Customer Surveys: Balancing Information Needs with Customer Survey Fatigue

K. Landoline

K. Landoline

Summary Bullets:         

  • Collecting customer opinions regarding your company’s service is crucial to monitoring company performance and improving levels of customer satisfaction and longevity.
  • The excessive use of surveys today is breeding customer fatigue and scorn for the companies that impose them on their customers at a rapidly increasing rate.

We all know that communicating with our customers is a critical part of good customer service.  In my last blog, I discussed the importance of social media for capturing customers’ perceptions.  Today, I will discuss proactive customer surveys as a means of measuring customer satisfaction.  The use of post-interaction surveys has grown dramatically over the past few years.  Surveys have become so important that two large contact center optimization software companies, NICE Systems and Verint Systems, have made acquisitions in the past year (Fizzback and Vovici, respectively) to boost their customer survey offering capabilities.

It is almost impossible today to make an online or store purchase, check-out a Web site, fly on an airplane, or even eat lunch at a fast food restaurant without the company providing the service asking the question: “How did we do?”  Although many consumers are willing to provide feedback, customer surveys have had so much focus and promotion lately, I believe surveys are being overused and leading to a high level of customer survey fatigue.  People are becoming increasingly irritated by the consistent flow of survey requests and with the fact that companies seem to be ignoring their feedback.  This could be a result of companies collecting more information than they are able to digest and use effectively, or because they are simply doing surveys without actionable objectives.

I believe establishing a customer feedback program is like many other endeavors in the contact center: it takes more than good intentions and strong tools.  Without a doubt, workforce management, quality monitoring, speech analytics, performance management, and other feedback programs all require superlative tools; however, they also require strong professional services and program management know-how, as well as some common sense. Therefore, I offer a few points to consider based upon my experience and observations of both contact centers that conduct surveys correctly and others that are abusing their customers:

  • Constantly badgering customers with surveys will not drive satisfaction.  It may likely have the reverse effect and drive customers away.  This is especially true if customers see no improvements based on their feedback.
  • Tools that capture customer experiences can be easily acquired, but they require a great deal of upfront planning tied to execution and follow-up.  Without a plan, survey tools are more likely to turn off customers and have them fleeing than have a positive effect on customer longevity.
  • Don’t ask what you already know.  Link data from your CRM system into customer insights and histories to avoid starting over again with each survey and to make customers feel like they are known individuals.  Avoiding redundant questions could also minimize the total number of surveys you require and help mitigate survey fatigue.
  • Customers believe their feedback has value to the company.  Therefore, they expect “payment” for their input.  This could be in the form of prizes, gifts, reward program points, raffle chances, or simply the ability to identify that things are improving based on their input.  Otherwise, they will tire and quickly reach a level of survey fatigue that is counterproductive for them and for your company.
  • Customer experiences (good and bad) must be acknowledged.  Otherwise, it is very unlikely you will hear that customer’s voice again.
  • While overall feedback is better than no feedback, segmented data (based on demographics, customer type, sex, age, etc.) provides the best actionable information and leads to the best results.  Typically, aggregate data provides little ground for appropriate action.

Listening to customers is critical to success, but don’t just listen to the customers: hear what they are saying, put the feedback to good use, and communicate your actions back to your customers to fuel their desire to provide additional feedback.

About Ken Landoline
As Principal Analyst within the Current Analysis Business Technology and Software group Ken Landoline tracks the enterprise unified communications and contact center (UCCC) markets.

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