Archive for December 18, 2013

When There is Too Much Focus On Feedback

 

I’m a big fan of companies who ask customers for feedback…I really am. I think, when done correctly, it’s a great way to get that important feedback from customers so you can gauge the customer experience and continue to ensure its successful.

 

However, I’ve recently run into a case where it’s taken to the extreme. I’m not sure what is happening behind the scenes, so to speak, but it seems like the company is putting a bit too much focus on customer feedback, or perhaps they are trying to incorporate bonuses into their feedback program. I’m not sure, because I’m not an employee of this particular retailer, but at any rate, as a consumer, it’s a bit disconcerting on a few levels.

 

I’ve recently visited a well known retailer during my holiday shopping. I’m a fairly regular customer and have not noticed this on past visits. While making my purchases, the employee was very nice and accommodating, and everything went well. Then I got my receipt, along with a two minute instructional monologue on their survey. The cashier circled the survey link on the receipt, encouraging me to take the survey in exchange for a coupon or discount on my next visit. This is where it should have stopped, followed by a “Thank you! Have a great day!”

 

But it didn’t.

 

She repeated herself again, and told me that it was very important that I provide good feedback for her. She gave me her name, and then wrote it on the receipt so I wouldn’t forget. She asked if she did well, and if I would give her good feedback. She again pointed to the receipt and then repeated her name and encouraged me to use it when taking the survey. She then asked if I thought I’d take the survey, and stated that she hoped I would.

 

A subsequent visit with a different cashier yielded similar results. This employee also offered his name, and wrote it on my receipt. He then said he hoped I was satisfied, and encouraged me to take the survey and provide good feedback so that I would receive a discount/coupon on a future visit. In this case, I knew what he was saying  – that there would be a discount given at the end of the survey – but the way he worded it, probably not intending to, made it sound as though I would get a discount only if I provided good feedback for him.

 

This approach is not great from a customer’s standpoint on many levels:

 

1. It’s too much. There was too much talking at the end about the survey, how to take it, what to say, etc. As a customer, please bring it to my attention and encourage me to take it. And yes, please mention the discount, because that might encourage me to go home and take it. But, keep it short and simple.

 

2. It makes the employees sound desperate: I did feel badly for the cashiers. I wasn’t sure if they were given a goal to get X number of surveys, or perhaps there was bonus money in it for them if they received good feedback. During the first purchase, the employee sounded almost as if her job were at stake, and she needed good feedback to keep her employment. I’m sure that’s not the case, but it did cross my mind. This tactic can send a wrong signal to customers depending on the delivery.

 

3. It’s causing friction in the customer experience. I know at the time, I was in a bit of a hurry, and just wanted to get out of the store. And, given the long line of customers behind me, I’m sure they weren’t pleased to be held up either. Again, a quick acknowledgement of wanting each customer to be satisfied, along with encouragement to take the survey and disclosure of the incentive, is good enough. If customers wait too long, especially for something along this line, they may be cranky by the time they reach the register, and it will affect their perception of the visit. This, in turn, can change the results of the feedback surveys.

 

I know this is a simple issue that I may be taking too far in theory, but it’s a good lesson to companies to make sure there is a good balance between providing great service, encouraging feedback, and getting the data you want. Pushing too hard or placing too much pressure on your employees can backfire on the entire program.

 

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When Customer Feedback Catches What’s Falling Through the Cracks

 

I recently had an interesting experience with a large scale retailer, that is yet unresolved, at least in my opinion. I’m waiting to see how it plays out, but thought it was a good example of how asking for feedback can find the issues that are falling through the cracks within your company.

 

I received an email saying my online account with the company had been compromised, and as a precaution, they locked my account and cleared my saved payment options. They provided a link to reopen my account and change the password. While it looked authentic, I am always hesitant to take the emails as legitimate.

 

I went to the company’s website (not through the link in the email) and found that not only could I access my account easily, but my settings were not changed at all. Out of an abundance of caution, I changed the password and removed anything that could potentially get in the wrong hands.

 

I called the toll free number, which led me through a long, drawn out, unclear path to be transferred to someone who might be able to help me. Once I found the right combination of numbers to press, the call was transferred. All I heard was some silence and the call disconnected. I did this two more times with the same result. Okay, I guess they don’t want to talk to me.

 

So I went to the website to fill out a contact form on the website. This went unanswered for two days. On the third day, I received an email from the company asking for my feedback. They wanted to be sure that my issue was resolved and the customer service I received was satisfactory.

 

I was happy to provide feedback, including all of the information on my journey to have a simple question answered, and explained that as of the time of the survey, I have not received any information from their company.

 

Now, I’m waiting to see how long it takes the feedback to filter through and someone reaches out to try to help me – or not.

 

At first I was frustrated getting the feedback request when I have yet to receive another response. I felt like one hand (the feedback team) didn’t know what the other hand (customer service) was doing. Then I realized this may very well be an automated system that sends out feedback requests within x number of days from the request, assuming that the issue would be resolved, or at least on its way, by that point.

 

If customers share feedback like I have, this is useful to companies. First, it ensures that all issues are being addressed with customers. By receiving the type of feedback I provided, the company can look for trends to identify why issues may be falling through the cracks, where requests are being routed and which are being resolved vs not resolved, and do better. Second, it gives the company a second chance to do good by the customer. I am hoping for a response from the company within 24 hours after leaving feedback; trying to stay positive, though if my issue wasn’t addressed quickly, I’m not sure why I think someone will respond promptly to the feedback I’ve left.

 

It’s a good experience to serve as a reminder to pay attention to feedback surveys. Reviewing them in as real time as possible is the best way to manage customer complaints while maintaining quality control over the customer service provided.

 

I will return to this story once it has time to play out. I am hoping to return with positive results…

 

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Drones and Robots Taking Over Amazon?

 

Have you seen this yet? While still in the “this could become reality..someday” stage, this may be the future of Amazon:

 

I have to admit, when I first saw this video, I could think of 1,000 things that could go wrong with this, but also thought of how cool it would be. You just never know what can happen in the future.

 

While Amazon is dreaming big with the drones, they have also shared that they have also had another futuristic plan in the works, one that will be coming to fruition much sooner than any drone – robots in fulfillment centers.

 

The company plans to increase efficiency while decreasing costs for shipping while speeding up what is already touted as speedy delivery by employing such robots. The robots would be used to pluck merchandise from shelves and deliver to workers, hopefully creating a quicker process overall. And, it can potentially save Amazon up to $916 million per year – that is a significant efficiency.

 

Companies, especially e-commerce sites, are tightening their processes to provide the quickest, least expensive service offerings and products to their customers. Technology is helping that effort, and companies are getting creative in ways to cut costs and pass those on to customers.

 

What do you think? Will we ever see an Amazon drone? Is it a realistic expectation for the future? Please join in the conversation and share your thoughts with the community!

 

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