The one question you should ask for the best feedback


Ask this One Question for the Most Valuable Feedback on Your Product or Service

Jacksonville, FL

Feedback is the lifeblood of product development/improvement much like money is the lifeblood of a business.

You’ve poured so much time, effort, and capital into a product and all you want to know is, “Do they like it?”. 

A customer that keeps coming back is a good indicator that they haven’t found somewhere better to go. This doesn’t make a business owner feel good if they care about the end-user experience. Product and service improvement requires adequate feedback. This means you have to ask questions that lead to greater products and experiences.

Business owners know this already and it has resulted in surveys galore. You finish a customer service chat with a business and they want a survey at the end. You just had lunch at a restaurant and they ask you to leave a Google review. Getting off the phone with a rep and you are asked to participate in a “quick” survey. Phone conversations are recorded for quality assurance. “How’s my driving?”. It is a constant barrage of requests for feedback on products and services. To add insult to injury, these requests are so impersonal, they don’t feel like they mean anything.

Why Some Methods are Ineffective.

Chat Surveys

I use a particular web hosting service because I love the product and love the customer service even more. I am happy to leave good survey feedback after each interaction because the rep deserves it. They are getting a lot of those, however. Average out the stars and you can barely see if the top right corner of the last start might have some gray on it. It doesn’t take long for customers to ignore the stars all together. For business use, you have to weigh the good from the bad to decide if training or some other remediation actions are required. Now management is playing judge. Not fun. What’s more, people giving feedback on this system aren’t honest. Maybe if they are really angry, they’ll be honest.

Google Reviews

I explain to people that Google reviews aren’t so much about the content of the review, but the number of people willing to go through the effort of leaving something in the first place. If a lot of people are willing to go leave a comment, then you’ve done good work. I don’t discount these. They are very important. Just realize they are translated by customers differently than you might think. Plus, you likely asked for these reviews for marketing. This feedback is not so useful at improving products and services. Besides, Google reviews inconvenience to the customer makes it difficult to ask for. This is something else that requires skill. 

Phone Surveys

Again, you aren’t going to get to the meat of product improvement with these. If you want to know who you’ve pissed off, you’re golden. If you want real feedback, you’re just going to be left fixing things based on the non-creative nature of human anger. Good luck with that.

Recorded Phone Conversations

These are good for micromanaging. They are also great for accountability if I’m being fair, but if you are going through the trouble of listening to conversations for service improvement, you are spending valuable time and money doing so. What’s more, you are likely spot-checking these conversations. There is a lot left to be desired despite this method of collecting feedback seeming so thorough.

“How’s My Driving?”

I got nothing. That one is just funny.

How to Ask for Valuable Feedback Without Sounding Insecure or Desperate?

I’m about to tell you the one question that will make all your feedback dreams come true, but first I’m going to tell you how it works. (Or you can read ahead and come back. *thumb shrug*)

Useful feedback needs to be evoked from your customers without them feeling guilty. It also needs to make them feel like they are doing something good for your business that will help them in the future. That sort of response from the client will give them something to look forward to with your service.

This question also sets limitations so they aren’t faced with decision paralysis. If you broadly ask a customer for feedback on what can be improved, it’s like asking them to objectively analyze your business. They don’t know your business. Which brings me to another point… The one question keeps the feedback personal. You want the feedback to be about the customer.

When you ask for feedback, you want the customer to know their viewpoint is relevant. If asked correctly, the customer will feel that you are genuinely interested and vested in their needs. A good business relationship is both parties needing what the other has and that trade is balanced. The depth of feedback requests will create a faithful context around that relationship for the future. Be forewarned, it also sets expectations.

So here it is!

“What is one thing you would like to see improved about our product or service?”

Let me dissect this real quick!

“What is one” = Typically, anyone who experiences anything has this one thing they really were hoping to expeirence. You can probably get away with asking for two “hit list” items, but I wouldn’t do more than that. Three is too many because, in the words of Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”.

“things” = It means all thoughts are on the table. Product, service, experience, etc. This word seems so innocuous but leaving it open allows the customer to express what is on their mind. If the customer is thinking about cost and you ask about the color, the customer will have to change gears, likely avoid answering, and you’ve lost valuable feedback.

“would you like to see” = This makes it all about personal preference so the customer won’t feel bad offering their input.

“improved” = This is incredibly important. The upward inflection denotes an attitude of making something better. Don’t ask someone what they didn’t like about something. That negative inflection would only reinforce the thing they didn’t like and it’s just hurtful to hear a response for. Talking about how something can get better creates a nice collaboration between customer and business.

“about our product or service?” = Use “product or service” at the end of your question. Remember, if you finish too specific, you might alienate what is on the customer’s mind. Be too broad or omit this part and something will feel missing. Imagine asking, “What two things would you like to see improved?”. One of two things will happen here. The customer won’t know what you are referring to or the customer will default to the last bullet point you were discussing before asking for feedback.

One more thing, and I can’t stress it enough.

This question primes YOU, the business owner, to hear the kind of criticism that motivates! The stress of owning a business is just enough to put a wrinkle in your creative thinking. Use this opportunity to frame your requests for feedback so that you are lifted with new insightful and valuable information that gets you excited about the next step of growing your business!