The Case for the Modern Survey Replacement


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Source: Wizu

Current survey situation

Online surveys continue to be a useful way of capturing customer feedback but there hasn’t been any real innovation in the past decade or so.  The traditional online survey has remained a form-based series of questions with limited interaction at the end of survey – typically just a thank you message or email follow up.

The problem

But here’s the problem: response rates for form based surveys are falling due to several reasons including:

  • lack of faith that feedback will be used
  • progress bar dread – surveys too long
  • lack of personalization
  • lack of incentive
  • general survey fatigue / poor experience in the past

The primarily reason is that surveys are created for the benefit of the sender and not the respondent.  They are more work-like than play-like.  When was the last time you told anybody ‘I did this great survey yesterday …’?

Simply put: they are boring.  I’ll say it: they suck, surveys suck.

There have been attempts to improve the survey with gamification, incentives and reducing the number of questions to just one.  However, the survey still remains loaded in favour of the sender with limited interaction.

Do we need still surveys today?

We have big data, social data, meta data and any kind of data you can think of, so surely asking somebody questions is an outdated concept, right?  Well no, surveys are leading indicators of problems and not lagging indicators.  Take the waiter at a restaurant as an example.  The restaurant could examine the data (food not eaten) to identify if there’s a problem, but it would be too late by then, photos of unsatisfactory food could be all over Instagram.  It’s much better to ask just after the customer has had time to taste the meal if there are any problems, that way any error can be fixed quickly without affecting the meal experience too much and the photos on Instagram are all good ones.

And there’s another reason for sending a survey: just the simple common courtesy of asking how did I do?  The very act of asking, appears that you care if nothing else.  The waiter doesn’t really care if your meal was good or not, but it makes his customer service appear better by asking and he’s more likely to get a tip (from me at least – waiters take note!)

It’s human nature to want to give feedback, and this is proven when looking at the increase in the number of online review sites.  Everybody has an opinion and wants to be Simon Cowell, judging the service or product.  It seems they just don’t want to share it with a form.

So if people want to give feedback, expect to be asked for feedback, like giving feedback, but don’t want to take form based surveys, what’s the alternative?

Conversational surveys – the future?

At Wizu, we create modern, conversational surveys – an example of one is available here.  Conversational surveys use the same messaging format that is used for SMS and chat and give the respondent the impression of interacting with the survey sender, even though it’s made clear they are talking to a bot.  They can use the same language as the brand would use, emojis or no emojis.

There’s several advantages to this:

  • Reactions – the survey can react to responses and because the survey is conversational, the reaction is natural and engaging. This encourages feedback and the respondent feels the conversation is a two-way conversation.
  • Intelligence – the survey can use AI in real-time to demonstrate to the respondent that the data is understood and valued on an individual basis.
  • Fun and engaging – our customers find ways to add to the customer experience rather than detracting from the customer experience with a typical form based survey.

You could say conversational surveys are chatbots for feedback, but we prefer the term conversational surveys.  People expect to have a full and free conversation with chatbots but the reality is that we found that mostly closed ended responses gives a better survey experience for respondents.

At Wizu, we think this is the future of surveys.  We were the first to offer this type of survey, and encourage others follow, so we can collectively restore trust in surveys again.

Surveys aren’t dead, and they’ll never die as long as people have opinions.  Perhaps though it’s time we moved away from the form based survey, and consider having conversations with our customers again.

Martin Powton
I have over 13 years' experience in digital marketing and am interested in all areas of marketing, customer experience and employee wellbeing.


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