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Customer feedback management: Is anybody listening?

I recently made my first big purchase — a new vehicle — and I made my mind up pretty much before I entered the showroom floor, thanks to customer feedback I gathered on the Internet. What surprised me when I went to test drive my dream SUV was the lack of customer feedback management being done by the car dealers and makers.

I went to Consumer Reports and Edmunds to compare safety ratings, highway miles per gallon, handling and longevity, but my list of choices was narrowed down much further by comments made at the end of the reviews by current and former drivers.

I was sure I was going to buy one particular SUV but found repeated complaints about its small back window that caused huge blind spots. Another one on my list had a souped-up engine [based on customer feedback] but left the gas tank the same size, leading to another customer complaint that still hasn’t been addressed: frequent fill-ups.

I was overloaded by all the different complaints and accolades made by drivers, but when I asked the salespeople about the customer feedback I read on blogs and reviews I heard “I haven’t heard that” or “No one’s told me that.”

I don’t lay the blame on the salespeople — they might not even be encouraged to look at what people are saying on public forums like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, emails or YouTube.

But who is responsible for customer feedback management? The feet on the street, or management? How do you centralize all this information, and distribute it so front-line employees are on top of what customers are saying and equipped to respond?

Was my experience atypical, or are companies ignoring a channel that may decide what people actually buy? Are they paralyzed by some of the critiques, and choosing to ignore them instead?

This is just the experience I had when looking for an SUV. I won’t even go into how the dealer dropped the ball when it came to rating my buying experience.

Share your thoughts on customer feedback management, or the lack of it — but particularly if you work for a company that does it well. Email me at [email protected].

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