Business owners need to know what their customers think. Comment cards are popular solution; a solution riddled with inefficiencies at every level. Times change and in an increasingly digital age the time has come to ditch your paper comment cards for the following reasons:
1. Paper comment cards are over-complicated because they lack intelligence. There is no intelligence in a paper comment card so to be effective they need to be long, complicated, and full of questions and form fields. Each time a customer wants to leave a comment they also need to fill out all of their contact information and communication preferences. All these fields are noise and can really distract the customer from telling you exactly what they want to say. How many times have you filled out a survey and when you got to the bottom there was small comment box you were just so tired of filling out the form you decided to skip the box? In fact that comment is frequently the most insightful information submitted.
- When requesting feedback, start with an open comment box so the customer tells you exactly what is on their mind, then follow with an optional survey with other questions you would like answered.
- Let a 3rd party (i.e. iSuggest) manage customers personal identifiable information to minimize the amount of data a customer is required to enter when submitting feedback. Basically, iSuggest is the OpenID for interacting and leaving feedback with consumer facing businesses.
2. Collecting comment cards is harder than you think.
The logistics of maintaining an effective feedback program when using paper comment cards is very difficult and becomes easily ineffective. When a customer fills out a comment card where does it go? Does an employee come collect them? How does a customer submit a comment card they brought home with them? Do you have an actual physical box for the cards and is it locked or are the cards just sitting on the counter?
- Let customers easily leave you feedback at any time, whether it is during or after an experience with your business. No more worries of how to submit or mail a paper comment card. Customers just need a web-enabled mobile phone or computer with Internet access.
- Centralize all company feedback by getting it delivered instantly and privately to one dashboard to allow for easy management. This reduces worries about losing individual customer feedback.
3. Complicated to review and manage.
How often do the paper comment cards get read? Do you want to enter the data from the paper comment cards into a management system on your computer? How do you know if or when someone reads the feedback? How do you aggregate your data to understand trends?
- Get notified in real-time when customers submit feedback. No need to go check a box look through a pile of papers.
- View intelligent analytics to help visualize trends in customer sentiment.
- Automated tips and reminders encourage business owners to review and respond to feedback based on the customer preferences.
4. Difficult to route comment cards – How will you forward or pass on this comment card to the person who can do something about it? What if that person is not at the physical location of the business?
- Set up intelligent automatic routing of feedback and real-time notifications based on parameters to on or off-site management.
- Offer a scalable solution for companies with 1 or 1000+ employees.
5. Issues around trust / privacy. As a customer, how do you know when or if your feedback was ever read? And how do you know your comment card made it to the manager or owner if it was collected by an entry-level employee? Is someone who had an issue with their server really going to complete a comment card right there about the server?
- Allow customers to submit feedback directly from their own web-enabled phone to avoid errors or issues with employees reviewing or delivering feedback.
- Customers can set preference for sending feedback named or anonymously.
- Provide automatic transparency to the customers when feedback was delivered and read by the management.
6. They require more than just the paper they are printed on. Paper comment cards also require writing utensils. Sounds simple, yes, but this is one more potential reason why a customer won’t fill out your comment card.
- iSuggest allows customers to submit their feedback from any mobile form/application. Most people now use web-enabled phones or are able to submit by any Internet connected device such as a laptop or desktop computer.
7. Responding and re-engagement is difficult. As mentioned above, getting paper comment cards into a system to manage feedback in a scalable way is difficult and time consuming. Having to interpret your customers handwriting adds another level of complexity. And how will you send offers and rewards to all or some customers who meet certain parameters?
- iSuggest digital feedback forms allow your customers to easily specify if they want a response to their submitted feedback and whether they want to opt-in to special offers.
- From the iSuggest feedback dashboard, business management can reply to customers in real time. Users will get push notifications on their phone when you respond creating a more engaged level of communication.
- Easily send special offers and rewards to those who left great suggestions, had less than stellar experiences, and other customers to drive repeat business.
8. Paper comment cards can’t send media. Comments like “Your restaurant was dirty” or “There was mold in the bathroom” are important to hear but graphics make it easier to understand the severity of the issue. With paper comment cards there is no way for customers to attach an image, video or audio to a paper comment card.
- Allow media attachments for more insightful feedback from customers.
How do you like to receive and manage feedback for your business? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of using paper vs. digital comment cards? Let us know as comments to this post.7 Comments →
Over the past few months the iSuggest team has been working hard to help businesses receive and manage customer feedback. We worked closely with businesses who use iSuggest services to design effective signage to help their customers know how they can send feedback directly to the business management or owner. In addition to our well known We [heart] feedback window sticker we now offer complimentary bill folder inserts, bill tray inserts, cash register stickers, and table tents.
Are you current customer and want increase your customer feedback? Please contact us to request We [heart] feedback signage for your business. Not signed up yet? Join iSuggest by claiming your business and start start getting valuable feedback from your customers.1 Comment →
Last week iSuggest released an updated version of our service that allows customers to track the delivery of their feedback and get a response from the business directly within the iSuggest mobile application. We previously posted tips for customers to writing feedback and today we wanted to provide a few tips for business owners to better understand customer expectations after leaving feedback via iSuggest. The following tips are for growing and repairing relationships with your customers.
Read and Respond to Feedback in a Timely Manner – Customers take time out of their busy lives to leave your business feedback. Participating businesses are notified immediately and given the opportunity to read customers feedback in real-time. It is important for the business to respond customer feedback/suggestions in a timely manner whenever possible. However, don’t just respond with canned responses, try and understand the feedback from the customers perspective. Try and respond how you would want to be responded to, respectfully and clearly.
Be Honest. Be Human – Everyone makes mistakes, it is okay. Customers will forgive you, just be honest about what might have happened. 95% of unhappy customers will return if an issue is resolved quickly and efficiently (National Association of Retail Marketing Services (2007). Or if a customer is making a request for something that isn’t realistic let them know. Whenever possible provide the user a timeline if a suggestion might be implemented with language such as: “We might implement something like this in a few weeks”, “It will be dealt with by next week”, “Great idea but probably something we will not be able to consider for the next six months”.
Reward your customers – It never hurts to reward those who give great suggestions. This will help encourage them to continue to leave feedback and even get others to talk about your brand. Consider providing coupons for great feedback/suggestions or even entering the customer into a weekly or monthly drawing.
Do you have any tips as a customer of how/when you get responses to your feedback? Leave your tips as comments in this post.Leave a comment →
Enhanced customer/business communication
Customers now receive responses to their feedback from businesses directly within the iSuggest app or mobile web. Respond to business’ replies and receive rewards or coupons when provided by the business owner.
Message Delivery Transparency
Track the status of the delivery of your feedback and get notified when a business reads and/or responds to your feedback.
More businesses to talk with
Use GPS to find a business near you or expand your location search to leave feedback for over millions of retail businesses within the United States.
Mobile web accounts
Mobile web users can now create an account and use the same great features as users of the android/iphone apps. View your activity from the mobile web. Visit m.isuggest.com on any smartphone to use iSuggest.
The goal of customer feedback and suggestions should be to help a business owner improve and make a better experience for everyone. Customers can leave positive suggestions or “incident reports” that include details about a positive or negative experience. Taking the time to include as much detail as possible when crafting a suggestion/feedback can make a huge difference. It is all of the details that allows the business owner to know how implement suggestions or respond and resolve any reported incidents.
Who – If your feedback involved a specific employee and you know their name, include it in your message. Feedback like “My server was rude to me” or “Your sales representative was very knowledgeable about blinds” doesn’t provide enough information for the business owner to either reprimand or reward an employee for their actions or ability.
What – Be as descriptive as possible in your feedback or suggestions. Feedback like “Yummy Food!!” is feedback every business owner would love hear but take it a step further and let them know what you loved and why. Considering taking a photo and include it with your message. The addition of a photo makes a big difference in the business owners ability to understand your feedback/suggestion visually. For example, an iSuggest user had takeout from a local business, got home and the tomatoes were greenish pink instead of red. The customer wasn’t going to drive back to the business and show them the bad produce. The picture can helps the business owner understand and validate your feedback.
When – The best suggestions are left at the time of the incident when it is fresh in your mind. It is easy to leave feedback from a mobile phone while you are at the place of business. It’s possible you might even get a response from the business owner within a few minutes while you still are at the establishment. You can also leave feedback at a later time from any location, but when you do make sure to include any time/date information if relevant which might help if you are reporting a specific incident.
Where – When relevant, be as specific as possible about where an incident happened within or outside of an establishment. If there was a problem with your table or are on a back patio, try to describe the location the best you can or attach a photo. Specific locations help the manager or business owner figure out exactly what might have happened and who might be responsible. Specific location details are especially important in larger sized businesses.
It is all of these details that really helps a business owner understand, react and respond to feedback and implement suggestions. We love feedback, let us know if you have any additional tips for leaving feedback as comments on this post.1 Comment →
The iSuggest team has had the opportunity to sit down and meet with many local small business owners in Sacramento and San Francisco to learn more about how they currently solicit feedback and manage their reputation online. Yelp is frequently mentioned by business owners since it is clearly the dominant online review site for most small businesses. Reviewers on Yelp can have a very real impact (both good and bad) on a business’ reputation. Business owners we spoke with had mixed feelings about Yelp and expressed a clear frustration when it came to less than stellar reviews of their business. Part of that frustration was that once the review was made public it was most likely not going to be changed, regardless of actions the owners took to resolve the issues.
At its core, Yelp is a peer-to-peer forum for posting business reviews to help others find great businesses. Yelp highly effective at consolidating people’s experience with a business but it is NOT designed for soliciting feedback and suggestions from customers to IMPROVE a business. Yelp is designed simply to inform potential customers and help them make decisions about where to bring their business. Requesting customers to leave you feedback or suggestions is strongly discouraged on Yelp and might result in reviews being removed from the site. Yelp wants people to naturally go “Yelp” (def. harp or high-pitched cry or bark) and leave unprovoked reviews. In a the Yelp FAQ there is a question about whether it was okay to ask your customers to leave you reviews:
“Probably not. It’s a slippery slope between the customer who is so delighted by her experience that she takes it upon herself to write a glowing review and the customer who is “encouraged” to write a favorable review in exchange for a special discount. And let’s be candid: most business owners are only going to solicit reviews from their happy customers, not the unhappy ones. Over time, these self-selected reviews create intrinsic bias in the business listing — a bias that savvy consumers can smell from a mile away. Don’t be surprised, then, if your solicited reviews get filtered by Yelp’s automated review filter.”
Yelp was not designed to improve a business but to help consumers help each other make decisions on which businesses to visit. There is no direct line of communication for the customer to connect with the business owner directly. Yelp only allows business owners to send messages to reviewers AFTER a published public review has been made. At this point it might already be too late for the business in terms of reputation management.
Another consideration with Yelp is that not all customers embrace making public comments. Many customers and employees are more apt to leave suggestions to improve your business if they can do it privately or anonymously. Imagine you are a big fan of a restaurant and you wanted to make a suggestion that may potentially improve the business, or you wanted to report an incident. iSuggest allows you to leave those suggestions privately and directly to the owner rather than on a public forum where it could be construed as a criticism or bad review.
Business owners need tools such as iSuggest to solicit feedback, suggestions, and communicate with their customers. iSuggest’s model is to help businesses improve with the help of their customers by allowing (and requesting) private (and optionally anonymous) feedback directly to business owners or decision makers. Using iSuggest, business owners can focus more on solving customer issues or implementing improvements to their business. Listening to your customers’ feedback will naturally have an improved potential for positive reviews on 3rd party review sites such as Yelp.
In summary, Yelp is a forum/review site to help yours peers decide if they want to try a business but it is not effective for providing feedback to help a business owner or decision maker. The iSuggest service provides a direct line of communication with a business owner and allows you to leave private feedback and suggestions to help improve the business. iSuggest wants to make businesses better. We [heart] feedback and hope you do too.Leave a comment →