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Commercial Excellence

Why companies fail when collecting customer feedback and how to do it better

Customers express significant irritation towards feedback requests and customer surveys. They are even prepared to convert to a competitor only because of a poorly designed or negatively perceived survey. Learn about the most common traps when gathering customer feedback and how to avoid a bad customer feedback experience.

The customer survey dilemma

The most critical success factor for some of the highest-ranked companies on the US stock market is understanding and acting on customer experience. It’s clear how focusing on customer experience as a single factor assures revenue and expansion from a short- and long-term perspective. However, customers express significant irritation towards feedback requests and customer surveys. In fact, 60 % of customers are negative about the fact that companies collect customer data, and that number increases with every new generation.  

Customers even say they are prepared to convert to a competitor only because of a poorly designed or negatively perceived survey. One cannot overestimate the importance of designing good customer surveys and treating them as essential touchpoints. Meanwhile, companies experience a lower answer frequency than ever. Experts believe the answer frequency to be less than 0,3 % in 2025. Therefore, companies must find new ways of collecting customer feedback combined with technology to complete and organize existing customer data. 

In this article, you will get some excellent advice on how to handle this dilemma. But first, you will learn more about the most common traps you should avoid when gathering customer feedback.  

1. When the customer feels like being hunted or kept on at 

Loyal customers that interact with your brand or products on a regular basis, and therefore may be your most important customers, get struck by this a lot. To receive a survey each time they consume your services is not a very good way of saying “thank you for being loyal”. The customer might have already told you about their thoughts and feelings and would like the feedback stalking to stop. 

2. When companies do not respond to customer feedback 

Imagine the customer actually give some time and thought to the feedback process. That gift is pure gold that deserves a response or a reaction. Responding to and acknowledging feedback is an essential part of any relationship. To recognize the customer in this feedback touchpoint is as crucial as welcoming the customer to your store or office. If the customer believes they have a real impact, they become more loyal and are more willing to contribute with feedback in the future. 

3. When surveys are too long 

As concluded in the introduction to this article, most customers do not want to spend even five minutes answering a survey. Therefore, it’s not very wise to make them too long. Companies that don’t have an integrated and continuous feedback strategy often find themselves in an annual survey loop. Consequently, they make up questions that should support a whole year’s worth of customer feedback data. The result, however, is very few answers and a lack of statistically valid data. 

4. When customers feel like they can’t express themselves freely 

The instinct to ask specific questions is rational. It’s natural to wish we could ensure an answer to what we wonder about or need. But when surveys don’t have any room for free text answers, the customers might feel frustrated. That is because humans are urged to be congruent with what we feel and how we express ourselves. 

How to do it better 

There are a couple of things you can do to make sure you can increase customer insights and avoid a bad feedback experience. The following advice are based on two principles; dig where you stand, search for existing customer insights and let customers express themselves freely. 

1. Search for existing customer data 

Almost all organizations have goldmines full of customer data they don’t know or think about. For example, in internal systems such as chats, posts on the website, and e-mails, there is a lot of spontaneously given feedback from customers. Moreover, many companies can find customer comments in external channels such as forums and social media platforms. AI technology and scraping tools can quickly analyze qualitative data and give you new insights. 

2. Conduct open in-depth interviews 

In-depth interviews allow the customers to speak freely about their experience. The key is to keep it open, which means you should let the customer choose what’s important to talk about. By doing this, you’ll automatically notice the customer’s priorities. You’ll also see what they don’t talk about, which can be equally interesting. A Taxi Company would, for example, ask, “Tell me about the last trip”. This method is often very appreciated by the customers since they experience that someone really listens to them.  

3. Ask or interview front-end-employees 

Companies with customer service employees, sales representatives or receptionists are fortunate. The front-end employees meet customers daily and possess explicit and implicit knowledge about the customers. Somehow, the front-enders are often forgotten when managers design, innovate or create a customer journey. When initiating communication shortcuts for customer feedback and customer trends, an organization can detect trends and change faster than its competitors to match customer needs.

4. Show that you really care 

Like any other relationship, one of the most critical factors to make it last is listening and showing a genuine interest in one another. Show that you listen and that you aim to really understand. Research shows that we like people more when they are good listeners, and the same goes for companies. That doesn’t mean you have to talk to every single customer; rather, give some thought to how you design your customer feedback process and try to make it personal and genuine.

5. Choose your customer feedback system supplier carefully 

External help is excellent when you want to collect customer feedback which minimizes the risk of bias and helps you see the data from a different perspective. Just make sure to do your due diligence and choose the right partner. Some suppliers have a pay-per-answer setup, meaning they will spam your customers to do good business. You want to choose a partner that is conscious about and cares about your customers – especially the feedback experience touch point in itself. 

Get in touch

Elin Öster

Senior Consultant

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