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Sometimes I don't like customer surveys.

My customer service challenge

When did you last enjoy completing a customer survey?

Sometimes I don't enjoy giving my feedback. This is problematic for a number of reasons, a few of which I discuss below, but my biggest concern is that I work in the 'survey business' - so the question is: what am I doing about changing this!?

Customer surveys are BIG business. I recently read that the global value of the market research industry was estimated at $40 billion, that's £33 billion, in 2015.  That's a whole lot of surveys!

Bad survey experience bias

And here's my greatest concern: If I don't enjoy completing most of the surveys I'm presented with, how does that reflect in my feedback? I mean, if it's a turn off, or at worst an unwanted chore to compete the survey, how will that reflect in my responses concerning the brand behind the survey!? In other words, if the survey experience is itself not good, how will that translate into the overall brand experience?

Some years ago an academic study into the effects on survey results of people with a positive or negative disposition to the survey was published. The white paper showed that respondents who initially refused to participate, but were convinced by a second request to take part in the survey, proved to have significantly more negative attitudes than respondents who participated immediately - in the moment. (Erbslöh/Koch 1988; Stinchcombe/Jones/Sheatsley 1981).

Misleading survey results?

This is interesting and should be borne in mind when we set up feedback and survey programmes. If we force a survey (or over promote it with promises of cash prizes etc.) we might just bias responses such that the survey results become misleading.

In my work at CRT I favour the unattended, unprompted survey. We enable and process millions of responses for our customers who are using technology to gain feedback 'in-the-moment'. Customers, patients or students are given several different options for feeding back their views, feelings and experiences. This makes the decision to give feedback really simple - and in some cases without even pausing to think. Imagine that - giving feedback without being interrupted or distracted.

My customer survey challenge

So back to my own personal challenge - what am I doing about the lack of truly engaging and fun surveys? Firstly, I think I will stop completing any badly designed or overly promoted surveys in future. If we all did this the message would soon get through. And secondly I pledge to help our customers produce great, well designed, short, validated surveys that will engage their customers with minimal or no hassle and thereby provide a truly positive feedback experience.

Simon Rowland is passionate about customer experience and as CEO of CRT works with many brands to enhance their reputation, build client knowledge and improve their customer's experience. Get in touch with Simon here 

Claire Moseley's picture

About the Author


Claire is part of the marketing team here at CRT