Bless her heart, my wife Rhonda is wired differently. She will read the fine print on instructions. She follows through on the details. Why she even provides the invaluable service of filling out my medical questionnaires for me.
And one more thing. She is the resident expert in completing customer satisfaction surveys. I benefit with many free items because of her patience in this regard.
The real question on these surveys is whether they lead to more customer satisfaction! I have my doubts. One blog article from kissmetrics.com offers this definition:
Cus-tom-er Sat-is-fac-tion Sur-vey (n): A long, complicated and arduous task for both a company and their customers that can often yield little to no useful results.
Ha! I think that pegs the way I feel a lot of the time.
Two classic examples of this are from a car dealer and a large retail chain. In purchasing (or leasing) more than one Hyundai automobile, there has been a consistent refrain from the management: “When you receive the Hyundai questionnaire asking ‘how we did,’ make sure you rate us the best on every question.” Aw, c’mon. You mean I can’t be transparent? And how am I supposed to complete a deal with you faithfully, Mr. Dealer, if you’re already pressuring me on what should be a private matter?
Similarly, my wife and I shop with some frequency at Kohl’s department stores. Every single time they attach a separate printed receipt request to go online and rate the shopping experience. The cashier usually writes their name down and asks me to give them high marks. I toss those little slips away as soon as I get home. UNLESS…
Let me focus a bit on when those customer service surveys DO get completed. First, when there is truly instant reward. Places like Chick Fil A, McDonald’s and Panda Express always give you something of value for the few minutes of survey work. Target—and other stores—offer you a highly remote chance of winning a large prize. Fahgetaboutit.
Another grouping that will earn feedback are service driven website companies like Amazon or Hotwire. I frequently rate the good service (or not so good service) from their vendors. An incentive would increase my participation.
And then there are the times when the shopping experience is negative enough to warrant some feedback. Incentive or no incentive, I’ll send along my two thumbs down if treated poorly or the merchandise doesn’t live up to the billing.
Here’s a special category I avoid. Mall researchers or telephone survey people who will try and stop you from whatever you are doing to help them make money. The way I see it, the company paying for the survey gets a “win.” The survey company does, too, by getting paid. I’m the only guy who doesn’t make out on the deal.
Having laid out my case, I now share a bit more from the kissmetrics.com blog, “Why Customer Satisfaction Surveys Aren’t Useful and What to Do About It.” https://blog.kissmetrics.com/nps/
They accurately portray the situation with this question, “How many times have you blasted through a survey just to get the freebie that comes with it?” And they follow it up with an even better question: “Wouldn’t it be nice if there was just one question you could ask your customers that revealed how healthy your business was doing? More importantly, one question that resulted in data that correlated to profitability?”
The answer comes from something called Nete Promoter Score, used by such big players at G.E., Verizon, and eBay. NPS was originally introduced by Fred Reichheld following a talk he heard by the CEO of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. After studying their method of surveying customers for two years, Reichheld determined the best results came from one specific question:
“How likely is it that you would recommend [enter the name of your company] to a friend or colleague?”
Picking up on that, I believe any organization that really wants to move forward through customer surveys could focus on another simple question: “What can we do to improve our product/service?” And you could request they answer in seven words or less. I am quite confident huge strides could be made in customer satisfaction with such a simple approach.
To increase active participation, remember that greatest of management motivational secrets: things that get rewarded get done. Some people are not really good off the cuff at giving feedback. But incentives activate the mind.
Focus groups are nice, but expensive. Detailed questionnaires are usually too complex and undesirable. Online or telephone surveys with more than a few questions tire people out. Simply ask customers how to improve what you are doing.
If you are an employer who really seeks ways to keep your valuable employees and gain their wisdom, ask for their help! Questions like, “What would you recommend we do to make this company better?” or “How can we help you do your job better and enjoy it more?” may provide some valuable payoffs. I think it’s worth the risks. That is, if we are truly interested in customer satisfaction.
We are truly blessed when service is our priority. The writer of the book of Hebrews stated, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” (Hebrews 6:10, NIV)
Mick Jagger complained “I can’t get no satisfaction!” Maybe because nobody cared enough to ask him the right questions.
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Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to www.1160hope.com for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.
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