How to Utilize Customer Feedback to Improve Operational Efficiency

by SmileBack
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8 min read

The customer experience should be the driver behind everything you do. This is especially true when it comes to improving operational efficiency. 

But the only way to truly gauge the customer experience is through customer feedback. 

That way, you can learn what’s working well (and what isn’t) and then use those insights to improve your operations. Not the other way around.

In this article, we explain how to effectively collect quality customer feedback. Then, we explore how to use that feedback to make key organizational decisions and ultimately improve operational performance.

Table of contents

  • Customer experience and satisfaction should drive your operational decisions
  • Use feedback to improve your offerings and expand revenue
  • Invest in top talent and prioritize training to stay on top of inefficiencies
  • Build and maintain standardized SLAs with clients to promote mutual understanding
  • Simplify infrastructure to work smarter, not harder
  • Wrapping up

Customer experience and satisfaction should drive your operational decisions

Too many MSPs focus on building out service offerings instead of experiences. While understandable due to market demands, this makes it difficult to drive loyalty and retention in the long run. 

A better approach is to understand the customer experience at every single touchpoint. Then, consistently update your operations based on these key insights. 

To understand the customer experience, you need to collect feedback

Satisfied customers become loyal customers, and loyal customers are profitable, make great brand advocates, and help you get quality referrals. 

The famous HBR study that notes a 5% increase in customer retention leads to an increase in profit between 25% and 95% still holds true today.   

To understand your business operation’s successes and pitfalls (so that you can improve the customer experience and reap those sweet benefits) you need to know what your customers are thinking.

Collecting both Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys is the best way to:

• Learn how your customers feel about working with you and subsequently make changes to your processes, products, services, workflows, and so on to improve your relationships

• Identify what tools or services (both in terms of implementation and ongoing maintenance) are working as intended or have sticking points, then put systems in place to uncover the operational inefficiencies and fix the issues at hand

Importantly, collecting both relational and day-to-day data ensures you gain comprehensive insights into:

• Immediate issues that can be resolved quickly
• Pending issues that will bubble over if left unresolved
• Long term issues that may not ever affect existing operations, but will prohibit growth as you scale

All said and done, feedback means nothing if it’s sparse or inconsequential.

To generate quality feedback, you need to elicit consistent survey responses

A “set it and forget it” feedback collection strategy will fail. 

To start, if your clients don’t know how your survey system works and, importantly, why you’re collecting feedback from them in the first place, they won’t use it. The same goes for your employees. 

By helping them understand the outcome, you significantly increase the chances that they’ll adopt the desired behavior. 

For clients, the outcome is a better customer experience. They give a little and in return they get a lot; as you consistently respond to their requests and improve your offerings. 

For employees, the outcome is a superior workplace culture, as they’ll be working with clients who appreciate your effort to center their needs. It’s a win-win.

Once everybody understands the purpose, the next step is to elicit feedback strategically. 

Top Tip: To learn more about how to strategically leverage consistent and meaningful feedback, read our guide to 6 ways to generate more customer survey responses by reducing friction

Use feedback to improve your offerings and expand revenue

With a feedback tool set up and deliberately implemented, you can now focus on improving your offerings.

To start, ensure you have clearly defined service offerings in the first place. The clearer your service offering, the better you’ll be able to measure and manage it. 

Also, consider what other MSPs in your target market are offering and differentiate yourself (if possible) by offering something unique. This could look like higher prices due to an elevated customer experience, for example.

Once underway, this is where feedback truly shines. No matter your service offerings, you can use customer feedback to identify key touchpoints, assess what’s working well, and package these successes as repeatable processes for your next client.

This allows you to take advantage of a feedback loop in which you consistently learn, optimize, repackage, and enhance. 

Not only does this allow you to continually up your performance game, but it makes your processes (and thus revenue) predictable. Eventually, you’ll gain a reputation for delivering on your promises and providing excellent service; thus elevating your perceived value which justifies higher (and/or packaged rather than per hour) rates.

You can also use feedback to learn more about your clients’ needs and desires, which opens up the door to add-ons. Rather than shooting in the dark and offering expanded services based on guesswork, you’ll know exactly what your clients need or will benefit from and can offer customized solutions. 

This will work to reduce churn, boost loyalty, and of course, increase your revenue stream.

Invest in top talent and prioritize training to stay on top of inefficiencies

Naturally, the best way to maintain recurring revenue and keep your clients happy is with top talent. 

They’re the ones in the trenches communicating daily with your customers and are often the first line of defense if something goes awry. 

But if you don’t have a great (or any) business reputation, you may struggle to attract the talent you need. 

Customer feedback gives you something exponentially valuable yet somewhat difficult to measure: social proof. The more that your clients talk about what a great job your business is doing, the more likely you are to become a trusted source and thus a perceived great place to work.

Top Tip: To learn more about how to use social proof to attract top talent to your MSP, read our guide on how to get more google reviews for social proof and referral quality.

Once you do have a strong team by your side, you need to properly train and empower them to put your predefined policies and procedures into practice. A critical piece of that: knowing how to elicit and respond to feedback. 

As business owner or manager, you can also play a part by shaping your policies and procedures over time depending on the customer feedback you receive.

For example, say your policy is to have your team attempt to resolve X situation before escalating. But, based on your feedback, you learn that your team is failing to resolve that situation 90% of the time. Daily CSAT tickets are skewing negative and NPS tickets are starting to show frustration from the top down. 

Clearly, something needs to be done. To figure out the best order of operations, dig deep into your feedback data to uncover:

• Where the problem first occurs
• If it’s temporarily fixed after your team attempts to resolve it, or if that resolution does nothing to help
• If it is temporarily fixed, how long it takes to break again
• How your team is resolving it in the first place 
• If the client is incorrectly doing something on their end which is unknowingly breaking something in the chain
• What methods of communication your team is using when going back and forth with the client on this issue

Once you figure out if it’s a system-wide, operational, or human error, update your procedures and workflows and retrain to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Sure, if you weren’t collecting feedback you’d likely eventually figure out the problem. But feedback is the fastest way to fix problems when they do occur and stay ahead of future problems by consistently auditing and enhancing your operations. 

Effectively measure and manage client sentiment around your SLAs

Just as you need to train and retrain your team to ensure you’re maintaining a seamless operation, you need to set client expectations appropriately. 

This will give clarity on what they should expect, when to expect it, how they should respond to certain scenarios, how to leave feedback, and so on.

Plus, it will help to ensure you stick to the same script with every client. This way, you won’t repeat any failed processes or interactions that could negatively impact the relationship. 

Of course, most MSPs know that SLAs are important. What feedback allows you to do is effectively measure and manage your client sentiment around your SLAs.

Let’s look at another hypothetical example. Say you agree on an SLA wherein if a server goes down, your team will respond to this issue immediately. The SLA clearly states that in this scenario, they should write into your help desk.

But, the problem takes place on a weekend when your help desk is manned by a slim team. And, technically, weekend hours are outside of normal support hours, so the price is doubled.

The issue gets resolved expeditiously, but your customer isn’t happy with the price. They provide a “positive” CSAT score—because the team did a great job addressing the issue—but in their next NPS survey, they provide a “passive” or “detractor” score, explaining why they feel the pricing is unfair in great detail. 

You now have the opportunity to address an issue in your core business relationship, one that could impact the bottom line. You have two levels of insight on the issue, and you can expeditiously do all of the following:

• Solve the problem with your existing customer
• Prevent this same grievance with a future customer
• Open your mind to similar scenarios that may need deeper thought

Feedback like this is critical because it helps you reconsider, reexamine, and rewrite. Your MSP is an organism that should change and grow based on your customer’s needs. Standing stubborn and ignoring customer sentiments is the fastest way to shed loyal customers and prohibit growth.

Simplify infrastructure to work smarter, not harder

It’s common knowledge that in order to run a smooth operation, you should eliminate unnecessary systems or technologies that make your day-to-day harder. 

Your resources should empower your team to provide a better customer experience and give your customers simple, practical solutions. Nobody should feel bogged down by repetitive tasks that are unnecessary or can be eliminated. In fact, using feedback as a trigger can increase efficiency throughout your operations.

So, how can feedback help you simplify your ops? Through a systemized approach to feedback with well-defined processes, workflows, and automations that are built into the tooling.

SmileBack exists specifically for this purpose. As an MSP, you can set up clearly defined workflows around feedback that enable you to effectively address responses in an automated fashion. 

This enhances both the efficiency of your business (which leads to increased customer retention) and promotes the efficiency of your team (because you have automated workflows in place to make your team more productive with less manual intervention).

For example, with SmileBack, you can set up in-built automation triggers for Connectwise Manage based on custom rules. Each time a specific event or trigger takes place, such as receiving a new review, a predefined action will take place (i.e. submitting a survey response to ConnectWise Manage). 

This can be especially useful for negative or neutral reviews, as an automated response letting your customer know that you’ve received their feedback and will take action in X timeframe can ease anxiety and tension. You can also automate ticket escalation statuses, which is key to addressing the issue at speed. 

You can also post reviews directly into a chosen channel by using the SmileBack and Slack or SmileBack and Microsoft Teams integrations, for example. This way, you can filter feedback directly into a shared internal channel and asynchronously discuss how to action it (need be). 

Moreover, you can share success stories, which work to boost team morale and empower your team members to continue doing a great job.

Wrapping up

Understanding the customer experience is a process that involves open lines of communication. And the best way to keep that line flowing is by putting processes into place to elicit consistent, valuable feedback.

Once in hand, you can use this feedback to enhance every aspect of your business operation. From your offerings, workflows, processes, training, protocols, SLAs, and infrastructure, feedback gives you the opportunity to continuously improve your ecosystem.

If you want to chat with us more about feedback, you could book a follow-up call with our team for implementation support and further consultation here.

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