Give Up on Customer Experience? … 3 Steps to Better Feedback


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Brand Experience

Chris Spears, CMO of Arke, wrote an interesting piece on the future of customer experience asking, “Is it time to give up on customer experience?” Spears cites a lack of significant results thus far despite nearly two decades of effort. Instead of abandoning CX, though, his suggestion is to double down on CX by focusing on a “brand experience” vs. just CX.

Spears suggests “brand experience” encourages us to look at all our product & service touch points with our customers in every context. This is an excellent point and I couldn’t agree more. What’s interesting is that the touch point that’s most often forgotten – yet actively promoted – is that of the measurement system itself.

As an example, Honda will spend nearly $600MM on media (just a subset of their overall brand spend) in 2017. This includes their website, ads, etc. – all to create a positive impression of their company in your mind so the next time you purchase or lease a vehicle, you choose them. Yet, their very last touch point with you before you think about where to service (much less buy) your car looks like this:

Honda Survey - Cropped

This doesn’t convey $1 worth of the nearly $600MM they’ll spend on branding. Instead of being left with the impression that they provide excellence service with caring people, you’re left with the idea that they think of you as a generic survey respondent and their technology is clunky. I, for one, do not want to buy a car with clunky technology. (And to be fair, lots of companies’ surveys look like this – not just Honda.)

If we spend so much time and money ensuring our brand and customer experience are the best we can make them, why do we send out surveys that don’t align with our brand and fail to communicate any of the brand promise we’ve worked so hard to communicate through our other channels?

Brand Strategy

Think about it: We focus on making sure our brand representation is perfect when we interact with potential customers via ads, but spend far less time when asking them about a product or service interaction that has gone bad. Doesn’t it seem like the second scenario should be the more important of the two?

What if your survey was not only an extension of your brand but gave your customers a good feeling? One that leaves them considering you as thoughtful, organized, caring, high-tech and whatever else you want to exude. And, at the same time, you receive thoughtful responses from your customers.

Consider a scenario when a co-worker asks you for feedback. If they come to you with a notebook specifically for feedback, ask you pointed questions about your interactions and have prepared for the session, wouldn’t you provide them more thoughtful feedback than if they stopped by your desk and said, “What’d you think?” Generic, simplistic surveys feel like the latter and instead of even giving off-the-cuff feedback, many customers don’t give any feedback at all.

Feedback Notecard

In other words, many businesses contact all their recent customers, with a poor representation of their brand and a negative experience … and receive little worth in return. Sounds like a missed opportunity, right?

Here are 3 ways to make the survey experience a great touch point while at the same time receiving thoughtful feedback from your customers:

1. Acknowledge the uniqueness of the experience the customer just had. For instance, if someone just completed an airline flight from New York to Los Angeles, show them you realize they actually made that trip vs. a generic survey asking if they would recommend your airline to their colleagues and friends. A baby step in this direction is when locations are piped into the survey asking, “How did you feel about the onboarding experience at La Guardia?” However, showing them pictures of midtown NYC where they just had a meeting and the iconic LAX airport design will let them know you understand their journey extended beyond an airline flight and likely elicit a better recollection of their experience while connecting them better with your brand.

2. Put some names and faces of the people who will be receiving the feedback in the survey. When survey respondents see a generic 1-7 scale, they get the sense that the company doesn’t really care what the respondent has to say and that their responses will go into a bottomless pit somewhere. By showing respondents the person who can take action on their complaints, they are more likely to share meaningful feedback.

3. Have the survey react to customer feedback. If someone tells you they’re unhappy because their hotel room was dirty, don’t immediately transition to the next survey question asking them what they thought of the checkout process. Stop the survey and ask them more about the dirty hotel room! For starters, it’ll make the survey feel more like a give-and-take conversation vs. a one-way interrogation. Secondly, it’ll actually get you some actionable feedback. What do you do with “dirty room”? Tell the maids to clean better? That’s not nearly as helpful as “The glasses in my room had lipstick on them.” Now you know what to fix and the severity of the situation.

Why spend millions of dollars on 90% of your brand and zero on the 10% that is the last impression your customer has of you? That seems like a bad idea when the first 90% of interacting with your brand was a great experience. Imagine how damaging it can be if the initial brand experience was a poor one.

Photo credits:
Brand experience:
Brand strategy bulb:
Feedback notecard:

Brian Doyle
Doyle Team Consulting
Brian has been designing and improving customer experiences for over a decade, Prior to discovering CX, Brian was VP of Marketing at Genworth and a 6 Sigma Master Black Belt at GE Capital. His career began in the US Air Force as a C-17 pilot. Brian has a bachelor's degree in Astrophysics from the US Air Force Academy and a master's degree in Systems Engineering from St. Mary's University.


  1. Companies must first understand that customer survey value propositions are backwards. Most surveys are done for the benefit of the company not customers. So step 1 is to change that perspective. Then be clear about:

    1. How the survey adds value to your customers
    2. How your company will react to both positive and negative responses
    3. What the goals are, and
    4. If your survey may be an excuse to avoid another bigger issue.

    More here:


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