Monthly Archives: May 2013

How To Not Ask Questions

Time for feedback

A coworker of mine from many years ago had as one of her guiding principles “Never ask a question if you are not ready for any possible answer”. I was reminded of her, and her favorite principle, while discussing customer surveys and customer feedback recently

It is common practice in service situations to inquire about the quality of the service, and I am sure every person who is even remotely associated with supporting enterprise technology had participated in numerous discussions about surveys, customer forums and similar initiatives. But then, how much thought was given to making the results actionable and actually acting on it? Here’s an example I am sure many of us encountered while having a meal in a restaurant. Inevitably one of the waiters will come by the table and ask if everything is OK. Our answer, very frequently, is “yeah, everything is great”, even if, in fact, nothing is. I am sure we have all wondered what would happen had we provided our honest feedback in response – “the soup was cold and the bread was stale”

Now, anybody who has visited more than a single yelp page would know, negative feedback is an opportunity to make things right, but that opportunity is too frequently neglected, leaving the customer to vent over the internet and creating significant damage to the restaurant’s reputation

So, how should we address customer feedback? Here are some pointers:

  • Only ask questions that will provide you actionable information
  • When feedback is received, act as soon as possible and keep the customer informed
  • Clarify negative feedback, e.g., when a customer responds with a poor survey, call and discuss their concerns
  • Report back to the customer community through a newsletter, website updates, or similar means on all the changes you made based on their feedback, encouraging them to provide you with more information more frequently

Complicated? Not really, but it does require constant focus and commitment.

What methods are you using to collect customer feedback and encourage dialog?