I sometimes find that businesses mistake their customer feedback programme for a mystery shopping programme. The tell-tale signs are when the questions revolve around things I should have noticed as I was shopping, for example, posters displaying special offers. Or when I am asked to comment on behavior that staff are required to show (this question lifted from a survey I completed recently) “Did the Staff Member greet you in a warm and friendly manner, introduce themselves by name and make you feel comfortable?”

The thing is, I’m a busy person. And I start to feel a bit grumpy if I  spend 10 minutes filling in a form that isn’t about what I have to tell you, rather it’s about what information you can extract from me. That doesn’t make me feel like you value my time or my opinion at all.

I’m a big believer in keeping it simple. Keeping it short. Much better to ask 5 great questions than 15 dull ones. A well-constructed survey should provide the scaffolding for your customers to tell you their story in a way you can digest.

The secret to success is finding a way to give your customers the opportunity to tell you about their experiences on their terms, and giving your staff the opportunity to hear and learn from that feedback.

Customer feedback collected carefully is far more valuable, authentic and meaningful than any mystery shopping report.