Fix Your Jargon-Filled Survey with Ordinary Words Real People Use
An important role for good survey researchers is to translate ridiculous sounding jargon their clients give them into ordinary words that real people use. The jargon is typically business or marketing related, because most surveys are done for business or marketing clients. But I just ran across some “marketing science” jargon (created by market researchers) that is truly ridiculous and desperately in need of translation.
The well-meaning researchers developed a new set of survey questions that presumably are part of a validated scale to measure customer experience. The scale was developed with grant money from an organization that believes marketing can be scientific. It’s mission is to develop and advance that science, hence the presumed need for better measures of CX. I guess it is not enough to ask customers how satisfied they are, or how likely they are to recommend.
So the developers laid out multiple dimensions of human experience, all of them abstract—things like affective, cognitive, relational, and sensorial dimensions—and then built agree vs. disagree statements to measure each. Examples of the statements they recommend including in CX surveys include these:
- The contact with Acme induced good emotions.
- I got positive insights during the contact with Acme.
- During the contact with Acme, I was active in a way I liked.
- I had many good sensory impressions during the contact with Acme.
Can you imagine making a deposit at a bank, and then getting a customer satisfaction survey with questions like these? This is not how consumers express themselves. And I wonder how many consumers would be as puzzled by these statements as I imagine your manager will be when you report that “a majority of our customers said they were active in a way that they liked when they contacted us.”
Last week we wrote about six new books on User Research (UX), all of which came to mind in reading through these survey questions. The researchers who developed this scale now need to do some good UX research on their own work. They need to go beyond confirmatory factor analyses and Cronbach’s alpha, and try to understand how consumers experience the world, because I’m pretty sure consumers do not express their experiences in terms of induced emotions and sensory impressions.
—Joe Hopper, Ph.D.