Anyone with experience in the area of customer feedback will tell you that benchmarking is a key component. What makes it so important is the need to ensure the actionability of the feedback results. We have discussed this topic (actionability) separately — especially in the context of ‘feedback naysayers’ in each company — those who lack customer centricity and typically undermine rather than embrace VOC efforts.
In that context, there are at least two key angles to benchmarking:
1. PEERS: In the end, businesses live and die by their competitive position, and knowing how you’re standing up relative to your competitors is a key aspect of determining whether to take action on feedback results.
2. HISTORICAL: The trend determines the interpretation — much like a cholesterol test — so if things are heading in the right direction then perhaps a stay-the-course approach can be maintained. If the opposite is the case, then a change in approach may be needed.
Another angle on the historical aspect of benchmarking
Customer sentiment can be affected by shifts in overall mindset — as determined by things like the economic environment or global political situations. Like any good scientific experiment, ensuring that only one variable is changing ensures a more pure test result. Similarly with feedback surveys, ensuring that other factors are not clouding the results is key.
In some industries, this means paying attention to — and measuring the general state of mind of customers becomes important. During these times of economic upheaval, there are big variations in sentiment based on Generations. A recent Prime performance survey of Banks and Credit Union customers found differing trends among Gen X, Y and baby boomers.
While the study didn’t attempt to ascertain the cause for a difference among generations, there is cause to consider that the satisfaction results were more based upon macroeconomic factors than individual bank performance.
Aside from the general mental state of customers, it’s not that unusual for customers in industries like banking to take out their anger associated with their personal financial situation on their respective banks. For example, overdraft fees hurt more when the cause is severe financial hardship rather than a simple error in keeping funds in the right account. In these types of macro economic environments, the focus needs to turn to finding the right approach to keeping negative associations at bay without taking on responsibility for customers external realities