Nearly everyone agrees that unfiltered feedback from your customers is very valuable. The trouble is, it can be tough to get – especially if you’re looking for ways to improve.
Many businesses do customer satisfaction surveys, asking customers to rate their satisfaction using a series of multiple-choice questions. Multiple-choice answers are a good way to determine whether customers are satisfied, but they usually don’t tell you much about why they’re satisfied or dissatisfied.
To address that, many customer surveys include a “What can we do to improve?” question with a blank space at the bottom. Unfortunately, writing out an answer is difficult and time-consuming, so the vast majority of people just leave that question blank.
On top of all that, survey takers tend to say what they think people will want to hear. They don’t like to complain, which means that they’re likely to keep the most valuable feedback to themselves.
So what’s a marketer to do? I’ve found that it often helps to strike a balance between positive and negative, and to start with the positive. First ask “What went better than expected?” or “What did we do well?” After you’ve started things out on a positive note, you can follow that question with “What could we have done better?”
People are often more comfortable saying something negative if they’ve said something positive first. And by asking “What could we have done better” instead of “How can we improve,” you’re asking only for feedback on one specific customer experience, rather than a judgment on the whole company. It may seem like a small distinction, but it does make a difference.
If you’re having trouble getting honest feedback, try starting things out on a positive note. In addition to getting better feedback on what you can do better, you’ll also get valuable feedback on what you’re already doing well.