One reason that some people dislike surveys (okay, I may be projecting) is that too many surveys have the Me Generation attitude:
Enough about you, the customer, and what you need. What about ME? Do you like me? How much do you like me? Would you recommend me to your friend? Please let me know, because we need to track our satisfaction scores. It helps us build our metrics and our dashboards. And if you like me enough, I get a big bonus. Hurray for me!
I was reminded of this recently when I asked a client what his objectives were in surveying customers, and what he hoped to learn. He responded that he needed to survey his customers because he was expected to. Surveying customers was a documented best practice, and he needed the scores for his customer service award entry.
We suggest an opposite approach. Focus as much as you can on your customers, what they need, and why they need it. And to get your customers engaged in the survey, tell them how it will help them.
Here is a nice example. This past weekend I attended the American Marketing Association’s annual three-day leadership summit. It brought together roughly 200 marketing leaders and chapter heads from around the country to talk about marketing excellence and how to meet the needs of marketing professionals.
The organizers of this event asked us to give them feedback via a post-event survey. They told us why it was important (it gives them critical information to improve the event for next year) and importantly, they told us specific improvements they had made based on previous survey results. “Last year you said you wanted time to converse over afternoon snacks. So this year we brought back the snacks.” This may sound trivial, but it spoke volumes. It said, “We listen. We care. We’re doing this for you.”
All your surveys should focus on your customers, not on you. Research should be driven by critical business questions, not methods or best practices. A simple effort to tell your customers specifically how you have improved a product or service for them based on their previous feedback will improve response rates, and most importantly, it will shift your thinking about what research is and why you are doing it.
Need help? Working with Versta Research puts a welcome burden on somebody else to worry about you, your best practices, and your award entry. We will keep you focused on what really matters, which is your customers, who are far more interested in what they will get for desert than they are in helping you build your dashboard.
—Joe Hopper, Ph.D.