We Love You Too Much

On from Regular

A couple of weeks ago I had an engagement in New York, and was staying at a big hotel near the client’s. Since I like to keep it simple when on the road for work, I had all my meals (except for lunches) at the hotel restaurant. While eating, I would get asked by the staff if everything was to my liking. I mean everybody. Anyone with a hotel badge would stop by. That was about 5 times each meal. You got it: it ended up annoying me a lot. Especially since I would not tell them if I really did not like the food, which happened to be the case a few times. Maybe it’s me, but it’s got to be very bad for me to tell a waiter to bring back the plate. It’s actually rarely happened in my life.

This made me think about the Web, and how much easier it is to give our honest opinion. This is why Web site managers should get into attitudinal analysis if they haven’t already done so. On the Web, you’ll get a good idea of what people think of their experience with you online. Do it, but…

That experience in New York also got me to think about maybe how it is actually too easy to ask for people’s opinion online. With attitudinal analysis getting now into the web analytics main stream, I wonder if we do not run the risk of sollicitating our visitor’s feedback too much. Just imagine if 3 out of all 5 sites you visit started with asking you if you would please answer their survey since they care so much about your opinion. Would be pretty unnerving, wouldn’t it?


I guess it’s a matter of balance: when should we ask about visitors’ opinion, and when we should wait until they want to give it to us? I don’t have an answer to that, but I suspect that it will be soon a very relevant question.

So, how’s everything? Everything is “fine”, thanks.

10 responses to “We Love You Too Much

  1. Hi Jacques,

    Hope everything is fine! 🙂

    Very interesting topic – one that has many angles where the reasons for soliciting feedback and how to get that feedback can vary greatly.

    I definitely agree that being constantly asked to complete a survey online via a popup is annoying as hell not unlike your NY hotel resto experience.

    On the other hand, giving visitors the ability to provide feedback (without being in their face) or gently inviting comments can be a great way to show them that you not only feel secure enough to seek out their feedback – positive or not, but that you also value what they have to say.

    That said I think that sincerity and delivery play a large role in soliciting visitors’ opinions without annoying them and resulting in feedback like “Stop harassing me for my feedback!”

    With the increasing prevalence of UGC (User Generated Content) you’re right on the money when you say that this question will soon be a very relevant one.

  2. Hi Xurxo,

    Thanks very much for your comment. Disclosure: I’m a big proponent of attitudinal analysis, and truly believe it is something all web site managers should do. This being said, I am also worried about that the fine balance between asking for feedback and letting visitors give it to us will be hard to define.

  3. I have experience with different group of web-sites and would add some ideas, because this topic is extremely important for my next project.

    1) Ask when it needs. Never ask people on the first screen, but ask then after they tried a search or have bought something. Preferebly after they really used the site, but not just got first impression with the design or fancy flash intro (for example).
    2) No irritating banners and popups if you want to get a real opinion, but not just complain (partly because of popup by itself).
    3) Better to ask users in email. If you have visitors profile you can send some personal emails to them and establish a nice-human relations.
    4) Add a link to navigation panel, so that people who want to leave a note can find it and post. Text field can be ajaxed, so comment can be posted from any page. It is very helpful for users.

  4. Hello Anton,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on how to best collect users feedbacks. Number 4 is quite interesting. I would however disagree on item 1, based on what I learned from iPerceptions (they were partners when I was at Bell Canada).

    1) First screen invitation has proven to be less biased, i.e. does not have a disproportionate percentage of disatisfied people, which exit invitation tends to have. A smooth invitation that disappears as soon as you said yes or no seems to work well. Of course, people should give their opinion *after* the visit, and not right after they said they would answer the questionnaire, like some applications do (!!!). I mean, how am I supposed to give an opinion about a site I haven’t visited yet??

    2) Yep, instead of a popup, a branded landing page that immediately disappers after the visitor express willingness to participate or not.

    If you want to have a glimpse at this approach, have a look at the new iPerceptions project, 4Q: 4Q.iperceptions.com (free service!).

    3) Hmm, yes, asking feedback via email is a good way to go, but you are then just getting the opionion of people whose email address you already have. Survey anonymous prospects is still important, but surely one doesn’t exclude the other.

    Thanks again for your input!!

  5. This topic is very interesting to me, as RequestFill.com is the first unbiased search engine for IT outsourcing providers.

    As we will soon add the client rating system to each providers, such rating will be counted into the overall provider ranking system– to make the platform a truly unbiased one.

    The client rating for provider is a collected reviews of the service quality by its clients. Clients can be invited by provider to write a review or clients can actively write a review without invitation. To make sure each review is a solid one (no fraud reviews from fake entity). It is important that we make the rating system a trustworthy one. So far, other than eBay where the rating is transaction based, I do not see another dominate and successful business rating platform.

    My question is if you were a client of a service provider and you are asked by the service provider to write a service/business review for them , would you spend the time to write a review for them? Or would you actively write a review for a service provider? Only when the number of reviews are meaningful, such rating system can be meaningful.

    Thanks for your answer!

  6. Hi Jessica,

    Thank you very much for your comment. User generated comment/ratings is certainly another way of getting feedbacks, especially if your site makes it easy for them to do so.

  7. The good news – people are waking up to the human metric. The bad news – your blog is getting flooded with people looking to self-promote a product or service. The Worse news – I am another one of those people.


    …before I put on my OpinionLab hat, I would like to acknowledge, that first and foremost, I am a human, consumer, peer, and business professional that at one point or another finds himself wondering the world wide web in search of mother’s day gifts, new phone deals, or general articles about technology. I think it is interesting that one of the biggest disconnects in today’s society is that we seem to visualize our web life as something different than our day-today physical life. You walk into a store, you pull up a site, you browse for products, …and you browse for products, you walk up to the register and ask Molly "where are the …?" and she points, but here is the disconnect, you come to the website, and there is no Molly…there is only silence, contact us button, email webmaster, customer service, or a walk-away with time wasted and 0 for results.

    We may view attitudinal and behavioral metrics as an important skill, but the bottom line is that the only you (all of us) are in business on-line is because we have customers/users that are willing to engage in business online. What will you measure if your service is non-existent, your products fail, your site is inoperable, etc?


    So here is some clarity for OpinionLab, as although biased as this may sound, I firmly believe that iP and 4C are great, just different and yet constantly mentioned in comparison and category.

    OpinionLab is a feedback user-invoked, page specific patented methodology that gives users the capability (on their terms) to invoke a [+]Feedback icon that will give them the ability to "speak" in their own words regarding what ever that may be on their mind. Due to the page specific nature, they will probably voice relevant information to this page, additionally, they will rate the content, usability, and design of the site, and have the ability to answer up to 6 organization selected questions, which are fully customizable by the organization.

    The big picture: When customers are offered a chance to voice what is on their mind, but in a controlled page specific format, and speak anonymously, have a tendency to speak the truth, and in relevance to the issue.
    Key: Site Quality Metrics and Usability

    Will they tell you that they don’t like the yellow background? maybe/maybe not, but that doesn’t generate revenue. Them not being able to easily search by state for the product group to purchase product intended for geographic location – thats a problem, link not working, flash overlapping, firefox unfriendly sites, and so much more you want to get right there – when its happening. There are no survey pop-ups, no after the fact business – all real-time actionable goodies.

    There is also the "always listening" presence. Can you imagine when, if in your site management, you had a panel of diversified customers standing over your shoulder making actionable suggestions that help your site grow and increase revenue/conversions?

    This is just 40% of what OpinionLab offers, but there is so much more – and does integrate with Web Analytics, TeaLeaf, Omniture, WebTrends, etc.

    Is it better than iP or 4C? bad question. It’s like comparing broccoli to vanilla ice cream – they’re both food – (web related) but you wouldn’t choose one for the other.


  8. Hi Jacques

    what you said resonated with me .. I have this idea that customer satisfaction can be viewed as an initial state of goodwill .. giving them the “benefit of the doubt” .. which can be eroded by too many negative experiences (like you had).

    I think this is maybe a better way of measuring satisfaction .. the idea that it is not so much the things that you do “right” that matter (after all, they are the expectations), it is the things that you do wrong. A strong non-linearity here.

    Anyway, I wrote a blog post on it



  9. Hi John,

    Hey, nice to hear from you again! I’m happy you resume blogging!

    I guess you’re right; in some kind of rousseauism, we should assume that consumers are naturally well inclined toward a company they just bought from. It is the company’s responsibility then to keep that goodwill, which should be seen as true capital.

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