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Asking for customer feedback at the right time is really important, and getting it wrong can result in a poor customer experience. Here we explain why and suggest things to consider.

I enjoy being asked to give feedback by a company…

Obviously I have an interest in this, as I help companies to improve their customers’ experiences every day, but even taking my work hat off, I like the fact that many companies I’m a customer of do reach out to see what I think.

When they ask, I mostly respond in hope that they’ll improve their service and make my life easier.

Except for this week.

This last week I’ve received two requests to give feedback to two companies I’ve just had dealings with. Finding out how satisfied I am with their products and services makes sense, right?

However, like a bad comedian, their timing was wrong. Which makes completing their surveys very difficult as I would have to make some answers up.

Example 1: The Greetings Card Company

Company 1 prints and supplies greetings cards and other products which can be personalised by the customer. The ultimate example of co-creation. I’ve been a customer of this well known brand for several years and by and large, I like them.

I created a bespoke birthday card for my wife, and duly ordered it. Great. Then around 10 hours later I received an email inviting me to complete a customer satisfaction survey. I decided to take a look at the survey but found it was impossible to complete. The survey asked me to rate the quality of the product and what I thought of it. A product I wouldn’t actually get in my hands for another 3 days. So needless to say, rather than make up a response, I deleted the invitation, and this company hasn’t had my feedback.

Example 2: The Ticketing Company

Company 2 is a well known concert and live events ticket seller. Unfortunately an event I had tickets for was cancelled and rescheduled, but we couldn’t make the new date. I contacted the company to cancel the tickets and request a refund. They responded quickly and acknowledged the request, saying the reimbursement should take around 7 days. All good so far.

Within a couple of hours I was asked to provide my feedback. I was happy to tell them what I thought about their response to my request and general helpfulness, but simply couldn’t answer questions about receiving the refund as I didn’t have it. From my point of view, the experience isn’t closed until the refund is received, so how can I accurately score my satisfaction with this experience? Consequently I didn’t provide my feedback.

In many ways, these two companies are doing the right thing. They are asking customers for feedback at specific points in the customer journey, and their surveys are not too long. But the timing wasn’t quite right.

Ultimately, I couldn’t complete these two customer feedback surveys accurately, so decided not to. It made me wonder how many customers did the same. Also I thought about those customers who did complete the surveys, but did so with their fingers crossed that the final outcomes will be what they hope for.

The companies are either missing out on vital feedback, or they are collecting misleading feedback which is not truly representative of the customer experience. And the timing mistake is a problem – because they haven’t thought it through from the customer’s point of view, it can leave customers feeling frustrated, which is surely the opposite of why they’re asking for feedback in the first place.

Getting it Right

Collecting feedback at key points in the customer journey is important, however it is the customer who determines when that particular journey ends, not the company.

My journey with the greetings card company ends when I have it in my hands. My journey with the ticket company ends when I have the funds in my account.

Only then is it appropriate to send me surveys and ask me what I think about the experience. If they do that I’ll respond accordingly.

An important point to make is you CAN ask for feedback before an entire journey is completed, but don’t include questions about steps which haven’t happened yet for the customer. This would be appropriate if the customer journey was longer. For example, a physiotherapist might invite feedback after the first consultation, to check that the patient understands and is happy with the treatment plan, and is likely to continue with it. Then an additional survey at the end of the course of treatment to check that they’re sufficiently happy with the outcome to make a word-of-mouth referral.

Think about your own customer journeys and when you ask for feedback. Are there some instances where the timing isn’t quite right? Would holding back a day or two provide more accurate feedback? Or conversely would bringing it forwards have the same positive impact?

Be a funny comedian, and time your feedback collection right.

Want to chat about how you can optimise your feedback collection processes? Contact us, or take a look at our customer satisfaction survey platform and find out how we can give your business a winning edge.

Darren Wake
Darren Wake

Darren is the Senior Account Manager at CustomerSure. He has a lifetime of experience working in both market research and customer experience improvement. He is responsible for working with our clients to make sure that their VoC programmes respect the customer and deliver measurable results.

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