The Art of Collecting Customer Feedback

2 May

As I get further and further into my research project (finally), I have more and more thoughts about aspects that I think play a role in facilitating a community for the purpose of collecting customer feedback. Things like the psychology of volunteering, the history of participatory design, approaches to usability, social identity theories and so much more have been circling through my head lately, so I thought I’d start to attempt to develop some of these thoughts a bit more here.

One more aspect that is ringing alarm bells in my head lately is the idea of a customer proactively offering feedback vs. being solicited for that feedback. For instance, in an idea generation community, a customer actively visits the community, potentially joins, and then has the ability to offer feedback directly to an organization. Now, in this instance, it’s about choice. The customer has made a decision to take time out of their busy day to visit this community and offer their thoughts. There’s some level of investment, which in turn, I believe would result in better or more valuable contributions.

On the flip side, I think of telemarketers. Yes, I know it’s someones job and it feeds their family etc. but let’s be honest, the sheer existence of them is annoying. They call you (often uninvited) to answer customer feedback questions around something you may or may not have any interest in, let alone a specific investment. What kind of feedback are you likely to collect from this type of customer engagement if any? Well, probably not anything of much value.

To demonstrate this, I offer a little tale from my misguided teen years:  I may have actually decided to indulge in one of these telemarketer surveys. They had called multiple times and I was annoyed, so I figured I’d see how long this survey might actually take. I won’t say who it was exactly, but I’ll tell you it was a sports drink. They consistently asked the same question 8 different ways regarding their product, a competitor product and a relatively free alternative that you can get straight from a sink in your own home. As I said, I was annoyed and misguided…so I answered these questions with untrue answers, meanwhile having started an egg timer to see how long they would go. I hung up before they were done.

Morale(s) of the Story:

1) Customers don’t like to be solicited in a way that feels invasive

2) Customers will likely offer more valuable feedback if they’re invested

3) Customers may relate solicitation to a negative experience with the overall brand

So what do we do with to make customers want to invest their time to offer their feedback? We engage, empower and encourage. But more on that later…

PS: If you’re interested in ‘investing’ 20 minutes of your time to talk about your experiences in submitting feedback to organizations, drop me an email at mactresearch  @


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