The Problem With Third-Party Feedback Systems

third-party feedback systems

If a company’s success revolves around the day-to-day happiness of customers then asking them for relevant feedback is a good way to clarify what they want. In this day and age, most people don’t want or have time to fill out long forms or surveys, no one likes homework.

Creating customisable feedback workflows that get to the point of what the company needs to know and what the customer wants to say is the sweet spot. However, using third-party feedback platforms can create a separation between brand and buyer, and take away the ability to manage that connection. Let’s look at a few reasons why a third party route might not be best.

The timing is off

Delayed feedback is problematic. Why? Because timing is everything when it comes to responding to customers. The ideal practice is to reach out within 24 hours but many companies rely on costly third-party feedback systems to manage this process which can take longer.  

They also usually have a generic structure which sends out survey emails to customers, sometimes more than a day after an interaction.

Lack of visibility

This correspondence doesn’t always contain the context of what transpired between the company and their customers – leading to a lack of visibility over which channel influenced the commentary.

Reluctance to integrate

Adding to this, data collected by a third-party system tends to not be integrated with the customer journey, therefore analytics can be inaccurate. Feedback data shouldn’t be out of the loop.

How do we solve this?

There are established systems using urls, call recordings and other features, that can create a 360 view of the customer journey and easily integrate vital feedback data into a dashboard. It depends on whether a company requires this level of functionality or not. Frankly, it’s less costly to have it all in one place.

Before updating a CRM system, consider the impact of customer feedback on the growth of a brand, this can be done by ensuring that this data is always embedded in the original customer experience.

A Few Ways Technology Can Ease Caller Complaints

complaint handling

I was on the phone with a mobile carrier recently concerning a serious problem that needed addressing, the company in question had made a massive error with my service. I was inconvenienced, frustrated and needed the problem resolved. My complaint required some efficient handling. Instead, I was sent through an IVR labyrinth tempered with clueless representatives. For an hour I listened to Stevie Nicks crooning between agent conversations. By the end, I was more inconvenienced, frustrated and worst of all, they had ruined Fleetwood Mac for me forever.

As a customer, there is a certain amount of confidence we feel after an agreement is made and our hard earned money is exchanged with an enterprise. That agreement being – I gave you money, you give me good service when I take the time to call. Negative feedback is a weapon we wield ferociously when things go downhill.  Complaint handling is a process many companies struggle to perfect yet it is vital in this age of digital transformation. More than ever the customer is king and personalisation is a necessity for success. What it takes is a balance between human interaction and savvy technology. Also, zero IVR. Here’s how.

Digital transformation

Sometimes its okay to let go of legacy systems. Today’s callers expect a technically convenient but personal experience at the other end of the line. They have a complaint but they don’t want to wait to speak to someone and they are arriving from multiple channels. According to McKinsey, “three-quarters of online customers said they expected help within five minutes, have used comparison services for consumer goods and trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations.”

Huntswood notes that 61% of customers want their complaints handled via email, while 28% rely on the phone. Tackling complaints with a multi-channel approach might be the best way to make everyone happy and using technology to manage this diverse data is the way forward. Customer-facing companies need to get radical to catch up and implementation isn’t that difficult.

Kill the IVR!

Interactive voice response was once a useful tool for call centres, agents were free to personally handle calls that they considered higher value while automating the rest with voice bots. “There was just one problem – customers didn’t like IVR,” writes Call Centre Helper. From the customer standpoint, an IVR involves being stuck in a queue for a long period of time.

If customers have complaints, streamlining their path to a solution is the quickest way to snuff out the flames, making them wait won’t help. Killing the IVR isn’t a literal action, its a transformation. Taking the principles of IVR like; faster response times, prioritisation and higher call volumes while creating an intelligent system that incorporates the needs of both agent and customer is ideal.

Call routing

One feature that can be optimised for a smooth agent and customer experience is call routing. This call distributor uses criteria, usually collected via a digital profiling system, that sends calls to the right agents based on this information. Once the caller arrives at their destination, the agent also has the relevant data to start the conversation on the right foot, preventing the frustration a customer feels when they have to repeat themselves.

Complaints are relevant to brand growth but how you handle them is vital to brand reputation and especially longevity.  

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Via: Call Centre Helper, McKinsey, Huntswood. 

What We Learned About Feedback From Online Marketplaces

Not everyone loves feedback, especially the negative kind. Online marketplaces love it all. Feedback, both good and bad supports reputation, and without a good rep, there is little trust from the buyer and seller base – which is a marketplace’s bread and butter.

Since eBay began in the mid-nineties, they were arguably the pioneers of the online review system. Now, “61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision,” claims Econsultancy. eBay Founder Pierre Omidyar introduced the process within six months of launching the website where he explained the benefits of open communication in a letter to customers.

“Now, we have an open forum. Use it,” Omidyar wrote in February 1996. “Make your complaints in the open. Better yet, give your praise in the open. Let everyone know what a joy it was to deal with someone.”

eBay soon achieved a reputation for candid feedback. However, the introduction of these feedback systems in online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay also highlighted the flexibility of our trust as buyers. It seemed that once we were able to connect and contribute our pleasure or distaste somehow, it was safe to exchange funds with another anonymously.

“How is it that strangers who have never transacted with one another, and who may be thousands of miles apart, are willing to trust each other? Any transaction requires some level of trust between the buyer and seller, usually in the shadow of some institutional support like the law or other enforcement mechanisms,” writes Steven Tadelis in a paper titled “Reputation and Feedback Systems in Online Platform Markets” from UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.

Pierre Omidyar and eBay’s reputation mechanism arguably caused a shift in how buyers interacted online then and today. The company did it by cleverly utilising an online buyer’s newfound willingness to trust, by creating an environment of transparency using age-old commerce methods like the two-sided market; which is the core business model of most online marketplaces today.

These days feedback goes beyond the online marketplace and is prevalent in most consumer-based businesses. It has evolved from a single channel to multiple forms, including SMS which has become a leading source of survey, making it even easier to gather relevant data for customer management.

We can learn a lot about feedback from eCommerce and its ability to automate a kind of moderation within the heavy customer traffic produced in online marketplaces. Here are few facts that taught us a thing or two.

There are two types of feedback

One-sided and two-sided. One sided is mostly derived from one party, such as the buyer reviews on Amazon, while Air BnB uses two-sided where both tenant and owner can leave reviews on their experience.  In the early days of this process, eBay introduced this idea of both buyers and sellers leaving commentary freely, but after 2008 their direction changed. Now, two-sided feedback is relegated to service-based forums like Airbnb and Uber, where both parties rely on each other. One-sided procedures put the onus the marketplace to oversee operations, viewing the product as the buyer and the seller as the client. eBay even initiated a protective scheme for their sellers/clients by introducing PowerSellers, “Buyers must wait at least seven days before leaving a negative or neutral Feedback for a PowerSeller who has been registered on eBay for at least 12 months,” states their website. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, at the end of the day, it’s about what’s healthiest for that particular forum.

It doesn’t affect the bottom line but something more important.

Surprisingly, feedback in online marketplaces does not affect revenue directly, “a one-point increase in reputation corresponds to a 4 cents increase in final price,” writes Tadelis. The one metric that is in fact undermined by a weak feedback system is buyer and seller trust. Trust is the backbone of any B2C e-commerce platform, and it can be difficult to attain, “Since there is no physical interaction with our customers, we rarely get to share traditional dialogue, build a personal rapport or shake their hand. Therefore, in case of marketplaces and e-commerce, on the whole, trust must be perceived and interpreted by the customer,” says WC Marketplace.

So does trust really increase revenue? Yes, it’s the motivation to turn a user into a customer and influence KPIs like growth rate which controls transactions between buyers and sellers. With growth comes higher liquidity, and that is the ultimate goal of all online marketplaces. Most of the time it starts with giving customers the opportunity to participate in the social environment created by e-commerce, feedback may be the most important tool they have in their belt.

There is an entire economic principle behind it.

The economics of reputation is legitimate and was touched on by “Luis M B Cabral, Professor of Economics at New York University, in his study, “The Economics of Trust and Reputation.” Cabral’s theory explores the benefits of investing in reputation, claiming that the better a brand’s reputation, the less they have to invest in building it. “According to Cabral, therefore, high trust and reputation can together help companies earn higher profits. Not only can a company increase the price of its products and services, but it can also decrease its expenses (the amount of money invested in reputation management),” writes Clear Logic.

The future of feedback

Feedback’s future looks more SMS based, a response to the growing impatience of tech-dexterous customers. Following up service with an SMS feedback survey is more rapid and proven to increase customer click-through rate, “The average open rate of a text message sits at about 99%, while email ranges from 28-33%. Next, to this, the click-through rates are vastly different. Include a link in your text message, and you will observe a CTR of about 36%. For email marketing, the CTR usually sits between 6-7%,” according to Business 2 Community.

Feedback aggregation is also on the table for upcoming developments, such as meta-platforms, which establish a culminative reputation score for a customer based on their interactions across e-commerce. There are companies out there currently attempting this idea by creating platforms to moderate reviews, so the marketplace doesn’t have to.

The art of reviewing has been around a long time; now the digital space has made it even easier to interact with each other, communication is only going to get more comfortable. As Tadelis notes, “It is apparent that the design of feedback and reputation systems will continue to play an important role in the broader area of market design as it applies to online marketplaces.”
Via: Econsultancy, Steven Tadelis, Business 2 Community, Clear Logic, WC Marketplace.