditional
paper-based survey techniques ensure that online feedback
systems in the recruitment process are becoming more
widely used and accepted.
Ask For Feedback - Then Take
Remember too that asking for feedback
alone is not enough - you must make the commitment
to establish an effective customer feedback response
process that addresses each issue that arises. In
doing so, you not only encourage people to continue
giving you feedback (because they know that you'll
do something about it), but research also shows that
between 54-70 percent of business from complaining
customers can be won back if the process is handled
promptly and professionally.
Consider this scenario
Feedback: A client completes your online post-placement
feedback survey and highlights his disappointment
with a reoccurring problem relating to
the coding and layout of his invoices.
He says that after a number of prior requests
to address the issue this latest occurrence
is the final straw and he intends on taking
his business elsewhere. He also indicates
he's willing to talk with the company's
Quality Manager about his experience.
taken: Within 20 minutes of receipt
of the feedback, the Quality Manager phones
the client, listens to his concerns (without
defense or judgement) and commits to promptly
investigate the problem. Within 24 hours
the Quality Manager has talked to the
Accounts Department, identified the appropriate
steps to resolve the issue, and called
the client back to go though the five
actions the company is taking to address
the situation to ensure it never happens
message to aggrieved client: (i) we
listen and don't blame or pass the buck,
(ii) we are responsive to your needs,
(iii) we are committed to improvement,
and (iv) we value your business!
End result: Avoided
potential client defection, and stimulated
positive word of mouth as the client tells
other colleagues and associates about
the timely and professional response he
Offering a system that makes it
easy for your customers to provide you with regular
feedback is not only good business practice - it's
plain common sense. By letting you know when they
are unhappy, customers give you a golden opportunity
to correct the immediate problem, restore goodwill
and avoid the negative word of mouth that results
from the phenomena known as 'The Customer Complaint
Actively seek and encourage
feedback - remember the 'Customer Complaint Iceberg'
and understand that no news is BAD news. Every customer
interaction is an opportunity for feedback.
Develop a multi-channel customer
feedback system that enables you to capture, record
and report information quickly and easily. Leverage
technology to aid your efforts.
Follow up issues. Review feedback
regularly. Commit to a process of constant customer-driven
Complete the feedback loop.
Give prompt feedback to your clients, candidates
and staff about the actions you've taken, or intend
to take, as a result of the feedback you've received.
Encourage them to keep the dialogue with you open.
Reinforce you're listening, and that you genuinely
care what they think.