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The Survey Says - Or Does It?

If an action yields poor results, do you endlessly repeat the same action, or modify them to see if you can improve upon them? This is especially important in business when your actions can lead to the ultimate success or failure of the business. So why do businesses send out customer satisfaction surveys even though response rates are low and falling year on year?

When email surveys were first developed, it was innovative and saved time spent going from person to person asking questions. However, time has moved on, the majority of people consider email surveys to be spam, or not worth their time - most people don't even open them. This means that response rates are low and the insight gained from them is very limited.

In this day and age, you need to make sure your customers are happy before they leave a review on a site where everyone can see it. However, if your surveys are poorly performing, why do you keep using them? So let's take a look at how you can break the habit of sending out the same poorly performing survey time and time again.

Surveys should always be long - they've been that way forever

Traditionally questionnaires consist of 10 questions and were originally developed in this format in the 1940s. This was revolutionary in the post-war era, but since then, no one has challenged this format.

Only ask the minimum number of questions you need to find out what you need. Asking unnecessary questions will disillusion those taking the questionnaire.

Everyone having an input will bring benefits to all

Most survey designers feel as though having a short survey means that not all the questions are being answered. Also, that not having a question from every department will mean that they become disempowered.

This can lead to the "Frankensurvey" - a long, oversized collaboration of parts that were put together in a quest for perfection.

To avoid this, think of what questions need to be answered by the participants. If a certain department didn't have any part in the customer's journey, why do they need to be asking a question?

Not everyone will respond, that's OK, just ask more people

If you find that your response rate is lower than expected, you may feel as though asking more people will ultimately drive more responses. One way of doing this is to keep emailing the same people over and over again. The cost from this is negligible, so why not?

However, this is a numbers game. If you want to have 1000 responses and there's a 1% response rate, that means you need to ask 1,000,000 people. 999,000 of which will regard the survey with indifference or despair at being asked yet another questionnaire.

All of these stats are useful so I need all of them

Your Frankensurvey has had responses and the sheer amount of data you've amassed has vindicated the length of the survey. There's plenty of data points in it and you can justify the processes and strategies that have been implemented.

But, what's missing from it? Clarity; are you sure the customer is satisfied if you're asking them questions that have nothing to do with their satisfaction?

Also, don't forget that by the time you view and process the data, it's already out of date. If the customer you're asking is unhappy with their experience, it's better to catch it and rectify it quickly, this can turn an unhappy customer into a potential advocate.

The customer journey and customer satisfaction are two different things

Businesses pool their resources into creating the optimum customer journey. Everyone in the business knows how important it is for the customer to feel as though the process has gone smoothly.

So why do businesses then undermine all this by sending a lengthy survey to the customer so soon after their purchase? Surely this negatively impacts their feelings towards the journey.

Summing Up

The era of the long customer survey is over, you now need to capture and respond to feedback in the moment. Technology can allow this to happen and can allow you to get closer to your customers in real-time.

Rather than sending off long surveys, it's better to obtain feedback across short interactions at each stage of the journey. This can give more in-depth feedback than the longer Frankensurveys.

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