Engage Your Customers as You Get their Feedback

Every week I am faced with examples of how to get good feedback from customers. These days it’s a popular trend. It seems more companies than ever are surveying their customers. But many do it badly.

Most attempts to engage me (as a customer) are surveys that are either too long, not relevant or inflexible. They usually require too much of my time and fail to let me say what I really want to say. They do not allow me to offer feedback in a way that is easy and convenient. (And if you fail the “easy and convenient” test, then you need to start over.)

Customer feedback is priceless if you do something with it. If you use it well it can help your company more than any other information. And, if you ask for it in the right way, you’ll engender more customer loyalty, because people like it when you ask their opinion. And they like to help.

Good feedback produces customer engagement. It builds stronger relationships with your customers. It draws them closer to your organization.

Zappos engages customers better than almost anyone. They encourage their employees to have conversations with customers. They do not time their calls or have them use scripts. And they do expect them to talk like real people and get to know their customers (at least as much as you can in a short, one-time phone call). According to Jane Judd, who manages Zappos Customer Loyalty Team, employees…

“…are encouraged to “use their personal, emotional connection on every call.” For example, she said they might ask about the dog barking in the background or send flowers to a bride.”

The best feedback from customers comes from genuine conversations that happen naturally as your employees interact with customers. But if you do use a survey or form of some kind to get feedback from customers, keep it short, flexible and relevant.

Last week I had a survey form sent to me that was 35 questions. And every time I answered “less than expected” another question opened up for me to answer. I left the survey and never went back.

On the other hand, when I survey my customers I usually get a response rate of 20% to 40%. But my “surveys” are easy and convenient. They are typically an email with one or a couple questions that can be answered quickly and easily. And that can be done by replying to an email rather than going to a web form. They are focused on one topic only. And they offer people the opportunity to add more comments (or call me) if they want.

When your feedback is a natural and ongoing part of your business it will produce better results. When you engage customers as people, not account numbers, they will respond like people. They’ll help and they’ll remain loyal.

The article was written by Kevin Stirtz