A couple weeks ago, our company came together in Paris, as we will do again later this month in the Silicon Valley, for our user conference called Connect. During our conferences, we spend time talking to current and prospective customers to share all that we are doing for them. But, as is the case across our company, we are in service of our customers during Connect. Not only do we ensure that our customers are talking to each other to share their best practices about using our platform to help them transform their businesses, we are there to listen to them.
At Couchbase, we are maniacally focused on our customers, engaging with them to solve their current challenges, future challenges, and challenges they might not even know they have. And we obsess about going above and beyond to ensure they are more than satisfied with our technology, services, and the way in which we do business with them . While Couchbase helps our customers compete on today’s customer experience battlefield, we are well aware of the customer experience we must first provide to win their business at the outset. And there are two key ways to provide those exceptional experiences: listen and act.
Of course, getting live feedback directly from a customer carries an abundance of weight due to the inherent receipt of the message and the opportunity to ask questions in real-time. However, with the advent of social media, online surveys, and peer reviews that capture and publish feedback to influence buying decisions, there are several channels for customers to voice their opinions. How well a company listens by acknowledging the feedback will impact the perception of that company by the customer. And it should go without saying that the more positive the perception, the more apt the customer is to recommend that company.
It’s also critical to really take the feedback. We must deal with the world the way it is, not the way we want it to be. Sometimes, we miss the mark. Getting negative feedback can be difficult because we put a lot of work into what we do. But taking these issues face on are the mark of a great company, one that is committed to constant improvement in services of their customers. That’s the culture we have at Couchbase.
Assuming the feedback is heard and understood, then what do you do with it? Some companies stop there. As I said, this is hard. But many companies have processes in place whereby feedback is formally captured, reviewed, and depending on the nature, acted upon. Having a formal process, whether it lies within a Customer Success team, Support organization, Product Management group, or similar, helps ensure continuous improvements to product quality, customer service, company reputation, and ultimately, customer experience. It helps “close the loop” that ensures your customers know you’re listening. One of my favorite stories on acting upon customer feedback is this popular case study on the car that didn’t like vanilla ice cream. The moral of the story is that no matter how ridiculous the feedback might initially appear, there might just be a logical explanation if you take the time to dig a little deeper to help.
In addition to the actionable insights vendors glean from customer feedback, published reviews also allow prospective customers to make informed buying decisions. One common example is the Apple App Store: those looking at comparable apps can narrow their choices down to those that have the highest-ratings and most reviews. So while aiming to generate the highest ratings is a worthwhile goal, one rating of 5 out of 5 will not hold as much weight as 100 customers with a 4.5 out of 5 average rating.
As you can see, it’s a virtuous cycle: listen (acknowledge/capture), and act upon feedback to improve or augment your products or services. Then repeat. You may ask, “What’s the best way to get feedback from my customers?” Simple: ask them. Or, “How do I get them to participate in published reviews?” Again, ask them. It can be as obvious as those, “How is my driving?” bumper stickers we often see on tractor trailers. Checking in and asking questions goes a long way.
Four months ago, Couchbase launched a new category of database called the Engagement Database. We arrived at this decision based on conversations we had with our customers over the previous year. We asked, “What kind of applications are you building?” All arrows pointed to applications that enhance the customer experience, and thus the Engagement Database was born. Listening and acting upon customer feedback can be the difference between nurturing a virtuous cycle or fueling a downward spiral.