Why a Customer Survey is Useless

Have you ever invested time in answering an unsolicited customer survey? My guess is that if you did, it was for one of two reasons:

1. You were so overjoyed with the companies product or service that you felt obliged to let them know.

2. You were so annoyed with the companies product or service you were willing to invest the time to let them know of your experience.

The fact is that customer surveys simply don’t work as the only people who participate in surveys are those that have extreme experiences, either positive or negative. This is also the very reason why response levels for a survey are so low – typically at or below 10%.

If you are using a customer survey to assess your customers’ satisfaction with your product or service, there is a better way.

When you consider that most customers are willing to invest a moment of their time to tell you about their experience if there is something in it for them, then the very idea of an unsolicited survey seems ludicrous.

In working with clients to understand what their customers value, I’ve formulated a proven approach to obtaining customer intelligence in a way that is both beneficial to the customer and valuable to you.

Curious? I know all you SurveyMonkey advocates are…

Step 1: Questions.

Identify 3 questions relative to your customer’s experience, for example:

1. What is it that you value about our [insert products or services]?

2. Who else do you purchase similar [insert products or services] from today?

3. What could we do that would make your experience with our [insert products or services] better?

Step 2: Follow up Questions.

Depending on the responses from above you will want to be ready with some key follow up questions to dig further into your customers response.

1. What might we do to entice you to buy more [insert products or services] rather than go to our competitor?

2. What other products or services could we introduce that would further improve your experience?

Step 3: Added Value.

You will find in selecting and asking customers these questions that some will choose not to participate, which is fine. But for those that do it’s critical that you close the loop by adding value.

What do I mean by adding value?

Well, ask yourself what’s in it for your customers who invest their time to help you? The answer might vary by customer or customer segment, but the key is to add value.

Here are some ideas that some of my best clients have used with great success:

  • Provide customers with a coupon, discount or other financial incentive for participating.
  • Provide customers rapid feedback on what changes you are making as a result of their feedback, and give them the first opportunity to participate in or to obtain improvements that result from their feedback.
  • Send a personalized thank-you card.
  • Give them a complimentary product or service as a gift for their participation.
  • Hold a special event to reward and thank customers such as a come and go event.
  • Create a community in which all customers who participated receive advanced notice on new products or services.

 Surveys that are unsolicited (cold calls, cold emails) don’t achieve this objective.

It’s only through conversations and adding value to customer and client relationships that we can obtain the insights and information that ensure feedback is relevant, insightful and further cement a longstanding customer relationship.

Question: What are you doing to obtain and act upon relevant and insightful customer feedback?

© Shawn Casemore 2015. All rights reserved.

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