Sunday, July 27, 2008

Make it super easy for your customers to submit feedback

I'm sure you've received emails from companies asking you to fill out a long survey by offering you some good deal before, such as a cup of free coffee or a chance to win a $5,000 spending spree.

No one fills out long surveys

How often do you fill those forms out? I almost never do so because a survey is just too formal (no fun) and takes me too much time (it usually turns out to be 15 minutes when they claim that it's a 5 minute only survey).

It's good that you want to hear what customers think of your products/services; that's the only way you can find out what really matters to the market and it's freaking important to your continued survival. However, asking your customers to fill out long surveys just don't work. Trust me, people don't have the patience to do that and many people don't like to read.

Ironically, the solution to this problem is exactly what a LOT of companies trying their best to avoid:

Making it super easy for your customers to tell you what they think.

Let us look at two cases.

How YouTube screwed this up

This problem from YouTube has been annoying me for a long time:

Whenenver I'm viewing a video and try to make it my favorite, I'll be asked to sign in first. No problem there, I'm happy to sign in. However, I'm always directed back to the homepage of YouTube instead of the video I was watching. This is quite an embarrassing user interface design flaw from the the super smarts at Google.

Yesterday, I was fed up with it and tried to look for a way to contact them about this problem. So, I clicked on the "Contact" link at the lower right corner of the homepage:

Then, it says that

If you need help, please visit our Help Center. We've answered the most common issues our users have, and if you can't find your answer there, you'll be directed to a form where you can email Customer Service for help.

Alright, let's see if they've answered this issue at the Help Center. Now I'm on their "Current Sites Issues" page and don't see this issue there. At the bottom of the page, it says
Don't see your answer listed above? Look in our Help Center. It's full of answers to frequently asked questions, and we're continuously adding and updating information.
What? Didn't you say that I'll be directed to a form where I can email Customer Service for help? Why take me back to your Help Center? I just want to suggest something!

How Facebook did it correctly

If you're Facebook user, you probably already notice that you can try out their new site design at http://www.new.facebook.com/.

I like the new design because now I don't have to wait forever for the numerous applications to load on my friends' profile pages. That said, there was something that I didn't like. For example, the "Logout" link was only on the homepage while it should be available on every page (people want to log out whenever/wherever they want).

I noticed that they have this "Send feedback" link at the upper right corner of the screen

I clicked on that and this nice little window popped up


I told them that they should make the "Logout" link appear on every page and after like two days they made the correction.

To be fair, YouTube isn't the only company that makes you frustrated when you want to tell them how they can improve. Many big corporations spend millions on advertising campaigns and send out those long surveys instead of asking their webmaster to spend 15 minutes to create such a short form for people to contact them.

Better yet: respond personally

Of course, it'll be even better if you can give your customers a personal response to thank their feedbacks and explain what you're doing to tackle the issue.

"You're crazy! We're a fortune 500 company. How on earth can we personally respond to hundreds of thousands of feedbacks from customers everyday?"

You know what? I got a personal response from Amazon every time I submitted a recommendation to them.

I don't know how Amazon does it, but it they can do it, it's not that impossible, is it?