I wonder what has happened to all the customer feedback surveys I have filled out in my time on the planet?

I believe in providing feedback to companies and services I do business with.  So, as a customer, when I’ve been asked for feedback – whether over the phone, online or through a mailed survey – I do my best to take the time to respond.  I am one of those people who will also write a letter if deserved.  It has been my way of giving back – as in, feedback is a gift.  I believe in the value and importance of a great customer experience – and I recognize that it is a two-way street.  To get it, you have to give.

What I’ve experienced, however,  is that 95% of the time, I never hear a single word about my feedback.  What do I expect?  In my opinion there are a number of things businesses can do to let you know they appreciate your time and comments.  Among them are:

  • A thank you and a word about how your feedback will be used.
  • A follow-up call that might address specifics you wrote about (I am one of those people who provides substantial detail).
  • An e-mail stating what changes in policy or procedure are occurring due to customer comments.
  • A gesture or gift (voucher for a free “something”)
  • An invitation to participate on a customer board

Instead, what is more common are gestures that communicate filling out a survey will enter you into a contest where you might be a winner or even more common – no incentive or follow-up at all.  As a result, I’ve lost that fire-in-the-belly to provide customer feedback.

I don’t mean to suggest here that my customer feedback is something that should cause everyone at corporate headquarters to drop what they are doing and pick up the phone and call me.  I am suggesting, however, that if you are going to ask for people’s time and commentary you need to respond to it because if you don’t you are actually doing your business more harm than good.  Nothing is worse than asking for someone’s opinion and then dropping it into oblivion.

As someone who consults businesses on employee and customer engagement, my advice for today is don’t ask if you aren’t going to tell your customer what you are doing with what they’ve given you.  The same is true, of course, with employees. Don’t survey employees and ask for their opinion and then let it fade away – they will also lose interest in participating in the future as the message you are sending is – your opinion does NOT count.

Improving your customer’s experience is essential.  Listening to their opinion on what is working and what’s not is imperative. Following up on their feedback is a MUST.