Victor Liu

Congratulations! You’ve just established a world-class customer experience program for your business.  You’ve obtained buy-in from all levels of the organization; you’re asking the customer for feedback at every touchpoint; you have a solid process for closing the loop with customers once they submit feedback; and you’ve invested in a state of the art CEM system, ensuring that what goes on behind the scenes runs smoothly.

There’s just one small problem: you’re still not getting enough feedback from your customers.

After achieving the monumental task of getting your customer experience program off the ground, it would be tragic if your customers ignored your invitations for feedback because you don’t sound like you really want their feedback. So how do you get them to engage when they receive your email invitation?

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. You’ve just received an email from a corporation with the generic subject line, “Give us feedback! Fill out our survey!”. The immediate reaction of most people would be to delete it without ever opening it. Without context, the email’s generic subject line evokes surveys whose results get tossed into a spreadsheet without really making any noticeable impact, and it also hints at the possibility of a long market research survey, most of whose questions have no bearing on the customer’s experience.  Basically, it screams, “WASTE OF TIME.”

Since your customer feedback program defies these misconceptions, you should tackle them head on.

Solution 1: Get specific

If your customers’ feedback gets automatically directed to the salespeople, stores, call centers, or representatives actually responsible for their experience, make this clear.  Don’t let your admirable close-loop process languish under a generic subject line or email “from” address.

MXM Member Feedback for health clubs made just this change to their email invitations to gym members.  Rather than merely showing the health club company’s name in the “from” field of the email, they leveraged the fact that each survey was tied to the gym that the member actually visited, and showed the specific location name instead.  Instead of seeing emails come from some generic “Health Club Inc.”, gym members can tell that it’s the Palo Alto location — the actual gym they visited — that is soliciting their feedback.

By sending email invitations from club locations that the members actually went to, MXM shows that the responses will be going to the people who were directly responsible for the members’ experience.  Rather than thinking that their feedback is going to some centralized bucket, members see that it’s going to their specific gym.

After making this change, MXM saw feedback response rates double.  Health clubs are now getting more feedback from more of their members, so that they can rescue a lot more at-risk member relationships.

Solution 2: Keep it short and sweet (and tell your customers!)

Once you’ve taken the effort to reduce your feedback form so that you’re only asking questions that are relevant to a customer’s experience with your company, you should let your customers know, right upfront, that your survey is a lot shorter than most.  Get your email invitation subject line to stand out in your customers’ inboxes by showing you respect their time.

Inspired by a presentation given at last year’s Medallia Best Practices Forum, a few of our customers decided to drastically shorten their transactional surveys to make their customers’ lives easier, and they made this change known in the email invitation subject line.  Rather than a generic request to “Please provide us with feedback”, they explicitly asked their customers to “Please answer X questions.”

One of our big clients made this change to their email invitation subject line to show exactly how many questions customers would have to answer — and, consequently, how short their surveys were.  As a result, response rates tripled, not only generating more feedback data, but also giving the frontline many more opportunities to close the loop.

Both of these techniques to increase response rates share one theme in common: how to let your customers know that your feedback program differs from all those surveys they’re being asked to fill out.  If you have a robust close-loop process behind your feedback program, and if you’re asking your customers only the most relevant questions to their experience, just let them know.  They’ll reward you with opportunities to not only make improvements, but give you more opportunities to save customer relationships.

Photo credit: mlinksva