Time to Stop asking for customer Feedback?

After spending most of my day in an airport because my fiends at Delta airlines thought I needed a 3-hour delay so I could enjoy some airport sushi. It did not surprise me that the next day I got a survey, they wanted my feedback! It started by acknowledging my delay, then the rest of the survey was in the vain of 'Mrs. Lincoln other than that how did you enjoy the play'. Seemingly after every interaction every company wants feedback, last week at the Vegas airport the Pei Wei had a slick touchscreen station dedicated to getting my feedback. Clearly the commitment to collecting feedback is unmistakable, I’m told all this feedback is so they can “improve” the customer experience. Are company representatives better at meeting customer expectations because of these surveys? What improvements to the customer experience are happening because of these feedbacks?  

I rarely fill out transactional surveys from companies - sure I look through all the questions for my own research but most times I can't bring myself to hit submit. I may be overthinking it but I worry my survey data will end up on a server in Utah, or worse that anything I say (or type) will be used against the nice representative sitting in Omaha. I know that my data will end up on a scorecard somewhere, judgments will be passed but the representative wouldn’t improve and neither will my customer experience.

If we are going to continue to ask for customer feedback, we have an obligation to close the loop with the customers; particularly when we ask for feedback on employees we should also utilize that feedback for their benefit. Here are a couple of ways to get started.

First, and probably table stakes is following up with every customer who requests follow up; but to be really committed it is imperative you begin letting the general customer base know what improvements you have made specifically as a result of their feedback. Ironically Delta airlines surprised me positively in this regard, they did a good job recently by telling me of changes they are making as a result of feedback from customers like me – they didn’t fix the big problems but I was impressed they closed the loop

Secondly, while most companies are great at sharing feedback with their employees, most of it isn’t actionable. It is muddled with data about the overall company’s inadequacies. I think a different approach would be to explicitly invite the customers to help the agents improve, to put it differently have your customers help develop your representatives. The folks at Tamer Partners do a great job at creating a program for companies that enable this kind of two-way conversation that is focused on improving the customer experience by changing behavior of the employees responsible for service delivery. You will find that customers will happily oblige, and what you end up with is ultra focused feedback tailored to the employee’s specific skills sets and opportunities to improve, and you can then follow up with customers to ensure the employee is in fact developing in those areas.

Collecting feedback is the start of the journey, followed by aggregating the data, then following up with the most vocal customers; but the real action is in improving customer experience by using the feedback you have to not only fix processes and technology but to really develop employees. Last and final step is closing the loop with your customer; you can even use this step to brag about how hard you are working to improve the customer experience, thank them by telling them how you have improved.