This past holiday season, I had a horrendous customer service experience with ThinkGeek, the online purveyor of geek-related merchandise. To make a long story short… the experience involved an order that was originally late then turned out to be undelivered, period, followed by months of badgering ThinkGeek’s unresponsive support team via email, Twitter, and live chat to simply get a refund.

How NOT to Listen to Your Customers

After I had finally gotten my rightful refund, I got an automated email from ThinkGeek inviting me to take an online survey to rate my support experience. I wrote about my struggles, clicked submit, and was presented with:

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 2.20.39 PMThis landing page did not exactly radiate a feeling of being heard. In fact, it did a pretty good job convincing me I had just sent my feedback into a void.

So where ThinkGeek had a small chance to redeem itself in my eyes, it squandered that opportunity with a cold, unfeeling survey thank you page. And unsurprisingly, no one has reached out to me about my feedback.

How TO Listen to Your Customers

We recently worked with our day spa client, Spaah, to create a new system to gather customer feedback. The goals for this system were many:

  1. To show customers that Spaah cares about their experiences and wants to ensure they were as good as possible.
  2. To get immediate and ongoing feedback about what Spaah is doing well and what needs improvement.
  3. To catch any negative feedback and try to correct any problems before customers take to social media to air their complaints.
  4. To gather positive feedback to use in testimonials or to reward any outstanding staff members.
  5. To encourage satisfied customers to write positive reviews online, thus helping to attract future new customers.

So, how does it work?

Spaah’s online booking and customer management system, Booker, has a built-in automated email feature. The template we customized for this customer feedback system is called “Appointment Thank You” and is sent after an appointment has been completed and payment has been submitted.

Rather than opting to invite customers to take a survey, which sounds inherently boring and bureaucratic, we decided to keep it short, simple, and actionable directly from the email itself. We updated the email template to include a green thumbs up icon and a red thumbs down icon. Each icon links to its own customized landing page – for satisfied and dissatisfied customers, respectively – on Spaah’s website, allowing Spaah to present the best response based on customers’ sentiment. Furthermore, the email includes details about the appointment to help them remember specifics, as well as the name of their staff. Finally, the traffic for these pages can be tracked via Google Analytics.

NOTE: If you’re wondering how to add images to a Booker email, since there is no option to do so, here’s what you do:

  1. Upload/host the images on your website on a published page. As fast as I can tell, the image has to be live, not just uploaded. A good way to accomplish this is to put the each image on its corresponding landing page.
  2. Highlight and copy each image. Right-clicking and copying the image that way does not work!
  3. Paste into the Booker email!

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If a customer clicks the red thumbs down icon, they are taken to a landing page on Spaah’s website with an apologetic, professional tone. The copy also assures them that Donna, the owner herself, will receive and reply to their concern. And this is true – and extremely important – clicking the submit button triggers an immediate email to her. The subject line of the triggered email is “My Recent Spaah Experience,” so Donna can anticipate that it’s from a dissatisfied customer.

A few more notes about this landing page. It’s not accessible from the navigation menu, so site visitors are very unlikely to stumble upon it and submit false or untimely feedback. The copy also aims to humanize Spaah, not only to assuage unhappy customers but also to protect Donna from mean-spirited comments. Inviting feedback does not mean inviting abuse! Finally, name and email are required in the form so Donna can track down the customer’s relevant information, as well as be able to respond.

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Upon submitting the form, dissatisfied customers see this landing page, which continues the respectful tone and reiterates that they can expect a quick response from the owner.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 10.11.40 PM

If a customer clicks the green thumbs up icon, they are taken to a landing page with more upbeat lingo. Since even happy customers can have constructive feedback, they are invited to give their input and/or praise any spectacular staff members via a form. The subject line of the form’s triggered email to Donna is “My Spaah Feedback.”

To further capitalize on the good vibes, customers visiting this page are invited to like Spaah on Facebook via a plugin.

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After submitting the form, happy customers see an upbeat thank you page, which takes the opportunity to ask them for online reviews on the platform(s) of their choice. We don’t even ask for “positive” reviews, just reviews.

Why don’t we ask for reviews on the thumbs down thank you page? While we can’t and wouldn’t prevent dissatisfied customers from writing online reviews, we don’t prompt them during this process because the timing would be in poor taste. Plus, Spaah would likely be setting itself up for negative online reviews before Donna even has the chance to address any issues and turn a customer around.

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So, does it work?

Stats on the email itself, such as open rate and click through rate, are unavailable on Booker, but the estimated click through rate is over 5%. What we do know is that between January 29th (when the system officially launched) and March 9th, the thumbs up/happy landing page has gotten 44 unique visitors. Its accompanying thank you page has gotten 21 visitors, indicating that Donna has received 21 emails from satisfied clients at a 48% response rate. The thumbs down/dissatisfied landing page has only had two unique visitors, resulting in one visit to its thank you page, indicating one email from an unsatisfied customer.

In that same time frame, Spaah has received new positive reviews: one on Google, one on Facebook, and two on Yelp (both filtered, unfortunately). But more importantly, it has shown customers that Spaah cares about them, provided the company with valuable feedback, and kicked off conversations with customers that will hopefully become long relationships.

How to and How NOT to Listen to Your Customers
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