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Where is the future of technology going for customer feedback?

People are always asking me what’s next in the world of customer feedback. With entire websites dedicated to the latest and greatest general technology, it’s understandable to want to know about the upcoming technologies that could help your business.

Listening to the Voice of the Customer - Futur...

Image by Cea. via Flickr

To arrive at the answer of what’s next, it helps to look at the path we’ve taken to get there. So let’s talk about the history of customer feedback! The classic, of course, is the face-to-face communication that came with the simpler times of the past: happy customers bringing baked goods after a particularly pleasant shopping experience; disgruntled customers throwing down with shop owners in the town square.

(That happened, right?)

The first formal method for collecting customer feedback was the comment card. There would either be a box with a slot or an address to mail the card to. Do you remember getting those cards in stores and restaurants? How often did you actually fill them out? (And, if you worked with a business that used them, do you remember the time and effort involved in actually converting those insights from illegible chicken scratch to usable customer information?)

Exactly.

Mystery shopping was next. Over the years, the process itself evolved to include audio recording, then video recording. Besides the obvious technological evolution here, mystery shopping also empowered shoppers so much more with a list of things to look for during their experience, and gave the responsibility of interpreting the data to a professional third party. All a business had to do was act on the recommendations set forth in the report.

The latest evolution has been cell phone surveys, which I’ve talked about briefly. A cross between a modern-day comment card and mystery shopping with instant results, cell phone surveys prompt customers (who have already opted in) to provide feedback on a variety of things by SMS.

It’s safe to say that customer feedback technology will correspond to technology in general, so I would venture a guess that there may be a crowd-sourced mystery shopping service sometime soon; or maybe there’ll be “an app for that”! Whatever it is, you can rest assured that I’ll find out about it and share it with you in another blog post.

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