How NOT to ask for Feedback

Apr 18, 2012 Comments Off by

As business owners, we want feedback from our customers, right? And we think we always want positive feedback, right?

Positive feedback is great. But it often ain’t the truth, and imho, it doesn’t really help us adapt, improve and grow.

Sure we want to know the things we are doing right, but in my experience the MOST helpful feedback comes when people who care enough to give you feedback at all also care enough to tell you how to improve.

Here’s the thing… the best ideas, and the ones we often act on the fastest come from feedback that is not so positive.

Getting 10 out of 10 ratings on a feedback form often lulls you into complacency – or even arrogance – as you think how bloody good you are.  Even worse, 10 out 10 ratings makes you think everything is ok,  and probably should not be changed.

10 out of 10 feedback masks areas to improve and impedes growth.  Getting a mixed scorecard with comments about how you can improve is far more valuable. At least, that is how I see it.

“Give us a 10 and We’ll give you 20% discount”

Get Smarter with Feedback Forms. This is VERY Dumb Feedback Form Enticement

Photo by Kim Stiglitz verticalResponse

I saw a post this morning from Bob Phibbs in the USA who calls himself The Retail Doctor. Bob’s post talks about the changing nature of brands and how brands used to mean something.   In the post, there was this photo from a feedback form used in the USA by the retailer GAP.

Can you imagine a major retailer being so in need of positive feedback that they would bribe their customers with offers of discounts? 

“Let us know how we are doing, give us a score of 1o, and get 20% off…”

I just can’t see that this type of feedback bribery will get helpful feedback from customers who care about anything other than a 20% discount.  And GAP is a big organisation with a big well-known brand, theoretically with experienced marketers on their team.

You just gotta love this open and connected world in which we live. I’ve just followed GAP on Twitter, and just sent GAP the following tweet:  “@Gap Open Research Question: How did your feedback form offering 20% discount for a 10/10 rating work for you?”

I’m really interested in their response, and also how good their social media monitoring is. I’ll let you know if/when they ever reply.

Anyway, putting aside the wonderful feedback and results that GAP may have had, we can learn from it.  Learn NOT to do it.  In fact, I reckon their approach is seriously dumb.

Here’s what Bob Phibbs, The Retail Doctor wrote in his post:

“With all the talk about “transparency” when dealing with the younger generation, GAP is demonstrating they don’t really care about your experience, just lie and get your 20% off.

What an insult to such a once-great retail brand (coincidentally started in the sixties) now reduced to a click to receive yet another discount coupon.

They aren’t asking for what you really think or value, just kidding themselves people really believe this stuff bullshit.”

Strong words from Bob. And true. The sad thing is, GAP is not alone.  And with the rise of  ‘clever’ social media marketing,  other businesses now think it is smart to ask customers to use platforms such as Facebook to “Like”  them just to qualify for discounts, enter competitions and more. Then the business brags about the number of “Likes” they have.  This popularity may be real – but it’s often also misguided, misleading and delusional.

Ask for Ideas to Improve

There are plenty of ways to ask for feedback that can help you grow and improve your business.  Here are some questions you could use.

  • How can we improve?
  • What could we have done better?
  • What did you like and what did you dislike about … ?
  • Where did we stuff up?
  • What did we do wrong ?
  • What three things could we do better?

Keep it simple, and choose which style of question suits you best.  But please make sure you ask for the negatives about your products and services, not just the positives. And please don’t resort to bribery to keep it positive.

Self-delusion in business ain’t helpful to anyone,  especially in an environment where most of us need to get a whole lot smarter about how we grow and protect our businesses.  

Strategies & Roadmap, The Big Picture
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