Three tips for more effective customer surveys

The questionnaireThese days, most of us are awash in satisfaction surveys – after a hotel stay, a flight, a call to customer service, etc. You are probably sending them out to YOUR customers. So what makes for a good survey versus one that never gets completed or worse yet, wastes the time of you and your valuable customers? Here are three tips.

1. Even though it’s the quickest possible survey, the “one question” variety rarely gives you anything actionable. I’m talking about the automated request at the end of a call for you to answer just one question. Often that question is, “Would you recommend our service?”. If, “no”, what does that tell you? Maybe they are annoyed at your product or service or they like you but maybe they just don’t feel comfortable taking the risk of making a recommendation to others. Surveys should be actionable, and there’s nothing you can really do with the limited answer to this one question.

Instead, ask if the call completely satisfied their need. Assuming you are tracking the person on your end who took the call, a preponderance of “yes” or “no” is actionable in the form of either providing praise to your agent or further training.

2. On the opposite end, surveys that are too long prevent many from completing them. I’ve received surveys from my car dealer after a service call that never seem to end. Most times, I will quit after I’ve had enough. I’m willing to provide honest feedback, but they didn’t get it because they irritated me with their lack of respect for my time.

It’s a bit like web forms. Find the balance between getting just enough information to improve your product or service but not so much that you prevent people from giving it to you. Face it, you’ll always want to learn more, but providing you all the detail you want is just not a priority for your customers.

Start with a prioritized list from the most important piece of information you can gain from your customers down to the optional pieces. Then figure out where to draw the line – and you should probably draw it earlier than what feels good to you. Remember that you want people to think about their answers, and after a while, they’ll just start checking boxes in order to just be finished with it. Think about when YOU’VE done that!

3. Consider the pacing of your surveys. If you’re in a business where people use your product or service frequently, do you really need to ask them for feedback every time? It would be nice to get an opinion every time a frequent traveler stays at your hotel, but how many will give you a thoughtful reflection for every trip? Instead, pace them out and ask questions that give you actionable information about their overall satisfaction. Technology allows you to easily do this. Perhaps ask them to give you the standout location that was great and the one that was least satisfying from the past month for frequent guests or longer period for more casual travelers. And ask them WHY and how THEY would improve it. Relative to point one above, dig a bit beneath the surface answer.

Surveying customers has become very popular. Now we need to improve the information we gain and the effectiveness with which we gain it.


About Mike Lake

Mike is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Evergreen Trading. When not playing jazz trombone he is probably obsessing about writing content that will capture the attention and interest of business people and fellow learning junkies everywhere.

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