Brand and Customer Experience

3 basic mistakes that can ruin your customer experience survey

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The make-or-break for a customer experience survey is that it delivers a great experience in itself.  The customer has to be left feeling that their time spent in completing the survey is ultimately of direct benefit to themselves, not a wearisome sacrifice of time to benefit the company.

I was recently sent a survey invitation asking me to give my feedback on a flight.  I decided to give it a go, but it turned out that the survey was longer than the flight (or at least that is how it felt).

I do think it’s laudable that businesses ask for my feedback, but, while most surveys claim that the feedback will be ‘valued’, many survey experiences don’t make me feel valued. They fall into the three basic mistakes:

  • They are often far too long – compared to many people, I have a lot of motivation to complete surveys, but I sometimes give up due to the sheer length and, if I do make it to the end, I know that my last few answers to the endless grid style questions are pretty random.
  • Hygiene factors versus value-adds. I find the premise of some questions a bit odd – I understand that recommendation is a good thing for businesses, but I’m really not going to recommend my bank on the basis that I was able to withdraw my money easily, or it wasn’t a big effort to change a direct debit – some levels of service should be acknowledged as basic essentials, not value-adds.
  • Company-centric, not customer-centric. When I’m asked to give my comments, it’s often worded as wanting to find out why I gave a certain score (again mainly for recommendation). I might by cynical, but this makes me think that increasing the score is what matters to the company, rather than truly improving my experience. The survey questions must be worded from the customers’ viewpoint, encouraging them to give the information that matters to them, not just what matters to the company.

It seems to me that for many businesses the customer survey has become just another management tool – to measure every single part of the customer journey with a ‘customer score’ – rather than a way to listen to the actual voice of the customer.  And it can’t be customer centric to get customers only to answer questions that the company wants to ask and, at the same time, dictate how they can answer (“please tick one box only”).

What businesses need to capture are the experiences that are relevant and memorable to the customer, at the most appropriate point in time.  In order for feedback surveys to be both better experiences for the customer and ultimately more useful to the company, businesses need to be much smarter about what they ask, how they get more from less and how they connect the customer feedback to the other data they have in their business and across teams.

4 tips for better customer experience surveys

  • If you need a score, then make the question relevant to the experience. Don’t use recommendation everywhere just because it makes your life easier to have consistency. Perhaps the customer just wants to feel happy?
  • Ask customers to describe their experience in their words – what a customer chooses to tell you is what is you need to know, because what is memorable will drive their future behaviour.
  • Let technology take the strain. Use text and voice analytics to understand not just what customers say, but also how they say it. This uncovers the root cause of their problems and the actions you need take.
  • Get everyone involved in understanding the results. Finding solutions to customer pain points shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of customer services.

Summary

Customer feedback needs to be treated as an energy source: it will be renewable and powerful, so long as you respect customers’ time and intelligence, design your questionnaire to be honestly customer-centric and use the results to build better experiences.

For more information, please contact John Banerji at john.banerji@gfk.com.

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