Don’t Survey Your Customers, Ask For Their Feedback


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Around six months ago, I was watching an interview with the President of a company that offers free web-based surveys and I was astonished when he said that it’s not a good idea to include open-ended questions in a survey. Then, the interviewer reinforced the message and said, “Yes, it takes so much time to go through the open ends to analyze them.” I couldn’t believe the dialog I just viewed.

After being in the customer satisfaction and loyalty research business for over 25 years, I know that surveying without uncovering sufficient data to make improvements is a waste of time and money. When I first started my business, it was just before the onset of Microsoft and easy to use graph producing software and the only questions we would ask our client’s customers were open-ended. Major decisions that necessitated millions of dollars were made, based solely on verbatim comments. Without these in-depth comments, our clients would have never understood the needs of their customers.

If a survey does not uncover the “why” to find out what’s behind the numbers, the CSAT data you get back will not give you a complete picture of your customers. You will:

  • Miss out on an opportunity to improve your revenues and increase profits
  • Be unable to determine how you compare to your largest competitors
  • Communicate a message to your customers that you don’t really care about their opinions
  • Find out how your sales team, customer service department or product rates on a scale, but never understand why, which is worthless

About a year ago, I was contacted by a research company that was hired by the bank that handles all of my business accounts. This particular bank has my payroll account as well as a business line of credit. They started the conversation by saying that they were very interested in how I felt about the service I receive from my financial advisor and then proceeded to ask me one question: Could I rate my financial advisor on a scale of 1 to 5? I gave them my response, but they never asked me why. They just thanked me and ended the call. I was thinking to myself, “This bank handles a significant portion of my business’ finances…how could they possibly really care how pleased I am by asking me one close-ended question?” This is not only a waste of money, it demonstrates that the bank is not interested in what I really think. Most likely someone at the very top said, “Let’s survey our customers” and that’s exactly what they did. They surveyed me, but never received my feedback.

Verbatim comments are the most important part of the survey process. Without finding out the why’s, you might as well just take the results and file them away and know that you just wasted the company’s money and the customers’ time.

Find out if your surveys are giving you the best information possible, contact us to learn more.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Shapiro
Richard R. Shapiro is Founder and President of The Center For Client Retention (TCFCR) and a leading authority in the area of customer satisfaction and loyalty. For 28 years, Richard has spearheaded the research conducted with thousands of customers from Fortune 100 and 500 companies compiling the ingredients of customer loyalty and what drives repeat business. His first book was The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business and The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business was released February, 2016.


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