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The golden rule of customer feedback

This guide is about how to unlock the many benefits that come from doing customer feedback right.

It’s not enough to simply ‘collect customer feedback’.

Think about all the times that you, a customer, have been on the receiving end of a company who were trying to collect customer feedback with a multi-page survey which will ‘only take 30 minutes’, thrust randomly into your inbox, or a ‘TELL US WHAT YOU THINK!!’ popup when you visit a supplier’s website.

The companies who thought it was a good idea to subject you to this aren’t doing customer feedback correctly, and as a consequence they aren’t seeing many benefits.

But just because it’s often done badly, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a right way to do customer feedback. A way of doing feedback which makes people say:

“In the first three months we increased our Net Promoter Score from 38 to 63. Customer satisfaction continues to rise in all areas.”


“Our customer focus has increased job satisfaction for our team, made the business team more confident in selling our service and created an esprit of service in our team”. David Sheehan

Or even

“We are achieving 95%+ CSAT in Europe and we look forward to using future feedback to help identify areas for improvement in service delivery in the US as well as in Europe”. Lindsay Boullin

Every other section in this guide gives you specific advice on how to set up a customer feedback program that gets things right and delivers the same benefits that Suzy, David and Lindsay see, but this section is the most important: It deals with the underlying principle which applies to every step of the project, our golden rule.

If you take nothing else away from CustomerSure, take away the golden rule. Once you’ve mastered it, you can pretty much work everything else out for yourself…

What’s the golden rule?

The Golden Rule: Customers First

The golden rule is simple. Put your customers first. Always. If your customer feedback project ever puts the needs of Sharon in Finance or Waylon in Marketing above the needs of your customers, it’s going to fail.

Your customers are real people with busy lives, overflowing inboxes, daily commutes, favourite coffee brands, dogs, instagram envy, exciting vacation plans, secret recipes and skincare routines.

If you can bring a little more sanity to their lives, they’ll love you forever.

So, when you’re designing your customer feedback program, and you’re trying to work out the best way of doing things, constantly ask yourself “what would my customers want?”. It may help you to put together some personas and keep them on your desk, so you can constantly put yourself in your customers’ shoes when you’re answering questions.

If you’ve never built personas, here’s a couple of resources to get you started:

  • Buyer Personas To Skyrocket Your Revenue by Moosend
  • Hubspot’s guide

This entire guide is based on this golden rule. The answers to all the common questions we hear, about survey scales, prizes and benchmarking all have their roots in the golden rule. If you’ve got a question that we haven’t covered, you should be able to answer it by applying the golden rule… But of course, if that’s the case, we’d love you to get in touch so we can learn from your experience!

The other golden rules

Wait, what? More golden rules? I thought only the winner gets gold?

Fine. The silver rules, if you will. The Electrum rules. The winners of the runners-up.

These three rules are important, and deserve their place here, but they ultimately all stem from the golden rule.

They’re the fundamentals that you need to get right before you start thinking about the details. If you get these right, you’ll see decent results no matter what else you do. Get them wrong, and you may as well not send surveys at all.

Rule One - Make it very easy for customers to give feedback.

This is not as obvious as it might seem – making it easy is about timing and psychology as well as the design of satisfaction surveys and the process of collecting feedback.

To make it easy you need to ask at the right time in the right way right time

And that means ‘right’ from the customer’s point of view.

To decide the best time to collect customer feedback, ask yourself the question “If I was the customer, when would I want to give feedback?”

It’s unlikely they would answer “Once a year” or “When the directors have decided they want to see a customer satisfaction scores”.

If a customer has just bought from you, you need to let them give you feedback as soon as is practical, so they don’t have the frustration of struggling through your phone system or finding the right email address to reach the person they need.

In the same vein, asking in the right way means “asking in a way that’s convenient for your customers”. This is not just about designing short surveys rather than multi-page monsters (though it certainly includes that). It’s also about the psychology.

If you have a good relationship with your customers, they might feel awkward criticising the member of your team who they’ve been dealing with, especially if they want that person to be equally helpful the next time.

So you need to let customers know you will welcome their comments, even comments that are critical. If you indicate that you’re desperate to know any way you can improve their experience with you them, they’ll know they’re helping, not criticising you

You’re giving them permission to tell you what you need to do to keep their business.

Which is what you, and they both want.

To sum up:

Rule Two - Act promptly on all feedback

Feedback is a double-edged sword. If you invite it, you can really impress your customers with prompt follow-up.

However if you invite feedback but don’t act on it or respond, then it sends a signal that you’ve ignored it. And that’s worse than not asking at all because you’ve raised an expectation with someone then failed to meet it. These rules should help you get it right every time:

  • Follow up promptly and appropriately on whatever the customer says. It builds trust, makes them more likely to recommend you to others, and spend more with you themselves.
  • Make sure roles and responsibilities are clearly defined for processing feedback. If you use CustomerSure, make sure that everyone in the business knows why you’re using it, and who does what - from responding to feedback, to sharing comments with team members, to circulating scores around the business.
  • Put regular reviews in the diary to not only check the process is working, but also analyse the data you’ve collected over time and see whether there are any recurring problems that need attention.

Rule Three - Show the feedback to everyone

This is the key to unlocking business benefits. If the first mistake is to ask for feedback and then do nothing about it, the second mistake is to get valuable customer comments but only let a few people see them.

Customer service is everyone’s responsibility – not just so-called ‘front line’ people. Most members of your contact centre team are likely highly-trained in delivering great service. But can you say the same for your delivery drivers, your receptionists, your over-eager payment chaser in accounts, your sales manager, or the recruiter who fails to understand that the candidate is also a customer?

Everybody has the ability to give a customer a bad experience.

So everyone stands to learn by seeing the customer feedback and finding out what your customers like and don’t like about their dealings with your company.

So the last golden bronze rule is:

To improve customer satisfaction show customer comments to everyone. When they’re positive, it makes for extra motivation and job satisfaction. When they’re not so positive, it means the best person gets to see and fix any problems. It’s the best way for everyone to learn – much more effective than hearing the feedback second-hand or not at all.

Read more:

How Should I Share Feedback With My Team?

Collecting feedback can be bad for your business. But sharing feedback can transform it. We’ll show you, with examples, why sharing doesn’t have to be scary.

Dealing With Complaints

Complaints are bad, right? Not quite. If you approach them in the right frame of mind, you’ll wish your customers complained more. Learn how.

See how CustomerSure could work for you

To find out more about how CustomerSure could help you, get in touch today.

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