7 Customer Feedback #Fails That Will Drive Your Business Into the Ground

Steve Jobs didn’t believe in market research.  I think he said something like “It’s the consumer’s job to know what they want” and the unsaid is that it’s the researchers’ job to ferret out what that is.

You could also assume that he was alluding to the fact that the numbers or the data is NOT the holy grail of decision making.  There are a few important things that market research, no matter how good could never really uncover. 

I’m not sure if you would call this good news or bad — but I thought it might be fun to open up the conversation today with a tiny little market research slap and a nod to a few campaigns where customer feedback (or should I say market research assumptions about feedback) went terribly wrong.

#1 Unclear objectives and question creep

This is one of my absolute favorite fails – because it’s so easy to fix.  The most consistent mistake small businesses make in collecting feedback is not focusing on a specific objective.  When you don’t have a specific objective, you will fall into what I call question creep — that’s when you start overloading your survey with questions that provide “nice-to-know” information instead of business-driving, decision-making results.

#2 Unbranded and unprofessional fail

I’m shocked at how many major brands send out unbranded and just plain ugly surveys.  The number one goal for getting your respondent engaged is to disrupt them and get them to stop what they are doing and take your survey.  Make sure that their first impression of you is solid and clear that this is a brand they use and are familiar with.

You don’t need HTML or design skills to make this happen.  QuestionPro has dozens of templates that you can use and by simply adjusting the colors and adding a logo, you’ve already made a 100% improvement.  Another helpful tip is to remember to use the “Finish Options” tab to customize the customers experience after they have completed the survey.  You have the option to send them to a page where they can download a free gift.

#3 Aloof and pretentious

Language!  Put away the scientific and corporate speak — and actually talk to your customer, they way you might speak with them in real life.  It all starts with the invitation email — write it to a SINGLE person and not a list.  Another tip is to read your survey out loud.  You can call a friend and take them through the survey by phone — then make changes to your questions to reflect a more conversational tone.

# 4 Long and boring

We’ve been preaching the benefits of shorter, more frequent surveys for years and here we are again.  Instead if creating a 30 question survey that bores your respondent to death, break your survey up into six 5-question surveys that your respondent can take in less than a minute or three.

#5 Bribing employees

The idea of setting employee rewards to customer satisfaction results sounds like a great idea at first, but it comes with unintended consequences, especially when you make those same employees DRIVE people to the customer satisfaction survey.  This really doesn’t work because you place employees in a conflict of interest situation where they send people to the survey and actually TELL them to give high ratings because it effects their job reviews.

#6 Focusing on the numbers

Of course numbers are important, but focusing just on the numbers will put you on the path of missing out on even more important data.  Remember the “New Coke” fail?  In that case Coke assumed that taste was the most important attribute of their product.  They focused only on the results of their taste tests and FORGOT the emotional power that their brand carried.  Don’t make the same mistake.

#7 Outsourcing to management

I’ve actually been part of this master fail myself.  I had clients who ran a regular customer satisfaction survey and then when the results and reports came in, they would segment the survey based on department and send out those reports to the department managers.  There’s one big fail involved in this process — the managers did ‘t really talk to each other, or their employees about the results.  A better process would have been to “launch” the survey results in a single meeting with leadership reporting on the results and then leaving the managers to have more detailed conversations with their teams.

Feedback #Fails UNDONE for you

Don’t be overwhelmed by all this — QuestionPro has it handled for you.  We’re having a powerful Google Hangout on August 6 at 8am Pacific/11am Eastern.  Check out the event page here: http://bit.ly/feedbackwebinar.