Customer Feedback

Subject: Customer Feedback
From: Gwen Barnes <gwen -dot- barnes -at- MUSTANG -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 23 Apr 1996 15:37:51 GMT

-> Our doc team is working on a Customer Feedback Plan and trying to come up
-> with new, inventive, and inexpensive ways to solicit user feedback and
-> suggestions on our manuals. So far we ve come up with:

-> - Customer comment card inserted in every manual
-> - Written customer survey
-> - Phone survey

For a while, we included a general "customer comment" card with products
that asked customers to rate from 1 (great) to 5 (lousy) the product,
tech support, documentation, shipping and something else which I forget.
It has space at the end for comments and the customer's name and phone

I have mixed feelings about them, because I don't think they represent
the "typical" customer, only the ones motivated to send the card back
because they either loved or hated the product.

Most of the ones who wrote negative comments seem to have gone out of
their way to be nasty. Only rarely were the comments useful or
constructive, and the reply cards didn't tell me anything about the
manuals I didn't already know -- the people who had the most difficulty
are sub-literate and can't handle material written at an 8th grade
reading level. Maybe videos would be better for those people.

They either complain that the material is far too complex for "ordinary
people" to comprehend so why did we bother, or it's so simplified it's
downright insulting, and what they really want is some technical info.
Same books ...

As for phone surveys, put yourself in the customer's shoes: "Hi, this is
Wanda from Obfuscated Software, and I'd like to ask you a few
questions". Sure, Wanda, but right now I'm having dinner, or just sat
down to watch TV, or just on my way to an important meeting, and do you
realize that I've spent more time on the phone answering your customer
surveys than I have using your product???

I just switched long distance companies, and I'm getting REALLY tired of
their customer service reps calling me all the time to ask me how I like
the service so far ... I told the last one that if they'd quit tying up
my line maybe I'd have a chance to find out.

Written surveys, perhaps. But there has to be a reason for customers to
spend the time filling out and returning the survey, or the "average"
ones won't bother. You'll only hear from the ones on the edge otherwise
-- they're either overcome with joy or they want to hate you to death. I
think the "average" customer's reaction is a lot harder to get, and is
probably much more important.

Cheers, 805-873-2500
Gwen gwen -dot- barnes -at- mustang -dot- com
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