Geoffrey Ryskamp

Global Head of the Hospitality Practice

Customer feedback is constantly streaming in, whether it’s from direct sources, review sites, or on social media. While this type of public forum feedback is valuable, it’s also incredibly important for you to invest in direct solicited survey feedback channels. Surveys can create a personal dialogue between your company and your customers that allows you to get the feedback on the areas that are most important. You can achieve strategic customer insights from surveys and create a true dialogue with your customers with a few important tactics. Below are four ways to boost your survey response rates, engage customers, and capture the voice of the customer.

1. Ask the right questions

Survey questionnaires can be long lists of 10-point ratings on every potential aspect of a customer’s experience. One of the best ways to improve the quality of your direct feedback is to stop and look at what it is that you’re actually asking your customers. Focus on questions that are useful, actionable, and measure process or behavior. For example, by rephrasing “How do you rate our room service?” to “How satisfied were you with the speed of room service?” you are asking for valuable feedback that offers a clear option for direct action. That way you are guaranteed to have superior actionable insights.

2. Make feedback part of your brand experience

Soliciting direct feedback across multiple channels allows you to establish a dialogue with customers on the channels they prefer – whether it be email, SMS, in-app, or other messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger. Regardless of where it takes place, interactions should be viewed as an extension of your brand. Make sure that you have set up a seamless experience by testing out all aspects of the survey prior to contacting customers, including verifying how much time a customer can expect to spend on the survey and how the experience translates on mobile. The better the experience, and the more channels open, the more likely you are to gather quality feedback.

3. Let your customer do the talking

You don’t need to limit feedback to a quantified rating scale to get good feedback. Giving customers the chance to provide open-ended comments produces useful results that you may not get from a more structured survey. Recent advances in text analytics and natural language processing make it easier than ever to derive actionable insights from verbatim text. Having the right technology solution in place that allows your customers to comment freely makes them feel valued in their ability to share their thoughts, highlights problem areas that may not already be accounted for in your verified feedback channels, and helps you put those insights to work to create an improved customer experience.

4. Match the ask with the experience

Providing an exceptional customer experience is a top priority for any company. When soliciting your customers for feedback, it’s important to be not only mindful of the amount of time it will take them, but also that the length of the survey matches up with the customer’s experience being measured.  While there is no magic length, the customer’s time investment for providing feedback should be comparable to the investment of their experience. For example, a restaurant guest enjoying a 90-minute dinner would merit a relatively brief questionnaire, while a customer who purchased a year-long membership could be asked for more detailed feedback. Test various lengths for different verified feedback programs to find the optimal length for getting the most responses.

Accurate customer response data is key to identifying areas for improvement, as well as a prerequisite for any successful customer experience. Combining passive feedback channels with direct solicited feedback, such as surveys, provides a wealth of data to link back to how your organization operates. Remember to always ask actionable questions, design a positive feedback loop, allow open-ended answers, and customize for the customer experience, and you will see greater results from your direct feedback efforts.