When to survey


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I know I rail on about VoC (truth be known, that’s not my strongest topic of expertise; I’m much more of a Process Engineer)…Sure, VoC and Customer Insights inform the work we do to improve and better align our Customers’ Experiences with our Brand Promise, but it’s really just the first step.

Nevertheless, I get a lot of inquiries from clients about the surveying process and techniques.  I get questions all the time about how to improve response rates, how to best formulate questions, and even whom to survey in the first place.

The timing of surveys is an interesting topic, and I’ve got a thought or two on that:

Some will say that the more immediate your feedback, the better.  As a military and corporate leader, we’re taught that it’s best to give correction (especially) and encouragement (also nice) as near, temporally, to an incident as possible so the subject can best absorb the information as relates to what just happened.  Continual, and follow-up reminders and feedback are valuable, sure.  But it’s all best to start right in the moment while everything’s fresh:  Sure, triage first, but let’s debrief right away after that with a hotwash and some reflection.

From a CX perspective, I’m not totally sure that’s always the best bet, though.

Often right after I get off an online call, I’m faced with a survey from Zoom or Google, or whatever service we were using:  “How was the connection?” I’m asked.  Okay, that makes sense.  After all, were you to ask me tomorrow, or even later today after several more online calls, would I remember which one had the audio problem or the video lag?  The survey that pops up is also pretty efficient, usually:  One-through-five stars; How was the video; the audio; the connection… Then on to my next call, quick and simple.

I often will smile to myself a little bit:  “Sure, connection was fine.  The content, on the other hand?  Waste of my time!”  Naturally Zoom isn’t interested in how people make use of their platform or if anybody appreciates how a meeting went as far as agenda and outcomes.  But it does raise the question:  What about the content?

We’ve all had the experience one time or another of having received an invitation to complete a survey before we even have a situation completed.  Whether it’s a service or support ticket or an affair we’re attending, sometimes the survey gets out ahead of the actual incident or event.  That’s usually a mis-fire, but often certain ticketing systems in Customer Care organizations are poorly set-up or executed in such a way that, if you’re passed along to another department, that first department wants to know how they did even if you’re not finished yet.  That can be frustrating from a Customer’s perspective (and the results not all that helpful for the brand), and easily rectified with better business rules.

But generally, though, I wonder if the-sooner-the-better is the best rule of thumb for surveying anyway?

Even if, as in the aforementioned example, some Customer Support incident really is finished, maybe we should give it a day or two to make sure an issue doesn’t recur or another one pop up?  If I think someone’s helped me actually resolve my issue or provide me with information or a service, only to find later on that in fact, that was only a temporary fix, then that will have a lot to do with my satisfaction.  Heck, it’ll even change the answer I give to (what probably is) the very first question you likely put on your survey:  “Did we solve your problem?”

And as for those online meetings:  If I ask you immediately afterwards, you’d probably agree that the meeting was useful to you if, during the course of it, you had an astonishing realization or we actually solved some large issue.  Yay for us!  But if we were meeting so that I, for example, could inform you of the status of a project or give you some data update on something, it may take you a while to cull through the information on your own (“Are you going to send out these slides?”).  For that matter, if we’re collaborating and, as a result of the meeting, we each take away a few tasks, I may realize afterwards (maybe not for a day or two, when I finally get around to getting started on my tasks), that the meeting hadn’t really prepared me to get started as well as I’d thought.

How does this relate to CX and VoC generally?  Are we right to send out surveys right after an interaction?  Or should we let it chill for a bit and get a better view when our Customers have had time to consider their interaction more holistically?

I think we can take something away from the Zoom/Google survey dynamic:  If you’re asking about technical things, or things in the moment (How was your hold time? Was the agent polite?), you can probably get that info right away, and it’s probably best as the event just happened and so it’s easier to remember.  This feedback would be most applicable to the agent’s tactical performance, too.  But if it’s more theoretical (Did we do well? How do you feel about our brand?  Did we deliver on our Brand Promise?), maybe give it a few days.  On reflection, you may get an even better (read:  more valuable for identifying improvement opportunities) perspective.


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Nicholas Zeisler, CCXP, LSSBB
I’m a Customer Experience executive, certified Process Improvement professional, Agile Scrum Master, dynamic educator, change management strategist, and in-demand business and leadership coach. I've worked from the inside and from the outside; in organizations large and small; public sector and private; from oil and gas to technology to non-profit (with lots in between too). I've seen a lot, but I haven't seen it all.


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