Monday February 4, 2013
By Jon Reed - Head of Operations
Last year one of my favourite brands, Waitrose, launched a Twitter campaign asking followers to answer “I shop at Waitrose because…#WaitroseReasons”.
I remember thinking what a great idea this was. I’m a big fan of seeking customer feedback but rarely do people have time or inclination to complete an online survey, so a well-structured attempt to gain customers thoughts in 140 characters appealed hugely.
Reviewing its success, it was clear that #WaitroseReasons spread really quickly. Examples of tweets made in reply included a real selection. Some very complimentary, some challenging of the Waitrose brand and some just very funny:
“I shop at Waitrose because…. it makes me feel important and I absolutely detest being surrounded by poor people”
"I shop at Waitrose because…. when the economy finally breaks down and dies, those little green tokens will serve as currency."
“I shop at Waitrose because…. I was once in the Holloway Road branch and heard a dad say ‘Put the papaya down Orlando!’”
"I shop at Waitrose because… I think food must automatically be better if it costs three times as much."
In reviewing the effectiveness of the initiative Waitrose may have had mixed feelings. Some would argue that all feedback is positive and represents an opportunity to improve. However by obtaining customer views by this means, it ran the risk of negative tweets being seen by the world. For Waitrose this meant that the perception of the business being expensive and middle class was enhanced; conflicting with their latest campaign which pledges to price match their competitors on millions of pounds worth of products and therefore appeal to all.
Organisations have different approaches to gathering customer feedback. Some use online surveys, others face to face canvassing. Here at learnpurple, feedback on our programmes is an integral part of how we measure success so we ask course attendees to complete a short text message survey.
In a previous role all customers were asked to complete a 50 question online survey but in truth we really only measured responses to three ‘killer’ questions. To me that really begged the question why not just ask three questions?
In reviewing your approach to gathering customer feedback you might consider the following tips:
1.Start with the end in mind
What you want from the feedback. Are you looking to enhance a certain aspect of your business, or merely carrying out because you feel you should and it ticks the box? If it’s the latter then take a minute to ask whether now is the right time – customers will not appreciate being contacted again for their thoughts in two months when there’s a real business need. Feedback should be obtained to action improvement; therefore think carefully about the questions and then carry the exercise out with purpose and intention.
2. What action will/can you take?
If you do ask for feedback, be prepared to seriously consider it. You don’t have to act on all of the information, however you should at the very least listen and think about it. Then action what you can, provide follow up and acknowledge the input from the customer. For those things you can’t alter, explain why – honesty is appreciated more than ignorance.
3. Which option is best for your needs?
When selecting a customer feedback tool, think first about your goals, and then about the scope of the exercise. Options include online, phone and mail surveys, post-transaction surveys, focus groups, comment cards and feedback forms, usability tests and of course social media.
If it’s appropriate to offer an incentive to potential feedback givers then it may help to drive volume of feedback, however it could of course dilute quality and honesty. We’d always recommend starting without an incentive; and then reviewing the feedback responses to decide if one should be put in place.
5. Ask what else you should do
Many companies are focused on getting feedback on one specific aspect. However, asking customers about what else they'd like to see from your company can open the door to new opportunities
6. Managing reputation
However your business chooses to gather customer feedback, a plan should be in place for dealing with negative feedback. Consider the impact, how it can be contained and, of course, your approach to following it up. And be aware, platforms such as Twitter, Tripadvisor and Revoo limit the ability for an organisation to filter negative comments, therefore a plan of action must be in place for these types of sites where they are reviewed regularly and a prompt response is given; ensuring other viewers aren’t put off by the feedback they read.
What have you done to encourage your customers to give you feedback?