Making Comment Cards Work
Those blasted comment cards. They’re everywhere: restaurants, hotels, gas stations, fitness centers. If everyone has them, they must be providing businesses with a wealth of information. Right?
It’s actually more likely that they are collected once every few months, given a quick glance to see if there are any particularly good or bad comments, and the put into the “we’ll get to it later” pile.
If you’re looking for some good, honest feedback on your business, you can make comment cards work for you if you follow some basic guidelines.
Guidelines for Good Comment Cards:
- Keep it simple
I often see comment cards that try to be witty and end up just being overwhelming. You get the feeling that the author felt like no one was going to read the card anyway. Ask very basic questions and only ask a few questions (5 to 7). The easier you make it to fill-out, the more likely you’ll be to get feedback.
- Provide 3 or 5 choices per question
Structure the questions in a format that the customer must answer between ‘Strongly Disagree’ and ‘Strongly Agree’ with 3 to 5 options. The important thing is to provide an odd number of choices because customers need to ‘anchor’ on a neutral middle answer. Remember that in marketing, everything is relative.
- Leave a ‘comments’ section
If you leave a few blank lines, you’ll be surprised how many people add some comments. Once they’ve filled in the questions above, they often feel like they just need to add something extra. The comments are very important, because they’ll highlight something that the customer felt was missed from the above questions.
- Ask a few key demographic questions at the end
If the customer has invested the time to complete your comment card, they are usually quite willing to complete some basic demographic questions. Some examples: Male/Female, City of residence, Year of birth. (Yes, people are much more willing to divulge their year of birth than their age. It’s a cognitive dissonance thing.)
- Let them know where to put the completed cards
You’d be surprised how often the customer is left to their own devices with the comment card. Should they just leave it on the table? Give it to the server? Is there an obvious box for the cards? If it is not obvious, the customer will feel awkward about what to do with the card.
- Interpret the results
Don’t just read the comments. Find a mathematically minded friend to run some statistics for you. Don’t worry about imposing; number crunchers love that kind of thing. If you’ve captured some demographics, some statistical analysis will help you much better refine your customer personas.
Break away from the crowd and make your comment cards work for you. They are an inexpensive and easy way to get valuable insight into your clientele.
Chris McPhee, MBA