A few years ago, during an important business trip to Florida, I had one of the worst hotel stays of my life.
I intended to write a letter to the hotel chain -- which I won't name here, but it is a famous one -- after I returned home. But the chain beat me to the punch, emailing me a lengthy (10 pages!) customer survey.
I was excited that the chain cared about what I had to say. And I was pleased at the prospect of vindication -- that the chain, once it learned about my horrendous experience, would do something to make it all right, even if only in the form of a sincere apology from an executive.
I promptly went to work on the in-depth survey, including multiple free-response questions. I diligently and thoroughly related the details of my abysmal stay, and I submitted the survey.
After that, I never heard from the chain about it again.
To this day, I refuse to stay at that particular hotel brand, and I prefer not to book at other hotels owned by that company.
Unfortunately, this hotel chain is not an aberration. Many companies routinely ask customers for feedback -- some via extensive, in-depth surveys, as the chain did -- but never follow up with the responding customer.
The great thing about surveys is that you get to ask your customers exactly how they feel about you. Presumably, as a business, you would want to use the information you get from the responses to change the way you do business.
Logically, that starts with winning over the hearts and minds of the people who don't like you.
When a customer gets upset and lets you know about it, that isn't a problem. That's an opportunity. Most upset customers speak silently with their wallets, so making things right with them becomes an impossibility. However, if you learn about a customer's problems with your business, you have the unique chance to re-instill confidence in your ability to satisfy that customer. If you do this right, you can give the customer even more confidence in you than the customer ever had before -- by making how seriously you take satisfaction quite clear.
Let's forget data mining for a moment. The whole point of analytics is to give yourself all the data you need to make your business the best it can be. It is inexcusable for a dissatisfied customer to be left completely ignored.
It can take anywhere from five to 10 new customers to replace the cost of losing an old one. Increasing customer retention by just 5 percent can increase your profits exponentially.
Yes, you can use the data from CRM analytics to improve operations generally and keep from repeating mistakes. But the "textbook" uses of analytics should not cloud the fact that you can and should use this data to fix the mistakes you already have made -- with already dissatisfied customers. Analytics is not just about changing the future. You can use this tool to rectify the past.
There's little point in spending time, money, and resources on surveys and analytics if you're not going to use those tools to their fullest advantage. If you don't even acknowledge a customer who reports getting upset, sooner or later that customer will become an ex-customer.