Giving customer feedback: Why it’s important and how best to give your two cents worth

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Have you ever given feedback on a product or service? It can be as simple as telling a supermarket clerk “you’ve been really helpful” to answering a five-page survey from IRCC about your experience applying for immigration. Getting asked for feedback is something that we have to naturally deal with since we are all consumers of products and services.

When this happens, are you dismissive or do you welcome the opportunity to give feedback?

What is consumer feedback?

Feedback is giving your opinion about the quality of a product or service that you have availed. It can be positive or negative; solicited or unsolicited. When people get great service from a restaurant for example or get a defective appliance from a store and share it on social media, that’s feedback. Some also rate and review business establishments on sites like Yelp or Trip Advisor. Another source of feedback are client satisfaction surveys. These are “tools which provide an organization with honest opinion of what their present or future customers think about them and help them in taking an informed decision.” (MBASkool.com). It can be done through a face-to-face interview, via phone, online, or through forms and questionnaires.

Some avoid feedback surveys because it can be intrusive. Others may not like answering them because:

  • it’s optional and there is no immediate reward (or effect);
  • some are afraid that their personal data will be collected and used for other purposes;
  • some fear that negative feedback could affect their future dealings with the company or in the case of government offices, affect their benefits or applications;
  • they think that it will benefit the organization or corporation more than them.

“providing feedback actually empowers consumers. It allows us to have an active hand in forming the type or kind of products and services that we want and deserve. It can help stop practices, use of resources, or delivery of services that do not meet our standards or needs. This ultimately results to the improvement and creation of better products and services.”

Why providing feedback is important

Providing feedback is important mainly because it pushes improvement and product innovation. Without it, service providers may rely only on sales or customer numbers without a clue about why their product or service works; or if it doesn’t, what they can do to improve or change. A truly customer-centric organization or company will listen to its customers and use their feedback to establish their priorities. Constructive feedback is an essential force that can motivate them to continuously improve their offerings and meet customer needs more closely.

Providing feedback is also a public service. It lets other consumers know about great products/services or warns them about bad ones that are in the market. This helps create a community of smart consumers who share experiences to help others make informed decisions.

This means that providing feedback actually empowers consumers. It allows us to have an active hand in forming the type or kind of products and services that we want and deserve. It can help stop practices, use of resources, or delivery of services that do not meet our standards or needs. This ultimately results to the improvement and creation of better products and services.

The next time you’re asked to answer a feedback survey, it may be worth spending 10-15 minutes of your time to let them know what you think.

How to give feedback

If you want to be proactive about it, you can provide feedback without being asked. You can send a letter, call the service provider or ask for a face-to-face meeting. You can also go on social media to tell the world about your experience using a particular product or service. Answering feedback forms is another way. It can be easier because all you need to do is to choose from pre-set answers. Example questions would be:

Overall, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with our company?

_ Very satisfied
_ Somewhat satisfied
_ Neither satisfied or dissatisfied
 
_ Satisfied
_ Very dissatisfied

Which of the following words would you use to describe our products? Select all that apply

_ Reliable
_ High quality
_ Useful
_ Unique
_ Good value for money
 
_ Overpriced
_ Impractical
_ Ineffective
_ Poor quality
_ Unreliable

It can also include open-ended questions followed by a blank which allows you to provide more details about your experience. For example:

How can we improve our services? _________________________________________________________________

Do you have other comments, questions or concerns? __________________________________________________________________

(Samples from Customer Satisfaction Survey Template, Survey Monkey)

Things to remember to make it count:

  • Be honest and sincere.
  • Make it constructive. Help others improve by offering honest comments and good ideas. You can criticize but stay objective. Avoid snide remarks or harsh words.
  • Make it specific. Describe in detail or provide concrete examples why you like or don’t like a product or service. This will help them get a complete understanding of your perspective.
  • Don’t waste the opportunity. Don’t just tick off boxes blindly or make fun of the survey. Sometimes, the blanket of anonymity makes us careless. Provide quality feedback if you want to be taken seriously and if you want your opinions to count.

About confidentiality

Responsible companies holding surveys will have a Privacy Policy that explicitly states how they will use your responses and how it will be kept confidential. If they collect any personal information from you, they must explain what type of information they collect, why they are collecting it, how long they are keeping it, and how they are storing it. However, stay away from surveys that require you to provide personal information like your bank account number or SIN. Be suspicious when a dealer or service provider says that feedback is required. You have consumer rights.
 
Sources: 5 reasons why feedback is important, Susan E. DeFranzo, Snap Surveys; Survey Monkey sample. Retrieved March 11, 2019.

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