A couple of weekends ago I travelled to the New Forest in the South of England for a two night break with my wife and two boys. The trip was focused around a day out at Paulton’s Park as a treat for our three year old. Our seven year old loves hotels so we stayed in two. We ate out a couple of times and overall had a great family time.
What made the stay so good? Well it was the fact that we all get along famously, plus everything worked as it should – because we’d organised it as such and chose brands we could rely upon. Okay, I can’t take all the credit.There were a couple brilliant customer experience moments which added to the occasion such as the yo-yo’s for the boys when we checked in at the Novotel and having the pool at The Best Western all to ourselves.
On the way back home we popped in for a typical ‘essentials only’ shop at IKEA Southampton. We won over the boys with the promise of apple flan. £150 later we’d picked up the supposed essentials and headed for some lunch.
As we were eating lunch I noticed a customer feedback machine in the restaurant where people were coming to eat. I asked a member of staff why it was chosen to go there in the restaurant. His response summed it up, “People come here to shop. People come here to eat. Why would they come here to tell us what we should do better? I’ve never seen it being used”.
I think I need a holiday to complete these feedback surveys!
The following morning I was at Waterloo and stopped at Pret’s to get a cup of coffee on the way to work. On the wall was another feedback survey request. My iphone inbox pinged at me with a request from the Novotel to tell them what we thought of their services and facilitates! This was soon followed by Paultons and Best Western.
Less than 24 hours since IKEA and I’d been confronted with several feedback surveys! Even as a CX expert with a penchant for interrogating customer feedback to develop differentiating brand experience for clients, I felt worn-out at just the thought of ploughing through the surveys.
The quality across these surveys varied wildly. And with some it was clear all they were interested in was a performance score rather than understanding what worked and what could be better. More worryingly not one took time to find out whether my weekend went as planned, was I happy with the jaunt, how their brand fitted into my weekend, which other brands I’d been relying upon that weekend alongside theirs, how their brand compared to those others I’d been pleased with, did they stand out for any reason that had been memorable to any of my party or whether I now saw their brand as a reliable trust agent for just this sort of event or I’d let them into other parts of my life. in fact, the stuff that mattered to me!
Sadly the insight which would richly furnish their understanding of the value of their brand to their customers and the impact the experience had on them was omitted. Instead they asked me questions like:
- Was it value for money?
- Would I tell my friends?
- Was the booking website easy to navigate?
- Did I speak to a member of staff whose name I can recall and did they exceed my expectations?
I love all the brands I’ve mentioned, with this type of bombardment we will soon see the demise in the value of customer feedback unless a sprinkle of innovation and a large dose of customer relevance is applied.
However, too often customer feedback is seen as a measure rather than a palette to enhance customer’s lives with.
Is this really the best time?
This example affronted me the moment I’d gone through security at Dublin airport. Now is this a moment I really want to stop and feedback my experience? Perhaps (small ‘p’) if it was less than a great experience AND time is on my side I might. But if time is against, no chance. And would anyone really consider stopping and feeding back on a good security experience?
On two recent commissions I have seen ‘customer feedback’ surveys appear in the top ten issues for a brand in the Voice of The Customer Analysis. One brand was serving ten feedback surveys to customers a year. It seems the survey ‘monkeys’ have forgotten, it’s the customer’s world and we just live in it. To obtain feedback from a customer is a privilege, not a right. We should be mindful of that when asking for it and even more so when considering how to apply it.
Future Trends in Customer Feedback
Feedback systems will continue to be rolled out. But, can brands look forward to customers informing them of their priorities? Or will consumers begin to find their day becoming ever more polluted with feedback requests and drop them from their daily activities.
My prediction is that feedback will be less readily offered in the future. I was reviewing trends in the customer feedback space for an airline conference presentation and noticed two which will mean we might all have to rethink how we engage customers for feedback:
@VexVox The prickly hedgehog listens to tweeters grumbling about brands and brings it to the attention of others as well as engaging the brands affected. As the volume of followers grows vexvox will have not one or two comments to feedback to brands, but acting on behalf of consumers will have hundreds of similar complaints to bring to the brands attention. With such an easy way of jumping the complaints queue and a no hassle way to attain resolution, feed back surveys will become a less attractive route.
The second is still in development so I can’t share the newco’s details just yet. But the principal is this; ‘your data is your property’ – their genie commercialises it for customers. Sources tell me the customer will trade claimed behaviour data for credits. These will increase in value if the ‘claimed’ matches the ‘actual’ behaviour. One aspect is a ‘catch all’ customer feedback survey option which provides back to the brands structured around what matters to the customer. The customer will be discouraged from using any other form of customer feedback.
Don’t get me wrong the health of the feedback survey sector is very much alive. With TripAdvisor we see that the ‘public’ feedback channel is booming. The difference here is it has a commercial model underpinning it. This form of feedback has a future.
Whereas internal feedback systems will be under threat. It’s time to start thinking about the next generation of customer feedback because consumers are getting tired and impatient at a time when business’ are becoming every more reliant.
Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Strategy Consultant & Director at Lexden
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