The Medallia Team

Oddly enough, a company’s happiest customers are often the ones who end up getting the least attention after they’ve provided feedback.
The reasons for this neglect are rarely malicious. Since happy customers aren’t an obvious risk, many companies just don’t make time for, or see the point of, a thorough follow-up. Instead, they focus on closing the loop with people whose business they are in danger of losing, and who might hurt the brand through negative word-of-mouth.
Starting dialogues with detractors is certainly important. But when companies make the same effort with promoters, they gain opportunities to deliver better experiences and win more business.
At the most basic level, following up on positive customer feedback is a great way to further strengthen good relationships. Many customers will have come to believe that companies only care about their feedback when something goes wrong. Proving that you’re still listening after a successful transaction shows that you care about their perspective as well as their business – making it more likely that they’ll continue to provide useful feedback in the future. Strengthening the relationship in this way can also inspire greater loyalty and positive word of mouth.
Tommy Bahama offers a good example of this mindset. The company makes a point of responding to 100 percent of its customer feedback, and sometimes follows up on particularly positive comments with a handwritten note or a small gift. In a presentation at Medallia’s recent Experience conference, Michael Barrow, Tommy Bahama’s Vice President of Retail, said of this strategy, “We think there’s an incredible opportunity to connect with promoters. The people that are [our] bread and butter, the people that know the most about [us]…they want to connect with us, and they want to share with us.”
Closing the loop with promoters can also reveal customer experience problems before they show up in your sales figures. All customer satisfaction metrics are subjective to a degree — meaning that customer who gives you the highest possible rating might still be able to tell you how you can improve. But you won’t know for sure unless you reach out and ask.
As an example of this benefit, Barrow shared a piece of positive feedback Tommy Bahama received from a customer who had been unable to find an item in her local store. The customer asked for the item to be sent to her house instead using a new low-cost shipping method, and wrote to compliment Tommy Bahama when the item arrived — a full nine days later. While that customer saw a one-and-a-half week shipping process as a satisfactory experience, Tommy Bahama knew many of its other customers wouldn’t. It set about developing different options for low-cost shipping – under far less stressful circumstances than if an unhappy customer had mentioned the same problem.
Similarly, starting dialogues with satisfied customers can uncover successes that weren’t apparent in their initial feedback. If a customer indicates that she was satisfied with a particular employee’s performance, follow up to ask exactly what the employee did well. The story might be of use to other employees in similar situations, or could even inspire a broader, innovative change across your entire organization.
Good customer experience practitioners know that focusing too much on achieving high satisfaction scores ultimately distracts employees from what matters most – the customer’s actual experience. Not engaging with satisfied customers is a way of falling into the same trap. Don’t let a customer’s satisfaction distract you from to the valuable insights they can offer.