Last week I was out for a burger, when am I not?!, and throughout the meal discussed how good the experience was with my husband. The waiter was very attentive, my shake was tasty, and they had healthy food options on the kid’s menu. Sweeeet! But then, they made a huge faux pas. As we were checking out there was a digital survey. Before we started answering, the waiter said, “we appreciate all strongly agrees.” Well, I’m sure you do, but please don’t feed me answers. You are essentially making this very expensive survey useless – one that someone paid to have put together, presented to the public, and then analyzed.
When I just answer the survey in the way that a business wants me to, not only does the survey become useless, but they’re also pressuring customers to lie, making them voiceless, and keeping problems from being seen and solved. It’s very short-sighted thinking. Most likely this suggestion is given to customers because bonuses or some type of competition is involved with these survey answers. Restaurant managers may compete to have the highest satisfaction possible in their region and consequently receive some sort of compensation. Not a great strategy in my opinion for this exact reason.
What is? Encourage honesty. Customers are often hesitant to complain (which I know may be hard to believe sometimes). They show loyalty with their dollars instead. Great food and great service – go back again. Bad food and bad service – don’t go back. Although it may not always be as simple as that, often times, it is. It’s just easier to stop doing business with someone rather than complain. So, they do. And although this may be less likely with goods or services that have a high price tag, this does still happen. A lot of people avoid conflict like the plague. They don’t want to hurt their relationship with you, they don’t want you to start putting less time and effort into their design, etc. so they just go along with the project until it’s over. It’s like people eating food with hair in it – they’re afraid the staff will spit in it if they send it back. So next time, they just go someplace else. You’re of course not going to spit on a customer’s Chippendale dining chair when they complain (although you may feel like it!), but you get the idea.
To avoid this problem, ask indirect questions, and do it multiple times throughout the project (either in a survey or in person). Rather than asking them, are you happy with how the project is going? Are you happy with your design? Ask, what isn’t meeting your expectations? What about this project/design/experience is keeping you up at night? Although leading questions like that may sound scary, it will get you more honest answers. It presumes that there is something that can be improved, which is most likely true as no experience is perfect. Now of course, you may want to use personal judgement on which type of customer you ask these to. There will be some customers who are more than willing to tell you exactly how they feel, way before you would even ask the question. But those aren’t the customers you want coming back. Those aren’t the customers that you want to really hear the truth from. You want to hear the truth from those who are hesitant to speak up. From those who usually speak through their dollars.
Knowing how customers truly think and feel is essential to the strength of any business. And feeding them survey answers, or avoiding getting the truth, is not going to help. In fact, it could really really hurt. A huge factor in improving a client’s experience is customer feedback, even when it’s typically fantastic. The more aware you are of the client’s struggles during the design process, the more likely your business is to be financially successful. The more likely it is for your customers to return. The more likely it is for your customers to share their great experience with others. The more likely it is that you have a business that makes you happy. Because creating proactive solutions is always easier, and more pleasant, than creating reactive ones.
If you need help creating a fantastic experience for your customers, visit the services page to get started!