It seems that my opinion is in high demand these days. Companies from Comcast to Toyota to my neighborhood dining spot all want to know how they are doing. Or do they?
Sitting in a restaurant for lunch recently, the server and the restaurant manager each asked me for feedback. But both times the way they asked the question suggested that they really didn’t want it. The server asked me, “Is everything tasting good?” and the manager asked, “Was everything all right?”
Both of those questions required a simple yes or no and didn’t really invite feedback, either positive or negative. It almost felt as though both were just checking a box, especially when the answer was yes.
Most companies these days are in relentless pursuit of customer feedback; yet the questions they ask really don’t encourage conversation and dialogue and as a result a deepening of a relationship.
For a while I would fill out every survey that hit my inbox and answer questions on the phone but now I ignore them all. Why? Because none of this feedback ever really makes a difference. The dealership reps always quote me the wrong price for service and my Internet service from the cable company continues to drop me throughout the day. They always want to know what else they can do and I just tell them to do their jobs.
If companies really want feedback, they ought to take the time to talk to their customers and ask three questions:
- “How was your service experience?”
- What made it good, bad or neutral?
- What might we have done differently to make your experience better?
These three questions nurture dialogue. They ask me to think about the service and why it is good or bad? And they ask for my help in helping the company be better.
Please don’t ask for my opinion if you aren’t going to listen to it and worse yet are unwilling to make any changes. Asking for feedback is step one of good communications. Acting on it is even more important.
A version of this post appeared on Huffington Post.