It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Give Feedback

Author: Linda J. Popky

Anyone who has shopped at Macy’s recently knows the chain is actively trying to solicit input on outstanding customer service. Sales reps write their name on the sales slip, circle a URL printed on the bottom, and tell the customer, “If I’ve been able to provide outstanding service, won’t you please let us know?”

Sounds simple. After all, there are plenty of times when we all want to complain about poor customer service, but how hard can it be to give feedback to those customer service people who have done a superb job?

Well, maybe it shouldn’t be hard, but too many times it is. Even in the case of Macy’s. In the last several months, I’ve tried to recognize outstanding service at several name brand establishments or respond to requests for my input on a product or service, but couldn’t – because the process to provide feedback was just too darn difficult.

Let’s start with Macy’s as an example.

The URL on the bottom of the Macy’s sales slip sent me to the Macys.com website, where I found all kinds of interesting information about merchandise, sales, gift cards, etc. – but not a quick and easy way to provide customer input. Way at the bottom of the page is a tiny “Tell us what you think” link. This takes you to a page with a choice of six different experiences to “tell us about,” which in turn took me to a page that asked my state, which then took me to a page that presented a long form to fill out. By the time I got through all of this, I’d forgotten what it was I wanted to say to start. Perhaps it was that giving positive feedback to Macy’s is not easy to do?

As another example, I recently had outstanding service from Dennis, a customer rep at a local Sprint store. Not only did he add the incremental service I was looking for, he took quite a bit of time to go through my account and recommend different service plans that would cost me less money on an ongoing basis.

Missed Connection

Two days later I got an automated call on my cell phone to complete a short survey about my recent experience with Sprint. Normally I would hang up on this type of thing, but great customer service at a cell phone provider is so unusual, I wanted to acknowledge Dennis and his great support. Unfortunately, Sprint didn’t make this easy. The automated survey required responses to a whole series of prompts about things I didn’t particularly care about. I’m not sure if I ever would have been able to provide feedback on Dennis, because the call signal was dropped midway through the survey (whoops). Sprint’s automated dialer called me back, starting the process again from the beginning of the survey, until, guess what – the call was dropped again. I didn’t bother even answering the third time. Sorry, Dennis.

Et tu, Starbucks?

I recently completed a Starbucks feedback survey/ contest on my laptop while still sitting in Starbucks – only to find that after filling out the entire survey and giving my year of birth to confirm eligibility, I could not be entered in the contest because I was under the age of 18. Huh? Just to see what would happen, I clicked on a support link to tell Starbucks they had a problem with their survey if they couldn’t tell from my year of birth that yes, I really am over 18. Very quickly I received an email response apologizing for the misunderstanding, and telling me that I would be manually entered in the contest. That was nice, but what about fixing the survey? How do I know the feedback I took the time to provide is even captured accurately, let alone given to the right people if simple processes like this don’t work right?

Research shows that customers who tell a company about a problem and have the problem resolved to their satisfaction become more loyal than customers who never had a problem to start.

But what about customers who are stymied when they try to tell a company how pleased they are about a product or service? They likely wind up *less* satisfied than when they started. That’s almost like pulling defeat from the jaws of victory.

Today’s technology theoretically makes it much easier to solicit customer input and feedback. Companies are creating multiple mechanisms to respond to the voice of the customer. Yet if the mechanism you implement makes it difficult to provide feedback, or leaves the impression that customers’ input is not seriously considered and appropriately handled, these customer input tools may hurt your business more than they help it.

What tools are you using to solicit customer input? Try completing your own customer feedback mechanisms to see how complicated they really are. Simplify the process as much as possible. Test it, then simplify it again. Your customers will thank you for it.

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