As an organization looking to obtain customer feedback, you typically know the type of information you’re looking to receive from your customers. You construct questions that are meant to illicit a certain anticipated response that can fit in either yes or no categories or fit on a predetermined scale. The ‘Comment’ box, if you choose to include one, is a great place to collect unstructured feedback that can sometimes be surprising and include important data, making it highly valuable.

As a customer, I find that I dread the general “any other comments?” question at the end of most surveys because I don’t know exactly what the question is asking of me. What answer is this organization looking for? With guided, structured questions I typically can figure out what answer I should be giving; I know when the question is looking for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer and when to give something a ‘5’ or a ‘1’ in terms of using a rating scale. But this is precisely why open-ended comment questions are so important. I don’t know what answer I’m supposed to give and am given the opportunity to put my own genuine thoughts or opinions down, I’m almost encouraged and given free range to say how I feel and share whatever I want. These responses can be used to confirm or support the answers of the structured questions and/or the thoughts of the surveyor, or they can open-up a different stream of thought that either hadn’t been considered or wasn’t the intended direction of the survey.

Either way, including a comment box helps to create an entirely new and rich data set full of customer information that, with the help of text analytics, can be used to turn general comments into structured data that is useful to an organization. Organizations can use natural language processing and sentiment analysis to convey meaning and insights from the comments that are left from customers using the comment boxes. Overall, it is a good practice to include comment boxes or fields in your surveys, you’re opening yourself up to collecting information that otherwise would not be collected and giving your customers an open opportunity to share direct feedback with you.

Want to learn more about text analytics? Check out one of our previous posts on the subject matter here.