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Your opinion matters

Is it me or do you find that merchants are constantly asking you to “take five minutes” and “tell us how we’re doing” by responding to a customer satisfaction survey?

Sometimes these surveys appear in your email box following a purchase. Other times, hard copy surveys arrive in your mailbox or you’re encouraged to access a website and enter a code that’s printed at the bottom of your receipt.

In large part due to the deluge of surveys, response rates are typically abysmal—oftentimes not generating a sufficient number of responses to enable the results to be statistically valid.

It baffles me that companies continue to pour resources into these satisfaction surveys while consistently forfeiting opportunities to engage customers via social media channels.

Case in point: Last weekend, my family and I dined at On The Border. With one exception, we had a terrific experience. On the bottom of my receipt was the message: “YOUR OPINION MATTERS. We invite you to complete our GUEST SATISFACTION SURVEY. YOU COULD WIN $1,000. A WINNER EVERY DAY!”

The receipt also provided a personal code that I was instructed to enter at the survey website:

Instead of following the script laid out by On The Border to share my feedback, I took to my blog and to Twitter—although I could have just as easily taken to Yelp, Facebook, or another social media channel.

That was three days ago and, as of today, I have yet to hear back. You might be saying, “C’mon Steve. It’s only been three days. Cut them some slack.”

Immediacy in addressing problems experienced by customers is paramount. The more time that separates the issue and its resolution, the less likely it is that the problem will be resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. Even On The Border’s receipt instructs guests to respond to its survey within four days.

Frankly, based on previous experiences I’ve had with other organizations, I would be surprised to receive a meaningful response from On The Border. It’s not impossible. It’s just unlikely.

And when a customer’s posted feedback is ignored, that’s a missed opportunity to engage, address any issues raised, and, potentially, cement his ongoing loyalty towards the company or brand.

Why don’t these companies redirect some of their spending on overused “push” strategies to obtain customer feedback and invest in “pulling” this feedback from social media channels? It’s as easy as searching for relevant keywords on Twitter or establishing a Google Alert to notify organizations whenever they have been mentioned by name in cyberspace.

Many customers, like me, may not conform to a company’s standard customer feedback mechanisms but that doesn’t make our feedback any less relevant or valuable.

Companies that recognize this and adjust their feedback gathering and engagement practices accordingly will benefit from candid, real-time customer feedback. Those that don’t will continue to push their rigid feedback systems onto customers and wonder why response rates are so low.

Your opinion matters. Take five minutes and tell me what you think.

Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
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