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Why do some companies find responding to customer feedback so difficult to do?

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I’m trying to understand why companies don’t reply to customer feedback, and what are the benefits of doing so.

Like most people, I get sent a fair few invitations to complete satisfaction surveys. But probably unlike most people, I take the time to complete them and give my feedback. Let’s keep ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ of survey design and length for another blog. The thing I wanted to talk about here was the strange ability some companies have to completely ignore the feedback I’ve provided them with.

They ask what I think, what might have gone wrong, and what could they do to improve. And I tell them, in as much detail as I can be bothered to write. Yet in most cases I get diddly squat back. I’m not accepting a ‘Thank you for your feedback, it is extremely important to us’ automated reply by the way. This counts for little.

So I’m left to wonder, is my feedback important to you? Like really important to you? If it was so important, would you not read it, acknowledge my experience and observations and offer a response? Ok, not every survey I complete would warrant a personal reply, but when I’ve had a problem or say why my scores are low, would you not want to respond to me as a customer and try to either solve my problem or improve the relationship? Evidently not.

When I provide a company with poor feedback it provides them an opportunity to interject and try to keep me as a customer or prevent me from bad mouthing them to people I know. But most of the time I get radio silence. What a wasted opportunity.

It has left me wondering whether companies really want to know what I think, or do they just want an NPS score from me? Do they really care about the comments and detail I provide? Or am I just wasting my time? I often wonder if my comments will ever be read by a human, or will they just disappear down a hole, never to be seen by human eyes! It’s quite a depressing thought!

Ever the optimist, I believe (hope) my comments are read. If the comments provided by customers in feedback surveys are not read by someone, why are companies asking for them? Please do us all a favour and don’t ask for comments. If all you want is a handful of scores for tracking purposes, fine, but you do know that would be a terrible idea, right?

But if my comments are read by a human, and I provide my details for them to respond (I always do), why does a reply to my cry for help never materialise? I personally find this very strange and a missed opportunity.

A personalised reply not only startles me because it’s so unexpected, it actually blows my socks off. The handful of times this happens I’m left speechless and impressed that they’ve taken the time to read my comments and provide a considered response. Of course, the content of the reply matters a great deal, whether it’s an apologetic or problem solving response, but either way, the response has gravitas and impact purely because it is so unexpected.

So immediately I have a warmer affiliation with that company. I feel appreciated, listened to and important. That company I have just ranted about has gone up in my estimations. I am more likely to give them a second chance and less likely to bad mouth them to others.

Has a considered, personalised and well thought out reply to my feedback totally won me over? Of course not. But it has started to rebuild some trust and made me think more of them.

I am not alone in this thinking. Having spoken to family and friends recently, two things are evidently clear.

  1. When people give feedback, nearly all the time they hear nothing back
  2. In the rare cases they do get a reply referencing their issues, trying to help or improve the experience, it totally amazes them

Which begs the question why don’t more companies do this more often? ‘Closing the loop’ if you will. There are lots of potential reasons - resourcing, time pressures, a poor system, difficult to do, feedback programme ownership, etc – that’s for discussion in another blog.

But one thing is clear. Organisations which do this will have an advantage over those competitors which don’t.

Something to consider when you next evaluate your feedback programme?

It’s not as daunting or as difficult as you might think. Read our short guide on how to respond to customer feedback here.

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