7 reasons why customer feedback is completely broken

Gary Bartley
Gary Bartley
October 24th 2019 - 4 Minute Read

Feedback as we know it is dead. Its demise? Poor feedback strategies that were doomed before they started.

After all, who would have thought 14 questions about your most recent purchase of a pint of milk would ever get boring? Only everyone!

Feedback has the potential to make businesses more successful than ever before, giving them the insight to solve their issues and amplify their successes. Yet it’s been abused by too many businesses that people have stopped completing surveys.

If you scratch away at the surface a little, you will see why feedback has fallen. The fault is in the execution, with many businesses falling foul of the same seven issues.


1. Businesses ask too many questions

For some unknown reason, as soon as businesses decide to do “feedback”, everyone thinks of questions they can ask to make their SurveyMonkey questionnaire the longest in history. After all, you’ll only hear from a handful of people so you may as well extract all the insight you can from these individuals, right?

Wrong! This is damaging for attention spans, business decisions and feedback as a whole. People don’t want to spend 15 minutes completing a survey. They just want businesses to listen to their thoughts in the quickest and easiest way possible. (No wonder so many people choose social media over surveys!)

Instead of making people relive their school exams, just ask them the one question you want to find the answer to. Quick, easy and much more useful!


2. Businesses ask the wrong questions

When businesses do lower their question count, they often ask people if they would recommend their business, or if they were satisfied with their experience. However, in truth, neither the NPS nor CSat questions offer much value. You need to be asking your customers and employees how they feel and why.

After all, what’s more important to your business than how your customers and employees feel? Their happiness is key to your continued success.

It’s also highly likely that somebody who is happy with their experience with you will go on to recommend you. However, if someone wasn’t going to recommend you they might not necessarily be unhappy!

In short, you can’t lose if you ask how your customers and employees feel.

Feedback Surveys


3. Businesses lead questions to get answers they want

Another benefit of asking people “how do you feel” is that it’s not a leading question. You’re not asking “how strongly would you recommend us” or “how satisfied were you”, which would lead the recipient to immediately think of the positive words you’ve led them with.

Having a question that isn’t leading towards a positive or negative answer ensures that your insight is reliable.

Feedback is designed to help you identify improvements that must be made to help your business grow. If you lead customers and employees to tell you what you want to hear, your feedback is useless.


What is the Customer Happiness Score and why should you be measuring it?

Read the blog

4. Businesses get too few responses and make snapshot decisions


Arguably the biggest problem with traditional feedback is the response rate. Even if you ask the right question in a non-leading way, it isn’t reliable if it’s only the opinions of a few people.

Relying on the thoughts and feelings of a tiny percentage of your customers and employees puts your business at risk. Making decisions before you’ve collected enough data can cause you to commit resources to ideas that most people will dislike.

Instead, only make decisions when you identify trends in your feedback. If a significant amount of your customers or employees are telling you the same thing, it’s probably something you need to act on.

Not sure you’ve got enough feedback to fully commit to an idea? Test instead! Trial small changes in your business by comparing your feedback before and after changes. If it improves, roll it out company-wide. If it doesn’t, go back to the drawing board.


5. Businesses don’t do anything with their feedback

If you ask for feedback you MUST do something with it. Yet so many businesses don’t. No wonder fewer and fewer people are completing feedback surveys.

Ignoring people’s feedback will cause your customers and employees to ignore your surveys. After all, why would anybody spend time offering a business constructive feedback if there was no action, or even recognition, from it? It’s a waste of time!

Feedback doesn’t belong in spreadsheets, it’s supposed to drive business decisions and help them create stronger relationships with their customers and employees. Once you start acting on it, more and more people will respond, as you show you care how they feel.

Why businesses need to deliver on their promises

Read the blog

6. Businesses don’t have a feedback strategy in place

Feedback shouldn’t be ad hoc. Businesses who send everyone long-form surveys and plan to wing it after are damaging feedback.

A feedback strategy is crucial. You must know: what to ask, when to ask it, how to ask it, how often to ask it and what to do with your results.

Done right, this blueprint can make feedback a breeze and give your business the vital insight it craves. Done wrong, it can be time-consuming with very little benefit.


7. Businesses don’t keep score (not the right one, anyway)

A score is crucial so businesses can see that they are improving. They need to align their employees behind a score, using it as a target for the whole team to track and improve their performance.

Most businesses use a score like NPS, which confuses and demotivates staff, or CSat, which measures the wrong thing. Both of these scores can spell trouble.

Instead, you need a score like the Customer Happiness Score® (CHS®) or Employee Happiness Score® (EHS®), which makes tracking performance and aligning your team behind one goal simple. This helpful article explains precisely why CHS is a much better alternative to NPS for modern businesses.


Fix your feedback

Maybe you’ve made some of these mistakes before? That’s OK. Every business has at one point or another. The important thing is to learn from these mistakes and avoid these seven feedback killers.

Focus on asking the right question, measuring the right score and creating a feedback strategy that will grow your business.


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Gary Bartley

Gary is on a mission to help businesses understand the role that customer and employee happiness plays in their success.

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