There Are Too Many Surveys
You might think that a research firm specializing in surveys would be glad to see a world in which customer feedback surveys are everywhere. Not so. I take part in a lot of webinars, and unfortunately I am asked to complete a survey (at least one) every time I attend. Some websites ask me to evaluate my experience every time I go there. Some companies ask me to evaluate my customer service call every time I call with a question or complaint. The companies asking me to complete these surveys are convinced by pitches like this: “The real power of [our survey tool] can only be unlocked through a commitment to continuous listening. Listening to your visitors is truly a process, not an event. Continuous surveying can help you to establish benchmarks and trend your performance on key metrics.”
Unfortunately these companies are teaching customers to ignore them. Their surveys are not about listening to customers, but about internal systems for benchmarking or trending. Worse yet, sometimes nobody even pretends to listen. The data from these surveys are ignored because there is too much of it, nobody knows what to make of it, or because it always says the same thing. If they listened, they would notice that their customers are increasingly irritated. We recently helped a client analyze such data and read customer comments like: “Why are you asking me this? Do you really care? Why are you annoying me with a survey before I have even finished?” Irritating your customers is too high a price to pay for this kind of research.
There are more efficient, more respectful, and more insightful ways to listen to your customers with survey research. Here are a few simple guidelines:
- Define your “need to know” information, and don’t ask anything beyond that
- Know ahead of time how much data is needed, and put a limit on how much is enough
- Determine an end point for data collection, instead of gathering data forever just because it is cheap and easy
- Keep surveys relevant so that you are respectful of your customers’ time and goodwill
- Use sampling strategies so that each customer is surveyed no more than once or twice a year
Research and insight are important, but it is critical to understand the cost of teaching your customers to ignore you. Be smart about your research, and you will get the insight you need.
If you are unsure, give Versta Research a call and we will help evaluate your current survey program to ensure that you are getting valuable information without undue burden on your customers.
—Joe Hopper, Ph.D.