Six tips for making the customer survey process easy

5 minute read

They're everywhere. Emails after a purchase or service has been received. Online forms after online chat or placing an order. A 'friends and family' question on a touch screen tablet during discharge from hospital. Surveys. They're everywhere. And there's a reason for that. The information - used correctly - can enable organisations and brands to refine their offering and provide an ever-improving experience which translates to more sales, less complaints and better outcomes. Every way it makes sense to understand your customer's experience and constantly tune your offering.

The single overarching message is to make is easy for your customer. We live in a fast-paced, time-poor world. To fight against that with an overly long and badly designed survey will ensure high survey attrition and poor take up. My advice is make it really easy and this whole article is about just that.

So here are 6 things to consider before you start to design your next customer survey:


  1. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes

Don't be fooled, this is difficult to do but it's worth the effort! This is because only by experiencing things from the customer’s point of view can you truly engage in a meaningful and effective way. To understand the experience they rate, we need to understand the journey they take. Think of it like this: when you go to your GP you like to think that they're experts in their field and that your patient records are up to date, available and being used! Imagine arriving at your doctor’s desk to be asked every basic personal detail, filling in forms for ages whilst the GP shows little interest in you. No! Our wonderful GP's know us, expect us and can quickly get to the important stuff about how we feel and what we need in order to feel better!  It's the same with our customer surveys. Don't ask for the receipt number, date of visit, loyalty card number, which site visited, inside leg measurement…this is getting the customer to do your job for you. Use the available technology and joined up thinking to show your customer you care by asking relevant questions from their point of view.

Key: Make it easy for your customers - by only asking relevant questions.


  1. Choose the right moment in time

Too often surveys are delivered to us just when we don’t want them. This is a sure way to guarantee poor response rates. There’s a right moment in time and this is worth our consideration as we make the process easy for our customers.

Technology now enables us to engage with our customers in so many different ways. It no longer needs to be just good old online surveys. This opens new doors and interesting ways to truly engage and make the process easy for the customer, which in return enhances data accuracy and response numbers.

So having put yourself in your customer’s shoes, think about the moments in time when they will be best positioned to provide you with feedback. Do you want to interrupt them with a pop up option (I don’t like that experience myself) or offer a simple feedback or rating option as part of their web experience? Do you want to email a survey after an event, or engage with the customer whilst at the event through an unattended interactive kiosk? Do you want to text your customer within 24 hours of receiving the service, or via a counter top tablet at the service desk? You have options, so choose the best time for your customer.

Key: Make it easy for your customers - by choosing just the right time to engage with them.


  1. Choose the right method

Once you have understood their journey, by putting yourself in their shoes, you will recognise some key moments of truth where valuable insight could be gleaned. There’s a right time and also a right method.

If your experience is online then that's usually the best place to gain feedback. If your experience is onsite – such as a hospital, store, service centre or university - then that's often the best place to gain feedback. If your experience is on the telephone then consider using that medium to gain feedback. It’s whilst we’re interacting with someone or something that we are thinking about that experience – so ideally utilise that moment to gain timely feedback whilst things are fresh in the customer’s mind.

Key: Make it easy for your customers – use the best method for them.


  1. Keep it short

The days of 28 question surveys is surely coming to a close! They are less and less effective by response rates and accuracy, as people often rush through and lose the will, hoping to win the tablet or £1,000 prize draw!

But neither is one question enough on most occasions. Clever technology now enables single questions to relate to specific customers, thereby building up a customer view, but often a small number of engaging and relevant questions will provide actionable feedback that will help drive improvements. This is certainly true when customers are asked to comment more generally on their experience. This way, with powerful text analytics, organisations are now benefitting from the voice of the customer. We can now ask “Is there anything else you would like to tell us today?” and let our customers download the good, the bad and the ugly.

In other words let the customer say what they want to say, in addition to asking a select few quantitative options. Get to the heart of their delight or concern with a short, relevant and engaging survey. Read more about survey design.

Key: Make it easy for your customers - only ask relevant questions and keep it short.


  1. Ensure it’s joined up with your overall Customer Experience strategy

I was recently asked to give feedback on an expensive product, which we had experienced some issues with. The survey asked directly for free text feedback on the problems and I took care to give helpful details on the product’s issue. It was therefore reasonable for me to assume this would be logged and acted on but we were never contacted about the problem. This is a customer experience sin!

Organisations that ask for feedback with no strategy for utilising, mining, drawing value out of the data are merely ticking a box. In our modern world this is not good enough. Customer experience technology now provides alerts for pre-set service level triggers or complaints alerts, alerts for things to celebrate, interactive dashboards to deliver exactly what an organisation or brand needs to see when they need to see it - and a whole host of data mining capabilities to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time.

Ensure your customer experience strategy provides for multi-layered operational tools to deliver both the strategic learning and tactical action planning and use the feedback.

Key: Make it easy for your customers – have a plan to fully utilise the feedback.


  1. Engage your people

And finally, bring all your people on the customer experience journey. Involve them in the feedback programme development. Celebrate the good work that your staff achieve and get to the root of any service failures once the immediate customer concern is handled.

Technology can go so far, but your team are the essential ingredient. Remember that any strategy is only as good as its impact on the front line. The Institute of Customer Service research shows that staff attitude and behaviour is more important than ever before. We’re less forgiving and have higher expectations in all our interactions, so it’s time to ensure that your customer experience strategy supports the use of great customer feedback technology hand-in-hand with trained, equipped and engaged staff.

Key: Make it easy for your customers – by involving all your people in the process.


Download 5 tips for getting in the moment feedback right.

Download quick guide for continuous in the moment feedback 


About author

Written by Simon Rowland

Simon is the CEO of ViewPoint. Find out more about Simon Rowland.

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