While growing up on Long Island, I had the pleasure of playing golf with a diverse cast of colorful characters chock full of whacky wit and practical proverbs. One afternoon, after watching me shank 20+ balls and verbally assault my clubs for their errant execution, one of these gents looked at me and said, “Hey kid… it’s not the violin; it’s the violinist.”
Less eloquently said, it wasn’t my clubs’ fault that I waved buh-bye to $60 in balls that day; it was my fault.
I flash back to that statement every time I hear VoC industry pundits or practitioners debating survey fatigue and survey toxicity (this article comes to mind). I absolutely agree that there is an issue with surveys today; however, the root of this issue is NOT the survey tool or the act of surveying (the violin). It’s the way businesses are abusing their violins by surveying customers in extremely customer-unfriendly manners.
Transactional surveys that are absurdly long
“This survey will take 5 to 7 minutes” …yet it’s for a 2-minute transaction!
Surveys structured with company interests at the forefront, not the customer’s
“Tell me (company x) about the things that matter most to me” …yep, that’s backwards.
Surveys offered days or weeks after the interaction
“Click the link in this email to rate your phone conversation with us last week.”
Ironically, an increasing number of companies are touting how customer-friendly the purchase and servicing processes are. They’ve made it easy to buy, self-serve, and get help when you need it, but god help you if you want to give feedback.
I firmly believe that if more companies surveyed in a customer-friendly way, we would not be seeing most of the public backlash that is bubbling up.
The trick to a successful VoC program is not getting a customer to give feedback once—any knucklehead can do that. The trick is creating a feedback program that inspires more customers to give more feedback, repeatedly over time. The following are some basic tactics for surveying well and creating an ongoing dialog with your customers that doesn’t leave them fearful of, or annoyed by, your feedback program.
1. Offer customers something for their time wherever possible and appropriate
2. Make the survey process easy
3. Keep it short and sweet
Two simple rules
1. Post-call IVR surveys should be around 2 minutes long
2. Post-interaction email & online surveys should be around 3 minutes
It’s really that simple. Following these guidelines, businesses will get higher quality data. You honestly think customers are truly engaged 4+ minutes into a transactional survey? Even if they are answering the red herring questions correctly, I would bet more than a few pesos that they are only half in the saddle at that point.
4. Less quantitative, more qualitative
5. Tell customers, en masse, when you act on their feedback
6. Respond immediately to poor experiences, and create a closed-loop process
In the end, these are my two cents, or perhaps just the over-emotional ramblings of a frustrated consumer and VoC practitioner. Take them or leave them. However, if you do use my two cents and execute a proper VoC effort, I promise you that it will pay your business back a hell of a lot more than two cents.
-Lonely in Survey Land