I’m Angry and Frustrated … Do You Really Want My Feedback?


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Dakota, a yellow lab, gives a look of frustration
“This is not the experience I expected.” Photo by Noreen Seebacher

Three times in the past two weeks companies have asked me for feedback after mind-blowingly bad customer experiences.

Will my rage-fueled expletive-laden responses really pave the way for friendlier, more efficient, more relevant customer interactions? No matter how I slice or dice that question, the answer is "no."

It’s as silly as asking a customer “Is there anything else I can do for you today?” without doing anything to resolve the initial issue.

How Walgreens Failed to Deliver

Let me tell you about the worst of the three interactions.

Last week I ordered some content lenses from Walgreens — a mistake driven by my desire to save $15 over the cost for the same order from trusty, reliable 1-800-CONTACTS. First, I was notified that it would take six business days to process an expedited order. Then, on business day number seven, I was told the product I ordered was out of stock … which would result in another 12-day delay.

Imagine my surprise and exasperation when Walgreens claimed it had no way to cancel the delayed order. But then consider how Walgreens made a bad customer experience even worse by following up that annoying interaction with a request for customer feedback.

How would I rate my customer experience? Oh, Walgreens … don’t ask. Seriously. Just don’t.

In this so-called age of the customer, when every company on the planet seems to profess a desire to offer great experiences, few actually do. And many really miss the mark when it comes to arguably the most important part of customer experience; that is, listening to their customers.

Elevating Your Customer Interactions

Martha Brooke, the founder of Portland, Oregon-based InterAction Metrics,, said listening to your customers is smart — “as long as you ask thoughtful questions that elicit useful insights. Unfortunately, when it comes to customer surveys, too many companies go through the motions, conducting customer surveys just to say they did.”

That’s a big mistake that shows a clear indifference to clear goals and a research mindset, she explained.

InterAction Metrics aims to improve the customer experience by applying advanced customer listening to customer feedback programs, customer service evaluations and customer service skills workshops. Simply stated, it seeks to align customer feedback with actionable business insights by approaching customer conversations in more thoughtful, relevant ways.

In an article that explains How to Use a Research Mindset to Avoid Survey Blunders, Brooke stressed that companies should be clear about their strategic objectives. The goal is not to “send a survey” but to learn, she noted.

Her advice: Companies should stop sending “check-the-box-we’re done non-research driven surveys.” Instead, Brooke suggests companies approach customer surveys with a science-driven research mindset. “Have a goal with a hypothesis, match methods to the investigation of that hypothesis, and confirm or deny that hypothesis through measurement,” she explained.

Offer Better Customer Experience

Brooke gives some interesting tips around using a research mindset in her recent article. She concludes that a deeply customer-centric business demonstrates “intellectual curiosity and a commitment to asking important questions in worthwhile ways.”

In my experience, that means matching requests for customer feedback with the actual experience provided. I would have felt far more validated as a customer had Walgreens acknowledged a problem with my order. Specifically asking me to explain why I was dissatisfied and how it could have offered a better experience would have deescalated a tense situation.

It would have encouraged me to honestly share my thoughts. It would have assured me that Walgreens was a company that listens, in spite of the bad experience I had.

It might have even stopped me from calling American Express and asking it to block any future charges from Walgreens or Walgreens.com. Because as it stands now, I have no interest in doing any more business with the pharmacy chain. 

How's that for honest feedback?

Noreen Seebacher
Stasa Media
Noreen Seebacher is an experienced business writer, editor, reporter and manager. She has a keen interest in customer experience across verticals and the ways companies are adapting to remain relevant in the digital era.


  1. Thanks Noreen, it’s clear that Walgreens has much they need to improve. In fact, in our Point of Purchase Survey Study (https://interactionmetrics.com/Point-of-Purchase-Survey-Study/Report.pdf), we could not even evaluate Walgreen’s survey since their survey link was broken!
    Judging from Walgreen’s homepage, one of their corporate ambitions is to make things easy for their customers — which underscores there can be quite a gap between ambition and reality when it comes to the customer experience. The takeaways might be: don’t rely on outsourced CX solutions, monitor the outsourced solutions you do have and stop cutting and pasting surveys in tone deaf ways!

  2. Oh I could not agree more. The failure to send relevant surveys just baffles me. These companies are clearly offering lip service to CX excellence.

  3. Great article and demonstrable evidence of businesses just going through the motions when it comes to post-transaction feedback, likely leading to additional frustration over and above the original cause.
    We think you should not have to wait for the invitation to deliver feedback – rather it would be more effective to enable on the spot feedback on the customers’ terms including anonymity. This enables venting your anger and frustration at the point of experience on your terms.
    The benefit to the customer is convenience and confirmation of being heard. The benefit to the business is the removal of brand exposure to an online complaint, an opportunity to recover the customer so helping to remove the threat of defection.
    The ubiquitous cell phone can be the mechanism for this, being the vessel into which your anger and frustration could be collected and used for business improvement.


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