If all you’re trying to get is a quick ego-boost, then verbal feedback may serve just your purpose. However, if you’re trying to utilize customer feedback to enhance your business operations, then you’ll need a little bit more than simple verbal responses. There are a few very compelling reasons to prove this case. Read on to make sure your staff isn’t skating through customer check-ups and fully understand why verbal feedback is not good enough.
There’s Just So Little Feedback
The biggest problem with verbal surveys is that there is very little feedback. Even if the question is very detailed, people who are engaged in conversation are hardwired to state what they mean in as few words as possible. This makes getting in depth responses a challenge. Most people want to say as little as possible and get on with their affairs. You want them to happily give you answers, not feel invaded by an inconvenience.
Even worse than being simple, verbal feedback can sometimes be given automatically. For example, if a bank teller asks a customer to rate their experience on a scale of one to five, few customers will rate anything less than a five because they won’t want to elaborate, especially if they feel any sort of social pressure. People feel judged when they speak, and that’s not a great mood for candid respondents.
Verbal Feedback is Vulnerable
There’s a significant danger in relying solely on verbal feedback, and it all has to do with translation. For starters, there is always the challenge of recording the response. If the response is verbal, a staff member will have to record the answer in some way in order to make the effort worthwhile. This leaves the verbal response open to misunderstanding, transcription errors and lack of recorded detail.
Beyond translation, verbally asking for feedback requires a spoken question. Your staff is able to manipulate responses based simply on the tone of their voice while asking the questions. Now, if you’re looking for shining results from your verbal feedback, then go right ahead because you’ll probably get it. However, leaving participants open to subtle manipulation is no way to run a customer survey.
Avoiding conflict – get out quick!!
Another issue is the issue around it being human nature to avoid conflict. Picture the scene, you order what you think will be a nice tender, juicy steak. It comes out like old shoe leather. As is the custom, a staff member or even the manager will pass at some point towards the end of the meal to ask how it was. Typically we avoid the conflict and do so by saying the opposite to what we are thinking, “Yes it was great, thanks” usually suffices. The manager thinks that the customers are happy and that there are no issues. The customer says to themselves that they won’t be coming back in a hurry. The Manager/restaurant loses out big time here.
Tracking Verbal Feedback is Difficult
If you do happen to get candid respondents and your staff manages to administer the customer survey properly, you still may find trouble recording and tracking your results. Unless you have a sophisticated recording device in your customer area to overhear and record conversations between staff and patron, you’ll have to rely on your employees to properly record the collected verbal feedback. A software of some sort could help in this process, but keep in mind that you are adding a step to their already full list of responsibilities.
When you add a customer survey to your staff’s responsibilities, it is imperative that everyone is enthusiastically on board with the program – they are your foot soldiers for repeat business. Even the slightest resistance can render a customer survey ineffective, especially if it’s done verbally. So, keep all this in mind when you plan your next customer survey campaign, and remember that verbal feedback is not good enough.