Communication Strategies: Push and Pull – Two Sides of the Same Customer

At Fizzback we do not develop surveys, we generate conversations between our clients and their customers. There are two kinds of communication strategies used to collect feedback from consumers – push and pull, terms borrowed from marketing theory. The party that initiates the contact is the main difference between the two in the context of collecting feedback.

The differences between the two do not end there. The types of feedback collected and sentiment are also extraordinarily different.

The graph below illustrates the sentiment distribution for push and pull surveys collected by Fizzback over the last 6 months.

It is plain to see that the push strategy is more likely to produce better scores and higher response volumes. While a pull process results in fewer messages, these are generally longer and provide much more detail about the customer experience, which makes pull data more suitable for qualitative analysis.

The score discrepancies seem jarring at first. Could superior performance be the only reason why push clients score so much higher than pull clients? The obvious answer is ‘No’. Therefore, let us look at some of the other factors that are possibly behind this:

• Different industries lean towards different types of communication: For example, a quick stop at a convenience store (that typically uses a pull communication strategy) on the way to work would not require much in the way of customer service and only an extremely good or bad service would move the average consumer to voice their feelings. On the other hand, at a mobile provider’s store (that typically uses a push communication strategy) they would expect to have the advisor’s full attention and receive the appropriate amount of information. The customer’s expectations shape the experience and the eventual feedback.

• Push proactivity: Customers are often pleased when a business proactively seeks feedback. That may occasionally improve a customer’s perceptions and sentiment toward the company by itself and lead to better scores.

• Pull consumer effort: Conversely, the pull strategy involves more effort on the consumer side. Those with negative experiences are more likely to make this effort because they expect and sometimes demand improvement.

• Different methodologies for evaluating sentiment: A push survey consists of multiple choice quantitative questions and a customer comment at the end whereas in a pull survey the scores are worked out by Fizzback’s Natural Language Processing engine from the respondent’s comment. The former lends itself more to quantitative and the latter – to qualitative analysis.

It is essential for a business to understand the implications of its chosen communication strategy. Is there a way to contact customers after the transaction? Is reaching all or the majority of customers at all feasible? How to balance feedback volume and depth? How do the communication strategies align with the company’s culture (does it prefer to see the glass as half-full of half-empty)? Can the voice of the customer be utilised for motivational and training purposes? The answers to these questions are important building blocks to a successful strategy and thus, to maintaining a good relationship with the customer base.

You can also find previous Fizzback research on customer sentiment by communication channel, gender, age and geography on our website.

Momchil Metodiev