The Employee Engagement Blog

The Employee Engagement Blog

KISSing Customers: Cognitive Overload and How It Gets in the Way of Feedback.

Posted by Stephen Spiegel on Oct 25, 2017 2:37:00 PM

If you ask your customers to think too much about the job you’re doing, they’re not going to tell you how well you’re doing it.

No question about it. We want to get feedback from our customers – but here’s the thing: they’re not always willing to tell us what they think, even when we offer them the opportunity. What’s up with that?

You can prevent this conundrum if you understand the dangers of cognitive overload and put the principles of KISS into practice. Here’s what you need to know about both to help in getting customer feedback.

Don’t make me think!

That’s pretty much the definition of cognitive overload. It’s a fancy way of referring to excessive thinking. The holy grail in the science of user experience (UX) is a user experience that a user doesn’t notice. There’s a straight path from goal to accomplishment.

What are the obstacles that stand in the way of this gratification? Often, it’s offering too many options. Our customers have only so much thinking capacity. Their attention actually decreases if we give them too much to think about. They get frustrated, or start to make poor decisions.

If you want your customers to give you feedback, you have to weigh this request against what you’re already asking them to do during a transaction. You just might be asking them to do too much. Or, you may be asking them for feedback that requires excessive cognitive effort.

This isn’t just a concept. There’s science behind how to prevent cognitive overload. Much of it revolves around Steve Krug’s seminal book, Don’t Make Me Think. Although the concepts are most often applied to website user experience, they make sense with any kind of customer interaction – and the revolve around the infamous KISS principle. “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” Here are ways you can use KISS to prevent cognitive overload so that customers will respond to your request for feedback.

Be obvious. Don’t fish for compliments with clever copywriting. Say exactly what you mean. A humble, sort request works best. Avoid ambiguity in your request. “Tell us what you think.” About what? You know what it is that you want to measure, so tell your customers what that is. You’ll increase the amount of customer feedback you get when you keep it simple and make it easy for them to give it to you. Use icons like the Crewhu 1 click survey does: happy, neutral, and sad faces. Cognitive overload is dramatically reduced.

Get rid of options. If you want feedback, you must provide customers the fastest route to provide it. You’ll get very little of it if you allow them to choose the path themselves. Hick’s Law comes into play, and customers get what’s known as decision paralysis. This plays into the previous point. You may have a lot of follow-up questions to ask, based on a customer response. Save them for another time. 

Skip unnecessary steps. “Please tell us what you think. But wait. First you have to sign in. You don’t have an account yet? You’ll have to register with us, first.” Do you think anyone is going to jump through these hoops to send you a compliment? Consider making it part of a process or task the customer would already take. Luke Wroblewski, a Google product director, summed it up best when he wrote, “Rather than forcing people to divert their attention from their primary task, come to where they are.”

Don’t make assumptions. The best way to ensure that customers will take you up on your offer to provide feedback is to challenge your assumptions that they know how to offer feedback. This again goes back to the first point of being obvious. Specificity plays a big part of the KISS principle. You want to know if customers are pleased or displeased—but you really want to know what causes these states. Don’t assume your customers know how to voice this. It’s human nature to refrain if you can’t articulate.

The Crewhu platform is all about making it simple for customers to provide feedback, and for your employees to track, respond to, and be acknowledged for their customer interactions. Schedule a demo today and find out more about KISSing your way to meaningful customer feedback.

Topics: crewhu features, managed service providers, Customer Service, customer feedback

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