About a month ago I had an interesting conversation with the CEO of QuestionPro, Vivek Bhaskaran. He told me, "You won’t believe what I did! I set up a feedback system that shared the customer feedback comments from our site with every tech service employee—and the results were amazing!”
Now this might not sound groundbreaking to you, but it was a transformational moment to him. He assumed that all of the feedback would be negative. Why else would anyone be on a tech support chat unless there was a problem—right? To some degree, he was right. Most tech support chats had to do with either a glitch in the software or customers needing assistance in using the software. But he was pleasantly surprised by how many customers were actually delighted at the service they received to the point of taking a few extra minutes to write and share their experience.
This real-life example brought out something that most small-business owners think, but are afraid to say out loud—feedback is scary. There. I’ve said it. Here I show you how to change the way you think about feedback, new tools you can use to collect feedback, and how to incorporate feedback positively into your company culture. The results will amaze you, too.
Change the Way You Think About Feedback
Feedback is scary because the assumption is that it’s going to be bad, which is upsetting because no business owner is committed to upsetting their customers. In fact, business owners put hours of work, effort and resources to create a great customer experience. Yet, that's the exact point of view, which guarantees that any kind of feedback is viewed as criticism.
Think of yourself as a craftsman; a creator and builder of delighted customers. When you do that, you’ll look forward to all kinds of feedback. When you have this point of view, the feedback is going to uncover the blind spots inside your business. And that is a good thing.
Out With the Old
It’s not just your perspective that keeps you chained to the “feedback is criticism” mindset. A lot of the problem lies in the old, traditional ways of collecting feedback. Here are three that should be retired,
- Comment cards. Nothing says “I don’t care about you as a customer” like an old, dog-eared and dusty comment card. Customers don’t fill them out and the management rarely looks at them. In fact, when I talked to a friend who used to be a server in a restaurant, she told me that at the end of the day, they would collect the comment cards, read them aloud, laugh at them and throw them out!
- Telephone surveys. Calling your customers to do a survey is easier said than done. In industrial B2B markets, this is still a decent way to collect feedback, but the problem is a practical one. When they see a caller ID they don’t know or recognize, they ignore it and if they answer, they often hang up. It's expensive and ineffective.
- Online surveys. This is certainly a step in the right direction, but most online surveys are way too long and respondents bail out. Many retailers will put a link to an online survey on the receipt and tell you that it’s there and ask you to fill it out for a chance at winning a prize. How many of you do that?
New Feedback Tools
Here are some digital tools that will not only bring you closer to your customers, but make it easier to collect feedback—good and bad.
- Take it to the top. Talk to the Manager is an ideal replacement for comment cards. For $29 a month, just place a sign at your point of service; table, desk, hotel room, etc. with a number that allows your customers to text their feedback (remember positive and negative) straight to you. This immediate feedback allows you to address any negative issues immediately and solve the problem before they head out to Yelp and write a bad review. It also allows them to send you good feedback that you can incorporate into your marketing message or even use as a testimonial.
- Digital feedback. You may have heard that several restaurants are placing iPads at their tables to replace servers. You may not want to go that far, but take this example as inspiration and think about placing iPads at points of service in conjunction with using applications like SurveyPocket, you can have your customers provide their feedback digitally.
QR codes. You see these codes everywhere as tools to send you to videos or web pages. But you can actually use them to collect feedback from your customers. The most obvious thing to do is create one QR code and send them to an online survey. But that’s boring. Why not create several surveys and QR codes and put them at all the different places where you want to measure quality. Put a QR code in the restroom and when they scan it—they are asked to rate the cleanliness of the restroom. Put a QR code on a menu and send them to a survey that asks about the food.
Make Feedback Fun
Let’s go back to my friend Vivek for a minute. He’s in the survey business and he learned something valuable about feedback: Getting it early and sharing it with all his employees got his whole organization focused on making improvements. It’s a self-perpetuating quality system. He’s turned it into a game. Now that they know that positive feedback is possible, everyone is fully engaged around generating more positive feedback.
What’s in it for you? Now that you have a whole new way of looking at feedback and some great tools to collect customer feedback, you’re free to get creative and start having fun. This energy will translate into happy customers and happy employees and all of that is sure to put more money in your pocket.
Read more advice and tips for providing great customer service.
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