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Feedback: The Gift You Give That Marketing Ignores

By Sander Biehn | Feb 15, 2016

An interesting confluence of events culminated on my last KLM flight.

  1. I was reading “Ask” by Ryan Levesque
  2. The inflight entertainment system was broken in my aisle
  3. It had been exactly one year since my last flight on KLM

The airline dutifully asked for my feedback after the flight. I chose to respond because I like KLM and because there was definitely room for improvement during my flight (see point 2 above). 

The  year before I also filled out the survey. On that flight the man next to me discreetly smoked his e-cigarette the entire flight. It smelled, and he appeared to be smoking a substance that is also illegal in the US. Since the safety video did not expressly forbid the use of e-cigarettes, I wondered out loud in the ‘comments’ section whether this was allowed on KLM flights.

I got no response.

As the sun went down on my 2016 flight, I struggled to read the end of Levesque’s book. I could not turn on my reading lamp because the switch was integrated into the entertainment system which was broken. Levesque has built multi-million dollar businesses out of thin air using online surveys to figure out what markets are untapped and what consumers might buy.

I got to wondering what KLM had done with my survey from the e-cigarette flight. True, they had updated their safety video to forbid the use of e-cigarettes, but they had not responded to me despite my direct question on whether smoking e-cigarettes was actually against the rules.

The survey for this year’s flight just popped into my inbox. Should I even respond?  Would my response be used by Marketing without any acknowledgement or thanks for the time I spent giving it? I had plenty of feedback to offer, but I wonder whether they actually want it or whether Marketing is just going through the motions.

Here are the lessons for Marketing when it comes to surveys:

  1. Ask for feedback. If you don’t know the value in doing so, pick up Ask by Ryan Levesque with my compliments.
  2. Be sure to respond when you get constructive feedback. You cannot expect people to take the time to help you with constructive ideas and then leave them hanging. They are most likely giving you the feedback because they want you to succeed–and like your brand. By ignoring them you tell them you didn’t really care to begin with.
  3. Spend less time on ‘haters.’ We monitor social feeds for clients that can be clogged with vitriol at times. There is no reason to participate in conversations with respondents who simply want to be mean. That is not feedback, its abuse. Feel free to ignore these folks who just want to hurt your brand. You may want to ‘set the record’ straight, but if you are anywhere near as tired as I am from watching candidates rip each other at the political debates in the US, you will know the power of staying positive.
  4. For all the talk of brand ambassadors, Marketers tend to miss the boat with follow up on good ideas generated from survey results. Why not ask respondents who constructively respond for more feedback and even offer perks to do so. This could also generate interest in providing feedback that can become your competitive advantage.

Don’t miss out on the gift of feedback. Just because you are asking for it from your customers doesn’t mean you are using it effectively to grow your business and leverage client intimacy.