Customer Service: Feedback Before the Finish Line

It is common in a restaurant for the server or maitre d’ to ask you how you like your meal while you are eating. They gather feedback before you are done. Hotels ask their guests how is their stay going.

There are pearls of wisdom in that approach. Gathering feedback before the finish line gives the customer service provider a clearer picture of the customers’ expectations throughout the delivery of service. This tremendously increases the chance for customer satisfaction.

Then why do customer service providers rarely gather feedback during a phone call or webchat? They often ask a customer to stay on the line after the call or chat to complete a feedback survey. Isn’t that a bit late for that customer’s satisfaction?

Customers’ feedback are little pearls that your reps and agents can string together into customer satisfaction before the finish of the call or chat.

Customer Service Feedback Before the Finish Line

I propose that the customers’ would love to give feedback before the finish line. Why else would they use Social Media like Twitter and Facebook when customer service is failing them?

I ask for feedback while I am consulting with clients — face to face, on the phone, or online in a webinar or videoconference. When I am delivering customer service & team building workshops, I ask for feedback at breaks and lunch to see what they are thinking.

Picture your reps or agents asking customers — “how’s my service so far?”

It makes customer service a dialogue — an engagement of the customers’ views during the process. Empowered reps and agents can then adjust their delivery to meet the customers’ needs.

Social media is engaging your customers more than ever before. Are you? Engage them and gather some pearls during the calls and chats.

Business Benefits

  1. Dynamic in-the-moment low cost learning about customers’ needs and expectations
  2. Creating a loyal customer through listening to them and reaching their finish line
  3. Preventing a dissatisfied customer (who seeks an audience) bashing your brand on Social Media
  4. Creating memorable moments instead of routine actions — customers remember moments and your brand!

One simple question, “How’s my service so far?” to change course and turn customer service into customer engagement.

Gathering feedback before the finish line gives you preventive and proactive success!

What tips for success would you like to share in the comments section below? I welcome your perspective.

©2011 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. For permission to re-post or republish, please email

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach, delivers customer service and team building workshops that take your people from inspiration to action. Now celebrating 21 years in business, Kate delivers results that are well known in the corporate world. See this site for more information.

7 Responses to “Customer Service: Feedback Before the Finish Line”

  1. Pattie Roberts says:

    You’re spot on, as usual, Kate. Asking how it’s going ‘in situ’ is a definite positive on all counts – except when the service provider who is asking does not have the power to change the experience. In my mind, this is the larger problem – CS reps can ask for feedback until the cows come home, and it won’t make any difference unless the organization they represent is willing to empower them to fix what the customer may be unhappy with. How many times have we all voiced a complaint during a CS experience and had the rep say “I am sorry you’re having this problem.”? And that’s it – just an apology with no action. The ’empathy’ training is useless if the company won’t do anything to improve the interaction.

    Remember the Malcolm Baldridge Award? One of the categories is Customer Focus, and years ago the Ritz-Carlton was held up as a model of empowering employees at all levels to meet the Ritz’s guests’ expectations. I was fascinated with this idea – that even the housekeeping staff could address a complaint or a need, during the guest’s stay, no matter what the need was. I was skeptical, and during a stay there, I decided to test drive their commitment. I had an issue with billing, and before I went to the desk to discuss it with the people whose job it was to deal with billing, I flagged down a member of the housekeeping staff and told her I needed help with my issue. I don’t recall exactly what the issue was, but I will never forget how quickly I got a satisfactory resolution. Just from complaining to the maid. Impressive to say the least. The Ritz put their money where their mouth is. Can you imagine how different things would be if the person on the other end of the phone, or the live chat, could ACT on your feedback? No more “can I speak with a supervisor, please” or time spent looking for the name and contact info of the VP of Customer Service so you can write a complaint letter. What a world that would be 🙂

    Happy Thursday, Kate, and keep the great thought starters coming!

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Pattie,
      I echo your point about empowered reps who can do something to change the experience. Thanks for highlighting it!
      Always thrilled when you share your stories — stories teach volumes.

  2. Excellent points Kate. Checking in on our service level midstream allows us it assess and adjust before the job is done or a mis-step takes us too far in the wrong direction. It can save valuable time for us AND for the customer.

  3. Great point, Kate. I think it’s important to remember that customers aren’t always inclined to give feedback unless it will be negative. I once participated in a training session where we were asked to remember a “good” experience and a “bad” experience and write out the story around each situation. The “bad” came quicker. Asking for feedback during the call not only gives the rep a boost of confidence, but also gives them a chance to alleviate any potential problems before they become a tweet or a Facebook message.

  4. Kate,

    Thanks for the post. I agree in principle with parts, but not sure that I agree with the suggested execution. From my perspective, there is a difference between value in use (Hotel stay) and calling a service representative due to an issue. In this day and age, often by the time someone needs to call the contact center it is due to an issue that cannot be resolved elsewhere. If I am a customer, going through a call and and my problem is not yet resolved, asking me for feedback is not what I want to hear. To me, it means that the agent is more concerned about themself than me, the customer. The customer has a single track mind, ‘solve my issue’. At that point, I will happily give feedback, based on the overall experience.

    Let’s take your restaurant example. I agree that a manager coming over and asking “How is it going?” or something like that is very valuable. They are empowered to make a change, offer a complementary beverage, extra dessert, etc.,… The experience is impacted. Now, looking at it from another angle, making it similar to calling customer service. Your steak is cooked wrong so you call over the manager. The manager does his or her best to listen and think through how they can help. He/She decides to call the chef, and an uncomfortable pause while a waiter goes and gets the chef. At this point, they ask “How am I doing?”. I would think that is awkward, but in my mind this is what you are suggesting for the call.

    I do strongly believe in feedback and the basic principles you are suggesting. I also believe that there are differences in the examples above and certain types of interactions need to come to completion before you can get valuable input. The finish line is different for different people. Just a different perspective.


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Many thanks for visiting and taking time to comment. Interesting that you find asking for feedback to seem like a focus on the service provider. Asking for feedback is all about the customer and making sure they are satisfied — along the way. Study after study shows that dissatisfied customers tell others, not the service provider. How best to satisfy them? Get feedback along the way.

      There are companies who embrace this and others who see it as you do. Thank heavens we can discuss and even disagree while moving forward!

      Thanks again.

  5. Roy Atkinson says:

    Kate – You and I disagreed on this particular question during the #custserv chat this past week, but your post here puts a good perspective on it for me. Giving incremental feedback as the contact progresses is a good thing – I was not suggesting that a customer be mute during a service or support call.
    I do have some counterpoints, though:
    – Re: server or maitre d’ checking in – Yes, but please do not interrupt my conversation with dinner mates 5 or 6 times to ask “how are you doing?”
    – In general: The most important question, “Is your problem/issue/complaint resolved?” cannot be answered until the conclusion of the contact. In tech support, often the last thing (in addition to almost always the first thing) we ask someone to do is “reboot.” (Ever wonder why Macs play a chord when they start, or Windows has a 3-second theme song? It’s so support folks can hear the restart over the phone.) This is to make sure that the fix is “persistent through reboot.” If we fix something and don’t wait for that last bit of information (“Is it still working OK?”) we have not done our jobs. And that is the feedback that really counts.

    So, yes – feedback of the “do I understand you correctly,” or, “is this OK with you?” sort is very important during the contact, and on that, we agree. Thanks, as always, for your post.

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