Customer feedback, both positive and negative, is a tool for assessing service initiatives. Surveying your customers about their experiences is beneficial because it opens the door for communication between your brand and your clientele. Receiving feedback can help improve customer retention, provide necessary feedback about staff, product, or service performance, and serve as an idea generator. As customers express their opinions, a picture of what is working--and what needs help--emerges. Asking for feedback can help you improve your business and build relationships with customers who know their opinions are valued.
As a customer, I’ve been asked for my feedback in a few ways:
- On a receipt. When I eat out, I sometimes receive two receipts. One is a bill, and the other is an invitation to fill out a survey, either online or over the phone. Usually, these receipts promise a free appetizer or a chance to win a prize upon completion, provided I take the necessary steps in the next 5 (or 7 or 10) days. To be honest, I almost never fill these out, unless I’ve had bad service. Why? Taking the time to call or go online within the allotted time rarely fits into my schedule. I do know people who act on these invitations almost religiously, whether their service has been great, awful, or somewhere in between. They always have some kind of gift card or reward in their pocket, the fruits of their labors.
- Paper Surveys. I’ve received paper surveys at restaurants and hotels. These surveys are usually something you’re aware of from the beginning of your experience. Generally, they’re postcard sized, with a few questions asking about the food, service, or overall experience. When you're done or about to check out, you leave them. I like this kind of survey because I can do it while I’m in the venue, and I don’t have to worry about taking extra time or remembering to do it later. Sometimes, these cards will ask for an e-mail address and birthday or anniversary for promotions, which makes them more enticing.
- Telephone Surveys are something I’ve experienced when contacting call centers and help desks. Usually, the IVR system will ask me if I’d like to participate in a survey after my call, and I usually say yes. I’m already on the phone, and it only takes a few minutes. As a customer, I feel especially appreciated when questions are open ended and allow me to speak freely, instead of being confined to pressing 1-5 (What if I feel like a 3.5?). If I’ve had a bad experience on the phone and have opted out of the survey, I’m usually more annoyed, because I have no one to give my feedback to. If I’ve had a great conversation, I’ll leave a rave review. Occasionally, I’ve received a phone call after a physical visit (to a bank, for example) and am still inclined to participate. Telephone surveys are convenient because clients can use their voice, no writing required.
- Website Chats sometimes ask for a service assessment after the conversation has been closed. Usually, I'll leave a response after a good chat. If I've had a bad experience, I tend to ignore the request. Frequently, I use an online chat feature if I have a quick question, and I generally receive quick, straightforward answers, which means chats don't often leave me with strongly formed opinions either way.
Is there a way to make the most out of each type of survey? Getting people to participate requires a delicate balance of interactivity, personality, ease of use, and incentive. A type of survey I haven’t yet experienced is a growing trend: the in-facility telephone survey. This type of survey is ideal for facilities where a customer or guest spends an extended period of time, like a hotel or health care facility. Using these systems, clients receive an automated phone call with a warm greeting from the CEO, manager, or other representative. A professionally recorded voice conducts the rest of the survey. In-Facility surveys differ from traditional surveys because they allow for feedback while service is still happening. If something is amiss, recovery can begin while the visitor is still in the facility, not after. Because these surveys feature messages from facility management and professional voice talent, they are an opportunity to emphasize your branded “voice.”
Customer feedback is about the individual customer as much as it is about trending results. Requesting feedback allows you to assess the needs, wants, and ideas of an individual customer and track responses over time. Collecting short and long term data lets you see how new initiatives are perceived and if long term goals are being reached. Surveys help reach customers by calling them to action and letting them use their unique voice to talk about your company.