Picking Up Speed Through Customer Feedback
By: Chris Ehinger
VP, Client Success
If you search customer feedback cycle on the internet, the top results are about meaningfully responding to a customer when they give feedback. Most of what you’ll find is reactive in nature, focused on addressing a customer complaint.
Of course these results aren’t really the right ones since what I just described isn’t a cycle at all – it’s just a customer experience failure. It also robs the company of an improvement opportunity by failing to solicit feedback from the customer earlier in the process.
Companies are short changing themselves if they don’t consider their customers to be an important part of the product team. Unsolicited customer feedback is like a Yelp review – either something fantastic happens and the customer wants to praise the experience or something awful happens and the customer wants to warn potential buyers. This feedback doesn’t capture any of the information discoverable between the two ends of the experience spectrum.
Here at Rise, I frequently refer to our customers at Rise as our SMEs (subject matter experts) because they know our product best. We owe it to our other customers, our product team, and our development team to gather some of this knowledge and incorporate it into our future updates. Between the possibility of an amazing and awful experience is an enormous amount of valuable information.
The best feedback is the kind that starts with, “This is 90% of what we want” and then continues with “but we also want …”. This in-between and honest feedback is required for companies to grow and to pick up speed to the next level. However, capturing this information doesn’t happen unless customers are regularly talking with a company.
Product releases are an ongoing example of why feedback matters. A common mistake organizations make is assuming that they’re doing things the right way, that customers want what they’re building. This is known as the False Consensus Effect. It happens when companies assume what they think is parallel to what customers need. These assumptions, however, either don’t have data or have the wrong data because the expert in the field (i.e., the customer) often isn’t consulted until after the product release. Later asked, “How do you like it?”, the product team only receives feedback from customers that would have been useful to know months ago.
We do it differently at Rise. Before we release a product, even in the beginning stages of planning, we listen to our customers. We tell them what we’re planning and ask for their opinions. This methodology eliminates the guess and check, or guess and fail, from a product release – we validate what our customers want and what they’ll use before getting to work. This means no product flops, more accurate sales forecasts, and happier customers.
Our products are better because of the customer feedback cycle. Great products need to be functional, reliable, usable, and delightful. As a consequence, people use them more frequently, use them longer, and tell others about them.
Our customers like this approach. Not only does our customer feedback cycle help us develop our products more effectively, but customers feel a greater degree of control and ownership. They feel valued and influential. In fact, some of our recent products are a direct result of the feedback cycle.
A great example is our Amenity Capacity Control (ACC) feature. For ACC, a customer approached us with a pandemic-related problem that was becoming increasingly urgent for them. The customer needed to limit the number of people simultaneously visiting their amenity spaces and they chose to come to us with hopes of solving it. This customer approached us because the lines of communication were already open, familiar and comfortable. We were able to solve the challenge and now we offer ACC to all Rise Buildings customers as part of our core platform.
A frequent criticism of this type of customer feedback loop is that it isn’t scalable. It’s not possible to listen to every customer all the time, especially because they sometimes ask for opposing things. Our view, however, is that listening and incorporating customer feedback is essential to making a better product and efficiency trade offs from taking the time to listen are more than offset by increased sales, reduced support effort, and lower churn. Of course we don’t blindly accept every customer suggestion but we at least hear them out and run them through a process that allows us to hone in on the great ideas that help our customers. We know our limits, we know where to stop and we value every piece of feedback from our expert customers.
How do we listen? Rise’s client success team is tasked with building relationships through ongoing communication with our customers. Our team doesn’t just ask for feedback, we ask probing questions designed to understand where things are easy for customers and where they are painful. We want to better understand frustrations and areas that could use improvement as well as our customers’ day to day lives. Maybe we can help in a way the customer didn’t consider. This connection is an important part of the Rise culture.
We are in constant pursuit of an amazing customer experience and the customer feedback cycle is a central part of our success. We don’t want to be like “the other guys,” we want to be better. Through these valuable relationships with our customers we’re able to be better now and pick up speed. This sets us apart and I am proud to be part of something different.
If you’re a current customer, thank you for being such an important part of our success.
If you’re interested in learning more, contact me and let’s see how Rise can help you succeed.