Never Surveyed a Customer We Didn’t Like

Companies are in business to fulfill their customers’ needs and/or wants, and producing satisfied customers is one of the most important business results that a company can achieve.  The best companies strive not only to deeply understand the needs and wants of their target customers – but also to understand how well they are fulfilling those needs and wants.

Hence the annoying and omnipresent “customer survey”.  Encountered everywhere from the front desk of your dentist’s office to the exit booths of short-term parking garages, these surveys are intended to lead companies to insights about their customers’ experience.  Instead, they often lead straight to mis-leading results due to poorly designed questions, inherent biases, sampling errors, and other issues.

It might be time for the US Office of Consumer Affairs to conduct another National Customer Rage Survey, but this time focused on the actual customer surveys themselves…

Luckily, the art and the science of customer surveying is evolving in positive ways.  In a prior Post, we discussed the popular customer-experience metric Net Promoter Score, its popularity likely due to it being only one question as originally designed instead of a trapdoor hiding a labyrinth of sub-questions.  And new technologies such as artificial intelligence can interpret and analyze customer data from screen taps and spoken responses during customer interactions to assess patterns and identify issues in real-time – all without ostensibly conducting a “customer survey”.

Regardless of the method employed, business leaders and managers should keep in mind that the main objective of collecting customer experience data is not to improve business results – but to improve their customers’ experience.  To quote Peter Drucker, “the purpose of business is to create a customer”.  But once created, try not to annoy them with poorly-designed customer surveys…

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