I am beginning to think that if we answered every single customer satisfaction survey we got after virtually each purchase, we would have to give up all our discretionary time to provide feedback to companies. You get a survey after you stay in a hotel, fly on a plane, order flowers, buy anything online, make a purchase at any retail store, buy a car, hat, stove, dog or sled. It’s out of control.
This barrage of surveys has become so intrusive that most of us ignore them, unless, of course, we want to post a complaint. But, even then, we have little faith anyone is reading them. These surveys are killing the goose that provided companies with big golden eggs, when it wasn’t so abused. We need solid customer feedback.
I want to remind you that customer satisfaction surveys are not the research feedback we recommend. They are merely report cards on how well the customer experience went. That is the irony of the survey tsunami that has begun to feel like harassment. It is merely a thumbs up or thumbs down on an isolated experience. Add them all up and they likely average out to information that is not very helpful. It does not provide you with insight on what was most valued or least valued in the transaction. And, worst of all from what I’ve seen, it hasn’t led to any significant improvement in the customer experience. Think airlines.
If you have read my books or my blogs, you know the most important message I impart is the value of solid customer feedback. It is fundamentally critical to making the best decisions from resource allocations to sales and marketing messaging. Getting the voice of the customer needs to be foundational for decision making. My problem with these surveys is if the customer experience isn’t improving, then it’s apparent that no critical decisions are being made as a result of this type of customer input.
But that’s not the lesson I want companies to take from this barrage of surveying. The real lesson is that a different type of survey is needed – a survey that isn’t as much a report card as it is an evaluation of the buying process and experience. We recommend a process for determining the hierarchy of buying criteria in the form of attribute testing. We need that feedback if we are to excel in customer experiences.
There is also an art and a science to survey timing. I just ordered something online. Within minutes I got a survey asking how my ordering experience was. Since I don’t even have the product yet, I’m not going to waste my time answering. It just felt like another nuisance.
Consider if you are one of those who send too many customer surveys. If so, depending on how often you do business with a customer, limit the number of times you ask for feedback. Furthermore, if you have been doing customer satisfaction surveys and not solid attribute testing, you may be missing big clues on how to grow your business. Don’t ask too often, ask the right questions and with the right methodology. Don’t participate in killing the goose. There is gold in solid customer feedback.