Asking for Customer Feedback is different from Listening
Last night, I was in the Customer Service Twitter chat that happens every Tuesday at 10PM PST. I truly recommend this lively, fun, and insightful conversation to anyone interested in Customer Service.
Yesterday’s discussion was: “Do surveys after a Customer Service incident improve the customer relationship?“. Here are some my thoughts and a collection of insights from the discussion.
If you are going to ask, ask it right.
Short of direct interaction at the point of delivery/intervention, if the communication medium available to you is the printed word, satisfaction surveys are really the only tool you have to collect post-experience feedback.
All classical recommendations about customer surveys are still valid and many chat participants reminded us: Keep it simple and short, apply the survey soon after the experience, provide acknowledgement and act on feedback, etc.
But the problems and limitations of surveys are also valid, no matter how good they are: extra burden on customers, reactive mechanism, almost always biased.
Social Media: Stop asking, start listening
About a year ago, I was at a conference and the Social Media Director for the MGM Grand said:
We monitor Social Media because the first thing a guest does when finding a problem is to talk about it in Twitter or Facebook. I need to know she is unhappy about the service at the restaurant and turn it around before she checks out of my hotel. That makes the difference between 50 other people hearing about how terrible or how wonderful my service is. I couldn’t do that with satisfaction surveys.
I think that quote distills the impact of Social Media in Customer feedback collection:
- It is no longer about prompting customers to evaluate their experience, but listening for customer feedback where they dispense it. Twitter and Facebook are the obvious places, but it could be Yelp if you own a small local service business, or a specialized forum if you are in B2B.
- It is real-time and it is about the current experience and making it a good one, not learn how bad it was so that you can fix it for the next customer. You cannot afford a dissatisfied customer negatively influencing others.
- It is personal, not statistical. You want to make each customer’s experience as good as it can be. The days of improving the “average customer experience” so that “more than 50% strongly agree it was satisfactory” are gone. There is no such a thing as average satisfaction.
- Don’t ask, just fix it. Happy customers will bring you their friends.
The principles of Customer Satisfaction are and will remain the same. Providing good customer experience is still the best way to bring new customers.
The impact of social media is the ability to get feedback without being intrusive and, for most businesses, to shorten the time between awareness and action so that we can fix customer experiences before they become bad experiences.