Survey Fatique And Customer Experience


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Companies are obsessed (Hmmm, maybe not) with customer experience.  Many seem to want to understand people’s customer experience–how or if they pay attention is anyone’s guess.

Along with this obsession comes the obsession with measuring that customer experience.  That along with technology making it easy to do surveys in real time, it seems as though almost every interaction is surveyed and measured.  For example:

  1. “Thank you for buying our products, we’d like to understand your satisfaction by having you complete this customer satisfaction survey.  If you complete it, you will be put in a drawing for a Starbucks card valued at $0.50……”
  2. “Thank you for your call to our customer service center, we’d like to measure your experience…..”
  3. “Thanks for downloading the white paper, we’d like to understand how happy you are with it……”
  4. “Thanks for visiting our website, we’d like to get your feedback….”
  5. “Thanks for logging on, we’d like to understand what we can do to improve the logon experience….. (OK, maybe I’m exaggerating).

I used to be dutiful about responding to surveys, after all, it is in my best interests to see them improve customer experience.  But the volume got so large with everyone surveying everything, I’ve stopped responding—for the most part.

I do respond in two cases, when I’m rip roaring pissed off and I want to make my dissatisfaction known.  In this case, if they don’t reach out, I’ll try to find a way to be surveyed, letting them know how angry I am.  The second is when I receive extraordinary service and I want to make sure they know the individual or the service was outstanding.

This week, there were three surveys I responded to.  The first was for the technical support from our enterprise cloud software supplier.  We are making some major changes to our infrastructure.  We’ve been having a few challenges, so I spent some time talking to tech support.  They did outstanding jobs, not only in helping us solve the problem, demonstrating empathy for the difficulty of the problem (too often, I feel like they are thinking “You moron, any fool can do this, so you don’t qualify as a fool….).  This experience was extraordinary.  They even called up a couple of times after we solved the problem, just to make sure things were OK.

I looked for their survey and was eager to respond and compliment the overall process and the individuals I worked with.

The second case, was the polar opposite.  I was rip roaring angry with a supplier.  It took many calls, ultimately an escalation to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company—Yeah, I’m one of those guys.  If the normal channels don’t work, I know I can always reach a CEO to get my problem handled.

I got the survey, I started it—as you might guess, I was consistently on the “Significantly disagree” side of the numeric score they are trying to get.

I got through about 10 questions, reached the end of the page, it seemed as though there were more questions.  I hit submit, the survey was submitted and the screen went blank.  I suppose I wasn’t giving them the answers they wanted so they terminated the survey abruptly.  Maybe I had finished the survey, but there was no, “You’ve completed the survey.  Thank you for taking the time, your feedback is important to us….”

I’m left with a feeling of “incompletion.”  Did I finish the survey and they just didn’t tell me, was I for some reason being disqualified, based on my responses, so they were terminating the survey—but they didn’t bother to let me know and thank me for my time.

I suppose they got want they wanted, and that’s what they cared about, not my experience at that moment.

The third survey was a little like the second.  I was at a website.  All of a sudden, “would you mind responding to a few questions….” popped up.  I was neither happy, nor unhappy, but for some reason I decided to complete the survey.  I actually got through a couple of pages and about 15 questions, including some essay questions.  I hit a submit button, the survey disappeared.  No, “you’ve finished, thank you for taking the time,”  nothing.

Again, I’m left to ponder, I guess they cared about what they cared about and not really about my experience in this process.  My level of dissatisfaction with the experience from this company was ratcheting up quite a bit.

It seems to be bad design, self centeredness, and a number of similar issues dominate surveys.  Unfortunately, too many companies think that the customer experience survey isn’t part of the overall customer experience…….  Hmmm, are they really serious about customer experience?

Every direct and indirect interaction customers have with our company are part of the “customer experience.”  If we are serious about customer experience, it’s all in the details of how we design every interaction—including interactions about feedback on customer experience.

These concepts are so simple and universal, why are they so difficult to put into practice?  I’m fast coming to the conclusion that too many are going through the motions.  There is a thin, “we care” veneer, in reality they don’t……..

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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