One of the tenets of great Customer Experience is to listen to your customers.

As more and more businesses recognize that they need to pay greater attention to the quality of the customer experience one of the inevitable tools in the CX quiver is the customer survey. The survey demonstrates that the brand is listening to its customers and keen to gather their feedback to improve the services they provide. The only problem these days is that every other brand that a consumer interacts with is seeking to capture the Voice of that Consumer and the poor consumer is suffering from survey overload. I know this because I am one of those consumers.

I recently took on a small home renovation project that required me to purchase several products from several companies. At the same time I decided to overhaul my wardrobe and purchase a few necessities. Since then, I have been beating back a steady stream of survey requests from the direct brands and the marketing firms engaged to help capture my feedback. Some of these surveys came literally within minutes of my having experienced the service or product. Some came later via email or via a phone call. Some came repeatedly, even after it is clear that I am declining to participate in a survey. Some were printed on the receipt from my local grocery with the checkout person playing the role of customer experience marketer asking me to be so kind as to fill out the survey so he/she would get a good customer service score!

I realized that I am not alone and that probably most of us are experiencing this. As a service experience designer I decided to examine from both a personal and professional perspective the factors that would make me wish to respond to the request to participate in a survey. As I began responding, I noticed three trends in my experience

  • A willingness to respond to brands I really liked and had made a solid emotional connection with me
  • A desire to reinforce any experience that was excellent and criticize constructively one that was terrible
  • A very high likelihood to abandon long surveys, no matter the circumstance

The last of these is important because of its impact on response rates. The most satisfying experiences were the shortest. I never minded answering a question, even 2 questions, even multiple variations of a single question. However, when I found myself on Page 5 of a multiple selection page (see example) that takes minutes to read and still has me only 36% through the survey…well, I give up, and feel frustrated and a little upset. I felt that the brand (not the survey) was taking too much of my time and taking far too much for granted. When I decided to abandon the survey I also felt that my time had been wasted. It is a lose-lose situation… an abandoned survey and an angry customer.

My advice to brands deciding to launch a survey is form your content strategy very carefully. If carrying out the survey takes longer than delivering the service you are delivering, consider editing. It is better to receive more answers to less questions than no answers to more. It is a sure way to fight the abandonment rates that can sabotage any Voice of the Customer strategy.

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(First published in September 2013 on Continuum’s blog)

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