Mixed Messages: Your Feedback Is Important, But We Don’t Have Time To Listen

Companies beg us to take their surveys, but what happens when customers beg for help? Many surveys conclude by telling customers that the company cannot respond to each customer individually. Customers are often directed to contact the company in another way, if they’re experiencing a problem that requires assistance. In essence, they’re saying, “thank you for taking our survey, we don’t have time to read it.”

Unfortunately, not reviewing or following-up with respondents individually has become the norm. Customers now have little faith that their responses make a difference. Worse yet, customers who seek resolution to a problem through a survey are often left disappointed. This must end now! Allowing this precedent to be set makes Voice of the Customer research, a key discipline of customer experience, more difficult for everyone. Customers won’t speak to us if they don’t think we’re listening.

Surveys As A Channel

Like a kid who just discovered a television remote control, we service professionals love our channels. We’re obsessed with channel mix, blended agents, offering multi- or the elusive omni-channel experience. How are customers contacting us? Phone? Operators are standing by. Chat? You better believe it. Email? In an hour or less! Social? We got you. Survey? Crickets.

Organizations tend to think about customer communication in terms of what’s listed on their website’s contact page. Phone, chat, email, snail mail, and… fax! Yes, apparently some people still fax things. Management has approved these methods of communicating with customers; to them, it doesn’t matter what customers actually use. In truth, there’s so much more to customer communication than what’s on your contact page. This is why social media and online communities have left organizations struggling to engage customers. Some methods of communicating with customers, like do-not-reply emails and customer surveys, are approved yet not considered or treated as a communication channel. This fallacy is so well accepted, companies actually advertise it! Here are some examples from surveys I found on the web:

Nike website with Usabilla:
“We are unable to respond to requests submitted here. If you need assistance with your Nike Product or Services please click here to contact us.”
Are you unable, or unwilling? There’s a big difference.

TD Ameritrade website with Foresee:
“Need help? If you have a question requiring a response please contact us.”
If I’m on your website, I probably need help. It’s not for entertainment.

This Hurts You, More Than It Hurts Me

We can pretend that serving customers well is something we do as a charity, but it’s not. When we get down to the brass tacks, we must serve customers well so they continue to give us their money. Money is what puts food on our tables and shoes on our kids’ feet. Customers are not contacting us for their benefit, they’re contacting us to help us take their money!

If customers are talking, we should be listening and replying. Period. How customers reach out to us doesn’t matter, we should be there for them when they do. This includes reading every survey response and replying to every customer question. To do anything less is a deliberate choice to abandon your customer in a time when they may need you most. Someone else will pick up the pieces, and your revenue.

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