Ask for Feedback, Not Flattery

If you have bought basically anything in the last 10 years (particularly a car), you’ve probably encountered a statement like this: “You’re going to get a survey about my performance today. For me, anything less than a perfect 10 on every question is a failure.” Unless the experience is terrible, the consumer is basically pressured into giving a perfect score.

This is not feedback. This is a glorified way of patting yourself on the back. And you're really telling your customer,  “I don’t actually care what your experience was. I just want you to tell me I’m great.”

The only reason to ask for feedback is to make real change. Why go through the act of asking your customers for feedback if you really just want a participation trophy? You should always be striving for real and honest feedback that you can take action on to improve yourself and your business.

He that won’t be counseled, can’t be helped.
— Benjamin Franklin

Make the Move from Vanity Feedback to Real

  • If you’re not asking for feedback from your customers today, start. A really simple, effective form of feedback is NPS (Net Promoter Score). One question: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend this business to a friend or colleague?” You can also ask people who rate you lower what would get them to rate you higher. The value you’ll get out of those free text responses can be amazing.
  • If you’re currently using a “participation trophy” survey, try simply switching your speech. Instead of saying “Anything less than a perfect 10 is failure”, try saying “Please don’t give me a perfect 10 in more than 1 category. I really want to know where I could be better.” Hopefully, you’ll start to see patterns in the feedback and can start figuring out where to focus your efforts.
  • If you have an existing survey, start setting aside regular time in your calendar to review the results and tweak the survey as needed. Make sure that your questions dig at some items you can actually impact, and start running experiments to see how you can move the needle on items that you want to improve. Over time, your questions should evolve as you focus on improving specific areas of your business.

Customer feedback is one of the most valuable tools at your disposal to make your business succeed. If you only use it as a way to validate everything you already think about yourself, you’re missing important opportunities to grow and improve, and can end up hurting your business in the long run. Take your feedback process seriously. Your customers will thank you for it, and when you get that perfect 10 score, it will actually mean something.