6 Lessons I Learned From Getting Customer Feedback In The Wrong Way

16:00 on a Tuesday, travelling from Antwerp back to The Hague by train. That’s called the international train between Amsterdam and Brussels. I am working on my laptop when a friendly girl comes by and asks me if I would like to complete a survey. Of course! Always glad to give my feedback to help companies improve their services or products. This is a great initiative!

She gives me a card and a pen, says that she will get back to pick it up and continues with the other passengers. When I read the card, it says that I just need to fill in my email address on the backside of it and I will receive an email with a link to do an online survey within 24h.

Alright. Strange. I thought I had to complete the survey right there, but ok, happy to do it online when I receive that email. The problem is, I never received that email, so I couldn’t complete the survey.

Things to learn from this experience

1 Immediacy is key: surveying customers as soon as possible after having the experience with your service or product is the best way to increase relevancy of their feedback and the chances they will complete the survey. Asking while having the experience like in this case would have been exceptional, like they did to me once in a restaurant in Antwerp.

2 Make it simple: we always talk about making it simple for customers, from buying your product to find help when they have an issue with it. The more steps you add to the workflow the lower the chance they will complete a survey.

3 What can possibly go wrong? When you ask people to handwrite their email address on a piece of paper two things can happen:

a. You can read it: congratulations, you’ve got an email address to send the survey link to.
b. You cannot read it or you misread it: not everyone writes in a clear and clean style. And like in this case, the customer is on a train, the train moves and that doesn’t help.

Basically, you will always lose some surveys because you don’t understand their email address properly.

4 Resources: you are asking a couple of people to get on a train from Antwerp to Brussels, probably make that trip twice, to give customers a pen and a piece of paper that you had to print, to fill it manually with their email address. Then come back and pick up the cards, the pen so you can get those email addresses sometime later, I guess days, in order to add them manually into a system, so you can send an online survey to them. Are you kidding me?

5 The opposite effect: you have some people willing to give their feedback, willing to help your company get better and then, they never get the survey? How do you think do they feel about your company? How do you think they rate your professionalism? Is not that they are going to cry or call you requesting that survey, they probably have better things to do, but some of them may have a bit more negative impression about your organisation after going through that experience.

6 Tick all the boxes: initiatives to get customer feedback are great! Make sure you think about all variables involved and design the process accordingly. Make it efficient and complete for you and your customers.

Wrapping up

Maybe my font type style isn’t the most beautiful one, but I swear I put quite some effort in writing my email address in a clear way so they could actually read it properly. But yeah, I never got an email. Now I guess I just need to wait for the next chance to give my feedback to them.

Completely different example – Berlin Tegel airport

Just to give you an example of a very different way of gathering feedback or at least, measure satisfaction about a service. This is what I found in a toilet this week at Berlin’s Tegel airport.


Simple he? Maybe it doesn’t give you a complete picture or a lot of different data about the cleanliness of their toilets; but I bet they get enough information to know if they need to make a change or not in the way they maintain them.

Do you have any experience with different ways of giving or getting feedback, either as an individual or as a company? It would be great to hear about innovative ways of doing so, please leave your comments below.


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