Thursday January 17, 2013

Satisfaction Surveys Don't Work- 3 Ways to gather REAL feedback

boxes with a check mark

Tracking and improving your customer’s experience is a very real and important part of your overall brand strategy. Perhaps more than ever. One unhappy person can quickly evangelize the crap out of their terrible experience via a simple shared Yelp review or Facebook wall post.

How do you go about it though?

Very few companies, big or small, are surveying customer satisfaction well. It’s a world of 3—day-late emails and unsolicited, automated phone calls from oddball numbers.

Here’s the three big problems with most survey systems:

1) Most angry or frustrated clients don’t want to waste another 5 minutes telling you about how you wasted the previous 20.

Yesterday I called Verizon to adjust my data plan for my gadgets. All I wanted was for the representative to recommend the appropriate change, based on the usage I anticipated, and then process the change. Of course, it’s never that simple. It took forever, and I’m already pissed about how much I’m spending each month with them. Double-pissed I wasted a third of an hour during the business day.

Then 10 minutes later I get a call from a random number that turns out to be a robo-call from Verizon wanting to hear how my experience was. No way.

2) It’s often too late.

Think about the last time you stayed at a hotel. When did you get the survey email? I’ll bet it was at least the next day, but often it doesn’t come until several days later. If someone has had a terrible experience, wouldn’t you prefer they vent to you, versus Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, or their best friend via SMS? In 24 hrs a lot of collateral damage can be done.

3) It’s impersonal.

I have never gotten a personal response from a satisfaction survey I completed. Have you? Think about it.

When people have a bad experience with your brand, they want a human response. Sometimes all that’s needed to make things right is a discount, a credit, or a freebie. Most of the time though, they just want to be heard, and know that their issue has been resolved and the cause of it was fixed.

When an angry client gets a mass email or receives a robo-call, they receive it as further disrespect- your intent to waste more of their time.

So, how CAN you gather great feedback? 3 approaches:

1) Short, frequent requests in the normal course of business.

I’ve previously blogged about the company Bonobos.com. I’ve had occasion to email them a couple times, and in every email, they have a simple survey system in their signature. email survey example photo
It is fantastic, and there’s a number of companies that can help you do it. Here’s one I recently found. Free for a micro-business.

2) Real time, live human interview.

“Chris, John is one of our customer experience specialists, can I transfer you to him when we’re finished so he can do a quick, anonymous survey of your experience on the call today. It only take 2.5 minutes.”

This can also be done in a small town retail setting.

‘Chris, real quick, before you take off, do you mind if I ask you a few questions about our shop, we’d love your feedback?’

It needs to be done by someone _other_than the person they dealt with (salesperson, clerk, etc), like an owner or manager. Ideally, that person would be armed with a 10-15% off “thank you” coupon that they can hand them after they’ve chatted.

3) End-of-day followup calls.
manager making followup phone calls to clients

My Dentist is tops. I’ve easily referred a dozen or more patients to him. One of the things I like most, is that any time he does work on me, I get a call or personal text message later that evening asking how I’m feeling.

If you’ve got your client’s phone numbers, this is a great task for the business owner or manager. It doesn’t necessarily have to be done every single day, but on a systematic basis, it would yield awesome, actionable feedback.

None of these approaches are worth much without proper response and followup.

If someone shares a negative experience, there has to be a rapid response, and in my opinion- some kind of remuneration. Value their time and insight. Even if it’s just a coffee card for a local shop or a 15% discount for their next visit.

Lastly, a tip for the earnest:

When a customer makes a suggestion or request that is actionable, schedule a followup for them in your calendar, POS, or CRM system and notify them when you’ve implemented their suggestion.

“Hi John, I don’t know if you remember visiting our pub a few months ago, but you gave us some feedback on the coffee we were serving. I thought you might like to know that we ended up switching to Sisters Coffee Company like you suggested. I placed a $5 credit under your name in case you want to give us another try. Thanks for your feedback last Fall.”


Chris Nordyke is an integrated marketer and strategy consultant. He works with owners and senior business leaders to transform and grow service companies via a unique holistic approach that drives referral business and client retention. Click here to schedule a complimentary consult with Chris.


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