Research Proposal on Optimizing Customer Feedback

Research Background and Aim

The onset of the 20th presented new opportunities for business savvy persons across the globe to establish their enterprises while using new strategies to ensure that they thrived. Keeping these businesses afloat was a primary objective for most entrepreneurs with most of these individuals painstakingly seeking ingenious methods to outmaneuver their competitors.  It soon became apparent that the customer was the most integral cog that ultimately set these businesses in motion. Without their presence, many of these companies would fail and were soon back to the drawing board (Anderson & Dubinsky, 2004, p. 78). Successful conglomerates were famous for staying in touch with their customers in a bid to establish whether or not they had a worthwhile experience dealing with the company. The thinking behind these follow-ups was that additional information would be gathered from the clientele in a bid to determine whether the services they obtained were to their liking and the changes that needed to be instituted (Barlow & Møller, 1999). It’s from this epoch that we trace customer experience as an integral construct for the success of any commercial enterprise. Popular belief had it that customer satisfaction only involved the purchasing action of a potential customer. However, it’s evident that this assumption was erroneous as other intricacies have to be taken into account to conclusively cover customer experience (Bolton, 2016, p. 58). In contemporary times, customer experience has become the subject of concern for small enterprises and large corporations alike due to its importance whenever a customer comes into contact with the brand (Bergman & Klefsjo, 2010, p. 67). Customer experience, therefore, encapsulates the feelings that the target clientele has towards a particular brand and how they perceive it. Opinions do matter, and hence strategies by world-renowned brands to create an image that will be readily accepted by their target market together with all those who choose to purchase their wares.

Optimizing customer feedback, therefore, seeks to use a holistic approach in dealing with the experiences of all those who come into contact with a firm’s products. The brand message is consequently unified with its identity to ensure that there is consistency in the quality of the goods and services provided at every step of the way (Charantimath, 2011). The aim is to ensure that the customers are always happy with the products and services that they get while feeling like they do matter. The primary reason for carrying this study has to do with the fact that I have personally experienced the difficulties that can plague an enterprise in the absence of proper customer experience. My business associates and I own a business language school that serves various companies. The business model that we have embraced involves contracting teachers and trainers who are then sent to specific business sites to train individuals from multiple departments on how to use the English language when conducting business. The purpose of these training programs is to ensure that our clients are well-versed in all aspects of using English in business, which may range from general communication, presentation skills, teleconferencing, delivering negative news to making orders and requests. The debacle facing the company stems from a lack of customer service skills amongst the employees which is having adverse effects on output together with the shared relationship that is meant to exist with the trainees.  Nevertheless, it’s vital to acknowledge that the firm receives feedback from our clients. The problem lies in the fact that no proper mechanism exists to deal with the feedback, resulting in volumes of paper with comments that are never acted upon. Moreover, it has been noted with great concern that trainees intentionally avoid participating in these programs, making little or no progress. Most of these individuals are coerced into participating making them loathe the experience, with absconding being the only option. It’s also vital to acknowledge that progress has been slow with most of these individuals blaming the situation on the current state of affairs. The primary aim of this research paper is to find the most viable way to introduce change to the company and enable it to gain relative success in ensuring that the trainees have an easier time making progress. In essence, this research proposal seeks to solve this particular issue by presenting the best ways I which the company can optimize customer feedback, therefore improving their experience.

Research Questions

The following research questions have been identified in this study:

  1. Why is customer feedback optimization of the utmost importance to the business in question?
  2. How does the business in question miss the customer requests made?
  3. How has the lack of action on a customer request affected the interviewees?

Literature Review

Customer experience has always been an area of interest for previous studies. Fortune 500 corporations would go out of their way to fund numerous studies seeking to have a better understanding of customer experience and all the dynamics that surround it. In reality, the customer is the most critical person in transactions involving the firm and the reason why particular attention has to be paid to their satisfaction (Cook & Kogan Page, 2008, p. 34).  It’s therefore vital for companies to have developed customer service skills that are ideal and those that foster good relations between the two parties involved in the transaction. Once in a while, customers will have issues with some of the services provided by a company and their integrals that their feedback is considered and looked into whenever concerns are raised (Films Media Group, & Video Arts (Firm), 2016, p. 32). These strategies are lacking in our language department with the main worry being a lack of satisfaction by our customers who provide us with vital feedback. Receiving such information and acting on it is one of the essential actions that need to be undertaken to improve the success rate.  Optimizing a customer’s experience and feedback is vital to any brand because their satisfaction level is the main reason why they would choose to use a product again (Garber, 2005, p. 98). Therefore, optimizing feedback is a crucial differentiator of various brands offering the same services or product. Correctly implementing this strategy would increase a firm’s revenue due to an increase in the number of happy customers who are willing to use the product again (Gupta & Lehmann, 2008, p. 43). Moreover, optimizing customer feedback is an essential step for any firm with the intention of boosting its sales since it will, in the long run, ensures that loyal customers are retained. Hemorrhaging of sales is an expected effect of any firm that fails to receive comments from their customers with the urgency that they require.

According to Kaufmann (2012), businesses and the improvements made after that create a symbiotic relationship between the two entities involved. A business seeks to understand what it can do to for its clients to ensure that they enjoy their experience while obtaining the product or service. The client seeks the satisfaction of receiving the highest quality of service during their quest to obtain a product. In such a scenario, both the business and the customer are dependent upon each other to fulfill each other’s needs. Any company doing business seeks to make the highest amount of profit from any transaction (Harrell, 2010, p. 97). The objective is to improve the yearly projections to a point where it makes noticeable gains that will ensure that it remains buoyant in an ever-changing market. The customer, on the other hand, seeks to provide that they make the most out of the money they will be spending on a particular product or service. In such a scenario, the goal out of such a situation is to ensure that they get value for the money they will be spending while appreciating the whole experience. Additionally, a study by Dobrusskin (2015) reveals that optimizing customer feedback can be an essential problem-solving tool that businesses need to embrace (p. 222). Firms and companies need to acknowledge that at any given moment, even when they have used all their resources to improve their brand, lapses always seem to occur. These debacles may be brought about by human errors in the provision of the required service with the best option being to confront them (Hayes, 2008, p. 3). Businesses that spend most of their time focusing on correcting any obvious operational difficulties end up benefitting it in the long run. Customers develop a sense of appreciation for the brand and the manner in which the staff goes out of their way to ensure that any anomalies that had been noted are corrected swiftly.

Similarly, Binsar &Panjaitan (2014) opine that customer service is one of the most critical aspects of a company and is responsible for maintaining customer loyalty. In every single occasion, companies seek to ensure that they retain those first customers that tried their services. By so doing, they remain loyal to the brand in all situations and subscribe to the services provided. Even in adversity, they would brave the weather and make numerous sacrifices to ensure that they purchase the said products due to the top-notch services that they obtain from such an entity (Hickman & Wicks, 2006, p. 37). Loyalty is built on the first impression that an individual gets once they decide that the product being offered is worth their time and money. Under normal circumstances, these individuals wouldn’t want to move from one brand to another and would instead provide their opinion on changes they would love to see instituted to improve their experience. Companies which take this feedback seriously often indicate that they value their clients and are ready to make the necessary changes that would benefit them shortly. Such customers are highly likely to stick to a single brand that has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that they care about the opinion provided. Firms that often apply empathy in their operations are likely to act quickly whenever a customer raises any pertinent issue that is of concern to the customers. In some cases, the clients are encouraged to make any formal complaints whenever the company doesn’t deliver on its promise to provide them with the service that they require. Customers, therefore, end up feeling as though they have a say in the manner in which a particular company conducts its business as it is a clear indication that their opinion is valued by the top executives. Numerous benefits accrue whenever such a state emerges since most of these individuals would choose to stick with a brand that listens to them.

Tan (2012) suggests that there is a direct relationship between the level of customer satisfaction that exists and customer care skills (p. 67). Optimizing feedback is one among the many customer care skills that are necessary for a business to thrive. These powers are inherent in some of the employees, but not all; hence the urgent need to ensure that they are provided with necessary directions on how to handle the customers.  Developing these skills might involve costly extended sessions that might introduce new expenses to the company. In the long-run, however, it’s a worthwhile investment since the company will benefit directly from the skills that their staff will have gathered throughout the years. A business enterprise with a workforce that is well-versed in tending to their customers ensures that any complaints and feedback is recorded an acted upon with the urgency that is required. The whole idea is to deal with the issues raised within the shortest time possible which would ensure that the customers get a better experience the next time they seek these services. There are moments when customers request to be treated as equals, and this often happens when customer care representatives act on the grievances that they had presented. Over the years, numerous companies have made use of this technique to ensure that they attract more clients in a competitive market. Instead of focusing on their marketing strategies, companies would invest heavily in their customer care services and capability to respond appropriately to any issues raised. Kaufmann (2012) is particular about the focus that entities should put on customer care skills and the urgency with which they should respond to the questions posed. In most situations, companies are usually too busy delivering their service or wares that they are oblivious to the challenges customers may be facing when handling their products. Opening feedback as a line of communication ensures that they are aware of their flaws and are subsequently poised on responding to the feedback gathered.

Harrell (2013) opines that feedback is a litmus test for most business entities (p.43). The general expectation is that the responses received on the product and services provided are meant to improve the company’s standing and its outcomes. These entities are intended to produce goods that will be of value to their customers. It would be pointless for a business entity to be operational when it is apparent that the opinions of those they serve are always ignored. Capitalizing on the feedback provided is a precondition for growth especially when entities decide to treat it as constructive criticism.  The feedback provided can be used as a platform for the company to catapult itself to greatness (Hill, Allen, & Roche, 2007, p. 76). Companies have an opportunity to learn from any of their mistakes when they decide to take capitalize on the feedback provided and seek viable solutions that would improve the company’s standing. A customer’s response is a unique chance for a firm to come to terms with all the issues of concern that the business might have missed (Inc. (Firm), 2014, p. 54). Correcting these mishaps ensures that a company deals appropriately with any of its short-comings that will enable it to make small but noticeable changes. Optimizing customer feedback, nonetheless, serves as a keystone habit that a firm can capitalize on to ensure that all the employees have a better chance at dealing with issues raised by customers (Jansen, 2008, p.  78). From time immemorial, it has been proven through extensive studies that massive overhauls in the manner in which entities operate had little to no bearing on their success rate. In most cases, these knee-jerk reactions end up as total fiascos that leave the whole company reeling from the massive losses incurred during this difficult period (Moreira, 2017, p. 21). Optimizing the feedback provided by the customers enables allows a workforce to confront each case with the urgency that it requires while ensuring that every issue of concern is dealt with immediately. In such an event, customers are now able to appreciate the services they obtain and enjoy each experience, benefitting the company in the process.

In optimizing customer’s feedback, Di Pietro, Mugrion & Renzi (2013) suppose that proper identification of the specific requests made is vital if headway is to be made. Customer care representatives need to ensure that they fully comprehend the offer made to ensure that it’s dealt with as per the customer’s request (Johns, 2015, p. 23). Customers are usually particular in making a request. In most scenarios, there are particular things that they do not fully appreciate when seeking services from the company and their quest usually involves having these issues dealt with. A company needs to ensure that these particular requests are understood and identified to avoid a situation where there is a mix up that would lead to negative consequences. The assumptions made by the customer are that these issues will be dealt with and they should be able to realign them with the requests made earlier (Odden, 2012, p. 90). If the same customer experiences the same difficulty, the assumption made will be that the firm decided to ignore the requests made intentionally. Such a misunderstanding might be detrimental to the company’s standing since the customer might assume that their applications were intentionally ignored (Saleh & Shukairy, 2011, p. 56). The ripple effect in such a situation might lead to adverse effects on a company’s standing, especially if the customer in question would decide to go public with information on how the company makes responses. History is littered with occasions during which firms ended up making massive losses that were as a result of a misunderstanding from the requests provided by the customer and their subsequent appeals. Customers require feedback that is precise while seeking to respond appropriately to the requests that had been made earlier (Shaw, 2011, p. 57). The general idea in such a situation is to ensure that a customer’s desires are met and every request that they had made dealt with appropriately. Uniformity ensures the company is in good standing with its customers and meeting all their needs while solving any issue that may be of concern.

Research Plan

Overall Strategy

            The objective of conducting this research is to delve into customer services and the how instrumental they are in any firm. Over the years, it has come to our attention that customer service skills are lacking in our business, which impedes our ability to carry out our mandate. The problem extends to the relationship that we share with our trainees as the feedback provided is not dealt with by our team. The overall strategy in this research study is make an overall assessment of all the factors surrounding all the customer requests made and impediments to the feedback process. An overall assessment of where the business might be going wrong is vital in ensuring that all issues that are of concern are brought to the limelight to enable a speedy resolution to the matter (Szwarc, 2005, p. 77). Generally, the strategy used in this study will be one seeking to find the actual cause of the problem faced to ensure that there is a practical solution to the issue at hand. In essence, the study aims to come up with the best option regarding responding to this their requests and optimizing feedback to improve output.

Underlying Assumptions

The following are some of the underlying assumptions made in this study:

  1. The instruments that will be used in collecting data will elicit responses that can only be termed as reliable
  2. All respondent will have fully understood all the questions asked before responding to any of them.
  3. The respondents will be honest when providing their answers and will do so within their scope of knowledge.
  4. The questions posed by the researcher will be provided in a consistent manner

 

Methodology

            In this research, quantitative methods will be used in assessing the best optimization technique. This will ensure that there is a standardized system capable of handling the feedback that the study seeks to delve into. It will be imperative to look into the feedback forms that had been received from the clients which would then allow for a detailed response as to why issues raised were never dealt with (Timm, 2011). In this particular case the study will involve 100 feedback forms that will be picked randomly and no more than 3 years old. This is to ensure that only recent matters are dealt with to establish the primary reason why the output was being affected. These methods provide that there is a conclusive analysis of select requests made and the reason why feedback was either delayed or non-existent. By using this technique, the study will present the reasons behind the prevailing state of affairs while interrogating the observer’s viewpoint. Quantitative methods ensure that the study is inter-subjective especially with the number checking technique to provide that the data collected from the interviewees is consistent with the general situation in the firm (Texas, 2001). This method aims to ensure that there is a correlation between the information provided and to ensure that statements collected are not misunderstood.

Origin of Samples to be studied

            The samples that will be put under this study’s scope will be obtained from the company’s logs. They include customer requests made to the company in the past three years and will only include those which were not addressed. These samples will be vital in assessing the strength of the customer service skills that the firm is lacking in and the ripple effect that this state of affairs has on the business (Thomas & Applegate, 2013, p. 59). Most of the trainees attending the program have complained of being forced to attend most of these sessions. The study will assess these responses with the requests made to establish whether it was the Human Resource departments in these companies also had a role to play by incorrectly grouping the trainees.

Data Collection Methods and Analysis of Results

            The data in this study will be collected using a combination of interviews and the filling of questionnaires. Participants will be selected based on the 100 customer requests that had been obtained awaiting responses. Interviews will first be conducted on the trainees to assess the damage that lack of appropriate response from the firm will have. This will establish the level of distraught that most of them feel when seeking to answers concerning issues that are of grave concern to them. Similarly, questionnaires are important in such a study to gauge the adverse effects that this delay in response is having on the trainees and the company in general. It’s possible to make use of a Pareto analysis model to make a precise classification of the factors that might be directly affecting the customer relationship (United States & United States, 2002, p. 56). Using its 80/20 principle, it will be possible to establish the origin of the problem and the most appropriate way to solve it. Moreover, it will be possible to use the cause and effect analysis in seeking the actual questions being encountered and how to solve them.

 

Ethical Review

All participants will receive sufficient information on the nature of the study beforehand to ensure that they understand what it entails. The purpose of this standard operating procedure is a measure to ascertain that they were aware of what the study required and was not coerced to participate in the study (Wellington, 2010). It’s also essential to ensure that all participants fully comprehend the study’s threshold to ensure that they were not coerced into participating in the research and did it on their volition.

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