What Are You Hearing? How to Improve the Feedback Experience

True feedback is about listening. As Annette Franz, an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader and founder and Chief Experience Officer of CX Journey, says: “Listening includes hearing, and then doing something with what you hear.”

Feedback is a crucial element of the customer experience. Unfortunately, today’s customers often suffer from “survey fatigue”–when feedback solicitations become overwhelming. Worse, to combat survey fatigue, many businesses have resorted to essentially begging for feedback to improve response rates.

Some businesses tweak survey questions for brevity. Some carefully calculate the best time and day to send a survey: weekdays at “low-peak times,” if you’re wondering.

Of course, these tweaks may improve response rates, but they don’t address the fundamental problem of most surveys: Too many customers feel as if they’re feedback is pointless, just another data point to ignore in a sea of metrics.

According to Annette, the part of the feedback equation that is not happening is “doing something with what you hear.”

So how can a business improve the feedback experience?

Annette recently participated in a webinar designed to answer this question: “Leveraging Customer Feedback.”

Annette was joined by another industry expert, Matt Dixon, the Chief Product & Research Officer at Tethr, as well as Howard Yermish, a regular from the Vicasso team.

The group explored several key elements of feedback, including why we need feedback, the struggle of soliciting feedback, and the right way to survey.

Why Do We Need Feedback?

For many businesses, the answer to the question, “why do we need feedback?”, is seemingly self-evident: to improve the customer experience.

Yet so many businesses don’t actually use feedback in the right way. As Matt notes, we all understand why we need feedback: “Because customers.” But too often, we assume we know the customer’s needs, what frustrates them, and what delights them

We need feedback to test our assumptions as to what makes a great customer experience.

By questioning assumptions with feedback–positive or negative–we can challenge conventional wisdom in a way that actually evolves business practices.

As an example, Matt cites the ever-popular phrase, “Thank you for your loyalty.” Matt believes that this phrase actually creates less loyalty–because the phrase itself is so often said in a generic way.

The Feedback Struggle

All our experts agree that negative feedback can be an opportunity, but too many businesses are drowning in the data. As Annette notes, many businesses seem to collect feedback like someone might collect postage stamps, tucking each new stamp away for posterity.

When feedback is merely collected, and not acted upon, businesses enter a cycle of chasing the metrics, and not focusing on what matters: the customer experience.

This is evident in the sheer number of surveys we all see each day. One panelist mentioned an inbox crammed with surveys. Matt mentioned how he gets about four surveys for each of the 100+ flights he books each year. At one point he did take the time to fill one out, but he never got any reply, and so felt no incentive to fill out another survey.

Matt’s story reveals a central point of the feedback experience, one that so many businesses miss: customers want to feel like they’re being heard.

Feedback is a two-way street. And as Howard notes, when you act on feedback from the customer, you make a customer for life.

How Can We Improve the Feedback Experience

“Because customers” is really the guiding mantra of a successful feedback experience. However, our experts broaden the scope of feedback to include employees, too.

Happy employees = happy customers may seem like another generic phrase, but like “thank you for your loyalty,” this dictum will work in a genuine business environment.

To be genuine, a service agent must be equipped with the power and knowledge to please the customer. This is why internal feedback is important, too. As Matt says, “If you’re a pain to work for, your customers will think you’re a pain to do business with.”

When you empower employees to create genuine communications, you create the perfect environment for feedback to blossom–what Annette calls “people before metrics” environment, where a company can capably collect feedback throughout the customer’s journey, at any touchpoint, and not just at the end.

What is The Right Way to Survey?

Of course, as we noted above, small tweaks can improve response rates, yet a genuine approach is essential to the feedback experience. So many surveys seem clinical, Matt notes, just another survey, like every other survey. In an environment of sameness, response rates plummet.

In the future, Matt notes, more business will have to “stop the bleeding” on response rates, and to do so they’ll need a feedback experience that incorporates a key lesson of our webinar: To truly earn the customers time, a business must personalize the experience in a way that makes customers want to respond.

One option, as Matt notes, is Vicasso's own Simple Survey tool, which can streamline the process of creating surveys, as well as 1-click surveys, to increase response rates.

Simple Survey, which is mobile-friendly and captures partial responses, is designed for today’s customers–the people who want to be heard.

In the end, combining a powerful tool like Simple Survey with a genuine attitude about asking for and acting on feedback is the best way to improve the experience for businesses, their employees, and importantly, their customers.

To hear more from our industry experts about the feedback experience, listen to “Leveraging Customer Feedback” today!

January 17, 2020