Death by feedback?

“Does my bum look big in this?”

“How was it for you?”

“Have I been good enough to get that X-box from Santa?”

We all look for feedback, on almost everything we do – and if we don’t get any, or, worse still, get some negative comments, we can feel really devalued.

It’s a tricky thing to get right, though.

In the last couple of  weeks I’ve experienced both sides of the feedback coin:-

I met a friend in Costa Coffee, and got a free Flat White with my Costa loyalty card – don’t you just love those free coffees?

Almost before I left the coffee shop, I got an email…..

“You recently visited Costa Coffee on Tottenham Court Road” (I looked around me, shiftily, for the CCTV cameras, or the man in the trench coat).

“How was your experience?” (Well, it was great to see Pete again, thanks – oh, you mean the coffee….actually she filled it too full and I ended up with a saucer full of coffee, she did apologise, though, but there isn’t a category for that and I’m on the road so I’ll tell you later).

Did I tell them later? The moment had passed, I’m afraid.

In these unpredictable times I decided to apply for a full-time job.

Perusing the hugely detailed application information I was told very clearly that-

 ’First interviews will be on Friday 28th September” and “Second interviews will take place week commencing 1st October.”

I spent the best part of a day on the application, sent it in and kept 28th almost free in my diary.

On Thursday I had to email to ask if I had an interview or not – and then got an email saying how “on this occasion you have not been selected for interview.”

So what did I do? What every sensible marketing person does. I asked for feedback so I could improve my application technique in the future (not sure I can jump through all those hoops again though).

Have I received any? Yes I know, it’s only Monday.

The key factor in giving and getting feedback is time.

It’s a faff, isn’t it? Especially if you’re having to give bad news.

I admire Costa for getting in so quickly with their ask, but is email the best way?

A touch screen on the way out, perhaps? A round up of your recent visits on your loyalty statement with a request for ratings? Even a little text message, the next day with a very simple ‘Text rubbish, good, great or outstanding to this number”?

As for the interview connundrum, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had the same experience – it’s all about time.

Customer feedback is as valuable as it ever was – and if, as customers, we choose not to complete feedback forms, we can’t really complain if things don’t improve.

But as marketers, we need to think carefully about avoiding feedback overkill.

Asking ourselves some simple questions will help:-

Why do we need feedback?

What areas do we want feedback on?

If we have to pare the number of feedback questions down to five, what will they be?

And if we can only ask three?

Or even just one?

How often can we realistically ask for feedback – and from whom?

If we need more detail should we consider recruiting a feedback panel with incentives (not bribes) for taking part?

What channels should we use to ensure we don’t irritate our customers – and that we get to a representative sample?

If you get it right it will work seamlessly and become part of your routine but you’ll need to review your feedback mechanisms on a regular basis.

So, how was that for you? Did you learn something? Will you take action as a result?

And by the way, where are you reading this blog? and what are you wearing?




About Philippa

Philippa Cowley-Thwaites is a no-nonsense South Londoner with a passion for communications. Since graduating in English from London University in 1983 she has established herself as an expert communicator for a variety of brands in the private, public and voluntary sector with great success – she’s one of the best business writers in the business.

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