Is your customer feedback process fit for purpose?

Is your customer feedback process fit for purpose (unlike the teapot)?

After a wonderful girls weekend away in a Forest Holidays cabin, I returned home buoyant, prepared to highly recommend Forest Holidays to friends. However, there was just one minor thing really irked us during our stay – the teapot wasn’t fit for purpose and it dribbled tea all over the place.

tea pot

A couple of days after I returned, I received a “Welcome Home” email from Forest Holidays asking me to share my favourite memory from my weekend away. Well, I didn’t really want to ‘share’ my memories but I did want to point out that they should supply teapots that don’t dribble.

So I clicked on the link only to find I had to fill in all my contact and booking details (I had to dig out my original booking confirmation to find them). Why couldn’t Forest Holidays have pre-populated those details in the form? After all, they had my details in their system.

I started filling out the open-ended ‘memory’ field with details about the teapot only to have my ‘memory’ restricted to a certain number of characters. Arrrrgh …..

customer feedback

After submitting my ‘memories form’, a page popped up saying I could make further comments by going to the contact page. So I duly did and found a ‘contact form’ where I had to re-enter all my personal and booking details. Luckily it allowed me to write more than the ‘memory form’.

Being a stalwart of giving constructive customer feedback, I wanted to talk to someone about the company’s inadequate customer feedback process. So I opened the online chat.

The agent said I should contact customer services and gave me their email address. I asked why that email address wasn’t readily available on the website – apparently it was in the Ts & Cs under “complaints”. Well, there was no way I would have thought to search out the Ts & Cs in order to give a bit of feedback about a teapot and it certainly didn’t constitute a ‘complaint’, rather a piece of feedback.

Nevertheless I wrote to customer services not only mentioning the teapot but also explaining how it would be good if Forest Holidays could provide a more customer friendly method of giving simple feedback.

It’s worth noting at this stage that I was probably a little more persistent in trying to give feedback than many others as I work in the customer feedback industry and am pretty passionate about it. But how many Forest Holidays customers would have given up at the first hurdle?

Within 24 hours I had received responses to my ‘memories form’ and my ‘contact form’. Alas, no response to my longer, more comprehensive email to customer services.

I was duly hopeful when, a week later, I received a phone call from Forest Holidays asking whether I had 5 minutes to answer a few questions.

Finally they’ve got back to me, was my initial thought.

I asked if this was in response to my email.

Alas no.

I was told they wanted to ask me some questions about my holiday. I agreed – purely just to see what questions she was going to ask.

10 minutes and 49 questions later, I had completed the survey. (How respectful was that of my time?) The survey comprised lots of ‘how would you rate the kitchen / bedrooms / bathrooms / hot tub etc on a scale of poor, good, very good, excellent”. And one final question asking ‘what was the one thing that would have made your holiday better’. Yes, I did mention the teapot.

The morals of this story are 4 fold:

  1. Make giving feedback as easy as possible for your customers. Make feedback forms easily accessible and allow customers to say as much or as little as they want to say within them.
  2. Allow customers to give feedback on whatever channel they wish to – email, SMS, website, phone, online chat. Don’t push them from pillar to post.
  3. Respond to feedback – especially to emails to your customer services department! Closing the loop on customer feedback is essential for keeping customers loyal.
  4. If you really do have to inconvenience customers with long, post-holiday telephone surveys, at least have the courtesy to keep a record of correspondence you’ve had with each customer so the agent is prepared in advance of the call.

None of this is rocket science. If more senior managers stepped into the shoes of their customers, they’d see where their company processes require improvement. Read our 6 Tips For Becoming A Listening Company.

Alternatively, ask us for advice on the best ways to manage an effective Voice of Customer program. Feedback Ferret has 20 years of experience in this field and can help put you on the path to Voice of Customer excellence.

Not rocket science

By Nicola Douglas, Marketing Manager