Customer Feedback: Immediate isn’t Always Optimal

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I bought a new fridge a while ago. Not a compelling story in itself, but stick with me, I have a purpose. I bought in from Bootskitchenapplicances.com, which is part of Boots, a very large high street pharmacy chain in the UK. I’d inspected the fridge in another store in real-life, but the price at Boots was better, and they have a loyalty scheme of which I’m a member (£20 worth of points that I can blow on cosmetics is always a draw for me!)

The overall customer experience, for the record, was excellent. They kept me informed of the status of my purchase, the delivery men were on time, polite, and took away the packaging. In fact, I’ve bought from them again. This time I bought a washing machine, my life is terribly glamorous.

They also sent me an online survey, which is a thoroughly reasonable and sensible thing to do (of course!) They sent it a few days after delivery and, being a survey fan, I completed it straight away. The survey included questions on the ordering and delivery process and on the product itself. The delivery section was simple—it was very easy for me to say everything was great and I’d recommend it.

Then came the product section. I said the fridge was a thing of great and magnificent beauty, everything was wonderful about it and I’d recommend it to anyone who sat still long enough to listen. The thing is though, I’d owned it for about 3 days and was still in a rather honeymoon-like phase in which I spent several minutes a day gazing at its silvery beauty.

From a practical perspective, this wasn’t the best time to ask me questions about the product.
I say this because now, a few months later, I’d answer very differently. I don’t hate the fridge, but there are things about it that I don’t like, and I can’t say for certain that I’d buy it again. So the feedback that I provided was inaccurate. Given I can’t be the only person who’s been in a similar situation, it makes me wonder how useful it is to run that part of the survey so quickly.

I applaud the company for acting quickly to gather feedback, which is key to a good Voice of the Customer program. But I’d suggest that they’d be better off splitting it up into 2 surveys, one to cover the delivery/ordering process immediately (because those are the things that people tend not to remember after a few weeks). But I think the product survey could come a little later, maybe just a month or so. The feedback might not be so positive, but it would be more accurate.

Two surveys might seem arduous, particularly when survey fatigue is a problem, but there are ways to engage people with a survey and it seems to me that the result would be worth it. Whether to pass the feedback back to the manufacturers to help improve future models, or to share the comments on the website to better enable other customers to make decisions, inaccurate feedback helps no one. Companies need to consider what they want to do with the insight they gather, and how customers interact with the products and their company to establish the optimal time to ask for feedback.

On the bright side, the washing machine is fine.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Carolyn Hall
Carolyn Hall is a Product Marketing Manager with Confirmit. Primary focus on creating marketing and PR materials that focus on the business value of technology. Articles published in a number of marketing and customer-focused publications, and experience of hosting round table session with senior marketing executives.

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