More Income, More Feedback

We recently analyzed how consumers share their good and bad experiences. One of the dimensions we examined was income. Here’s the percentage of different consumer groups that have told someone about a bad experience.

It turns out that the higher the income level, the more likely it is that consumers will discuss their bad experiences.

The bottom line: Feedback is biased towards the wealthy

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about these topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

12 Responses to More Income, More Feedback

  1. Hi Bruce, interesting finding. But, is it really biased towards the wealthy or is it simply that people who earn higher incomes tend to be better educated and therefore more confident and more likely to voice an opinion – positive or negative?

    • Bruce Temkin says:

      Hi Jane: That may be the case, but the result is the same. Wealthier people voice their feedback more and are therefore more likely to represent a disproportionate amount of feedback about experiences with companies. Thanks for joining the conversation!

  2. Kobus says:

    Hello Bruce. We do Customer Experience research in Africa, and we find a very similar trend. I dont want to venture to much into reasons why this can be. Being in Africa, the gap between low and high income is, I think, much bigger, and I can say that to an extent the higher income brackets have a need for more sophisticated products and service, they have higher expectations, and when facing poor service are more likely to react in the extreme, rather than simply excepting it. It is in virtually any research we do, but especially tracking research, an accepted practive to specificly sample on income, in some way or another, because we know it has such I big impact on feedback and results.



    • Bruce Temkin says:

      Kobus: Thanks for sharing a perspective from Africa. My focus has been on North America and Western Europe, so I am intrigued to hear about how things are the same or different in other parts of the world.

  3. Chip Bell says:

    This is great work, Bruce! Very fascinating infomation. All the best! Chip

  4. Bruce, I couldn’t agree more. As a customer experience supervisor for a med-high end clientele base at Banana Republic, a better experience is expected. Typically a brand catering to a lower SES demographic is not based on the customer experience but more on price value. Miriam

  5. Bruce, although your graph detail seems to be a general occurrence I still think the business challenge is to decide to what extent you gear and structure your feedback systems to incorporate the lower end’s view. Or do you maintain and even enhance your existing focuses on the higher end. Your insight makes one think that it is priority to have proper feedback engagement at the one end, but your bottom line comment strikes home.

    • Bruce Temkin says:

      Hi Stephan: Thanks for your comment. The main purpose of doing this overall analysis was to see if there is any bias in the comments coming from feedback in different channels. It’s up to each business to decide who its target customers should be; many companies don’t target the wealthy. Companies need to understand if the feedback they are hearing is representative of the feelings of their target customers. The data shows that there is a bias in the feedback channels. So if your target audience is a non-affluent segment, then the feedback you hear from Twitter, for instance, would not necessarily be representative of your key customers. So when a company listens to feedback, it needs to understand who it is coming from.

  6. For what kind of products or services is this data coming from? Could it be that people tend to be more likely to respond to a large purchase there for they tend to be made by higher incomes? Are people honest about their incomes when they respond?

    • Bruce Temkin says:

      Daniel: Good questions; thanks for asking… We just asked consumers if they had a recent experience that was either very good or very bad and then asked them what they did about it; we didn’t connect it to any specific purchase. The higher income consumers more frequently told someone about the experience. Could there be some bias in how people report their income? Sure, as in any self-reported demographic information on just about any survey. But there’s no reason to believe that there’s any signifiant issues with that.

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