Why does every company suddenly want my feedback?

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed a seismic lurch on the part of big brands?

Suddenly, everyone wants my feedback. My opinion of the most trivial interaction is, apparently, a high priority. Whole teams of marketers are poised to rewrite their strategies, ready to spring into action at the mere hint of a ‘neither agree nor disagree’ answer on my part.

OK, I made that last bit up. But there’s no doubt that major organisations are following the example set by smaller outfits.

Both parties are gleaning feedback for the same reasons; to get a snapshot of the customer experience, to flag problems and opportunities and, ultimately, to improve the customer experience. However, scale inevitably impacts speed. A small online retailer lives or dies by its ability to provide a good service – every single transaction is a learning opportunity, every single customer counts.

Big brands gather huge amounts of information, but what they hold applies to groups, demographics, rather than individuals. And mostly it takes a lot longer for the feedback to translate into action.

However, there are exceptions.

The clue is in the word ‘mostly’ in the last sentence, and if you’ve been wondering where this is going, the answer’s the John Lewis Partnership, retail darling of Britain’s aspiring classes.

The firm is owned by all the partners; every employee has a stake in the business and an interest in making it successful.

The fact that one super-helpful John Lewis agent handled my intial enquiry, organised delivery and kept me fully in the loop by phone and text over a three week span speaks volumes for the person and the firm.

It also meant that, when my feedback was requested, I was happy to provide it. Not online, but to the individual who asked “Have we done everything we could for you today, Mr Hirsch?”

He made it feel as if my reply really mattered.

Online surveys, feedback gathering, automated opinion seeking – all these are important. But no amount of 1 – 10 scoring, moving the slider or clicking on radio buttons can match a conversation with a real person.

Feedback only counts when both sides truly appreciate it.

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Rod Hirsch is Global Director Brand and Content at Thunderhead. Joining the Thunderhead team in 2010, Rod has spearheaded the development of the Thunderhead voice, building the company’s brand strategy and content and bringing alive its vision and expertise in multi-channel customer engagement. With over 30 years in the business of building brands for B2B clients, Rod has combined strategic thinking and tactical implementation to deliver award-winning programmes for starts-ups and multinationals alike.