Let’s Build a Better Comment Card

Earl Able’s Restaurant is legendary around San Antonio and one of my stores is nearby, so anytime I am doing a store visit there, I leave early and stop at Earl’s for one of the best breakfasts around. Yesterday however, the info-babe on WOAI foretold of impending doom on IH-35, so my commute did not go as planned. Rather than wasting time in traffic, I decided to opt for breakfast a national chain restaurant.

It wasn’t bad, although a far cry from Earl’s, but what struck me as I attempted to finish my cup of slightly bitter coffee, was how badly worded their comment card was. It reminded me of my own company and how bad our customer comment card is. One of those projects I have long wanted to address but have never pushed up high enough on the priority list as to warrant adequate focus.

The card I held in my hands asked me a short list of closed ended questions. Was my meal satisfactory; Yes or No. Was my service satisfactory; Yes or No. Was the restaurant clean; Yes or No. As I read over the comment card, I realized how utterly useless so many comment cards really are. I think most comment cards want to do a good job, they just haven’t been given the proper tools and training and don’t know how to ask the right questions. It’s time to retrain our comment cards.

Our comment cards shouldn’t be asking customers, “Yes or No”, they should be asking our customers “How”! How can we serve you better? What can we do to improve?

Seriously, if we’re going to ask our customers for their feedback, don’t we want to ask them questions that will actually help us improve our business and our service? If a customer is going to sacrifice their time to fill the card out, should it be something constructive? Maybe we ask ourselves if we really care what our customers think. If the answer is a resounding, ‘YES!”, then let’s take the time to ask them useful questions and not mindless rhetoric that is meaningless and will not us improve our business.

So here’s my challenge to you, dear reader. You’ve been tasked with creating the perfect customer comment card. What question simply must be included?

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Monty Rainey is a District Manager with over 14 years in the self storage industry currently overseeing 21 stores in the Austin & San Antonio, TX area. He is also a leadership coach and public speaker. For a free consultation, please contact Monty at 830-743-2139 or visit his website at http://www.montyrainey.com .

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About montyrainey

Public Speaker and District Manager. Mission: To empower and inspire others professionally, personally and spiritually to elevate their lives to a higher level.
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7 Responses to Let’s Build a Better Comment Card

  1. I like the session evaluation cards that the national Agile conferences (Agile 2010, Agile 2011, etc., for lookup) started using years ago. Upon leaving, there is a stack of green paper squares and red paper squares. Green means “good, a keeper” while red means “not worth it.” You pick up a color and toss it in the bowl. You can also write on it.

    Of source the other comment card technique from the last decade I like is the Net Promoter Score — “On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high) what is the likelihood you would recommend us to your friends?” If you mark a 9 or a 10, the (electronic) survey branches to “Thank you. What would you tell them?” with a comment field. If you mark a 4-8 (I think) the branching asks: “What would it take to earn a 9 or 10?” A 3 or lower gets routed to an attendant to call you and hear you out.

  2. montyrainey says:

    Chris, on your first suggestion, I’m not sure how the session evaluation cards will be used to actually help you improve. On your second suggestion, I do like that eventually you get to the question, “What would it take to earn a 9 or 10”. Now you should ge to some applicable input that will help a company up their game.

  3. Bill Leoniy says:

    My first thought supports Chris’s second idea.
    Spun for improvement, it might be, “Is there an area where you were not delighted?”
    Then ask, “What would it take to delight you?”

    Some other questions might include:
    What was the most and/or least favorite part of their experience?
    What can not change about your experience?
    What must change by your next visit?

  4. montyrainey says:

    Bill, I like your thought process. The open ended questions invite useful and actionable customer suggestions.

  5. Hi Monty – How nice to hear from you! It’s no longer good enough to just measure customer satisfaction; we must also measure customer loyalty. Just because a customer is satisfied doesn’t mean they will always be loyal to your company. I like the concept of the “ultimate question” and the “net promoter score” in the book, The Ultimate Question by Fred Reichheld. He recommends asking 2 questions to customers. The first is: How likely would you be to recommend our company to your friends and family on scale of 0 to 10 with 10 being highly likely and 0 being not at all? The second question is an open-ended one: What is the reason for your answer? Customers who provide scores from 0 to 6 are considered “detractors”, 7 or 8 are “passive”, and 9 or 10 are “promoters.” Companies with more “promoters” and higher net promoter scores have higher levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty and greater financial return. I recommend reading his book to learn more about customer loyalty and how to calculate the net promoter score. We used this concept at Verizon Wireless to measure customer loyalty and we also used it to measure internal customer loyalty with regards to the training and development teams.

  6. montyrainey says:

    Thanks Tina. I’ve never read that book and will order a copy today. I agree that just having “satisfied customers” is not go longer good enough. I love Jeffrey Gitomer’s book, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless.

  7. Monty, I loved your post on comment cards. In my experience, two questions that should always be included are the following: The first one is “Did our associates make you feel that they appreciate and care about your business?” (yes, no) And, why? Too many businesses don’t get the connection between demonstrating customer appreciation and repeat business. Additionally, a company only has one opportunity to make a good first impression! Richard Shapiro, The Center For Client Retention

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