Asking customers for feedback is an essential part of the improvement process for any business and, I’m pleased to say that, many companies now do ask their customers for feedback whether it is using methods like customer satisfaction surveys, Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Effort Score (CES).
But, many of them, despite working hard to deliver great service and build up trust with their customers, undo a lot of their great work through the way that they go about their surveys and feedback process.
That probably explains why many firms only achieve around a 2% response rate on their surveys.
But, all is not lost as other firms have been known to achieve response rates in the 50-75% range.
Here’s five things that leading companies are doing that is helping them achieve higher response rates and, therefore, a much richer source of feedback from their customers:
- Make it relevant – Many customer surveys fall into the trap of asking questions that are only relevant to the company or are expressed in ‘company speak’. That’s a mistake and a turn-off for customers. When designing your survey make sure you only ask questions that are relevant to your customers and their experience. Questions like: how did we do, did everything arrive on time, was our engineer friendly/helpful/clean & tidy, was everything to your satisfaction, are you likely to buy from us again etc etc ?
- Keep it short – Remember that you are asking your customers to invest some of their time in helping you understand how you are doing and how you can get better. Research has shown that 80% of customers have abandoned surveys that they see as being too long whilst less than 14% of customers are willing to spend more than 5 minutes on completing a feedback form. Therefore, don’t abuse your customers time and keep your surveys as short and as simple as possible. It respects your customers time, is only common courtesy, is likely to encourage a better response rate and, in doing so, you are likely to protect the relationship that you have built up with your customer.
- Make it timely – Too often do firms send out surveys in batches to large numbers of customers. That might be convenient and make sense for the business but may put a significant delay between when some customers have interacted with the business and when they receive a survey. What that means is that the survey can end feeling like it is disconnected from their experience and, thus, they are less likely to respond. To get better results, move your surveying approach away from batch and/or mass surveys to one that is linked to important moments or touchpoints along the customer’s journey.
- Ask for more than a score – Most surveys ask customers to provide a score or rating that allows them to measure their performance and how they are doing against their brand promises. However, many miss out the opportunity to ask their customers an open ended question like….what did we do well, what could we do better, is there anything that we don’t do that you would like us to do etc etc? To miss this type of question out of a feedback survey misses out tapping into the wealth of insight that is within your customers minds but also may highlight a number of areas and opportunities that you may have overlooked.
- Make sure you report back – Many firms ask for feedback from their customers but few follow through and do anything about it. Fewer still take action based on the feedback and only a very few actually report back to their customers what they have done with their feedback. Research has shown that 95% of companies ask their customers for feedback, 50% communicate the results to their employees, 30% analyse the results, decide what they are going to do about them and start to create action plans, 10% put their plan into action but only 5% of companies communicate their plans to their customers. Those numbers present a huge opportunity for companies that are committed to improving their service and the experience that they deliver to their customers if they are willing to go further than most and complete the feedback loop. It’s a bit like a friend asking for your opinion or advice on something and then they never tell you what they did with the advice. How would you feel about that? And, how likely would you be to give your advice or an opinion again? I would suggest that most people wouldn’t feel too great about that and would be less likely to offer up their advice or opinion again. Arguably, the same can be said to be true for companies. This, therefore, represents an opportunity for some firms who are willing to put the effort in to closing the feedback loop. Doing so is likely to help them not only stand out amongst their competitors but also build stronger and more open relationships with their customers.
Thanks to George Hodan for the image.