Should I Bother with Feedback?
As an business owner, you know that customer feedback is valuable. Specifically critical when determining a customer’s needs and tastes, and if the business is delivering on them. It can also help improve the services and products and develop strategies for customer loyalty. But, there are many competing methods for collecting feedback. Some deliver valuable insight – but many do not, and perhaps are even a waste of time.
One type of survey is the comment card. It is widely used but most common in the restaurant industry. Despite their legacy, there are advantages and disadvantages of customer comment cards. We will be reviewing the pro’s and con’s of this historic method and delivering a verdict on whether it is a worthwhile customer initiative.
What is a Customer Comment Card?
A customer comment card is a way to gather customer feedback for a business in the form of a review, comment or suggestion from the customer base. These comment cards are most often found in retail stores, but are also used in other industries, such as banks, restaurants and hospitals. They are presented at the business location (perhaps even with the POS invoice or guest check) – so not an online customer interaction. Customer input is at the location, using a pen and paper to fill in the card, which is then placed in a box, mailed or just handed to staff. The information on these cards can be anonymous and usually in the form of a survey. Business owners use the data to improve the guest experience.
What Does a Customer Comment Card Look Like?
A typical example is below:
Note that the design or template is critical. Common design errors will decrease the value of any feedback received.
What is the History of the Customer Comment Card?
It is hard to know when were the first attempts at customer service measurement. Some speculate that it may go back to 1750 BC. In this case, the written complaint is on a clay tablet (not card!) from the ancient city of Ur, now part of southern Iraq. It is part of British Museum’s collection. The letter is a complaint about the wrong grade of copper delivered. Who knows if this represents a typical customer experience back then, or whether the tablet represented the views of a standard customer!
So the comment card has been around for a while! BUT does this legacy mean they are effective? Specifically, what are the advantages and disadvantages of customer comment cards?
Advantages of a Customer Comment Card
When it comes to customer feedback, the comment cards are one of the most popular ways to get a message across. This is because the cards are not only simple to use, but they can also be easily customized. Comment cards can help enhance service quality. You can ask for opinions on any aspect of the business and by doing so will likely increase customer engagement. In addition, you will likely get customer requests, and customer ideas, on how to improve your service. If you take their advice, you will likely improve customer satisfaction.
So the bottom line is that they are easy to administer and may lead to performance improvement. But do they have issues?
Disadvantages of a Customer Comment Card
A comment card is an easy way to get customer feedback and a quick way to address any concerns. Instead of the customer having to take the time to write an email, you can just hand them your business’ reply card and have them fill it out and send it back to you. It seems like such a great idea, but unfortunately, not everyone is a fan of comment cards. Some people feel that comment cards are too impersonal; some feel that they take too much time to fill out, especially when there’s no incentive to do so. Others feel that comment cards don’t really do much to change anything, but just make people feel like they’ve spoken up. Others offer that comment cards are just an easy way to collect contact information (spoiler alert – this a really bad idea).This release for customers without action means no improvement in business success.
There are even bigger issues.
Specifically, that the comment card approach delivers feedback more inclined to complain than praise. So the business receives extremes in a stream of customer feedback. This means that the business may receive plenty of responses, through a bunch of surveys but unlikely these views represent the average customer. Specifically where feedback skews to the negative. Extremes in customer scores will paint a false picture.
Though it is true that positive comments can encourage future business, it is far more likely that negative comments will do the opposite. This seems like a waste of an opportunity to improve customer relationships and customer loyalty.
Comment cards don’t provide instant customer feedback – because there is a lag from filling out to collection, reviewing and processing. Many cards rely on open ended questions which means no analysis or actionable insights. Some cards are have too many questions so it is a chore to respond which results in low response rates. Perhaps the biggest insult is for the Customer Service Department to use business reply mail and expect the customer to pay for offering an opinion!
More thoughts on this are in our Ultimate Comment Card Guide.
Learning What Customers Really Want and What People Say About Us.
You’ve spent months developing the perfect business. You’ve studied your target customers. You have identified the features that would be most appealing to them, and prepared a launch that you’re sure will be a hit. But how can you know for sure? How do you know whether the business you’ve developed is really going to deliver the customer interactions that they are looking for? How will you find out? In this article we have reviewed the advantages and disadvantages of customer comment cards.
Unfortunately, it is often very difficult to find out what your customers really want. Comment cards are a traditional method to gather data and ultimately improve customer relationship management through improved performance. They are simple and have other advantages, but these are massively outweighed by the disadvantages. We think that there are more effective alternatives including a digital version. Customer feedback began with the stone tablet and evolved to the cell phone.