Common mistakes when gathering customer feedback

Common mistakes when gathering customer feedback


Figuring out the wants and needs of your customers or employees is the best way of achieving success as a business. Don’t take it from us but from Bill Gates, who once said that “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” And, in fact, customer feedback is the lifeblood of any successful company. It is why some major companies such as Amazon and others have adopted real-time feedback capabilities.

Collecting customer feedback is a relatively straightforward process but knowing how to do it correctly and efficiently is another matter altogether. Regardless of what this feedback is intended to capture, there are several common mistakes that people can make when creating surveys if they’re not careful.

Leading Questions

Unless you are pushing an agenda, leading questions have no place in a survey. Questions that start with “Wouldn’t you agree that…” or “Isn’t it a shame that…” will not provide you with any meaningful or accurate feedback and run the risk of frustrating survey takers who may feel their opinions cannot be accurately expressed through your survey.

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, or recall information in a specific way to confirm your already-existing beliefs. Somewhat similar to the point above, framing questions to reaffirm your views will not produce credible feedback results.

So, instead of asking a question like “Do you like drinking coffee in the morning?” ask “When do you like to drink coffee?” Remember, the point of the questionnaire is to learn from your customers, not to verify a preexisting belief.

Using Jargon and Acronyms 

An excellent survey is one that’s short and easy to understand. This means that you don’t overuse industry-specific jargon or acronyms, which may seem like easy shorthand to you but can be incredibly confusing for customers. Instead, use plain language that anyone should be able to understand and relate to in order to answer the questions on your survey.

Taking up Too Much Time

This all-too-often mistake is usually made in one of two ways. There are either too many questions or the questions take too long to answer. The most frequently completed surveys take less than 5 minutes to complete and offer 10 questions or less.

The Customer Doesn’t Come First 

If surveys are structured so that the organization’s issues take center stage, it can create a disconnect between you and your customer. While your survey may address the issues that you want to improve upon, the survey has to focus on the customer experience. It is not your customers’ role to tell you how to fix a potential issue. It is your customers’ willingness to make you aware of what they think about your product or service. From their feedback, you can then determine how best to address any clear or potential areas for improvement.

Not Adopting a Multi-Channel Approach

While most surveys nowadays are conducted over the internet, either on social media or via online surveys, you should remember that not everybody can be reached online. For your feedback to be valid, you will need to contact a broader segment of the population by using multiple channels such as telephone interviews, inbound emails, feedback kiosks, paper surveys, etc.

No Clear Objective

With cheaper, faster, and easier ways to conduct surveys – mainly online – many companies have started bombarding their customers with all sorts of questionnaires, often with no clear plan or objective on what to do with that information once they have it. Not only is this a waste of everyone’s time but this trend leads to something called survey fatigue in responders. Therefore, create customer surveys in accordance with your customer experience strategy and have a clear objective for when and why you solicit customer feedback.


Customer feedback is a powerful tool for any company to leverage. By avoiding these common pitfalls mentioned above, you can gather valuable and actionable insights that will help to inform smarter, client-centric business decisions.

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