Friday, March 30, 2012

The Feedback Fetish

Feedback has become a fetish.

Businesses plead with customers to keep their seven-inch receipt, go to their website, fill out a short survey and enter their name for the chance to win free drinks, gift cards and other cash prizes, all for the low price of their email addresses, which will most likely be spammed with future offers of the same ilk and potentially vulnerable to online privacy violations from hackers.

Meanwhile, customers don’t feel special, don’t feel heard and don’t feel part of a community. They just feel like statistics. 

And don’t get me wrong, I’m all for building a listening platform. But surely there are other, better, cheaper ways to gauge customer sentiment than wasting paper.

My friend Janelle is the social media director for a large grocery chain. When her customers have feedback to share, they don’t use surveys – they use cell phones. Whatever question, comment, complaint or suggestion is on their mind, they publish it online. Instantly. For all the world to see. And no trees have to die.

No wonder her company was ranked in Forbes magazine as one of the best in the nation.

The thing is, people have always had opinions, but now they’re delivered to our face. Right now. From all around the world. For free. Forever. Whether we like or not. And if you’re trying to decide which technology to invest millions of dollars is, just so you can relentlessly tug customers on the sleeves and trick them into liking you, think again.

Asking what survey to use is the wrong question.

The real question is, where are people are already giving their opinions – whether you’re asking for them or not – and how can you convert that into a smarter conversation?

Are you making feedback a fetish?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Writing, Publishing, Performing, Consulting

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