The hidden costs of a free customer survey

Have you ever had to endure a poor customer survey? One that asked a bunch of multi-choice questions that weren’t really related to you or our situation? Or perhaps one that went on too long, but insisted you answer every question? Worse, one that tried to force your opinion and wouldn’t give you a chance to say, “I don’t know” or “that’s not relevant”?
Experiences like this leave customers frustrated. It feels like the organisation is measuring what’s important to them, not asking what’s important to customers. For evidence of this look at the online reviews for an event or gym. Compare the topics that customer’s talk about in the reviews, with the questions asked in surveys.

Don’t confuse data with insight

It’s becoming ever easier, and cheaper, to create and send out surveys. As a result, it’s also easy to produce lovely graphs that visualise the survey answers. But if you have sat through a presentation of all these graphs, you will know that raw data isn’t very useful. And lots of data becomes confusing.
The problem is that capturing survey data has become an end in itself. But raw data lacks the context to inspire robust decision-making. Instead the goal should be to create actionable insights that inform customer-led decisions. This requires both quality survey data and a process for creating actionable insights.

5 tips for better customer survey data

The key to effective customer surveys is to make it easy for customers to share their feedback. To avoid garbage-in garbage-out, aim for simple actionable insights:

1 – Simplicity – make it easy to complete

Use short, simple questions that ask one specific thing. Provide answers that cover the range of responses a customer might give. Allow customers the option of not having a strong opinion, by including don’t know or not applicable.
Don’t make every question mandatory. Yes you may get a few blanks. But more customers will get to the end and share what they most want you to hear, rather than abandoning the survey.

2 – Simplicity – ask consistent questions

Establish some standard questions that everyone in the organisation uses every time. This makes it much easier to compare responses over time.
Have a consistent number of questions on each page. This means the progress bar will steadily change. This lets respondents pace themselves and see the distance to the finish.

3 – Actionable – begin with the end in mind

Before starting the survey, be clear about what you need to know and why. Have a simple plan for who needs to hear the feedback and how they will use it.
Once you have the plan, decide when to ask the questions. Surveys work best when they ask about recent experiences. So regular short, focused surveys are more insightful than one long post-event survey. Give customers interval sprints not a long slog!

4 – Actionable – ask why

The problem with relying on multiple-choice questions is you only get quantitative data. They tell you how many people gave each answer, but not why. For a more effective survey combine open and closed questions. One or two open questions gives you the opportunity to dig deeper and ask why. In the process you will hear what your customers are really thinking.

5 – Actionable – close the loop

Show your customers that you are listening by completing the feedback loop. Share the results of the survey, and the actions you will take in response. A simple “you said… we did…” approach will build trust and show that future feedback will also be welcome.
Interested in delivering effective surveys and create simple actionable insights?
Get in touch and we’ll send you a link to our demo.
By |2017-12-12T14:18:56+00:00September 20th, 2017|Customer Insight|0 Comments

About the Author:

Paul Roberts is CEO & Co-Founder of MyCustomerLens. While MyCustomerLens is a start-up business, the idea has arguably been developing for 20 years. During this time Paul has worked in the UK, Australia and New Zealand; within the sport, banking, telecom and energy industries. The common thread has been his passionate belief that the secret to achieving customer and revenue growth is having a rich and shared understanding of your customers, and then using it to make faster and more informed decisions across the organisation.