In the first part of this series, we explored the power of instant feedback. Now, let’s turn to an examination of how traditional methods of gathering customer feedback fall short of the actionable intelligence you need to improve the customer experience.
For years, customer satisfaction measurement tools, such as comment cards and online surveys were thrown into the mix as a way to gauge the guest experience and later adjust operations accordingly.
Those older, traditional methods – telephone surveys, online survey links and paper comment cards – historically have had major weaknesses that frequently run counter to your best interest.
- Telephone surveys: These have low response rates because, really, who has the time? And, the few responses you get will come too long after the customer’s visit, greatly minimizing data quality.
- Online survey links: These are printed on receipts, but are often overlooked or seen as spam. Often, they’re thrown away prior to the guest’s departure from the restaurant; therefore, participation rates are so low it’s difficult to get the response rate needed to make statistically sound conclusions. Lastly, by the time the customer gets home and logs into your survey tool, you’ve lost the chance to address their concerns immediately.
- Paper comment cards: The response rate is in the single digits, if you’re lucky. Customers see paper comment cards as old-fashioned and tedious. Then you, the business owner, are left with manually inputting data if you want to create a database. Forget about it.
One common problem posed by those methods is that, because the response rates are low, you usually hear only from outliers – those who are either giddy about their experience or extremely bitter. It’s not a representative sample.
Secret Shoppers, Social Media Also Fail to Satisfy
That same issue plagues the use of secret shoppers to gather feedback. Managers who’ve used that method say the results are more critical than constructive. The shoppers are being paid for their work, so they don’t necessarily approach the job with an open mind. Rather, they’re hunting for things to criticize.
Yet another feedback option that has popped up in recent years is to dial into social media and find out what customers think. Keeping an eye on platforms like Yelp – and responding to reviews that get posted – is certainly advisable.
Increasingly, social media conversations are occurring in front of enormous audiences. Yelp alone has surpassed 100 million web users per month. And what about Facebook? As of this year, it has more than 1.3 billion active users, some number of whom are your customers and each with an audience of hundreds.
So, staying aware of what’s said about you on social media is a good idea. Relying on it for feedback, however, is a really bad idea. Once a negative review is posted, there’s almost nothing you can do to keep it from spreading. You’re simply left in damage-control mode.
A wiser path would be to keep the damage from occurring in the first place. In the next part of our series, we’ll talk more about tablet surveys, a solution that ensures any negative comments come first to you, giving you the opportunity to nip problems in the bud.
Find Out More About Gathering Customer Feedback
Complete the form below to download the free eBook, The Power of Instant Customer Feedback, for more detail about why it matters what customers think about you.
Michelle Strong is chief marketing officer at LRS and an advocate for meaningful customer engagement.