Survey Your Customer the RIGHT Way

Shawn Casemore • No Comment
Posted: September 19, 2016

I received a customer survey this past week from a very large multi-national organization that was titled “How Are We Doing?” The survey contained about twenty questions sent as an email, likely timed to deliver by an email server after “X” number of days since my initial contact with the organization. How do I know this? Well about thirty days ago almost to the exact day, I cancelled my service with this company.

Kind of makes you wonder how on earth could there be such a disconnect that a customer survey on satisfaction could be sent when I’ve demonstrated the ultimate non-satisfaction — cancellation of service.

It happens though, and far too often.

For those organizations highly engaged in retail service, it’s common to grab email addresses and use them to distribute such surveys triggered by the last point of contact. Problem is an email “system” such as this isn’t connected to reality.

People on the other hand, are.

You’ve heard me rant and rave (as one of my long-term clients describes it!) in the past about the importance of ensuring that “surveys” (I use this term loosely) are conducted on a one-on-one basis, especially with customers.

What does this mean? Well, simply put, you have individuals who are customer-facing ask one or two questions to customers on a frequent basis, populating the information in such a way that you can easily grab it and review it as a team to assess customer satisfaction.

A long-standing client of mine has taken to doing this with their customer service representatives, asking a single question (from a list of five) at the end of each call, then populating the customer’s response into their CRM system, which is then formatted, printed and reviewed at the monthly management meeting.

What do most organizations do? Well, they get concerned with “efficiency” and “productivity,” so instead of instilling a meaningful personal interaction with the customer as described above; they insert surveys at the end of a call (“Sir, would you be willing to participate in a short survey and have your name entered to win an iPad?”). Now that’s personal isn’t it, and about as enticing as eating liver (I’m not a fan).

Who does this? Banks, telecommunication companies, online retailers and insurance companies. Those who are engaged in surveys, in my experience, are often doing them wrong.

Fortunately for some of these companies they have a conglomerate on their market.

Here is the better approach (broken out from my example above). Give this a try this week and let me know what kind of responses you get. I’m confident you will be surprised.

  1. Identify five key questions you’d appreciate input on from your key customers (email me at if you’d like an example).
  1. Identify where answers can be populated and later be accessed for formatting. Is there a common area in your CRM system or possibly a simple excel sheet will do.
  1. Identify who will ask these questions? (e.g. Customer service, Sales, Service Technicians).
  1. Set some realistic targets. How many questions could be asked without irritating the customer and delaying their response times or productivity? I typically suggest 2-3.
  1. Introduce this as a pilot with a small test group. Demonstrate what you’d like them to do by calling a customer yourself and populating the information.
  1. At the end of this week have someone pull together, sort, and prioritize the information. Sit down and review it with your senior management team. Assign actions (e.g. customer follow ups, changes in process, etc.) based on most important or critical feedback. Track everything else for trends where it seems off or less disturbing.

And there you have it. A consistent means to collect and act on relevant customer feedback on an ongoing basis without annoying the customer, or seeming like a disjointed and disconnected organization, such as that in my example above.

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© Shawn Casemore 2016. All rights reserved.

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