Report: Fishing for compliments may be effective tool for business

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Salt Lake City (KUTV) — Fishing for compliments – it may not sound like a good thing, but new research says it could really help your business.

A BYU professor and a team of researchers were investigating how businesses nationwide could improve the way they get feedback from customers, and they discovered if you ‘fish for a compliment,’ you can keep people coming back.

Kristen DeTienne, co-author and professor of organizational leadership and strategy at BYU, said for the last 15 years, there have been thousands of surveys on the bottom of receipts that ‘tell McDonalds, tell Home Depot, tell Subway how you felt, but there’s been very little research that looks at these surveys and how effective they are.”

DeTienne and a team of researchers started investigating how successful these surveys are in receiving feedback, but she says what they found changes the game for the whole system of customer feedback surveys.

“Usually these surveys look at what could we do better, and they’re priming the customer of thinking about what went wrong,” DeTienne explained.

The team surveyed more than 27,000 customers following one year where one part of the survey includes a positive open-ended question. The study, which was published in the Journal of Marketing Research, found customers spent 8.25 percent more and had nearly nine percent more transactions than customers without that positive question survey.

“Those that got that solicitation for a compliment were more likely to come back, were more likely to spend money,” DiTienne explained.

Just asking for customers to share a good thing about their experience encouraged that person to keep coming back.

“Research shows those who are focusing on the positive, are happier,” DiTienne said.

Co-authors on the study included Katherine Lemon (Boston College), Clay Voorhees (Michigan State University), Katie Liljenquist (BYU), Paul Fombelle (Northeastern University) and Bruce Money (BYU).

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