"I felt fine about your customer service, till you sent me that survey about your customer service." Open ended comment made by respondent on their post visit healthcare customer satisfaction survey.As marketers get hungrier for data and feedback, we have to be careful about how and when we ask for feedback from customers.
I'll start with a personal experience. I recently had a support issue with my Microsoft Office365 subscription. As I was on the Microsoft site trying to resolve the issue, a survey window popped up asking me to take a "short" survey even BEFORE my issue was completely resolved. I decided to take the survey, hosted by survey company, Ipsos. The "short" survey was actually quite long. After about 10 minutes into it, the survey progress bar at the bottom showed that I was barely a third of the way completed which meant this "short" survey was about 30 minutes long. Moreover, the survey did not seem to be as interested in learning how or if my issue was resolved but more about product usage. All the ways I was using Word, long and tedious, and the same questions repeated for all the ways I was Excel, and on and on...So what are the rules for eliciting actionable customer feedback without annoying the heck out of them and without tainting your brand?
Employ a situational surveying workflow: In the above example, clearly asking me product usage questions when I am trying to resolve a technical issue is the wrong venue and occasion. The risk is the consumer who is already having a problem is further annoyed and alienated from the brand. And it makes the company look unprofessional. Consumers today know the power of technology. They are used to the right content being pushed to them at the right time. They know that if you tried, you would have been able to match up the appropriate survey to the appropriate occasion.
Don't say "short survey" and then present them with a 30 minute survey. 30 minutes is not "short". 5-10 minutes is a short survey. The surveyor could have presented a five minute survey at the end of which asked for additional feedback, ideally with an incentive, to take a longer survey to help the company create products with the customer’s needs in mind. Better yet, a menu of longer surveys could have been presented, asking the respondent to select the topic they feel they have the most expertise with.
Let your survey enhance your brand affinity. If done right, surveys can convey that the company cares. I would have felt significantly better about their brand had they presented me with a survey that genuinely demonstrated care and interest about how my issue got resolved.
Don't throw in everything and the kitchen sink. In this case, the survey wanted my feedback on every possible product in the Office suite I could possibly use in every single way. Multiply that by the number of products in the suite and you get an overly long and repetitive survey. A better approach would have been to let me self-select my favorite or most used product in the suite and then inquire about that one. Every surveying tool I know has conditional branching built in. Researchers need to learn the use this feature to improve the customer survey experience.
Recognize the inverse correlation between quality of data received and repetitiveness of the questions. Even the most motivated survey taker goes into auto-mode after a while. While they may not "straight line" their responses, they lose interest and start to care less about what they are offering when faced with mindless repetition.
As marketers, we spend a lot of timing perfecting the customer product experience. We need to treat our customer surveys as the logical extension of the product experience that they are and design and deploy them accordingly.
Marketers need to share their product design handbook with their researchers, and likewise researchers need to uncover the product experience their clients are striving for when designing surveys.
Alan Nazarelli is President & CEO of Silicon Valley Research Group, a global market research and strategy development firm focused on the needs of technology companies.
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Topics: Market Research Best Practice