What gets measured must get done

Asking customers for feedback is a common practice today. And it can be a source of competitive advantage, on one condition: you act on the feedback. Even better is when brands are brave enough to tell people they screwed up and what they have done to fix the problem.

Getting it right: Pret
A great example of asking for, acting on and communicating customer feedback was sandwich shop Pret’s response to complaints about its soups.
Picture 3
The soups were upgraded, and a message about this from the CEO was printed on the side of the soup cup I was eating out of.
"A while ago, a consumer phoned me to say our soup was good buy not amazing. The gauntlet was down.

tracked down and engaged (full time) the UK's premier soup guru and
cook book writer, Nick Sandler. Together we changed our recipes, our
stock, our ingredients and cooking methods. We took on and trained new
soup chefs.

Thank you to that lady who called (Sorry but I've
lost your number). If you're reading this, I hope you agree we rose to
the challenge. Do let me know what you think, and thanks again.
Signed, Julian Metcalfe"

This is bloody brilliant at several levels:

  1. Its a great example of Pret's mastery at generating free advertising, by using cups and napkins as media channels.
  2. Rather than saying "we care for our customers blah blah blah", this an action that demonstrates this commitment. They listen, and they act. 
  3. It also shows a true commitment to quality. They don't just say "Here's a new improved soup". They hired full time the UK's premier soup guru. Now that's what I call "sausage": a real functional product truth and benefit.
  4. The note is from the CEO, one of many examples of the commitment to quality and customer service right from the top.
  5. The informal, personal tone of voice adds the classic Pret "sizzle".

Even more love for Pret came from the CEO personally emailing me to say thanks for the blog post!

Getting it very, very wrong
Asking and failing to act on feedback is worse than not asking for it at all. I saw a blood-chilling example of this whilst on holiday in France, when stopping at a motorway service station for a "natural break". The company in question had gone to the trouble and expense of putting signs in the toilets asking for feedback. A little sign on each cubicle door could be slid one way to reveal a Mr Smiley face and a message of “Propre” (Clean), or the other way for a Mr Angry face and “Pas Propre” (not clean).

Well, guess what. The signs on both cubicle doors were well and truly pushed onto Mr Angry. Opening the cubicle door showed why. The toilet (sorry if you’re eating as you read this) was a disgrace, as you can see. In fact, the place was so dirty that even the sign itself was filthy.
Picture 1
What a balls up. Rather than spending money on designing and installing these signs, why not get the toilets cleaned instead?

In conclusion, get your brand in a decent state before you start asking for feedback. Pret’s soups were OK, but were made even better. Second, if you do decide to ask for feedback, follow Tesco’s example by tracking and reporting the results right to the top of the business, and act on the feedback. And finally, communicate what you have done to fix the problem like Pret, to show you give shit (sorry) about your customers.