Criticism about your company is hard to take, especially if it comes as a big surprise, but at least you learn something and can change accordingly.
Customer feedback—good and bad—is absolutely critical to all successful businesses. In fact, I would argue that the amount of customer feedback you receive is directly proportional to how much success your business can achieve from this precious insight.
Unfortunately, you can’t afford to sit around waiting for feedback to arrive. All the ‘Contact Us’ buttons and 24 hour hotlines in the world won’t make up for proactively going out and getting it.
Beware customer satisfaction surveys that spread dissatisfaction
Many businesses choose to ask for customer feedback in the form of an emailed customer survey, but with such low response rates these could be doing your company more harm than good.
If one or two percent of people turned out for vote in an election, they wouldn’t just call it ‘fatigue’ or ‘apathy,’ they’d call it a disaster. And yet this kind of response rate is held up as a good return in many companies’ eyes. Such a low turnout invites massive statistical bias and ignores the views held by 99% of customers who can’t spare the time to fill out your survey, and would rather you hadn’t bothered contacting them in the first place.
So-called customer satisfaction surveys start with good intentions but then morph into a laundry list of questions that prioritize the collection of data over the spreading of happiness. They typically reflect the internal power struggle within an organization as heads of finance, service delivery, manufacturing, sales, marketing and whoever else get the sniff of ‘real customers’ in their nostrils and insist on pitching extra questions onto the survey bandwagon.
This inevitably clouds the original purpose of the exercise—to elicit and improve customer feedback—and irritates all but the most committed recipients.
Stop disrupting the customer journey
The customer journey is a key concept in planning to support an optimum customer experience. From beginning to end, customers are supposed to be—literally—nurtured, fulfilled and delighted.
Long-form surveys disturb this equilibrium and create an unwanted and resented inconvenience. They even create barriers to those customers who genuinely do want to provide feedback.
Incentives aren’t the answer
Imagine your insurance company emails to ask a few questions about your customer experience. It will only take 10 minutes but they’ll pay you $10 for your trouble.
I can’t help thinking:
- Different people earn different amounts and have different perspectives on value, hence $10 might need to be as much as $100 to compensate a customer’s time.
- For tax purposes, companies prefer to offer cash equivalents in gifts or discounts, which won’t always appeal to every customer in the same way and inevitably involve extra time having to claim or wait to receive.
- The success of a scheme that pays out $10 for every response could cost an unpredictably large amount; more than the value received from the exercise.
- Paying people doesn’t incentivize honest feedback. It would hardly be a crime to give you random answers in exchange for the prize.
- There are plenty of people out there who’d pay to never have to fill out any surveys ever again.
But what if you reduced the survey to the smallest possible unit: a single question?
Why the one-question survey is so devastatingly effective
From the business’ perspective, one-question surveys are far quicker and easier to set up than a long-form survey bandwagon, and there isn’t the scope for departmental colleagues to butt-in either.
For customers, it’s as effortless as clicking like/dislike icons on Facebook or TripAdvisor, but—unlike those platforms—it’s a completely private rather than public feedback loop. It just doesn’t feel like a survey, and that’s a good thing.
Because it’s so lightweight, the one-question survey is easy to inject into the customer journey, making it far more relevant and far less disruptive to the overall experience.
Best of all, the response rates are significantly better—consistently achieving 50-90% in our experience.
And just because you ask one question today, doesn’t mean you can’t ask a second question later. Both this approach and a long-form methodology can work excellently side-by-side.
Never lose sight of what your customers really want
While many companies struggle to keep the customer at the heart of their business, the best have found new ways of maximizing feedback to increase customer retention and make better informed decisions.
Many organizations are finding the one-question survey provides a far more reliable, unbiased and wholly representative set of results than ever before. And the very act of doing it gets low-friction and honest, in-the-moment feedback that doesn’t irritate customers.
Author: Lindsay Willott, founder & CEO of the 1-click customer retention survey app Customer Thermometer, is a marketing and customer experience expert. Before Customer Thermometer, she was co-founder and Chairman of one of the top 20 B2B marketing agencies in the world, selling the business in 2010. Follow her on Info on Twitter and Linkedin.