When There is Too Much Focus On Feedback


I’m a big fan of companies who ask customers for feedback…I really am. I think, when done correctly, it’s a great way to get that important feedback from customers so you can gauge the customer experience and continue to ensure its successful.


However, I’ve recently run into a case where it’s taken to the extreme. I’m not sure what is happening behind the scenes, so to speak, but it seems like the company is putting a bit too much focus on customer feedback, or perhaps they are trying to incorporate bonuses into their feedback program. I’m not sure, because I’m not an employee of this particular retailer, but at any rate, as a consumer, it’s a bit disconcerting on a few levels.


I’ve recently visited a well known retailer during my holiday shopping. I’m a fairly regular customer and have not noticed this on past visits. While making my purchases, the employee was very nice and accommodating, and everything went well. Then I got my receipt, along with a two minute instructional monologue on their survey. The cashier circled the survey link on the receipt, encouraging me to take the survey in exchange for a coupon or discount on my next visit. This is where it should have stopped, followed by a “Thank you! Have a great day!”


But it didn’t.


She repeated herself again, and told me that it was very important that I provide good feedback for her. She gave me her name, and then wrote it on the receipt so I wouldn’t forget. She asked if she did well, and if I would give her good feedback. She again pointed to the receipt and then repeated her name and encouraged me to use it when taking the survey. She then asked if I thought I’d take the survey, and stated that she hoped I would.


A subsequent visit with a different cashier yielded similar results. This employee also offered his name, and wrote it on my receipt. He then said he hoped I was satisfied, and encouraged me to take the survey and provide good feedback so that I would receive a discount/coupon on a future visit. In this case, I knew what he was saying  – that there would be a discount given at the end of the survey – but the way he worded it, probably not intending to, made it sound as though I would get a discount only if I provided good feedback for him.


This approach is not great from a customer’s standpoint on many levels:


1. It’s too much. There was too much talking at the end about the survey, how to take it, what to say, etc. As a customer, please bring it to my attention and encourage me to take it. And yes, please mention the discount, because that might encourage me to go home and take it. But, keep it short and simple.


2. It makes the employees sound desperate: I did feel badly for the cashiers. I wasn’t sure if they were given a goal to get X number of surveys, or perhaps there was bonus money in it for them if they received good feedback. During the first purchase, the employee sounded almost as if her job were at stake, and she needed good feedback to keep her employment. I’m sure that’s not the case, but it did cross my mind. This tactic can send a wrong signal to customers depending on the delivery.


3. It’s causing friction in the customer experience. I know at the time, I was in a bit of a hurry, and just wanted to get out of the store. And, given the long line of customers behind me, I’m sure they weren’t pleased to be held up either. Again, a quick acknowledgement of wanting each customer to be satisfied, along with encouragement to take the survey and disclosure of the incentive, is good enough. If customers wait too long, especially for something along this line, they may be cranky by the time they reach the register, and it will affect their perception of the visit. This, in turn, can change the results of the feedback surveys.


I know this is a simple issue that I may be taking too far in theory, but it’s a good lesson to companies to make sure there is a good balance between providing great service, encouraging feedback, and getting the data you want. Pushing too hard or placing too much pressure on your employees can backfire on the entire program.



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