Customer Feedback: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

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As a high-tech entrepreneur, I have strong engineering background but
lack of sales and marketing skills. I struggled to get new customiers
every day. Fortunately, my wife introduced me a book, “80/20 sales and
marketing” by Perry
Marshall
and his 21 sales and marketing principles. Perry rarely
steps out from his office to visit his prospects. His customers find
him first through various channels, e.g., Internet search. By
achieving the same, I could save tons of time and money; meanwhile I
am better positioning myself as an expert instead of a solicitor.
Isn’t this the dream of all small business owners? Testimonials are a
very important tool helping Perry to achieve this. He said that
testimonial is extremely powerful to generate sales leads, but hard to
get.

Why are testimonials or simply customer feedbacks so
hard to get? As a consumer, I often purchase or use products or
services such as home improvement, childcare, healthcare, electronic
gadgets, however, I rarely respond to the solicitation for feedback
from the business owners.

Customer Feedback: the bad

1. Lack of tangible, realistic, and instant benefit

The major reason why I don’t provide feedback is lack of benefit. My
time is valuable, why should I waste time and effort for nothing. The
traditional rewards for providing feedback typically include discount
for next purchase or service, opportunity to enter into drawing, earn
points which never get redeemed, or symbolic kudos purely for getting
high. None of these is attractive for me. I expect the business who
asks me to spend time and effort can offer me more tangible, realistic,
and instant reward. Shouldn’t my time and effort get compensated? A
good recent example is the class-action lawsuit from some reviewers of
Yelp. The reviews demands monetary compensation for the reviews they
post on Yelp. Badge or special permits are not sufficient to motivate
me to post any feedback.

Customer Feedback: the ugly

2. Difficult to set up and keep track

Many times when I receive email from feedback or survey
companies, I need to create an account with them before posting any
feedback. Signup may take up a few minutes to fill out a lengthy form.
I normally drop there. Sometime, I have to answer many pointless
questions such as my favorites or even my mother’s maiden name.
There’s no way I would continue from there. If I, for some reason, did
sign up, I get another account to keep track among my other thousands
of accounts. Yikes…

3. Lack of specific instruction

As a business owner, I always give very specific requirement
when I collect feedbacks, for example, “Did you get all the
information you need from my email? If no, what’s missing?” However,
most of the requests for feedback I got from other feedback or survey
companies are “I’d like to hear your feedback” or “Please tell us more
about your experience”. I don’t know how to start my feedback, unless
I have extremely good or bad experience. Most times, I’ve already
forgotten details about their services. I keep my mouth shut.

4. Feeling of being hijacked

Last month, I received repeating emails from my rental property
management company asking to provide feedback about their service. The
company asks us to share my opinion and literally demands me to give
them high rating. I was so reluctant to write any comment. I started
to use the company for a short period of time. I really didn’t know
how they can perform in the long run. The service looked good at that
time, but it doesn’t mean it will be working fine in the future.
However, I wrote something at last. There is a dilemma for me. On one
hand, I hope they can take good care of my property. I am afraid that
not providing what they want would discourage them providing good
service, or even encourage them stopping proving good service. On the
other hand, once I write and publish my temporary comment, I would
have trouble to step back. I lose the leverage of pushing business for
better service. I believe a large amount of testimonials are collected
this way. Writing text feedback is very subjective and quite often
misleading for other customers, since it inevitably includes personal
and provisional judgment, instead of intrinsic quality.

5. Afraid of being judged

I am not used to voice my opinion publicly, especially in front
of people who know me. Each time I commented on a very subjective
topic, the first thing worries me is what would John or Amy thinks of
me. Did I make a fool of myself? I don’t like this feeling.

I am sure there are more reasons for not providing feedback. I
don’t think I am specifically challenging, regarding providing
feedback. That’s why it is so hard for business to collect feedback.

So I, as a business owner, want feedback and testimonials from
my customers; on the other hand, as a customer, I don’t want provide
feedback. How can we close the loop here? I will talk about it in my
next blog.

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