Over the last few weeks I have found myself in three different situations where retailers have been looking to capture feedback on the service I experienced from them whilst it was still fresh in my mind.

In the first instance, I was given a small card by the member of staff with details on how I could link in to their online survey to share my views. ‘Why not’ I thought. So later that day I went online on my computer to complete it (as it wasn’t easy to view via my smartphone). The first questions asked for information that I needed to obtain from my receipt, but I couldn’t find it, so couldn’t go any further. Very frustrating!

The following week I was visiting another retail outlet to purchase a relatively low cost item. I couldn’t find the product I needed in the store, but the member of staff helped me to find it fairly quickly and then took me to the till to pay for it. He then proceeded to spend three times as long as it took to serve me to encourage me to fill in their online customer survey. He spent most of the time pushing me to give a ‘very satisfied’ rating, as if the store achieved 50 ‘top box’ ratings then they got some sort of reward. He also asked me to use his name and highlight that I was ‘very satisfied’ with the service, as this meant that he got some sort of personal award too (I can’t remember what now). Given that I was actually in a rush, all this whole experience did was make me go from thinking ‘What a good, efficient service’ to ‘That was awful’. I also came away wondering was what the point of capture customers’ views on the service if it was going to be biased by staff interfering with the process.

My most recent experience was by far the most favourable. As I purchased a product, the member of staff discretely captured my email address to enter me in a prize draw to win £500 as a thank you for using them. Then later that day I received an email inviting me to complete a short survey to share my views on the service experience, which would entitle me to an extra entry to the prize draw. The survey was easy to complete, no need to go searching for information from receipts, and no interference from the staff. All of this meant that I completed the survey and was able to provide open and honest views.

Clearly there are a number of important factors to consider in setting up a process for capturing instant and regular feedback on service experience from your customers. Our top 10 tips are as follows:

customer satisfaction

1. Make it easy to access and complete the survey. Don’t put any potential barriers in the way, like needing to get specific details from a receipt.

2. Make sure that your e-surveys are smart phone and tablet compatible. More and more people are completing surveys using this technology.

3. Test the survey yourself to make sure that it works and is easy to complete.

4. Don’t let staff influence the customer feedback process. You will only receive biased views, and is there really any value in that?

5. Set up systems and processes to elicit customers’ views soon after they have visited your outlet. Feedback will be more insightful if shared whilst the experience is still fresh in the mind.

6. Keep the survey questionnaire short and focused on key attributes that you wish to monitor. Once these questions are covered you can always ask customers if they would be willing to spend the time answering a few more questions, or even join an online community!

7. Whilst you want to make it quick and easy to complete a survey, don’t ignore the option of asking a few open-ended questions. It’s important to understand the context behind any ratings given.

8. Be careful how you link staff rewards to customer satisfaction results. By all means recognise reward and promote good service, but only where it has been earned – not through bullying customers to provide positive ratings or comments.

9. Incentivise. It helps to boost response rates.

10. Make sure that the research process does not interfere with what matters – providing a high quality service to your customers.