More and more companies are adopting ways of collecting instant feedback, both online and offline. These might be surveys that pop up after buying something on the web, or, increasingly, physical displays in shops. These display a range of emoticons that shoppers can choose from to describe their experience - typically ranging from a happy smiling face at one end to a frown at the other. As feedback mechanisms go, it’s beautifully straightforward for the consumer and means they can articulate their views in a quick and non-invasive manner, while it is still top of their mind.
For the business this form of instant, real-time feedback when the experience is fresh is much better at capturing how it went, compared to carrying out research days or weeks afterwards. It captures a snapshot as to what consumers feel at the time based on their gut instinct, and avoids the pitfalls of longer lead feedback where people could forget information, confuse different visits, or simply can’t be bothered to describe their experience.
Anonymity can also be seen as an advantage. For instance, consumers are more likely to be honest in their answers when clicking an emoticon, compared to answering the same question from a store assistant armed with an iPad.
Integrating into overall feedback
Whilst this real-time feedback can be useful, it needs to balance simplicity against the danger of creating another silo of information that doesn’t integrate with wider customer feedback strategies. This means that rather than just rolling out instant feedback displays in their shops, restaurants or offices, businesses need to take a step back and address potential issues that could negate the usefulness of the information. For example, how will instant feedback connect to the main Voice of the Customer programme? And whilst on the whole anonymity is an advantage it’s important to be aware of how it can skew findings. Some consumers will hit an emoticon that doesn’t portray their real feelings, just because they can, while small children for instance are likely to just press the face they like the most (again and again).
This means that organisations can potentially be overwhelmed by (even more) information from (even more) sources and actually make it harder to see the wood for the trees. The only way around these potential pitfalls is to ensure that all feedback mechanisms are brought together into a single, integrated platform. This is particularly important as we increasingly move into a world where ‘big data’ becomes a reality and businesses routinely gain insight from more complex sources such as unstructured data and mobile devices and sensors. Any fracture in feedback mechanisms now is likely to widen as data becomes more plentiful and complex.
Analysing information in one place
Having feedback on a single platform means that data should be easier to analyse – such as through interactive dashboards. It also should enable users to set up semi-automated decision making – with data automatically analysed and then an alert triggered if a value goes beyond a trigger point. So for example, managers can see that if you have a set of shops with similar characteristics (size, demographics, sales etc.), and one suddenly displays different behaviour to the others, an alert could be triggered. This doesn’t show what the problem is (or even that there necessarily is a problem), but it does guide the business as to where to dig deeper. And looking at instant feedback mechanisms specifically it could iron out inconsistencies with data. For example, if instant feedback from one store is poor but this doesn’t corroborate with complaint levels or longer lead feedback then the issue might be with the way instant feedback is collected there, rather than indicating an actual problem.
Combining feedback is particularly important given that responsibility for the customer experience goes beyond just listening to consumers. Staff, whether in store, or within customer service teams have valuable insight to give on customer behaviour, meaning it is therefore important that businesses have a plan to collect actionable insight from all these departments and personnel.
The rise of instant feedback can only be a good thing – as is anything that gives consumers the chance to provide their views quickly and easily. But as with all feedback mechanisms it can’t be used or analysed in isolation and needs to be integrated with overall Voice of the Customer programmes. Finally, the right framework needs to be put in place to help make data analysis comprehensive and easy, otherwise organisations will miss key trends and behaviour that affect their business.