Are you sick and tired of the customer survey travesty?  These days it seems whether you take your car into the dealership for a servicing, eat out at a restaurant or have internet cable service fixed at your house, there is an associated customer survey that follows.  The problem is that the customer survey has become a major annoyance for most people today. The constant barrage of emails, voice mails and text messages asking if somehow they didn’t do a good job has become overwhelming.  It needs to stop!

The other aspect of why this is so annoying is that you’re constantly being “coached’ to score them nothing less than a 10 in every category.  What if you didn’t find their service to be a 10? Or even an 8?  Then they really don’t want to hear that.    Let me provide a real world example.  Both my wife and I took our cars in to the dealership to get serviced within one week of each other. For some reason, they have my personal email address and cell phone number listed on both cars in their database.  So I’m getting inundated with voice mails and emails asking why we haven’t given them all 10s in the customer survey.

I’m a contrarian by nature, so the fastest way to get me to not to respond to your customer survey is to tell me that I have to:-) Here is the text of one of the 10 emails that I’ve received with the names redacted to protect the innocent: “Good Afternoon and Happy Saturday!   XXX car company name has sent me a reminder that my report card is still open.  It is very important to ME and it is how I am rated with XXX car company name.  I am sure you are busy, but with scores of 10’s, it is only 5 questions long and will take less than 2 minutes.  If you cannot rate with 10’s, please let me know or my Service Manager name XXX at XXX-XXX-XXXX  prior to filling it out.  Thanks for your time and have a good day!”

Herein lies the irony, both my wife and I really liked the service rep at the dealership.  He took great care of us and it was a pleasure working with him.  But he is clearly under such tremendous pressure to get all 10s on the customer service surveys, that he is distracted from what should be his focus…delivering great customer service experiences.  So now we have a bad taste in our mouths because of this entire customer survey experience rather than the great customer service experience that he originally delivered.  Isn’t that just rich in irony?

I have owned a business for the past ten (10) years.  The business has grown tremendously and the majority of the new business is either repeat business with an existing customer, word of mouth referral, or a customer moves to a new company and brings us is in for a consulting engagement.  In fact, I’d estimate that over 90% of my new business is derived from those three sources. My business is hugely dependent on providing great customer experiences.  We pride ourselves on delivering the best quality services, products and experiences on every engagement that we undertake. Our reputation and brand is of paramount importance to us.  So let me share some best practices lessons that we’ve learned over the last ten years that can help these companies that are annoying the hell out of their customers with their customer surveys:

  • Focus first and foremost on delivering a great customer experience. Every single time. If you do this well, everything else will take care of itself and you won’t even need to conduct customer surveys because they’ll tell you proactively how the feel about the experience by the most valuable method possible..word of mouth referrals or repeat business.
  • Don’t tell your customers what to do or how to respond. It’s simply offensive for someone to “coach” me that I can only reply with 10s on a customer survey. That calls into question the integrity of the entire customer survey process. It also motivates me not to reply at all.
  • Don’t be a customer survey spammer! People are busy and have lots of emails, voice mails and text messages that they need to deal with both in their personal and professional lives every day. They don’t need a ridiculous stream of daily “reminders” from you that they haven’t replied to your customer survey. The frequency in which you try to communicate with your customers can make you a spammer in their eyes.
  • Guilt is the wrong approach. Do you really think your customer cares that you didn’t get your bonus because of a flawed customer survey bonus scheme between you and your company? It never ceases to amaze me when they try to guilt the customer to reply to their surveys. Again, I’m a contrarian but I can assure you that the aforementioned approach will only backfire with me and lots of other people.
  • Be sincere in your customer surveys. People are smart enough to discern the difference between a genuine customer survey vs. one that is “rigged” to drive up bonuses and to be used in marketing promotions.   I worked for a marketing research company in college and learned the art of “rigging” the surveys to get to favorable results. The way that you ask questions and the way that you give customers to respond is very obvious to the customer as to how sincere or insincere your customer surveys are.
  • Don’t stuff the ballet box. When you go on Yelp or any on line reviews, you can easily find ballet box stuffing examples where employees, friends or family members are encouraged to give highly favorably reviews and recent reviews to stay at the top of the list. Conversely, you also can easily find negative reviews that come from competitors, disgruntled ex employees, people who didn’t get hired to work there, etc. This ballet box stuffing (both positive and negative) calls into question the legitimacy and objectivity of the whole online customer review and feedback process.

Anyone reading this post, please feel free to share your customer survey experiences