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September 22 2019.
Secrets of a better customer feedback.

My e-mail inbox & mail box currently has feedback request from 6 different companies. As a industrial marketing consultant, I often advise companies on gathering and using customer feedback, so you might think I'd be interested in these surveys. I've glanced at the ones cluttering my inbox, and I'm not going to fill out most of them. Majority of the customers have same initial reaction as I have, when they see customer surveys.

Feedback response rates is one of the key indicator of the feedback mechanisms, whether it's healthy and giving you the important inputs to the customer feedback. Response rates for the industrial (B2B) customers below 60% indicates problem !

I have observed most common reasons behind such a poor response are:

It just takes too much time!

Most of the surveys ask for "a few minutes of your time" which is a lie. They need at least 20 ~25 minutes to complete — who has that kind of time to spare?

#No prompt action on the problems.
I've filled out plenty of surveys in the past, but have experienced that the complaint/feedback I gave on the various issues, just keep on cropping up every time I have an interaction with them. The feedback appears to just go into a black hole!

#No learning from the feedback.
If I thought my feedback would help the employees & the company improve its service to me and other customers as a whole, I'd be more cooperative. But many times, it doesn't. Can the employees could actually hear what I have to say in a way that would help them learn? Will the senior managers actually take my input (and that of other customers) and took appropriate action, even if they decided not to follow my advice exactly? If I truly believed all that was happening, I'd be glad to fill out a brief survey.

It's not that all the surveys are bad. There are number of organisations, using surveys to improve internal business processes & delight their customers. How do they do it?

Here are few pointers to how do they do,

*Their surveys are always short & can be filled quickly, normally not exceeding a single page. They do not ask irrelevant questions & sub- questions running into pages. They always respect reader’s time & do not expect the respondent to take a half day off for filling up the survey! (I am not joking; recently saw a feedback form from a leading engineering company, running into 5 pages.)

They make a point to take an immediate action
on the specific issues being raised. The concerned person/department gets the feedback within 1-2 days for the corrective action. Corrective action or the proposed changes, so that issues doe not recur, are informed to the customer. Relevant senior managers take the feedback as an important input for the change in process, introducing new services & other innovations.

The feedback helps to make a difference for other customers in the future. This is important especially for the non-repetitive customers like the capital equipment buyers. The feedback helps in the input for continuous improvement in products & services.

An ideal survey feedback system has to go well beyond just asking the right questions. It requires responses which are timebound, reliable, and actionable.

experience of two decades, read "How we help our clients" to improve business.




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