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8 Common Customer Satisfaction Survey Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Customer satisfaction surveys are a common way for companies to gather feedback from clients and gauge customer loyalty, and when used correctly they can provide actionable insights. However, too often customer satisfaction surveys are used incorrectly, resulting in wasted resources, faulty assumptions and irritated clients.

The following are some of the most common survey mistakes and how to avoid them.

1.    Not planning for analysis before designing the survey

You want to gauge overall customer satisfaction, so you include a bunch of long text fields in the survey. While this might result in a few clients providing in-depth answers, the results will not be easily calculated over your entire customer base.

While open text responses can be analyzed via tools like Azure Text Analytics, overuse of unstructured responses will make your survey reporting and analysis more complicated and expensive. Too many open text questions may also make the survey more difficult for recipients to complete, reducing your response rates.

2.    Asking too many questions

You get an email from your airline or hotel with a single question on it. You click the question to provide feedback, and suddenly you are in a 65-page survey. Nothing frustrates clients more than unnecessarily long surveys. Survey Monkey found that surveys that take longer than seven to eight minutes to complete result in less complete answers and more abandonment.

Want to get less information and have fewer people answer your customer satisfaction survey? Create a really long survey.

3.    Asking vague or inconsistent questions

Survey questions should be clear, direct and consistent and you should avoid mixing positive and negative responses. I once had a survey from my cable company where the first five questions were rating the technician on a scale of one to five, with five being the best. The next survey inverted the scale, making five the worst answer. I almost gave them a terrible rating due to their inconsistently worded question.

Another common survey question problem is a “double barreled” question that asks more than one thing. “What do you think of the speed and accuracy of our service?” is a bad question because it is really asking two different things. This should be split into two different questions.

4.    Surveying too frequently

If you bring up surveys on social media, somebody is likely to complain about survey fatigue. Our inboxes are filled with surveys from many different companies, each wanting our time. One of the best ways to avoid fatiguing your clients is to not survey them too frequently.

This is why we recommend not surveying customers every time you close a case. Sample your customers, avoiding surveying someone who was recently surveyed. As Seth Godin pointed out, a customer satisfaction survey is statistically based. You don’t need to do a census of every customer to get actionable data. A good sample of a subset of your clients will give you a fairly accurate idea of how you are doing. We recommend surveying clients no more than once every six to eight months.

5.    Seeing a “good” response as bad

Too many companies don’t really want to hear bad news and have unrealistic expectations. If you expect that you will exceed expectations on every question, you will be disappointed. Sometimes “good” is a good answer. But if you expect to exceed expectations, you will be disappointed when you get a “meets expectations” or “good” response.

For example, when I receive a survey from a hotel, it will include questions about the various areas of the hotel, such as the lobby, the front desk, the restaurant and the room. I’m unlikely to ever say that the front desk exceeded expectations, because it serves a utilitarian purpose to me — I don’t want to be there any longer than I have to be. I may say it did not meet expectations, but I’m likely to say the front desk exceeded my expectations.

6.    Pressuring clients

If you have purchased an automobile, you may have had the experience where the salesperson tells you that you’ll be receiving a questionnaire and that their commission is tied to survey responses. How do you respond to this? If you are sympathetic, you will give the salesperson a 10. If you are resistant to being coerced, you may give a low rating. Either way, the auto dealership is unlikely to get realistic feedback. Even if you tie employee compensation to customer satisfaction, clients should not be pressured to provide good feedback if you want to get realistic actionable data.

7.    Overusing Net Promoter Score

Fred Reichheld, a former executive from Bain & Company, invented Net Promoter Score as a simple way to gauge customer loyalty. “How likely are you to recommend [product or service] to others?” However, after 14 years, he now is sick of it. The reason is that too many companies over-use it and consumers are exposed to too many surveys, get survey fatigue and don’t respond. But Net Promoter Scores can still be useful metrics, but not by itself. And they should not be used to measure satisfaction with individual transactions, but your relationship with the client overall.

8.    Not doing anything with the survey results

You take time to create the survey, you send it to customers, you gather results, but then you don’t change anything in the way you deliver your products and services. If you aren’t going to make any changes, why bother taking the survey in the first place? If customers provide feedback but nothing ever changes, your survey may actually negatively impact customer loyalty.

Going to CRMUG Summit in Nashville? James Bowen and I will be leading a session about Dynamics 365 Voice of the Customer and how to use it to create effective customer satisfaction surveys that will capture actionable feedback without irritating your customers.

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