Dishonest feedback does more harm than you think. Here’s why!


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Increasing cases of holiday sickness and claims associated with it have now become more like an afterparty sort of ritual. Not fifty, not sixty, even a hundred percent rise in claims might seem insignificant. You might find it hard to digest but according to Abta (a leading British Travel Brand) sickness claims by British travellers have shot up to 500%.

It could have been just another ‘thorn in the fur’ for travel giants Thomas Cook, but the series of events following a sickness claim issued by a British couple took the aspect of customer feedback to a whole new dimension. Post-holiday, the couple decided to claim damages citing gastroenteritis to be the reason behind their illness. Upon investigating, the couple’s post-holiday questionnaire was brought into light, where services and other elements of the holiday were rated as excellent. The claim fell false when it was found that the couple resumed their professional routine without any signs of an illness. Read the full story here!

Like the wise-men always said, “Karma has no menu. You get served what you deserve”

The couple is fined and the travel company has re-instated its grit post an unpleasing aura of events that unfolded. Job done, Lesson learnt, but wait this doesn’t end here. Let us for a minute overlook the fraudulence in this scenario, by which I mean to put aside the claim demands. The couple’s dishonesty was brought to light when their questionnaires were scrutinized and reviewed. Where their reviews didn’t exactly match with their post-holiday symptoms, as they cited them to be.

This incident can be an eye opener and it’s high time that people start taking feedbacks seriously. No not just us but even the courts of law think the same. Many a times surveys and questionnaires fail to record the right responses. To play the blame game, we can start off by pointing out that the surveys are mediocre followed by accusing their stereotypical approach. One sad truth about products/services/surveys or anything is that, customers fail to settle for anything but the best. It would be pointless to expect a customer to respond earnestly to a survey which doesn’t catch his attention. At the same time, a dishonest feedback does more harm than good, for it affects the accuracy of the feedback when collated entirely.

Here are few tips that can help you draw perceptual gains from this buyer-seller-feedback-catastrophe!


The whole concept of feedback came into picture to bring forth the Voice of Customer. An honest feedback can help organizations track their shortcomings as well as identify what’s standout about them. Feedback forms can get boring – not to forget the impeccable timing of e-mail surveys as, no matter what, they always reach when you are outright busy. Customers can have a thousand reasons to avoid feedback, but one good reason to be prompt is that an honest feedback can help the brand understand your needs better.

As stated Biblically, ‘Ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find’.

How would brands know genuine issues faced by a customer if the feedback is not authentic? Growing customer trends throw light on the aspect of feedback being neglected or under-valued. One must know, that a feedback works more on the lines of a democratic government system. Customers must understand that an inappropriate feedback not only takes the spotlight away from the actual concerns, but it also gives a wrong perception about services offered by the company. If a company’s duty rests in keeping its customers satisfied, then the customer has equal responsibility to avoid negligence or foul-play while filling out a feedback questionnaire.

Brands today are on a drive to make their channels customer-specific. Yes, that’s right, now you can have the brand cater to your individual preferences.
In fact, you would be surprised to know that, Brands today are 62% more likely to give their subscribers the ability to set their own preferences for branded communications than they were in 2013. Further, they are 89% more likely to allow them to select the type of messages that they receive and 48% more likely to give options for how often subscribers want to receive those communications. Source


Remember the good old post-card days, wherein your queries had to cross the Indian Postal terrains to reach the supplier? Now with the break of every dawn, digitalization continues to revolutionize feedback by increasing speed and efficiency of the entire process by multiple folds. Gone are the days when feedback was just a mere formality which involved collecting half-hearted responses that went straight to the trash can.

It’s true that there exists a bridge between any seller and his customer. This bridge has existed right from the start of the history of trade. Well, now with all the gizmos, software and technology in place, reaching out to a customer anytime anywhere is the easiest any buyer could do!

Organizations irrespective of their service domain, be it retail, banking, supply chain, education sector or even healthcare, have all started divulging deep into understanding the customer service parameter. The product-centric mentality of manufactures has seen a steady shift towards being more customer-centric.
You would be glad to know that, “Banks and other financial institutions have significantly increased their customer focus recently, increasing the number of customer-centric jobs by 52% in the last year.”. Source
With companies working towards bridging the gap, here are three quotes that jot down the responsibilities of a customer towards giving feedback.

1. Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure
James Altucher
Be spot on with your feedback because on any given day honesty can fetch you more good that sugar-coated lies or a half-hearted hogwash.

2. You get in life what you have the courage to ask forOprah Winfrey
Don’t ignore feedbacks unless you know for sure that the brand has telepathic superpowers to read your mind. Bring to the notice of your buyer, what you feel is working and what you feel isn’t. Thereby what’s not good can be rectified and what’s good can be significantly improved upon!

3. There’s no Failure, Only Feedback Robert Allen
Remember every tycoon or giant in the market was once an amateur, a newbie. Each brand deserves chances at redemption in this competitive market. Always criticize constructively, so you can help the brand deliver a better experience.

While we’ve always put the spotlight on Organizations to make their feedback strategies more flexible, customers also play an equally important role in determining the quality and relevance of data and insights. It needs to be a perfectly balanced seesaw so that the feedback collected can actually bring about a tangible shift in mindset, processes and policies. And remember the age-old proverb: ‘honesty is the best policy‘ (even when it comes to filling a feedback form!).

Jagannathan Muralidharan
The content enthusiast. Love writing and researching about Customer Experience and journey based approaches to simplify it. Key areas of research interest include predictive statistical analysis into customer journeys, Mapping customer journeys better and knowing more about disruptive trends in the customer experience space. Like to blog about new trends and recent know-how's in the Customer service industry. 


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