Rating reign supreme. This may seem like an obvious statement, but when you take a moment to think about it, it’s astounding to realize just how much those feedback ratings impact our ultimate purchase decision on just about everything. For large ticket items, such as cars, mattresses, and sofas, this is understandable. The feedback ratings help make the decision feel like an informed choice with reassurances from the crowd that it is a good one. It’s when you start to think of the impact on small, everyday purchases – such as cat litter, dishwasher tablets, and loose tea leaves (yes, my last three purchases on Amazon) – that it brings the point to life. Ratings reign supreme and customer satisfaction is paramount.
Our culture of highly engaged reviewers is beneficial to marketers seeking to understand how people feel about their brand, product, or experience to better serve their customers. The valuable information feeds into understandings of short and long-term performance, as well as future directions and innovations that will drive growth.
As a result, customer feedback requests now appear with every transaction from buying milk to securing a mortgage.
All well and good. But this request for feedback is often accompanied by pleas from sales and customer service representatives across the board to “give me tens.” It is not uncommon to hear – “Is there anything else I can do, if not I expect a ten” or “I need a ten; otherwise I won’t get my bonus.”
To customers, this is all somewhat uncomfortable. To researchers, it raises questions about the results. Given the importance of the research, the participation request needs careful positioning to highlight its value, both to facilitate response rates and to gather honest feedback on the interactions.
During a recent visit with my niece, I re-watched Pixar’s Inside Out. One of the central premises of the film is that being happy all the time isn’t enough. We need to accept some sadness in our lives in order to be truly fulfilled. To apply this point to customer experience ratings, we need to know the bad from the good. We also need to know the good from the exceptional.
- Where’s the room for improvement? We can always do better, and when an experience/service/situation really is a ten, we have nowhere to go to show that excellence.
- As a customer, if I take the time to provide feedback, I should be fair. It’s one thing to be reminded that I’m giving feedback on someone’s performance. It’s another to be told that someone will only get paid if the answers are all tens. First, is that person telling the truth? And if so, this presents the customer with a moral dilemma unless tens across the board are truly warranted. Of course, there’s also the reality that many people hiding behind a keyboard can be overly ruthless.
- Furthermore, by filling out this survey, in certain circumstances, the customer is open to the position that the salesperson will contact them about their sub-tens feedback. This puts the customer in a vulnerable position and could lead to them being more favorable than they should, thus voiding the usefulness of the feedback system.
So, where does this leave us? As noted at the outset, customer satisfaction research is an immensely valuable tool for marketers. But it needs to be collected in the right way, from the design of the questionnaire (mobile-first, naturally) to the requests from customer service and sales associates for survey completion. And we also need to recognize that perhaps a nine is pretty darn good.