Surveys: The Truth or Not The Truth

Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Everyone receives a request to complete surveys almost daily. Some contain only one question. Others have questions within questions. Frequently, customers don’t participate in a survey because they hear their grandmother telling them “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  Others just don’t want to be bothered. And some feel coerced. The car industry was the largest perpetrator in this category.  It is mandatory that every car manufacturer have their customers partake in the JD Powers Survey. Each dealer instructs their sales and service associates to communicate to the customer that he or she will “lose their home and their kids will be taken away” unless they receive a “5” rating. We have all received those requests.  Now Uber has gotten into the survey business.  Riders are forced to rate the driver (can’t book your next trip until the survey is complete) and the driver can now rate the customer as well.

According to the standard definition, customer satisfaction surveys are used as a process to discover whether or not a company’s customers are happy or satisfied with the products or services received. The customers’ answers to questions are then used to analyze whether or not changes need to be made in business operations to increase overall satisfaction.

If a company is going to take the customers’ time to ask for their opinion, make sure honest feedback and information is obtained that is actionable. Otherwise, everyone loses.  Competition is fierce and customer feedback is more vital than ever before.  Every company’s strategic and operating plan must include the customers’ opinion at every decision point and fork in the road.  The NPS score is meaningless if the “why” is not uncovered.  It is imperative to know how to turn a detractor or a passive into a promoter.

The customer must be able to differentiate between their satisfaction with the agent representing the company and company policies and procedures. I had to contact American Express to have a credit on one card posted to another. The American Express system should not have allowed me to make a payment to an account that had a zero balance.  Further, their online system did not let me transfer the payment and I had to call to resolve the issue. The associate who helped me was professional, courteous, and solved my problem. I received an email survey to complete after our conversation. Unfortunately, the survey only asked me to evaluate the overall interaction. There were two separate issues.  I would have rated the overall transaction a “3” because of the process, but thought that the agent would be penalized which would not have been fair.  So instead, I rated the American Express call a “5” and now they don’t know my real feedback and have enough information to learn about my frustration.

A friend told her husband not to ever rate an Uber driver less than a “5” because their accounts are connected and she was afraid that other drivers would avoid her like the plague.  I take Uber on a regular basis and feel the same way. Most of the drivers are professional (no side conversations on their cells or loud music blasting).  But some are not so perfect either. My wife got into an Uber Share car the other day where the driver reprimanded her for not selecting the right option – both of us didn’t realize it was an Uber share. She was not happy, but she still gave the driver a “5” rating to avoid what we discussed above.

I know we are inundated with surveys, but customer feedback is even more important to the company and its customers than ever before.  But surveys are worthless if they are not truthful.  Shakespeare put it this way: “To be, or not to be, that is the question”. Make sure your company’s survey process and questions uncover the truth. If they don’t you are leaving your customer vulnerable to your competitor.

Does your survey process provide your company with sufficient and reliable information to ensure you keep your customers onboard?

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