The long-term quality of feedback you get from customers is directly correlated to the actions you take based on that feedback, and the feedback you give to the customers who made the effort to respond to you.
If you read the Amazon seller forums, you will find almost universal agreement that customer feedback is in decline. “Customers do not want to be troubled with feedback anymore unless they are unhappy,” one poster states.
In the UK, an Ipsos MORI report published in June 2017 identified possible causes for the general decline in response rates as, “less trust in government, brands and professions, and survey fatigue.” In 1997, Pew Research would get a typical response rate of 36% to a telephone survey. By 2016, it had dropped to 9%. Response rates for US agricultural surveys have dropped from 80-85% in the early 1990s to below 60% in recent years.
In the last ten years, we have noticed that it is getting harder and harder to get people to respond to surveys and participate in helping test websites and apps. Our number one source has been people visiting the website / app itself. Sometimes, if it’s really hard to get enough people this way, we consider using third party resources but have found them to deliver significantly inferior results. Basically, you are much less likely to get a true picture of customer experience if you buy in a list.
Even building customer panels poses challenges, as the very nature of such panels indicates a much more engaged customer. We recently did a study in 15 countries. In 13 of those countries, we used a website popup to get responses. In two countries we sent a request to customer panels. In the 13 popup countries let’s say we had a key metric that came in at, on average, 40% positive. In the two customer panel countries, it was, on average, 60% positive. Panels tend to be significantly more positive in their opinions.
One reason why customers are giving less feedback is because they don’t believe it will make any difference. It is our experience that organizations are much better at soliciting feedback than acting on it. I would estimate that of all the customer feedback we delivered to organizations over the years, only 20% was acted on.
The organizations where we see quality feedback still being received are the ones that act on that feedback. Some of the best organizations go even further. They get back to those who gave the feedback and tell them that the problem has been fixed. That’s the type of feedback loop we require.
Digital is a network. You have no future in digital—as a professional or organization—if you are not constantly getting and giving feedback. The dead-zones of digital are the feedback-free zones. An essential characteristic of digital is its ability to more rapidly adapt to feedback. For a digital organization, feedback is its lifeblood. The digital organizations that thrive, thrive on customer feedback.