10 Steps to Customer Feedback and Dialogue Excellence – Are You Looking at the Past, or the Future?

Posted On January 15, 2014
By Lior Arussy

A cornerstone of the customer experience revolution, organizations around the world are increasing their investment in soliciting customer feedback.

Yet there’s one dirty little secret no one wants to talk about: response rate. Most customers ignore or refuse to respond to all the requests for feedback they get.

To best understand this dirty little issue, consider the following questions:

  • What does your customer feedback questionnaire say about you? 
  • When a customer is reading it, does she feel that you’re seeking true dialogue or a rushed score exercise? 
  • Why should she bother to respond?
  • Would you?
  • And last but not least, if your customers ignore your plea for a dialogue, what does it say about the future of your relationship?

original survey request

Most customer feedback programs we’ve audited weren’t designed to strengthen relationships or improve the future. They were designed to earn a score – and to hopefully allow relevant employees to earn the customer satisfaction bonus.

The surveys became a joke as customers never heard back about the issues and complaints, and the questionnaire itself was exuding an attitude of “Mr. Customer, you forgot to express your appreciation for our greatness, so here is your last chance.”

If you want to assess the health of your customer feedback program, here is a question to ask your customers “on a scale of 1-10, how would you rank your trust that we will take your comments seriously and take action?” I’m afraid you’ll be saddened to hear the answer, but not surprised.

Let’s face it, customer satisfaction is – at best – an indicator of future loyalty (if you designed the questionnaire correctly).

You do need to hold people accountable to their past performance and some of your survey questions should address it, but the real focus should be the future, not the past. 

An expression of gratitude for the past isn’t going to help you stay competitive. A commitment to seek what’s next on your customers’ minds will, though.  

Take an attitude assessment of your customer feedback and examine the ways you can design it to become a true dialogue, one that will solicit true answers and create a sense of commitment from your customers. 

Remember – if your customers are too busy to respond to a simple request such as a survey, it may indicate a deeper emotion in terms of how they relate to you.

It’s time to design a customer dialogue, not feedback system, that will strengthen relationships – not just benefit one side.

If your customers ignore your plea for a dialogue, what does it say about the future of your relationship?

10 Steps to Customer Feedback and Dialogue Excellence:

    1. Start with the customer
    2. Consider the time requested
    3. Declare your intentions
    4. Establish equality
    5. Promise reciprocity
    6. Deliver respect
    7. Be appreciative
    8. Take action
    9. Develop trust
    10. Follow through

Customer surveys are a form of a dialogue. The only way a dialogue will work is when each side respects the other.

Design your surveys to create a true, trust-building dialogue and the numbers will follow. Remember the customer does not owe you a good score. They will, however, be keen to improve their lives by giving you feedback.

Lior Arussy is President of Strativity Group 

@LiorStrativity on Twitter 

Connect with him on linkedin

This blog is part one of our Customer Feedback Series – to be continued!