The idea of journalist Giles Coren shouting “Yes, it’s all fine” at the top of his voice every time a hipster with a clip board approaches him about his experience made me laugh out loud (The Times 30.09.17). From restaurants and cinemas to theatres and airports, he writes, people are rating their experiences as “very enjoyable”, not because they actually were but rather because they are just fed up with being asked about them all the time.
The writer has a point. Almost every interaction or transaction is followed by a survey. Some surveys cover overall experiences, others specific touch point interactions and some try to get it all. We are besieged by feedback requests.
We just don’t have the time or the desire to fill out endless questionnaires that we know won’t make a difference or that simply just miss the point.
After a recent interaction on the phone with a low cost airline I was asked to rate the helpfulness and effectiveness of the customer services operator. She was efficient, friendly and solved my issue so she achieved a top rating. The problem with this is I only resorted to the phone because every other part of the journey was broken. However no-one asked me the reason I was calling – the survey’s focus was exclusively on the behaviour of the operator. I gave my feedback, but it was false positive data and would serve no real purpose in uncovering the underlying customer experience problems.
According to Lynn Hunsaker in a recent blog, ” the degree of feedback requested should match the customer’s view of the importance of the interaction”.
This is a strong point. A two minute phone call to an insurance company to make a quick policy amendment cannot be followed by a six minute survey asking customers to fill in data the company should already have, and covering absurdly detailed questions that the customer is unlikely to be able to answer. To make matters worse the same company asks for contact details and permission to carry out the survey before even transferring the call to the right department.
The reality is that surveys often disregard customer needs, are based purely of the interests of the company and show a complete lack of respect for their customers’ time. Companies sending out these surveys seem to be forgetting that follow-up communications are still part of the overall experience and that includes surveys.
As CX professionals we recognise survey fatigue but we also understand the fundamental role of customer listening in providing a consistently good customer experience. Without VoC capabilities it is very hard to understand the customer journey, to identify the pain points and to quantify customer perceptions. The survey continues to be the mainstay of VoC programs.
Yet constant surveying of every touch point experience cannot be the answer.
We need to be smarter in our feedback systems.
We are already seeing an increased use of sophisticated chatbots in the form of AI powered conversational interfaces such as Siri or Alexa . A likely trend is that feedback surveys will migrate to this technology so that feedback can be gathered from a casual conversation and customers will not know whether they are talking to a machine or a computer.
A faster, cost effective way to gather key customer insight. The problem is this may lead to an even great proliferation of automated survey requests.
Here’s the irony – we are constantly looking toward technology to solve our issues yet without human insight, investment in technology is wasted. If our strategy is to create a human experience then we cannot rely on technology to provide that.
So if surveys – even hi-tech ones – are here to stay we must put the customer at the heart of every survey we send out. We must not forget the survey is part of the experience and we must not let the survey become one of those journey pain points we are working so hard to eliminate.
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