We all know that collecting customer feedback is essential to experience management no matter the type of business. Companies that regularly listen in and act on the voice of customers are able to reduce churn and make data-driven decisions. However, if your feedback is coming in anonymously, it can do more harm than good to your business.

Let's take a look at the pitfalls of anonymous customer feedback:

1. Inability to close the loop

For businesses, customer feedback serves as a reliable source of data for informed decision-making. These insights help you understand customers' needs more profoundly, so you can make changes to improve the customer experience design. However, customers expect their feedback to be addressed, rather than treated as just useful data. This mismatch of expectations can leave customers feeling like they're not being heard and appreciated.

When your feedback form allows anonymous responses, this leads to a total loss of context from your customers. Without an exact knowledge of who they are and their past activities, support teams are unable to close the loop in time or at all. In contrast, feedback forms that include personal information provide operational staff with necessary information to quickly handle the complaint. This minimizes the chance of confusion or double-up during contact, while building relationships with customers through personalized staff interactions. For example, say a hotel receives a message from an unhappy guest because they need extra pillows. Knowing exactly who the guest is, a support staff member can immediately deliver the requested pillows to the right room, rather than having to double check with other front-line staff. This type of system allows you to close the loop – and do so with maximum efficiency.

2. Loss of opportunities to show appreciation

Not all customer feedback is negative. Some customers leave positive responses that show how satisfied they are. In such cases, permitting anonymous positive feedback removes opportunities for businesses to take the customers’ experience up a notch. This is especially true when the feedback is not very specific, as support teams are unable to trace specific behaviors that lead to customer satisfaction without context.

When your feedback form encourages customer identification, teams can respond to positive feedback with appreciative actions that exceed customers' expectations. This can be particularly valuable if the customer happens to be highly influential. One example is a well-known travel blogger leaving positive feedback about his experience at a souvenir store. When the store learned that this customer had a teddy bear collection, the store sent him a custom designed and branded teddy bear. This positive experience led the blogger to recommend the store to others, demonstrating to potential customers the store goes the extra distance to make genuine connections.

3. Inability to build relationships

The reason why businesses collect anonymous responses is the assumption that customers are more honest when their identity is hidden. However, customers ultimately want their feedback to be acknowledged as it affirms to them that the time and effort invested into sharing was worthwhile. Limiting feedback by making it anonymous sends the signal that no one will follow up with them, resulting in a lack of care – and possibly lazy feedback.

In addition, a minority of customers might take advantage of the anonymous feedback system to leave inaccurate, biased ratings. These misleading results are impossible to address without context and will negatively affect your support teams. On the other hand, feedback forms that collect customer details can increase transparency while building a constructive relationship between staff and customers.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to collecting customer feedback. However, it's not impossible to avoid the pitfalls of anonymous responses. Choosing a customer feedback tool that allows identifiable feedback in a supportive manner will greatly aid your support teams and improve the overall customer experience.