May I give you some Feedback ?

Feedback is called the Breakfast of Champions. How easy do you make it for your customer to give you feedback ? How easy is it for you to give feedback to your favorite brands ?

If the process of giving feedback is onerous or exhausting, and your excuse is ‘Our business model is complicated and spread across a huge geography’ I recommend you read up on Zappos and Amazon and how they ended up where they are today. Remember that pithy saying: If you want to find a shortcut way to do a job, give it to a lazy man – he will always finish the job with a minimum of energy output. Make it so that the laziest fan of your product/service can give you feedback with no excuse. Disclaimer : Of course if you are a seller of shoddy products or services you are most likely not too keen to make it easy for your unfortunate ‘victims’ (they are victims more than they are customers) to get in touch with you. Also if you are government entity you positively don’t give a fish. And the very worst thing you can do is install one of those eternally optimistic ‘suggestion boxes’ that will be used to collect cigarettes butts and paper waste for all its life. That was last a good idea in 1967.

Jeff Immelt, GE CEO gave this advice to a deputy: “Spend a ton of time with your customers. Especially when you’re new, the first thing you should do is go out to customers and ask them how you compare with competitors, how your service is, what they think of your products. ….(inside the company)…people tend to get enamored with your title, and people want to look good in front of you. Customers will give you the reality. They don’t care about your title, they just want value. You’ll never get anything straighter than from a customer.”

Now, India, following a global trend, is selling a record number of smart phones. Customers are getting wired faster than ever here. Are you now making it easy for them to reach out to you now that they have some cool, always connected tools to do it ? How easy is it for your customer armed with a BlackBerry/iPhone/Smartphone to email you feedback that helps you get even better at what you do ? And remember, loading your bloated flash heavy company web address on a Smartphone on GPRS/EDGE/3G is a painful exercise on the best of days so an email address that pops right off would be a very smart move if you want lots of feedback to improve your breakfast. Make it a priority. Better still get a twitter handle and a facebook fan page that is monitored by living breathing young marketing whizzes at your company.

Your feedback mechanism should factor in laziness and RESPECT it when the feedback process is being designed.

But what if you are a successful, well-known brand. Do you meet the standard? 4 days ago I was waiting for a train in a random metro station here in Delhi and I noticed something. Too few signboards at the station to tell customers INSIDE the train which station they are at. I love the Metro. And so wanted to pass this feedback to help them get even better at their customer experience. So I googled ‘mail address for customer feedback to DMRC’. Landed me on the ‘contact us’ page all right but no email address. So I called the helpline. I got a bored guy who gave me what looked like a very dubious email address (anuj@delhimetrorail.com). I emailed him anyway.

No response from Anuj so far.

I thought about the episode and decided to really test this theory on how easy Indian brands compare against the best in making it easy for a customer to get in touch with them to possibly help the brand get better. And who better to have on your side with that project than you OWN customers. Did you know MOST of India’s top brands assume you ONLY have a grievance!!

The Project :

First I googled the name of the Top 10 brands on the planet.

The experts in this, at http://www.interbrand.com tell me they are :

  1. Coca Cola
  2. IBM
  3. Microsoft
  4. Google
  5. GE
  6. Mcdonalds
  7. Intel
  8. Nokia
  9. Disney
  10. 10.  HP

Source: http://www.interbrand.com/en/best-global-brands/best-global-brands-2008/best-global-brands-2010.aspx

Next I googled the name of the Top 10 brands in India. Brand Equity (of the venerated Economic Times newspaper) tells me India’s top 10 most trusted brands 2010 are :

  1. Nokia
  2. Colgate
  3. Lux
  4. Dettol
  5. Britannia
  6. Lifebouy
  7. Clinic Plus
  8. Pond’s
  9. Fair & Lovely
  10. 10.  Pepsodent

Source : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/6469107.cms

Then I typed the EXACT same search term for all of these 20 brands. Search string was ’email address for customer feedback for [brand name]’

Added ‘India’ after the brand name for Indian firms.

ex: email address for customer feedback for Disney

ex: email address for customer feedback for Lux India

I added India after the brand names in India to help make the search success chances sharper.

I avoided any site not directly affiliated to the company domain name. Here I noticed a company called GetHuman in US that really tries hard to make it easy for someone to get in touch with a human being in a company.

All searches was run from http://www.google.co.in/ on a Firefox version 3.6.16 browser.

Here are the results of my project (click on the image to enlarge it):

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

And since I used nothing but a laptop and decent web browser anyone can try this for their brands.

Interesting tit bits :

Coke and Zappos both use a company called suggestionbox.com to collect feedback and the site looks very robust. Someone is doing something right at http://www.suggestionbox.com

Indian brands are appalling in how difficult they make it for a customer to get in touch with them. They assume you are a complainer right from the start! Only Pepsodent and Pond’s are web 2.0 savvy and Colgate and Fair and Lovely hate you.

If Jeff Immelt is right and if you really never get anything straighter than from a customer, how can you make it easier for her ? Think about that today.

Warning. A Plug: If you liked this post/my blog can I request you to please pass it on to others who may find the posts interesting. And If you REALLY REALLY liked this post/my blog (thanks!) would you mind subscribing to it ? It’s painless (put in your email address on the top right box on the main page and you are done). I promise I’ll work at keeping all this interesting.

Oh and did I mention India became the Cricket World Champions last night !!

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