Why customer surveys are a bit rubbish
I just went to Brussels by Eurostar on a Standard Premium (sic, a bit of both I'd say) service. The Standard Premium food was very Standard as one has come to expect. However, it was served with a Premium amount of single use plastic. I mentioned the latter to the server who reacted as if no-one had ever mentioned this before when I probably expected a nod of agreement and a rolling of the eyes.
Shortly after the trip every passenger receives an email titled "Tell Us About Your Trip". The email was from "no reply" which is something equivalent to "if I want your opinion I will give it to you".
So I waited until I had a signal and clicked on the survey. I was very keen to tell them to use compostable packaging and to come up with a better solution for mobile data.
The survey questions were about the "Booking Experience" then "Gate Security" then "Quality of Food" then "Quality of Announcements" (here it's difficult because I don't want any announcements but that isn't an option). Then finally "Would I recommend Eurostar".
Wait a minute, I want to tell you about the packaging!
My next survey was from Vodafone because I had just reluctantly given them money for something. Again, the email was from the address "no reply" as if to tell me "talk to the hand cos the face ain't listening". But, here's the cardinal sin: the survey link didn't work.
What sort of state of mind do Vodafone think that leaves their customer? "We really don't want your feedback" or "We care so little that we haven't tested it". Probably the first is more genuine and, you know what, just don't ask me to take a survey.
Jobs never asked his customers their opinion and produced epic products that were better for it - “you just can’t ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”. Many companies will do a survey, get 1% of their customers to respond and then make changes to the product. But the 99% are telling them the product shouldn't be changed. It's akin to have a Brexit referendum with a 1% turnout.
The management of Eurostar are deluded if they think the survey is helping their product design, especially when asking the wrong questions. Hey survey-meister: if you cannot receive email and if your bonus is dependent on sending out surveys, then make the last question "How can this survey be improved".
“People are poor predictors of their own behaviour,” says Tom Ewing, Senior Director with BrainJuicer, a brand strategy and research agency. To quote Paul Talbot of the CMO Network "Online surveys have become the digital marketer’s chainsaw."
Given you cannot ask me to take a survey, is there any amount of customer feedback that is worthwhile and how do you get it? According to one believable statistic 96% of customers don’t complain to the company directly but will share their bad experience with up to 15 friends. In post-COVID terminology that is an R-number of 15 and results in a very big problem for the company very quickly.
Firstly, rather than asking, collect information. There is good tech freely available which lets you see how customers are interacting with your application without them ever being disturbed.
Secondly, use live chat. Live chat is great as long as it isn't a bot, obviously, because those are generally just useless. Real live chat has the added benefit that the company is shown the customer's detailed user profile before the chat even starts. Customers can simply point to their screen to share details of a particular problem, and chats requests are extremely easy to distribute efficiently amongst support staff.
Thirdly, monitor all third party forums, review sites and social media. It beggar's belief why companies don't follow the forums such as reddit to pick up product feedback as it can even be automated. Companies that ignore these third party discussions do so at their peril.
- Patrick Wills