In our haste to measure every possible metric and interaction, customer satisfaction surveys and questionnaires could actually be corroding your customer experience

Survey design is a science and survey delivery is an art. Yet increasingly, consumers see them as an annoyance. Everywhere they go, everything they do, comes with a request for a rating. Even visiting the restroom now involves pressing buttons with happy or unhappy faces. 

Data without description

And in that restroom scenario, if a user pushes the unhappiest face possible, what does that piece of data actually mean? It doesn’t explain why the customer was unhappy and therefore provide the insight necessary to make an improvement. Was the space dirty? Was the lock broken on the disabled stall? Was it because there was only one baby changing station and as a result a line had formed?

Attracting polar opposites

For each of those examples, a smiley face will not provide the answer. Likewise, due to the number of surveys and requests for feedback that customers are constantly receiving, it’s becoming more and more likely that only those with an extreme experience will be motivated to respond. So in those situations, even if there is some genuine insight it is skewed – it doesn’t reflect the majority of your customer base and therefore the reality of the service you’re providing.

A survey is a customer experience

There is no debate about the importance of customer experience. And organizations need to know how their CX is measuring up so they can take the necessary action to improve it. But organizations also have to realize that surveys and ratings, whether Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Net Promoter Score (NPS) or website usability questionnaires, are also part of the customer experience. They’re an interaction between the customer and the brand.

Design and build

This is why survey design is crucial. We need to remember that in today’s world, time is the greatest luxury and customers don’t want to waste theirs. A survey needs to be as short and concise as possible. It also needs to ask questions that are neither biased nor leading. They are about gauging customer sentiment, not meeting management objectives.

If it has to be in-depth, then it also needs to warn recipients that it is several pages or responses in length. That way, abandonment and frustration rates are cut. For the same reason, you need to be clear about exactly why you need the customer to complete the survey. If a customer understands why it is important to a brand, they’re more likely to consider filling it in.

Missing the whole picture

But even if you get every element of survey design and delivery right, the results won’t provide the whole picture. A survey happens after the fact, it asks someone to rate an experience after it has happened, not while it’s happening. Likewise, it’s solicited feedback, meaning there is no guarantee that everyone who is asked to complete the survey will do so.

Yet, if you combine survey data with speech analytics – the ability to analyze all contacts through all channels flowing into your contact center, not only are you gaining feedback from every customer who interacts with one of your agents, you’re capturing it in real-time. And when you can understand the impact of your CX at the moment in which it is being delivered, you have the power to immediately change course and in doing so change the outcome.

Really listen to what your customers are saying

Real-time speech analytics and customer insights can be combined with your CRM data and social media activity as well as questionnaire and survey results for a complete picture of every customer’s CX and the findings can be used to create new surveys that really will deliver actionable insights, as they’re designed to test if findings across other data sources are the norm or are outliers, and why.

The survey isn’t dead, when employed properly it is a fast and efficient means of rating an interaction. But survey data alone isn’t enough to provide a company serious about CX with the insights it really needs to align itself with customer expectations.

To discover more about how speech analytics can revolutionize your customer experience, check out our Turning Insights into Action webinar in association with CallMiner and Forrester Research. 


Cris Kuehl

VP, Analytics and Client Insights at Sitel Group