Making the Most of Customer Feedback
Scan any game store's Yelp page and you'll see that it's populated mostly by two groups: the very satisfied, and the very unsatisfied. The trouble is, the vast majority of customers fall somewhere in between, and they don't always speak up.
In early 2016, we spoke to Jennifer Ward of Crazy Squirrel Games about how she reaches them: through invite-only player meetings, with a handful of players offering their take on the state of the community and her plans for the store's future.
These meetings yield some great feedback. But what comes after that? What do you do with your customers' ideas? How do you choose which ones to execute, which ones to compromise on, and which to ignore?
We really try to listen to people's ideas and integrate it into our daily activities. Unless it's far out of the realm of possibilities, it will get discussed among the staff.
Customer suggestions tend to organize themselves into three buckets: feedback that identifies a real need and an actionable solution; feedback that identifies a legitimate need but not an actionable solution; and feedback that identifies neither.
How Jennifer deals with a suggestion will depend on which category it falls into:
1. Legitimate need and an actionable solution
Usually, there's a reasonable desire that's at least possible to accomplish. In this case, the question is, does this create enough value?
Jennifer finds that some ideas are no-brainers. For example, one customer suggested personalized name tags to make employees easier to spot. Totally reasonable need, totally doable solution.
In other cases, she'll compromise. One customer suggested an audio/video area, with equipment for streaming events and recording podcasts. Streaming equipment proved worthwhile, but there wasn't enough value in going further.
When there's no compromise to be made, the idea migrates into the second bucket.
2. Legitimate need, but not an actionable solution
Sometimes even the wildest suggestion uncovers a hidden pain point. In this case, the question is, what's a reasonable solution?
For example, like lots of stores, Jennifer gets some unrealistic recommendations on entry fees. But even in those cases, the need may be legitimate, even if the proposal is not.
"You find the good part of their idea," says Jennifer. Crazy Squirrel has a sustainable pricing model that's unlikely to change. But perhaps that player simply wants to play more, and doesn't have the resources. In that case, there are options.
"Some people are open to hearing that and some people aren't," says Jennifer.
If they aren't, their feedback drops into the last bucket.
3. Neither a real need nor an actionable solution
Nearly all feedback falls into category A or category B. But some of it—a one-star review with no explanation, say—is simply not useful. In this case, the question is, how do I minimize the damage?
"You just have to grin and thank them for their input," says Jennifer. While this kind of feedback can be frustrating, in Jennifer's view, any resources spent trying to satisfy these folks is better spent on her core customers—players that value sustainable events, a healthy community, and the future of store.
"Those are our customers," says Jennifer. "We definitely want to focus on them."
And by focusing on those customers, Jennifer's created a feedback loop to guide the store's efforts going forward: collect feedback, experiment, keep what works, repeat.
It's a powerful model, and worth emulating.