When saying ‘Please’ isn’t polite

How you ask for something really does matter, never more so than in the case of asking a customer for feedback.  It’s something that’s bothered me for a while now but I’ve only just got round to replying to the email which says ‘Hi Mrs Lucy A Pimblott, will you please take a minute to share your experience?’ and telling them why I have been ignoring them for the last few years!

To me, this feedback request is more of a barked command than an appeal for a favour. I know as well as anyone that genuine customer feedback and reviews are the life blood of any business, especially an online one, but it has to be politely asked for not demanded.

Maybe it’s just me and the way I read the words in the way they have been written, they are after all just words and arranged differently they make a perfectly pleasant request to share my online buying experience of, in this case, a doorbell. But bear with me, put your parent / grown up / teacher / boss / co-worker head on, say these few sentences out loud and see which sounds more like something you’d want to respond positively to…

  • ‘Will you please put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket?’
  • ‘Please will you put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket?’
  • ‘Will you please rewrite this report including your references?’
  • ‘Please will you rewrite this report including your references?’
  • ‘Will you please get your coat and shoes on and get ready for school…?’
  • ‘Please will you get your coat and shoes on and get ready for school…?’

Ok so you get a small insight into our household there, the report one was for a work type scenario but I’m sure you see what I mean.

Adding please after the request makes it sound like an exasperated parent entreating their child to just bloody well do what they’ve asked them to do at least 10 times previously. We add please to what is essentially a demand to try to make it look as though we are being polite when actually we’re not, we’re being sarcastic. When I’m trying to get Pipsqueak to tidy her bedroom or to just do as she’s asked the first time I ask, that’s fine (you can challenge my parenting techniques but sarcasm and exasperation feature highly and it’s working to an extent), but it’s not a good tone of voice to use when asking customers for extremely valuable feedback.

I’m hoping that by raising this small matter with the customer feedback team, a very small but important change can be made. I may even suggest they do a champion challenger test to see which wording achieves the most actual feedback before they make the change and see things my way!

Feedback is crucial, how you ask for it can influence what is said…

Chief Glitter Sprinkler
Lubylu Ltd


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