Feedback surveys that don’t annoy customers

Response rates to customer surveys are in decline. So how do you work out what you need to improve to enhance your customer experience?

Voice of customer feedback is vital, but these days few consumers have the time or patience for long, tedious surveys. How many times have you lost the will to live midway through a long customer satisfaction survey?

So what is the right way to structure feedback surveys (rather than market research surveys)? How often should you send them out? How long should they be? Who will read the results? And most importantly, will anyone do anything with the information?

Our customer feedback expertise has been developed over 20 years. During that time, four things have become blatantly clear to us: customers are much more likely to complete short surveys; open-ended feedback has greater value than tick boxes; text analytics is the most cost effective way to analyse large quantities of open-ended feedback and extract valuable insight; and if you don’t act on your customers’ feedback, there’s absolutely no point in collecting it.

Text analytics has come of age – it’s revolutionised the way organisations collect insightful feedback without customers having to complete lengthy, tick-box surveys. Voice of customer does not mean tick box of customer.

Instead, allow your customers to tell you, in their own words, what they love and what they hate about their experience with your brand.

We recommend using a feedback form that asks for a single rating score followed by open-ended comments. Not only is this the most customer-friendly method of surveying, but it allows customers to tell you things you don’t already know.

You can maximise the quantity of responses and the quality of insight by: telling customers it will be a short survey – they are much more likely to complete it; asking them to rate their own experience; asking them to give feedback in their own words; striking while the iron is hot – ask for feedback as soon after their interaction as possible; and above all, making the feedback survey itself a positive brand experience for your customer.

Text analytics has changed the way we are able to analyse verbatim comments. The automatic text analysis engine does all the heavy lifting and, although the results will never be 100 per cent accurate, they are accurate enough to report what it is that your customers are saying, and to establish the key detractors and motivators.

Just two brief words of warning. Some companies profess to “do” text analytics when in fact they don’t. Don’t be seduced by colourful word clouds. When talking to text analytics providers, check whether you are required to set up and manage your own bespoke coding. This is a time-consuming and complex task, but some providers including Feedback Ferret will take this complex workload off you.


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