talking into a tin can
Customer feedback is great, but not if you're annoying your customers

How many times have you gone into the drugstore and bought just one item, only to get a receipt that was a foot long because the store wanted you to log onto a website, enter a code and fill out a survey about your experience? It’s probably more times than you can count.

Are You Annoying Your Customers?

The intention here is good. The company wants feedback about your customer experience and uses the real estate of the receipt to provide a means for you to share it. The problem is that you might also have just received an email survey from the same drugstore or maybe a push notification from their loyalty app. 

In cases like those, what started out as a single well-timed survey turns into an overly complex system of gathering the same feedback from redundant touch points. 

It makes you wonder how many of these surveys go unanswered and how many customers become annoyed, doesn’t it? 

In Praise of Simple Surveys

That’s why I think less is more when it comes to surveys and why the Net Promoter Score system (NPS) has become a standard for gauging customer feedback. Created by Fred Reichheld of global consulting firm, Bain & Company, NPS relies on one question: How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague? 

Based on a scale of 0 to 10, respondents’ answers categorize them as promoters, passives or detractors. An open-ended response field lets customers describe their experiences in their own words. Simple.

4 Ways to Stop Complicating Your Feedback

Here are four ways that companies of all sizes can stop complicating the customer survey process and go back to basics in asking their customers for feedback.  

1. Use one question to get many more responses

A 20-question survey, compared with a one-question survey, will produce a lower response rate. It’s a straightforward equation: the more you ask of customers, the less they’ll want to participate. 

Start by asking yourself, when the last time that you completed a 20-question survey all the way to the end was. Then, make it easy for your customers to respond — without taking up too much of their time — and the chances will improve dramatically that they’ll answer you. 

2. Solicit raw, unfiltered opinions

When you ask too many questions, not only do you try your customers’ patience, you risk skewing their responses by leading them to particular answers as well. 

For example, you may have some questions that you want answered because you think they’re important to your business, but those things may not be important to your customers at all. By using an open response field, you let customers tell you what they think is important, and it may be something you’ve never considered.

3. Tap into the silent minority

You may think that you’re already hearing from your customers because your support team is fielding calls and emails daily. However, only 5 percent of your customers are actually calling in. That means you’re not hearing from the other 95 percent, so you don’t know if they’re happy with your brand or not. 

It’s possible that those customers are upset about, say, your shipping fees. Perhaps they’re complaining to their friends and family about your policies but aren’t quite unhappy enough to pick up the phone and call you. It could have negative ramifications for your business if the people you weren’t hearing from were not only turning to competitors but also discouraging their friends from becoming customers.

4. Let your whole company act on the feedback

The value of customer feedback comes when you dig into it and use the insights you uncover to improve the customer experience. It’s not enough just to get the feedback and keep the responses locked away in one spreadsheet, guarded by one team. 

Customer feedback can impact every part of your business, from sales and marketing to customer service, product development, HR and operations. 

With a simple NPS score, your entire company can know how things are going overall and dig into the specifics uncovered through the verbatim customer responses. Then, they can make more informed business decisions that will improve the overall experience for customers.

Going Back to Basics

When you make it easy for customers to tell you how they feel and what they think, they will repay you with valuable insights about what is most important to them and where you are doing well — and not so well. 

Don’t get lost in the trappings of overcomplicating surveys. Instead, return to the basics and focus on acting on the feedback you receive. Only then can you improve your services, products and overall experiences in ways that will keep your customers happy.