Customer evaluations are one of the most important and effective tools a company can use to build long-term relationships with their clients and create a sense of brand loyalty. Doing the evaluation creates a mental investment in the company on the part of the client, and the contents of the evaluation can play a significant role in shaping the client’s image of the company moving forward.
Effectively deploying evaluations is easier said than done, however, and if you’re not careful they can be totally ineffective or even backfire and push customers away. You’ve got to put serious thought into the content of the evaluation and the way you’ll deploy it. And then, when it’s all said and done, you’ve got to understand and take the results seriously as well.
Getting the Evaluation Completed
The first and foremost obstacle to effectively using evaluations to improve your business and deepen connections with customers is that it’s not going to help anything if the customer doesn’t actually complete the survey. Just the fact that you as a company are asking for them to assess your service can create a slight positive impression, but it’s not going to amount to anything. And if you’re shoving the request for feedback in their face or requiring them to fill out a survey to get the regular service they’re used to, you’re going to create more resentment than any actual positive connection.
“Very few customers are going to seek out an avenue to give you feedback on their own, and the ones who do are going to be the outliers with either incredibly positive or incredibly negative things to say,” says Steven Adams, founder of Not Guilty Adams. “You’ve got to make it so easy and convenient to give feedback that even average, busy customers might say, ‘OK, why not?’”
The pinnacle of a quick, easy survey is a simple button like some airport security organizations do sometimes. After you go through security there’s a small terminal with a simple question, “How was your service today?” and a short scale of three options for answers. There’s no log-in, there’s no short answer question or a spot to fill in your email address. It takes no effort and no time.
What to Ask
Your average customer doesn’t want to answer long, time-consuming questions, and they often don’t really have anything to say in response to the open-ended questions anyway. To really get results and thus buy-in from them, you’ll have to make giving feedback as simple and straightforward as possible, and you might have to offer some kind of raffle or a simple reward of some kind. Only require the customers to answer the basic questions about quality with a simple ranking system, and then you can always offer the option of a more in-depth written survey for the customers who suddenly discover they have opinions to share at that point.
Even with just a few simple quality-ranking questions, this survey is still a good opportunity for you as a company to show the customers your priorities as a company. By asking them how well you achieved certain objectives and offering them the opportunity to share more feedback regarding how you can meet those objectives in the future, you’re showing the customers your mission as a company and inviting them in. This is a way the customer gets to feel involved and be a part of your mission as a business as well. Regular customers may simply “push the button” the first few times they do it, but perhaps later on they’ll give more detailed and constructive feedback.
What Does the Evaluation Mean and How Do You Use It
Until you get a reasonable proportion of your customers, especially regular ones, to respond to the evaluation, it’s not going to be a reliable measure of customer satisfaction. You still need to take seriously the evaluations from the outliers that are unusually positive or negative, because those are legitimate customer responses, but don’t assume that they represent a large portion of customers.
All ideas proposed to you through customer evaluations should be considered and taken seriously. You don’t have to use them all, but it should be considered, and multiple people in your company should see the feedback. It’s crucial for the effects of the evaluations that your employees show investment in the feedback process, as they’re the ones that can most effectively encourage the customers to make the small amount of effort required. Using the customer feedback and making improvement is obviously also the most important way you can show that you’re listening. If done effectively, these evaluations will improve your business through the suggestions you receive and spur customer buy-in to your mission and your brand.