Smart companies make customer feedback easy and convenient

I’m sick and tired of surveys. I’m tired of being interrupted at home or in my office by the caller who expects 5-10 minutes of my time as a reward for interrupting me. I am sick of being stopped mid-bite in chain restaurants to complete a 100 question survey. And I really hate being told by my car dealer: “We’d really appreciate if you could give us all 10s on the customer satisfaction survey you get.”

The problem with surveys is they are artificial. They do not allow a natural, open, two-way conversation with customers. And people tend to answer survey questions differently than they would offer the same opinions in a natural, unscripted conversation.

A better way is to encourage open and ongoing communication with your customers.

The best information about how to improve your organization comes from customers, if you engage them well. And to engage them well you need to have natural, ongoing conversations with them. You should make it easy and convenient for them to connect with you, on their terms.
This is why so many businesses fail. They make it difficult for their customers to tell them anything. They make customers work too hard to have any communication beyond the expected sales pitch (which isn’t really a conversation.)

A successful business constantly gets answers to these questions:

1. What do you want?
2. How are we doing?
3. How can we improve?

They make it easy and convenient for customers to answer these questions. They have tools customers can use to reach out, like contact forms, help desk and user voice web applications, toll-free hotlines, even a suggestion box. These days it’s easier than ever to engage your customers in useful conversations that help you and them.

Smart companies listen to what their customers tell them. They remember it. They use the information they get. Then they close the communications loop so customers know their feedback is valued.

In our Web 2.0, social media world, customers are sharing their experiences and their opinions more than ever. Every single customer now has a megaphone they can use to tell the world what they think of our company.

If we make it easy and convenient for them to tell us, they will. If we don’t, they’ll tell everyone else.

The article was written by Kevin Stirtz