Smiley Terminals: Your Complete Guide

Why go to the effort and expense of investing in smiley terminals as a feedback capture system? Does it make any difference to the bottom line? The answer should be ‘yes’, especially if you are a brick-and-mortar business.

Why choose smiley terminals

As traditional businesses face a battle to compete with their digital-only counterparts, brick-and-mortar stores have something that online retailers lack: the human touch. This is the unique ability to improve your customer experience while the customer is making a purchasing decision.

Gartner predicts that customer experience (CX) will be a key competitive crux for organisations over the next few years. That means that evaluating and responding to customer experience is one of the crucial ways that brick-and-mortar retailers can stay competitive

ViewPoint Pulse Feedback & Qr code sm

Smiley Terminals help reduce your churn rates

Smiley face customer feedback management solutions are a powerful weapon in the fight to reduce churn. It’s never been easier for customers to switch suppliers and customer experience is a key factor in determining whether a customer stays or goes. According to Esteban Kolsky, only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain. What do the other 25 do? Some will continue as dissatisfied customers, but others will vote with their feet quickly becoming ex-customers.

Affordable and easy-to-implement smiley terminal surveys

Easy-to-implement, flexible solutions are providing customers with real-time feedback at a fraction of the price they would have paid a few years ago. Vendors like ourselves are creating offerings that are improving time-to-value for their clients. Engaging emoji survey design, flexibility in the use of feedback channels, and interactive, real-time reporting are now making the customer feedback management proposition compelling.

In summary, smiley terminals can help you to:

  1. Retain customers
  2. Bolster your brand
  3. Create advocates
  4. Gain credibility
  5. Drive innovation
  6. Improve financial performance

And the good news is that a customer feedback management solution doesn’t have to be difficult to implement.

Getting started with smiley face feedback 

If you’re to achieve a return on your feedback investment you’ll need to capture and act upon the right feedback. Or, put another way, you’ll need to ensure you’re listening to the right people. This starts with your target audience. Who are they? What are their behaviours, interests, and attitudes? How engaged are they? What do they value? What motivates them? When are they most connected?

Start to understand the answers to these questions and you will be better able to reach and engage with your audience.

Implementing smiley terminals in your organisation

When implementing your smiley face survey, you’ll have a choice of methods and channels. In the majority of situations, we advocate a real-time feedback solution.

Smiley terminals capturing responses at the point of experience were a novelty a few years ago but it’s different today: from smiley-button podiums in airports to touchscreen counter-top devices in hotel receptions and hospital atriums, real-time smiley feedback devices are now part of everyday life.

And there are good reasons for this, as real-time solutions offer a lot of advantages when compared to more traditional methods:

In-the-moment feedback gives people the opportunity to provide ‘fast-feedback’ which is ideal for busy people on the go. Position your feedback device carefully and you can take advantage of patient dwell time, customer queuing or delegates waiting for the next seminar to start. You can even make it so easy to give feedback that the passenger at an airport terminal can tap a response as she rushes past to catch her connecting flight.


The convenience of ‘fast-feedback’ leads to increased response rates with some of our customers reporting a 25% increase when they switch from traditional feedback methods.


According to Gartner, feedback captured at the point-of-experience is 40% more accurate than feedback captured as little as 24 hours after the event.


Today’s customer feedback management solutions utilise technology to validate responses through the use of algorithms, providing assurance that the data used to inform business or service-affecting decisions is reliable.


Technology is also used to time-stamp responses. This can be invaluable when trying to understand trends. For example, a drop in satisfaction levels at a particular point each week might correspond with a change of shift; a spike in satisfaction levels might align with a new marketing campaign. Time-stamped responses can help you identify trends that you might not otherwise detect.


You can turn the feedback experience into a two-way interaction. ‘You said – we did’ messages can communicate improvements back to customers, letting them know that you listen to them and act on what they say. This will make them more likely to provide feedback in future and builds loyalty.


The ‘live’ nature of in-the-moment feedback enables you to use live alerts to notify you of major service issues, enabling them to be dealt with in real-time before they become a source of major dissatisfaction.


Multi-language options can extend the reach of your survey, enabling you to gain feedback from demographics you’d otherwise be unable to reach. Likewise, the use of images, video and narration can increase accessibility enabling you to gain feedback from children and difficult-to-reach groups such as those with learning difficulties.


Addressing sources of dissatisfaction, dealing with issues in real-time, communicating back to customers what you’ve done in response to their feedback, monitoring trends to learn lessons and improve performance – these are all ways of combatting customer churn, enhancing your brand and building customer loyalty and commitment. All of which have a positive impact on the bottom line.

Why a smiley face question is a great start to a survey

People like pressing smileys. They seem to be everywhere – at airports, at doctors’ surgeries, the supermarket, the cinema and the gym. There’s no escaping smiley terminals. And the reason for this is that they work so well.

People instantly recognise a smiley. They cross boundaries of language, nationality and age. They are instantly engaging and require no thought or effort on behalf of the respondent. They make the process of providing feedback quick and easy.

Just how effective are smiley-face questions? 

At ViewPoint we offer a wide range of feedback tools enabling us to compare the effectiveness of different approaches, question types and question combinations. And what we’ve found has even surprised us as we’ve seen the use of smiley face questions as a first screen drive up response rates by as much as 500%. In other words, they work!

And they also provide a great ‘temperature gauge’, telling you how your customers, patients, students or delegates are feeling. But they don’t tell you why. This is where follow-on questions fit in.

Pulse Branded smiley face feedback kiosks

Which questions should you ask next?

The smiley rating enables you to take the customer pulse (are they hot or cold?) but you’ll need a follow-up question to find out why. A second question could be along the lines of:
Thank you for your response. Please tell us what you liked/disliked?

  1. Quality of service
  2. Queuing time
  3. Choice of products
  4. Price
  5. Cleanliness of store
  6. Other

A third question could then be asked:

“Is there anything else you would like to tell us today?”

This would provide the opportunity for unconstrained free text feedback. This is often where the real value is uncovered. For example, imagine that a supermarket is recording a worryingly high level of dissatisfaction but, when answering the question above, very few are selecting answer options 1 – 5. So why are customers dissatisfied? The open-ended question gives them the opportunity to tell you.

When smiley terminals might not be the best option

Smiley feedback kiosks are a great way of capturing in-the-moment feedback. They can be left unattended, capture feedback 24×7 and can capture candid insights and opinions that respondents may not be willing to provide if a researcher or member of staff was present.

However, there are occasions where an alternative is needed – for example, where the survey has to be taken to the respondent (e.g. on a hospital ward), where a mobile solution is needed, or where the respondent has to be led through the survey and helped to complete it. 

Smiley Face Surveys on tablets.

Because tablets are used in conjunction with a researcher or member of staff, there’s also an opportunity to conduct more detailed surveys with a greater number of questions than you would use on a feedback kiosk. This is because the engagement between researcher and respondent makes the latter more disposed to spend time completing a survey than would otherwise be the case.

Lengthier, detailed surveys are often associated with paper (think researcher with clipboard and paper survey). Tablets provide an excellent alternative to this traditional survey approach. Long, paper-based questions can be simplified through the use of images and icons and questions can be routed so that the next question asked takes account of the last answer given. The tablet can also be loaded with multiple surveys giving the researcher the option to switch between them as needed.

When smileys don’t fit with the culture

Although smileys have become ubiquitous, they’re not always going to be appropriate. You need an approach that is sympathetic to your brand and your target audience; you need an approach that will work for you and them. The good news is that there are many alternatives to smiley rating questions.

And if you need advice or guidance – we’re happy to help.

READ MORE about when smiley face surveys do and do not work.

About ViewPoint customer feedback solutions

ViewPoint helps organisations to radically improve the quality of their services. Our interactive feedback technology engages with consumers, patients, employees, and any other stakeholders, to understand their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the experience they encountered.

Our unique smiley face surveys attract, engage, and encourage users to leave their thoughts. Four reasons feedback kiosks are the preferred feedback collection method:

  • Lower cost customer survey solution
  • Suitable for all environments
  • Reliable and always on
  • Highly accurate insights


Find out more about how real-time surveys can help you assess customer and staffing issues, monitor improvements, and compare departments to deliver the best service possible.


Do you need a smart way to collect feedback?


Welcome to ViewPoint, the world’s leading provider of feedback solutions – including kiosks & online surveys.

ViewPoint’s feedback solutions are the smart way to collect feedback from your people in your spaces.

Whoever they are.

Wherever they are

Read more about collecting customer and employee feedback

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