What are the right customer feedback channels for “Voice” of the Customer programs?

So the other day I got ready to head out after a satisfying meal in a quick service restaurant of my choice, and I spotted this:

How was Your Visit? Please call this number... Go beyond voice as a customer feedback channel.

My first thought was “great, they care!” But it didn’t take me long, of course, to realize that they actually can’t seem to really care. Why? Because they invite people to give them a call. A call! Like, using your voice and all. See, the thing is, I actually did have some feedback for them: I loved how they now serve me at the table, but I would’ve preferred if the server actually asked me if I needed anything else — and I was too lazy to get up and improve my order in that moment, I ended up just going with what I got. But would I place a phone call for that feedback? I don’t make that many calls anymore these days. I just turned 40, which makes me a xennial. Never heard of that word? Have a look at how Merriam-Webster is keeping an eye on that term and concept, citing writer Sarah Stankorb:

[…] [T]hose of us born in the fuzzy borderland between Gen X and Millennial are old enough to have logged in to our first email addresses in college. We use social media but can remember living life without it. The internet was not a part of our childhoods, but computers existed and there was something special about the opportunity to use one. […]

Yep! That’s me. Like my like-minded millennial or Gen Z friends, I prefer texting or calling… So in this case, I didn’t leave any feedback.

Calling for Customer Feedback? No thank you…

Here’s how I imagine that call to have gone, had I made it:

Me: Dials the number
Restaurant: “Hello and welcome to XYZ. To leave feedback, press 1. To place an order, press 2. For all other inquiries, please hang up and dial 911.”
Me: Presses 1
Restaurant: Plays cheesy wait music
Me: Waiting
Me: Still waiting…
Restaurant: “hello my name is michael how may I help you”
Me: “Uh, yeah, hi. So, I just visited your restaurant and had some feedback”
Restaurant: “OK, and which restaurant was that?”
Me: “Uh, the one on Mass Ave”
Restaurant: “OK, and what feedback do you have?”
Me: “Yeah so, I love how you’re now serving guests at the table, but the server just put the tray on my table and left. I had no chance to ask for additional sauces”
Restaurant: “OK, anything else?”
Me: “Uh, nnnoooo…?”
Restaurant: “OK, so that’s one nothingburger with additional sauces, that’ll be three ninety-nine”
Me: “…”
Me: Hangs up, utterly confused, wondering if I accidentally pressed 2 instead…

I’m kidding, of course. But then again, it’s probably not too far off…

Asking for customer feedback is generally a good idea. Addressing customer feedback right on the spot is even better. For that reason, not inviting people to leave a review on review portals is definitely not a bad move. People will do that anyway – unless… unless you make it so easy for someone to leave a comment JUST FOR YOU, right on the spot, that they will simply do it. Why not just walk up to the manager and address it face to face you ask? I’m sorry, but verbal face-to-face conversations are so 2017…

Messaging is the better customer feedback channel

In all seriousness, though. There is a better way, and it’s in the form of messaging. It’s what your customers are probably doing anyway while consuming your product in store… why not leverage it more? The good news is that some messaging channels such as SMS or WhatsApp allow you to use the same number as your existing voice hotline. So you can text- and message-enable your existing number that is probably already a vanity number and one your customers might know from previous advertising. “Call, text, or WhatsApp us at 1-800-…” will yield more engagement than inviting your customers to call. And with platforms such as Sparkcentral’s Messaging Customer Service Platform, you can even have live staff respond to negative feedback. Every incoming message from your customer is an opportunity to engage. And more engagement with customers is better, there should be no doubt about that.

So: Don’t Take “Voice of the Customer” Too Literally, and don’t just make it “lip service” — consider messaging in your CEM/VoC and customer feedback channels mix.

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