Advantages & Disadvantages of Customer Comment Cards

by Deb Powers; Updated September 26, 2017
Hand With Pen Over Blank Form

Casino consultant Martin Baird calls them the "dinosaurs of casino customer feedback," and he's not alone in his view. In the age of Twitter, Facebook and integrated customer relationship management programs, comment cards seem like a leftover from the pre-digital age. They don't offer the immediacy of online customer interaction, and they lack the data-tracking bells and whistles of state-of-the-art CRM dashboards. When they're designed well and used as part of an overall voice-of-customer initiative, however, customer comment cards also offer distinct advantages.

Immediate Tangible Feedback

Comment cards are relatively inexpensive, even when you factor in the cost of postage if you ask customers to return them by mail. They ask customers for feedback when their experience with your company is fresh in their minds, which gives you a more immediate sense of how well your company is meeting their expectations. Because the comments are in writing, you're less likely to forget compliments or complaints. If customers choose to identify themselves, you can contact them to resolve issues or thank them for compliments. Finally, and perhaps most subtly, customer comment cards provide an emotional release for customers who may have had an unsatisfactory experience. Writing down their complaints gives them a feeling that they've done something to address the problems and may make it less likely that they'll air their gripes in a more public forum.

Low Response Rates and Atypical Customers

The response rate for comment cards is low. Baird notes that only about 30 percent of customers fill out the cards you leave on the table or place by the front desk. You're also getting a skewed view of the typical customer experience if you rely solely on customer comment cards. The few customers who take the time to fill them out tend to fall to the extremes in customer satisfaction. They're either very happy or very unhappy. While that's valuable information, standard customer comment cards won't give you a lot of insight into how your typical customer feels about your business.

Collecting the Right Data

One of the biggest problems with customer comment cards, however, is that it takes a lot of planning and work to collect the right data, analyze it and act on the insights gained. In order for the collected feedback to have any value, your company must define its goals, identify the information needed to accomplish them and establish procedures for collecting, categorizing, analyzing and acting on the information gathered.

Using Response Cards Effectively

A well-designed data collection strategy can help you identify things your company is doing right as well as where things are going wrong. If one department in your business consistently exceeds targets, for example, you can pull up the comment cards associated with that department to see what they do differently and find a way to replicate it in other departments. Similarly, if you're losing sales, comment cards can help you pinpoint the problems that need to be addressed.

About the Author

Deb Powers is an avid urban gardener who works with a community collective to promote sustainable urban agriculture and build partnerships between local business owners and community organizations. Powers serves as a social media and marketing consultant for local non-profits and businesses, and is collaborating with a coffee roaster to publish a cookbook highlighting coffee as a culinary ingredient.

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