Please Stop Feedback Competitions Among Your Staff


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“Thank you for shopping with us. My name is Jenny. I’m going to write that on the receipt. Please take the survey listed on the receipt and be sure to mention my name and that I did a good job. I did a good job, right? Again, It’s Jenny – J-E-N-N-Y. I’d really appreciate it. I’m trying to get the most surveys this month and they’re keeping track. Be sure to use my name and give us good ratings. Thanks again!”

Whew. What just happened there?

Looks like an attempt to increase feedback response rates in the form of a “friendly competition” and is just one example of tactics I’ve experienced as a consumer. While it may seem like a good idea at the onset, this may actually backfire in its objective of getting more and valid feedback.


  • Customers will listen to a staff’s plea to take a survey, but they don’t want to be held up with a long, emotion-filled explanation of why they should take the survey. They want to get in and out, with a pleasant experience. The customers behind them in line also want to move along and may not be interested in your employee’s monologue.
  • This tactic can give customers a perception of pressure – give a good rating and use my name. If you’re not happy, don’t bother please. While not directly said, this could be the message being delivered. It also offers the perception that the staff member is more concerned about their performance on the surveys than ensuring you in fact did have a good experience.
  • The responses you get may be skewed because of the emotional appeal from Jenny. Customers may give glowing reviews that may not necessarily reflect their true opinion, but since they are using Jenny’s name and Jenny was so sweet, they want to help her out. Inflated and potentially not entirely truthful reviews will not give brands the honest insight they need.
  • On the flip side, if the staff’s delivery of the appeal for a survey response is stale and opposite of Jenny’s (“Hey. The company wants more feedback from customers. They’re putting pressure on us, so please use my name and complete the survey. I’d hate to get fired around the holidays. Thank you so much.”), it could create a feeling of dissent toward the company, not the employee, which may leave the customer reluctant to “help” the company by completing a survey.

Some companies are realizing this is problematic; I recently received a mobile survey after upgrading my cell phone. The staff member who helped me did mention I may be receiving a survey but didn’t say much more, which was a good thing considering one of the questions I was asked:

Did you feel pressure to answer this survey positively?

I thought this was interesting; it sends a signal that the company is aware this may be happening and wants to address it, both externally (letting customers know they may have staff pressuring customers to provide positive responses) and internally (it left me with the impression that, if I were to answer yes to this question, it would be addressed at the location level). But it left me wondering – do customers answer yes – would they admit it, knowing that it may have ramifications for the employee who helped them? If they did, would the company negate their survey responses? It’s a good start to address it, but there are other things that can be more proactive and still get good response rates.

  • Share the importance of feedback with staff. Explain how the results will be used, and let staff know that you need their help in making customers aware of the survey. Remind them to bring it to the attention of customers at the end of the transaction verbally and by circling or highlighting the link at the bottom of the receipt.
  • Get customer buy in, and give staff words to use. Instead of the competition angle, encourage staff to let customers know that the company really wants to hear their feedback so they can make changes and improvements as needed. This shouldn’t be done in a cheesy way, but one that lets the customer know that their feedback is valuable. This can be more effective than a rote message such as, “There is a survey at the bottom of the receipt. Please let us know how we did.”
  • Give customers multiple ways to access and complete a survey. With more options, customers will be able to complete a survey on their own terms. Customers will be more likely to complete a survey if there is a way to do it that is convenient for them, whether it is by phone, email, or SMS.
  • Instead of competition among staff, run a month long incentive blitz to jump start responses. The bag is mixed on opinions regarding incentives for feedback surveys, but sometimes it’s just the push a consumer needs. A limited time incentive may breathe life into a feedback program and get customers thinking about it.

Collecting customer feedback is tricky; surveys are everywhere and the fatigue customers feel can hinder response rates. This, coupled with a short attention span, surely doesn’t help. Framing a feedback request the right way can help improve response rates; putting the pressure on consumers is not the way to go. This is something companies can remember, especially during the holiday shopping season – consumers don’t need any more pressure than they are already feeling during this time of the year.

Marianne Hynd
Marianne Hynd is the Vice President of Operations at Ann Michaels & Associates, a customer experience measurement firm. The company specializes in mystery shopping, customer feedback, and interactive engagement kiosk programs.


  1. Thanks Dave for the comment and for sharing your article – it makes some great points. I struggle with the incentive piece too and you gave a great example of how it can go wrong. Another issue with incentives is that if someone is not happy with their experience a coupon for a future visit will not be much help. LOL It’s a balancing act for sure and you gave some great insight into how to think about it – make it fun, make it easy, and give customers a reason to share their thoughts.I also think it’s beneficial for brands to turn to social media listening, since many customers may not talk “to” a brand directly but will talk freely to their friends/family on social. I’d love to hear your thoughts about using social listening as a means of collecting customer feedback. Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your article!


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