Why Do We Still Need Surveys In 2018?


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In today’s world we have huge quantities of data generated by Social, devices and other digital activity, so do we still need to send out surveys to our customers when we can deduce whether they’re happy or not based on the customer’s digital footprint?

At the same time, survey fatigue has never been higher as traditional, form-based surveys are viewed as work-like and loaded in the favour of the sender.

So, are surveys now redundant?  In terms of very long form-based surveys the answer is probably yes.

However, for conversational surveys using a chatbot (like Wizu) here are 10 reasons why not

1. Big data and social analytics are usually lagging indicators

Computer vector created by Alvaro_cabrera – Freepik.com

Much of big data such as social activity, is data generated after the event: they are lagging indicators whereas data from asking customers before or during an experience is a leading indicator.

Organizations can capture experience feedback as soon as possible using regular, timely, pulse surveys sent throughout the customer journey.  Alternatively, ‘always-on’ surveys can also be used to passively capture any feedback if the customer wants to proactively provide feedback at the appropriate time for the customer.

For example, an airline could analyse social feeds, re-booking activity or data from sensors on the plane to identify a customer’s dissatisfaction on a flight.  Or the airline could provide an ‘always-on’ survey to capture feedback at any point during the flight, along with a simple pulse survey at the end of the flight to gather any expressions of dissatisfactions.


Capturing customer feedback early means organizations can pro-actively intervene to change the customer’s experience. If the customer is dissatisfied at all, a customer service representative can call and address the problem before they post on social media.  Equally, if the customer is an advocate about the product or service, they could be invited to share their success on the social media channel the organization would like them to use.

By using leading indicators, interventions can be made and the customer’s journey can be affected positively.

2. Customers Expect Premium Service To Be Validated

Why does the Waiter ask you if your meal was OK?

Why does the hairdresser ask you at the end of the haircut if the cut is OK?

Any good customer service in the real world will have some form of explicit feedback to validate the customer is happy.  It’s just plain old good customer service.

The waiter will already know if you are enjoying the food by your facial expressions, the way you’re eating and how much you are eating, but he’ll ask you anyway because it’s good customer service (and it increases the customer’s perception of his service and increases his tip!)

Asking if you are satisfied with a service is professional.  A good tradesman will talk through what they’ve done, problems they’ve resolved and check it’s all tidy and to your satisfaction.

It’s polite and shows the custom is valued and appreciated.  It demonstrates care.  Not being seen to care about what customers think can appear… well, arrogant.

And because it’s good service to ask a customer for feedback, customers expect to be asked.  In fact they are disappointed if they aren’t.  For example, you would expect to receive a survey from a 5-star hotel, even if they had all the data in the world to prove you enjoyed your stay.  Not asking your opinion of the stay would be inconsistent with the 5-star rating.   Would you expect a survey from a 1-star hotel?  Probably not, but that’s OK, because the expectation of good customer service is low.

In other words, if customers are paying a premium for customer service, they expect to be given the opportunity to validate that service.

3. Surveys Provide a Positive Engagement with Your Customer

I know what you’re thinking: “Positive engagement with a survey, …you’re kidding me?”.  But not all surveys are created equally.  Many of the pulse type surveys are respectful of the customers time, and minimise the pain of a form-based survey.  Conversational surveys using a chatbot on the other hand are much more interactive and are designed to adapt to the feedback given.  Conversational Surveys enhance the customer experience and can be thought as CX Positive.

For example, if the respondent is complaining, the chatbot should show understanding of the problem, empathy and collect the right information for a human to follow up.  If the customer is happy, it can route down a different path, encouraging social sharing.  All backed with real-time AI.

Last Impression

There’s more and more research that identifies the peak customer experience and the last customer experience as important in how customers remember an experience.

Very often, the last engagement a customer has with a customer isn’t the actual product or service delivery itself, it’s the survey that measures the experience.

If the survey is detrimental to the customer experience, there’s good reason to suggest the survey shouldn’t be sent.  However, if the survey is a conversational survey that enhances the customer experience, then it is preferential to send a survey.

4. Surveys Can Collect and Prioritise New Ideas

Background vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

People are very good at saying what is wrong and sometimes they’ll also have amazing ideas for solutions that an organization just wouldn’t have thought about.

Very often organizations aren’t familiar with the real problems that customers have.  Simple ideas such as moving payment days to the start of the month can have a massive impact on the customer experience.  While some solutions could be deduced using big data, other solutions are outside of our knowledge domain and not where the organization is looking for solutions.

If there is a social element to the survey, then customers can share with others how they work around a problem or enhance the product even further. Voting up other people’s ideas or providing recognition in the community for ideas can encourage more feedback.

Ideas can also be prioritised based on customer demand.  What an organization perceives to be a point of friction, may not actually be the case, and likewise a small step of the customer journey such as a password enforcement policy can be a major friction point for many customers


5. Customers Want To Express Their Opinions

Abstract vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com

People like expressing opinions.  But people don’t like expressing their opinions via a boring long winded form-based survey for a variety of reasons such as:

  • They are impersonal
  • Perceived to be ‘waste of time’ as nobody reads them
  • Tediously work-like with little interaction or feedback

Just because people don’t like completing bad surveys though, doesn’t mean they don’t like giving feedback.  The rise in the amount of feedback given on review sites demonstrates that people like giving feedback and sharing their opinion as long as it’s in a format that suits them.

Fortunately, there are modern alternatives to the traditional form-based surveys that collect the same valuable feedback using a user interface that people are familiar with.  Pulse surveys are respectful of customer time and achieve great results.  So do modern conversational, chatbot surveys which have many advantages such as

  • use the same language as the audience (including emojis if appropriate to the audience)
  • provide real-time interaction
  • use AI to show empathy, understanding and ask intelligent follow-up questions

When a respondent believes that another human will read the feedback, the process becomes a positive social interaction and response rates increase dramatically, as does the whole feedback experience for both the customer and the organization.


6. Feedback Quality and Impact is Amplified When Given By Another Human

Feedback has a much higher impact if it comes from another human being.

Consider which is likely to have a bigger impact on a young salesperson to change/confirm behaviour:

  1. “Awesome service from Sarita, she went the extra mile. She needs to think about how her meetings are taking too long, but overall, fantastic!” or
  2. “Retention rate +3%”

Clearly 1 would provide confirmation the additional work Sarita did paid off, but also point out where she needs to improve.  If this came from a customer where the relationship had built up over time, the impact would be multiplied further.

Receiving simple metric feedback is valuable but without the context and the human element it does not have the same level of impact.

7. Customer Stories Give Meaning And Content To An Organization

Nothing illustrates a point better than a customer story told in a customer’s own words – it’s very difficult to argue against if it’s used as evidence to back up well thought out views to justify a business case for example.  Stories can help provide a context for decision making in addition to quantitative data.

Customer Stories for leads

Customer testimonials and case studies also generate great content for an organization to use to generate and nurture leads.  If an organization owns the feedback then it can re-purpose this feedback (with the customers permission) for

  • Website content,
  • Testimonials,
  • Case Studies,
  • Blogs,
  • Social media,
  • Employee training

The positive feedback from existing customers can encourage new customers to provide feedback and can positively alter the expectations about the future customer experience.

8. They Can Collect Customer Emotion

Emotions play a huge part in the overall customer experience.  May Angelou said:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”

Measuring emotions is possible via big data using facial recognition or text sentiment but it’s difficult.  And while what people feel may be different to what they say they feel on a survey; if a customer says they’re angry or disappointed then they are asking for attention.  Whether they are actually feeling that emotion doesn’t matter, it’s the emotion they choose to portray.

Plutchik’s wheel of emotion illustrates how emotions relate to each other and can this can reveal interesting insights of the how the customer presents their emotions at different part of the customer journey

Surveys can collect stated emotion information from the customer – Wizu for example, has a specific emotion question based on the above Plutchik’s wheel of emotion that can route the conversation based on the customer’s stated emotion.  An angry customer can be escalated to a human, a bored customer could be sent a voucher for example.

9. Surveys Are Easy and Inexpensive

Most people have the skills to create good conversational surveys just as they can have a conversation with a customer.  Big data though requires multiple skillsets and sophisticated software to collect, store, analyse, report and act on the data.  It’s relatively easily to analyse a Twitter feed for sentiment or analyse emails for sentiment but it’s difficult to combine all the data in a single view of the customer and then find insight in that data.  In addition, there are also issues relating to information security, legality and other compliance to overcome

A bit creepy?

If the data is used to affect a customer outcome, for example negative emotion is detected, it can appear creepy to the customer that the organization has detected a negative or positive emotional state without asking for it.

Advances in AI are huge and the Big Data can create amazing results, but it’s expensive, time consuming and out of reach of many organizations right now.

10. They Confirm What You’ve Done And Build Trust

A follow up survey also gives an organization the chance to re-affirm a memorable experience.  The organization can preserve a positive experience and so improve the perception of the overall customer experience.  Disney for example, sends out photographs of the trip after the trip to re-affirm the positive experience.

Asking a customer about their experience can help them recall and evaluate the experience when they otherwise might not.   Don’t allow the customer to take you for granted – make the customer say to themselves: “actually, the service was really good.”

Conversational surveys can also be used as an opportunity to say, “Thank you” and further build trust and confidence in the ability to communicate between the customer and the organization.

If a customer expresses an opinion and a satisfactory answer is given back from the organization, the relationship between the customer and the organization is strengthened through the successful interaction.


Modern, conversational surveys are a simple way to collect feedback that add to the overall customer experience rather than detracting from the customer experience with current form-based surveys.  They represent a new digital to channel to interact with the customer that can go far beyond simple data collection.

There are amazing benefits to using data generated from customer activity to detect and improve the service.  However, for good customer service, it shouldn’t and can’t replace simply asking the customer what they think.

The ideal scenario is a combination of Big Data analytics and conversational surveys to validate and enhance the service by an organization.

Our aim at Wizu is to provide a survey platform that collects feedback in a way that adds to the customer experience.  We think the world needs better crafted and more engaging surveys rather than no surveys at all.

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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