Dan Naden

Expedia Excels at Capturing Customer Sentiment

You’ve just completed an online transaction. No sweat. You’ve been a digital maven for years.

  • Maybe it was for a just completed flight from Expedia?
  • Or a rushed Christmas gift from Amazon.com before Santa visits your chimney?
  • Perhaps it was for a sporting event that turned out to be an embarrassing blowout (and a waste of cash) for your team?

In any of these scenarios, are you primed and pumped to fill out a 10 question survey about your experience after it’s over?

The chances are small you’d opt into a long-winded survey. Unless, the experience was legendary, compelling you to tell your friends on any and all social media channels you visit. You would maybe share your opinion if the experience left you feeling disrespected or furiously angry about the quality of product, price or a delivery snafu.

Most of the time, the online transactional experience is decent (not great or horrible), but your time is short. Deadlines. Projects. Pressures. Who has time for 10 question surveys?

If you’ve been on the other side of this equation (as a product marketer — I know I have!!), you can’t understand the pushback. Why wouldn’t a customer want to help you improve? You delude yourself by thinking: Our product or service is so awesome, and our customers love us so much, we will have them crashing our servers to write reviews, blog posts and take surveys about our supremely unique, differentiating experience.

It helps to remember, your customer has a life.  

  • Billy may have an inbox full of hundreds of email messages and he isn’t waiting around hoping you ask him for feedback.
  • Sandy may have two minutes before her next meeting to check her personal e-mail. She’s hoping to get a lunch scheduled with a few colleagues before another week goes by. And then your e-mail shows up and rudely interrupts her plans.
  • Frank is maybe in the midst of an important project, leaving him zero time to check his personal e-mail. When he does, overwhelmed by the volume, he might choose the nuclear option: select all, delete.
  • Vanessa buys everything online and every single, needy online retailer asks her for her feedback post-purchase. She just thinks they should know she wants without filling out a time-consuming survey. Can’t they just leave her alone and let her get back finding that next hot online shopping deal?

After a recent completed flight (purchased on Expedia), I received the following e-mail from Expedia’s Customer Experience Team. With a crazy busy schedule and little time to spare, the text was ignored immediately, but I was willing to give them a glimmer of my attention. I knew what they were after based on the subject line:

Shout about your travel experience with Expedia

Expedia was looking for a quick, easy answer. I don’t know the open rate on this emails, but I have to imagine the click-through rate is above industry averages. We spend more time than we care to admit ‘liking’ posts, so choosing 1-10 is easy, super easy.

Expedia makes it stupid simple to answer a critical question.
Expedia makes it stupid simple to answer a critical question.

Clicking a number from 1-10 does lead you to a more in-depth survey, which I had to abandon because of lack of time.

Expedia, however, did get a very important datapoint from me: How likely am I to recommend Expedia to a friend? Viral is everything.

Most won’t have the time to go deep with a survey. Expedia though, with its colorful, digestible e-mail post-flight, collected some valuable feedback that will help them get stronger and smarter.

When trying to collect customer feedback, don’t think you need to get macro with a 50 question survey. See each micro touchpoint over a series of years (hopefully) as an opportunity to collect a little more knowledge into your customers.

Hint: Give them something of value in return for a glimpse into their buying habits (Example: Give a customer 40% off your next purchase coupon by going to a company Facebook page, liking it and then posting one word that describes the brand. Don’t smother your customer (look at me, look at me, look at me); give them a chance to discover how awesome and exceptional your products and services could be. If you deliver value, they will be your best sales and marketing department.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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