Feedback Bribery
By Shep Hyken
Monday, 29th November 2021

Customer service insights by Shep Hyken at 4Hoteliers.comTo what extent will a company go to try to get customer feedback? Is it a simple email request? Is it an incentive to fill out a survey?.

And, if there is an incentive, can that skew the results?

One of our faithful subscribers sent in a question. At the end of a project with a customer, she sends an email requesting the customer take a short survey. She said that she gets a very low response rate. So, she sends another. Then another. On the fourth try, she writes, “Do you like coffee? My treat!”

She says that she gets a response to that almost every time. Her question to me was, “Is this a form of bribery, or is this a simple incentive?”

First, I congratulated her on her creativity and ingenuity that persuaded her customers to respond. Then I answered that a cup of coffee would not be considered bribery. It’s just a way to get attention. The only other thought I shared was to maybe make the offer on the third try. By then, it’s time to get noticed.

So, what constitutes a bribe to get feedback? A cup of coffee gets you noticed. Some may disagree and call the cup of coffee a bribe. You could easily convince me that it is a bribe to take the survey, but I am doubtful you could convince me that a free cup of coffee is going to get a customer to leave a positive review if the customer was unhappy. But, send me a new 80-inch flat-screen TV to get me to take a survey … now that’s a bribe!

Seriously, I’m surprised at how some companies offer incentives that are obvious bribes. A customer could feel guilty if they didn’t give the company a good rating after receiving a gift card. And some companies don’t offer up a physical bribe, but they beg and plead for a good rating, often guilting the customer into filling out a survey, just to make sure the employee keeps his or her job.

I was asked by an auto dealership to rate them a 10 on their service. The service rep said that his job and salary depended on his ratings. That’s putting quite a bit of weight on my shoulders. My rating is responsible for his ability to feed his family. Had the experience been less than excellent, would I have shared truthful feedback and risked this guy not being able to take care of his family? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

The lesson here is simple. In addition to what I’ve written in the past about feedback, consider a way to get noticed. It could be a clever email, a clever video asking for feedback or something small, like a cup of coffee, that shouldn’t distort the results. You want feedback. It’s a history lesson that lets you know whether you’re doing a good job or if you need to improve. It’s valuable information, so do what is necessary, reasonable and ethical to ensure you get as much feedback as possible.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken. Shep is a regular contributor to 4Hoteliers.com.

(Copyright © 2021, Shep Hyken - Reprinted with Permission)

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