When you need honest and detached feedback, try a survey.
When served a meal at a friends house, it is easier to say ‘delicious’ than ‘urgh’, even if the meal may have been unappetising. It’s not just embarrassment that triggers that reaction, it’s a natural reaction because it’s easier not to get cornered where you have to defend your position. But you will think about your experience when you’re next asked over for dinner.
If only there was a way to tell them you actually prefer well-cooked beef over under-cooked fish…And these are your friends, not business connections.
As with many human interactions, the same reaction occurs in business. For example, it’s much easier for customers to simply tell their suppliers that all is well, even though they might feel otherwise.
Your own customers might not express their dissatisfaction with your products or services when asked directly – but they will recall any dissatisfaction when they’re planning their next purchase. They have choice, and obviously your customers are more likely to switch suppliers if they think they will get better service, better quality, or better value elsewhere.
So as a supplier, it is essential that you get a truthful and considered perspective of your product or service performance from your customers. Ideally you want to hear a considered and truthful perspective, given with the benefit of time and detachment and without being cornered to defend their opinion.
This is where an online survey can really pay dividends. Although there is no substitute for committing time, effort and attention developing great business relationships, a survey puts an artificial and very useful distance between you and your customers at the point when you must get honest and detached feedback.
A survey can reveal a different customer perspective, and that perspective might be closer to the truth that you realised.
Sometimes, it takes a little distance to get closer.