More and more companies today realize the importance of measuring their customers’ satisfaction with the products they buy and the service they receive. Service standards and customer feedback systems are now commonplace across organizations, particularly in business to consumer sectors.
The most popular of these feedback tools is the post-sale or service-event customer survey, usually delivered over the web or the phone. In fact, these have become so common that most of us don’t even bother taking the time to complete them unless of course we have a really great or really bad experience to talk about.
Companies rely on satisfaction scores to measure various components of customer interactions – number of rings, first call resolution, on-time delivery, etc. These data typically feed into dashboards or indices of various types by which service performance is rated. This is all good, except when the process of collecting feedback is designed without the customer in mind.
Recently I scheduled a repair service for my dishwasher on the Sears’ website. The process for selecting my dishwasher’s make and model and scheduling the date and time was clear and simple. Being able to pay online for the flat rate cost of the repair was very convenient. Overall, it was a very good online experience. I even received an e-mail reminder and a phone call reminder the day before the service, which to me reflected a caring, well organized and efficient organization.
I was very pleased with the technician and his repair work on the dishwasher. He even touched up a small chip on my oven with matching appliance paint without asking. It was a pleasant experience and I would highly recommend and us their repair service again. Yes, I was a happy customer.
Several days later, I received a call and when I saw “Sears” on the caller ID, I assumed they were calling me to follow up on the repair service, so I answered the phone, eager to talk about my positive experience.
I instantly heard a recording: “We are calling in reference to the repair you received on [either your dishwasher or garbage disposal]” – (In brackets to distinguish the inserted blurb in a different tone ). The recording went on: “Please take a moment to take a short survey about your service.”
While I was initially excited to tell someone live about my great experience, when I heard the recording, and was only able to push a button in response to a handful of standard questions, I immediately became annoyed by the feeling that the company didn’t really care to hear about my experience. There was no opportunity in the survey to really say what made the service so good. Rather, it seemed, they were just going through the (automated) motions to collect the customer feedback someone internally deemed as important measures of service performance.
Collecting customer feedback is admirable, but how you collect it from customers represents an important interaction that must reinforce the brand’s experience. The experience with the brand prior to and during my service experience created an expectation of customer care and intimacy through personal interactions. Yet the customer feedback experience sent a very different message. Had it been a horrible service experience I would have been equally as frustrated for not having an effective way (or a real person) to express my dissatisfaction. As it was, the company will never know how great my experience was, and they most likely won’t know if something goes wrong. These organizations are failing to collect the data that matter most- human feedback on not only the functional, but the emotional experience as well.
In the end, customer feedback systems shouldn’t be only about collecting data. They are important touch points that should be designed in a way that not only aligns with the expectation created by the brand but collects data that genuinely reflects a service experience with the customer in mind.
Mark Marone is a Partner and Consultant of Customer input Limited based in Tampa, Florida. He has over 15 years of experience in research and consulting with a focus on customer service and sales process improvement.