Call me crazy, but I think a survey should provide an opportunity for your customers to tell you what’s important to them instead of what you want to know. Surveys have a bad reputation because they usually seem to be structured to gather data for a compensation system or are based on some preconceived notion of what’s important to customers.
Several days ago I received a survey call from AT&T to ask me why I had canceled service. I had dropped AT&T business DSL service to my office because I didn’t use it — not because I was dissatisfied with it. I found that I couldn’t cancel service on the AT&T website so I had to talk to an AT&T telephone agent. The first one I talked to was pleasant enough, but when she found out I was calling to cancel I was rerouted to one of the “customer retention” agents. After a long hold period, she came on the line and started the hard sell to keep me as a DSL customer. Her pitch also included lower rates for DSL, which ticked me off because it seems wrong for a customer to have to quit to get a better rate. After a much longer-than-needed call, I finally got a promise to disconnect DSL.
The survey call a few days later was supposed to gather data concerning my “customer experience” with my service call. I launched into an explanation of what had ticked me off during my service call, but it was soon obvious that the survey representative had no way to record the information I was giving her. She just has a structured set of questions, that were irrelevant to my experience, that I was supposed to answer on a scale of one to five. Apparently, she had no way to record comments along the way.
So AT&T is now studying my survey results, which will affect their marketing and operations. However, the company didn’t collect information about what I actually thought about my customer experience. AT&T is spending lots of money and collecting garbage for data.
How to avoid this mistake? Include lots of comment blocks in surveys and review forms. Sure it’s difficult for you to do a statistical analysis on comments, but by taking the time to review what the customer is saying to you in his or her own words, you’ll get better guidance about ways that you can improve your business and keep your customers happy.
I can help you build and use customer surveys for your business using great online services like Survey Monkey. If you’d like to talk about this, either give me a call at 979-531-8300 or use the Contact form to send me an email.
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