A local café decided to implement a very simple way to know what their customers thought of them. Customers were given little cards along with their bills that asked for just one thing – their rating on a scale of one to five. It was no fuss and customers didn’t mind the effort. The café management collated the feedback weekly. They always seemed to stay between an average rating of 3.2 – 3.8. Of course, they had no idea why their rating went up or down from one week to the next. Neither could they tell from the cards what they needed to do to get to a five.
An automotive service center gathered customer feedback through short, online forms that included a star rating. The average feedback rating helped decide the bonuses of the service center staff. In an effort to keep the score (and their bonuses) up, the staff had been known to call up customers urging them to provide a high rating on record, even if this meant they lost the opportunity to hear what the customers really felt.
In the first example, the feedback rating became nothing more than a wide-angle view of the café’s performance with no details that would help them improve. In the second, it became a mechanism for the head office to measure their employees. In both cases, the focus was not on collecting feedback for it’s ideal purpose, that is, to improve the customer experience.
In the absence of a clear understanding of why feedback is being collected and what it will be used for, the exercise can prove to be at best a mildly helpful gauge of something resembling customer satisfaction, and at worst, an annoying intrusion for busy customers and a waste of time and money for businesses.
It doesn’t have to be this way. A well thought-out feedback strategy can provide so much return. With companies increasingly expecting to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience, the value of real, meaningful, actionable feedback from customers is more than ever before.
So, yes, customers should find it quick and easy to complete your feedback forms (the longer the form, the less time people will spend per question), and of course employees responsible for customer satisfaction should be held accountable for it, but let’s not lose sight of why we ask for feedback in the first place. Let’s keep the need for improving customer experience at front and center and use that to guide every question we ask our customers.