During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies saw just how critical it was to obtain real-time customer feedback and related customer data for delivering consistent customer experiences. Now that many companies have returned to face-to-face interactions, that feedback and data collection remains just as essential, Forrester Research concludes.
“Real-time customer feedback and data collection can play an increasingly important role in helping organizations measure and improve in-person experiences,” the analyst firm says in a recent report.
Real-time feedback, it says further, provides more valuable, quicker insights into customer perceptions, while also creating opportunities for timely operational adjustments to enhance customer experiences and avoid future problems.
Despite this, relatively few companies are able to collect the data and act quickly enough on the in-person experiences, according to Forrester data. Only a little more than a third (37 percent) consider their organizations to be well-prepared to take action based on real-time feedback to improve in-person experiences.
“Many organizations are gathering customer feedback regarding in-person experiences, but using that data to improve customer experiences in real time can be challenging.”
Many companies haven’t improved their real-time feedback capabilities because they don’t think they can take advantage of the feedback, according to Steven Peltzman, Forrester chief technology business officer and head of its FeedbackNow unit. Some don’t have the resources to analyze the data and then take action based on that analysis.
According to Forrester, companies’ success with real-time feedback relies largely on the ability to act on that data, not simply on the ability to collect the data.
Companies that can do both tend to see better customer retention, revenue growth, productivity, and other positive results. These are among the qualities they share:
- They have a clear vision about how real-time feedback supports their larger customer experience strategies.
- Data is reviewed in near real time.
- Data is applied predictively to anticipate and mitigate future challenges.
- Real-time feedback is integrated with other customer data sources.
- Frequent action is taken based on data insights.
- There is a strong connection between teams.
Forrester also says that the most advanced companies can operationalize customer feedback, while less advanced organizations have challenges in collecting the data or putting it into action.
Even though there are significant challenges in using real-time feedback quickly enough to have a positive impact on in-person experiences, most decision makers continue to invest in this area, with nearly nine in 10 (89 percent) saying they expect their companies to increase spending on real-time customer feedback during the next two years.
To evaluate their ability to collect real-time feedback and act on it, Forrester recommends that companies consider the following questions:
- Does your organization have a clear strategy for how real-time customer feedback is created and used?
- How frequently is real-time feedback data analyzed?
- How frequently is action taken based on real-time feedback data insights?
- To what extent is your organization using other data resources to complement and augment the real-time customer feedback data being collected?
- Does your organization have a clear workflow in place to get real-time data and insights into the hands of the right people for driving operational business or operational actions?
- Does your organization have the right staffing and tools to take timely action based on real-time data insights?
To improve their results with customer feedback and resulting interactions, Forrester further recommends that companies engage their entire organizations to drive action. To future-proof their investments in CX, marketers, for example, need to be able to demonstrate the benefits of their programs by showing the connection between real-time feedback and business outcomes.
Companies should also deploy several techniques to gather customer feedback in the right places and at the right moments. Companies that have the most successful real-time feedback operations use a combination of surveys, feedback buttons (e.g., red/yellow/green), and QR codes.