The Customer Service Survey

3 Steps for Turning Feedback into Action

by Peter Leppik on Fri, 2011-10-28 14:34

Most companies don't survey their customers for the sake of doing a survey. Unfortunately, turning the customer feedback into changes in the customer service experience can be a challenge.

While most employees genuinely want to provide good service (though there are exceptions!), they also don't want to change the way they do things--and the especially don't want to hear that they aren't living up to customers' expectations.

Designing a customer feedback program that actually works requires overcoming people's inherent defensiveness to negative feedback, and their inherent resistance to change. Here are some steps which make a big difference:

  1. Be Timely. Customer feedback collected or delivered too long after the original customer service event is considerably less impactful. People's memories fade quickly (unless the experience was extremely bad or extremely good), so ideally a customer survey should happen within an hour or two. Similarly, the employee will gain much more positive or negative reinforcement if the feedback is delivered while the employee still remembers the customer.
  2. Listen To Your Audience. Many customer feedback programs are designe to serve the needs of executives, not the front-line employees who actually need to deliver customer service. Chances are those employees need much more detailed feedback, and they will be much more sensitive to things like the customer answering the survey about the wrong experience. Make sure your survey meets the needs of everyone in the orgnaization, and put in place processes to identify and correct survey errors in a fair and consistent manner.
  3. Provide the Literal Voice of the Customer. People respond more strongly to hearing customers tell their own stories than seeing statistics or written responses. If possible, make recordings of customer interviews available, and use them as coaching and learning opportunities.
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