Getting customer feedback is vital to the continuous improvement of your products, sales, and service. Both comments and complaints can be incredibly helpful if specific enough to understand what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong in the eyes of that customer.
One of the website I manage serves B2B customers in the retail industry. They sell some pretty complex items on their website which require specific customer knowledge of store floor space and merchandise, as well as some fairly simple and straightforward add-ons and accessories. There are literally thousands of items for sale on their website in a myriad of sizes and combinations. As a result, they go out of their way to make certain they are available to assist customers via phone, emails, and live web chat — but they can only do so much during standard business hours in the midwest, and they have customers in almost every time zone.
Once a customer completes their purchase on the website, they’re invited to provide feedback on their experience by rating the website and checkout process on a scale of 1-10. If they give a rating of less than 8 the customer is asked what could have been done differently to bring the score up to a 10, and are asked if they’d like a representative from the company to follow-up with them via email or phone.
- Many customers ignore the feedback survey completely.
- The majority of customers who fill out the survey will rate their experience a 10 or a 9 (some people are weirdly averse to giving something a perfect score).
- But occasionally the morning email inbox holds a surprise rating of a 7 or a 6 or even a 5.
A small percentage of the time the customer will give a specific reason for the low rating. They may have had a problem with getting their credit card to work (which likely occurred because they entered a mismatched billing address), or they thought the shipping cost was too high (shipping company prices from Fedex, UPS, and others have significantly increased due to COVID — and Amazon has us all trained to expect free next-day shipping on everything), so while my client company might not like taking a rating hit for those reasons, they understand it for what it is and will still reach out to the customer to let them know they appreciated the feedback and will be happy to help them off-line to make the payment process easier or to ship the items on the buyer’s own shipper account.
But then there are the mystery low-ball ratings where they give a low rating, yet remain silent about why they rated it at that level.
Frankly, I think it’s passive aggressive.
If you’re upset enough about the service to check a low rating, why not take the opportunity in the next box to vent about why you are unhappy?
To my client’s credit, they will still reach out to the customer via the contact information on the submitted order form (even if the customer left the contact details blank on the post-purchase survey) to write a polite and personal email apologizing for the customer’s noted bad experience and ask where in the buying or checkout process did they fall short (so they can make improvements for the customer’s next visit).
Only 1% of the people will ever respond with any reason at all, and it’s usually something innocuous like they couldn’t find a product item or they didn’t understand which size to buy. From my client’s standpoint the true rating on an issue like that is closer to an 8 or a 9, but to the customer who couldn’t get the answer right when they needed it, the problem felt like a 7 or a 6 (completely understandable from the client;’s point of view).
This type of feedback usually results in changes to product description copy or cross-linking other recommended items from that product page to better guide the next customer who stumbles on the same issue.
- The complaints raise awareness of a perceived problem and sounds the alarm.
- The comments allow for specific changes and improvement to be made in order to make the site better.
Complaints without comments are punitive without being productive
Remember this the next time you’re writing a review on Amazon or rating a shop on Yelp. It’s great that you’re letting the business know you were unhappy, but tell them why. And let them know what they could change in order to prevent another unhappy customer in the future.
You’ll be surprised at how many businesses are perfectly willing to fix the things you perceive as broken — but only if you can help them understand what went wrong and why you’re unhappy.
Every business wants happy customers!