Asking for the truth

When requesting customer feedback, the broking industry needs to make it worth the customer's time, writes Simone Poulter

Broking industry stakeholders will soon make decisions on your behalf to help mitigate the impacts of the royal commission. One of these decisions relates to the collection of post-settlement customer feedback. As these are your customers, I think you should be part of the conversation – or at the very least understand the solutions available.

However, there’s one problem: customers are su­ffering from survey fatigue. We’re approached too regularly by businesses that we don’t have a relationship with, or care to have one with.

Feedback is valuable for every business, and I’ve seen how it can positively impact retention and referrals. But for its collection to be e­ffective, we need to ask the right questions at the right time in the right format. We need to demonstrate to the customer that their feedback will be listened to and respected, and it will create improvements.

Here are two examples highlighting the core principles for collecting customer feedback.

When I went overseas I relied heavily on TripAdvisor. I wanted to find hotels that were rated highly for cleanliness and proximity to attractions. Upon checkout, a few of the hotels requested that I rate them on TripAdvisor. I had the best intentions of doing so, but it would have required me to find an internet cafe, log in, then spend another five minutes crafting a review. Needless to say, I didn’t get around to it – I was on holiday.

On the flip side, I recently received a package from an online store. Shortly after, I got an email from Australia Post asking about my experience. The request didn’t make sense – my purchasing decision lay with the retailer. While I was the recipient, I wasn’t their customer; the online store was. Delivery decisions weren’t up to me. Here’s what the broking industry needs to consider going forward.

Know your audience

As a customer, I want the time I invest in providing feedback to improve my future experience. If our relationship is purely transactional and I don’t expect to deal with you again (overseas hotel), or it’s a necessity rather than a choice (Australia Post), then the likelihood of me investing time in providing feedback is slim to none.

However, if I seek an ongoing relationship, then I expect to be asked questions that will improve it in the future. What worked/didn’t work? Are my expectations being met? Do I trust you? Am I satisfied? Did you communicate effectively? Did I feel valued?

Make it easy

In the case of TripAdvisor, I did intend to leave feedback, but it was just too time-consuming to do while travelling, particularly as the effort was all mine.

On the other hand, Australia Post’s online survey would have been easy to complete, but it was coming from the wrong source. The online store should have been the one asking me (it didn’t).

Make it fast

If you’re going to the e­ffort of asking, you want your response rates to be as high as possible. That means you’ve got less than five minutes – anything longer and customers get distracted, or start to question the value of the task. Ask simple questions, make it multiple choice or a score, and make the feedback form mobile-responsive.

Make it useful

How are you going to use the data you collect? Is it to tick an operational box, or reassure prospective customers, or improve performance? The metrics you focus on matter. A simple five-star rating may be fi ne when selecting a restaurant, but as per my TripAdvisor experience, I needed more information when choosing a hotel. In your industry, a prospect is seeking someone they can trust. They’ll want to understand what customer experience you can deliver.

Don’t apply pressure

Asking for feedback on the spot is a no-no. Generally, as humans, we avoid confrontation and try not to cause o­ffence. Putting customers on the spot is likely to skew your results; great for your ego but not for authenticity. It doesn’t give the customer an opportunity to reflect on their experience, and defeats the point of collecting feedback in the first place.

Customer feedback is like a mirror for a business, and there are numerous reasons for collecting it. If a post-settlement customer feedback strategy is deployed, the industry needs to consider what metrics will best achieve its objectives and that of its customers.


Simone Poulter is co-founder of MyNextAdvice and has more than 17 years’ experience in brand communications, business development, traditional marketing and sales. For more information, visit www.mynextadvice.com.au.