For some reason this past few weeks the discussion about “how to collect customer feedback to improve the customer experience” has come up so I wanted to address this and hopefully get everyone back on the right track.
My rule is that if “you don’t know the answer, go ask”. This basically says that if you really don’t know what your customer is going to say (with at least 90% accuracy) then you need to go back and ask them for this information. THIS IS NOT A SURVEY – is that strong enough. Let me give you two Rules of Thumb.
FIRST RULE: If you know what your customer truly wants and the the experience they want from you, then surveys are a great tool. They should be used to “validate” what you already know and to give you the ability to continually check in with your customers to see if you are on track. You will get much more active participation because you are asking them specific questions based on what is relevant to them. Where surveys don’t work is when you are “seeking” information on a regular basis and asking questions that are not relevant or important to your customer. Then it becomes an annoyance and a burden and they don’t respond, thus the reason response rates are very low generally.
SECOND RULE: If you don’t know the information discussed above in Rule One, then you have to go “ask” so you can capture this information. This is the “raw information” I talked about earlier. Go ask them what they really want in the experience with you, what promises you should be keeping, how they want to be treated in the relationship, etc., etc, etc. This is where you get the “really good stuff” that you can use to craft the ideal experience that differentiates you and blows the competition out of the water. If you don’t know this, then you are just fishing and hoping to hit it occasionally, which really upsets customers.
So, remember, when you know, do a survey, when you don’t know what your customer wants or the experience they desire, go ask and get the raw data as the start. More on what to do with the data later…