You know that moment when you ask someone for their feedback or opinion and they say one thing, but you hear from their hesitation or in their tone that they think something different?
Well, that’s the beauty of face to face feedback.
So often when I discuss with clients how they gather customer feedback they refer to a questionnaire, be that online or a physical document.
There’s no doubt the feedback you gather from customers can be so valuable. Without it how do you know what’s working and what’s not, and how can build on the good and put right the not so good?
So gathering customers’ feedback via some kind of questionnaire is surely better than nothing…
BUT, and this is a big but, it’s a far cry from direct face to face in the moment feedback.
Here are 7 reasons you might not want to rely solely on questionnaires for feedback
- If you don’t know about any issues until you get back the questionnaire, 9 times out of 10, it’s going to be too late to resolve things before the customer leaves or ends their relationship with you
- Whilst you’re still blissful unaware of any issues other customers continue to be affected in the same way
- It’s too easy to ignore a questionnaire. It’s an interruption, often overly long winded and there may be little incentive from the customer’s perspective once the moment has passed
- A questionnaire can’t cover every conceivable aspect of your service (or if it does it’ll be way too long and likely to get the customer to abandon it half way through) so it’s easy to miss things that are important to your customer
- There’s often a time lag so the facts get forgotten or distorted: negative experiences get amplified and positive ones diluted in the customer’s mind. Likewise you’ve forgotten the specifics which means following up becomes more time consuming as there’s invariably a lot of back tracking to be done
- Your customer has had the chance to tell others before telling you (and we all know these days that’s not just one or two close friends!)
- Finally to my mind the biggest drawback, the feedback you receive is impersonal and one way, so loses those all-important subtle nuances you get when having a face to face dialogue.
So with so many fundamental flaws, don’t just rely on questionnaires – get out there and ask your customers directly what they think and how what you can do to make their experience even better.
We have to accept though that sometimes that feedback isn’t forthcoming, or it’s impractical to get to hear everyone’s feedback right away. That’s when we need to be keeping our ear to the ground and listening to what our customers are sharing amongst themselves.
As an example this weekend I was trying to register for my Boots Advantage card. The system refused to accept my temporary number, and when I tried to call the number printed on their leaflet it was out of date! So, no prizes for the customer experience to this point.
But, when I sent them a message via Facebook, I had a reply almost straight away. Was this just luck? Maybe, but stop and think for a moment just how many businesses are being talked about every hour or every day on social media – whether that’s Twitter, Trip Advisor or any one of hundreds of others.
So with so many how do you keep tabs? As a minimum set up Google Alerts for your name and business so you know when you’re being talked about. Although you won’t get instant feedback you can set this up so you get notifications as they happen, daily or weekly. Now if you wait a week to find out it’s too late!
But depending on your business you might choose to devote time and effort to monitoring the platforms most used by your customers, so you (or one of your team) can respond in the moment. Of course this means resolving customers’ queries and / or complaints. And what better way to appease a disgruntled customer than picking up on their post, thanking them for their feedback and responding straight away when they’re least expecting it.
But customer feedback doesn’t always equate to negative feedback. Think how often your customers say great things about you, share photos, even let their friends (and YOU) know they are coming to visit you.
What a fabulous opportunity that gives to engage with your customers, share their enthusiasm and create positive word of mouth.
So whether it’s in real world or virtual world, don’t hide behind a form or bury your head in the sand: ask, listen and act on your customers feedback