Friday, November 8

Survey Coercion


Last week in my class at NYU we discussed consumer surveys as a market research technique.  They are a tried and true approach to getting feedback or getting to know your customers ... the online world has opened up many an opportunity to get this kind of data.

The discussion reminded me of a recent experience when I was asked to fill out a feedback survey after making a large purchase.  It was an online survey to basically assess the skills of the sales person and to rate the overall customer service experience.

The sales person pushed hard to get me to commit that I would in fact take the survey when prompted by email.  He even had a hard copy print out to show me the dozen or so questions that I would be asked, on a scale of 1 - 10, based on my satisfaction.

He went on to tell me that his "boss" doesn't accept anything less than a 10, and basically said that he wouldn't accept anything less than a 10 from me.  He even circled the column of answers with all 10's and told me that this is how I should answer the questions.  And then dramatically crossed off the options of 1 - 9.

The implication was that I would be hearing from him if in fact I scored less than a 10.

It was Survey Coercion in the purest of forms, an awkward moment as you can imagine that completely tarnished the entire purchase experience ... and this was a luxury good, not a pack of fries at McDonald's.

So of course I have ignored every single email and phone call that followed from the company, asking why I hadn't responded to the survey.  My attitude is to let them figure that out when they don't see me return.  The brand has now taken on a very different tone to me, one I dislike, from just a  simple little touchpoint like a customer survey and how it was handled by a sales person.  Such a shame, but powerful in its meaning.

Customer surveys are meant to provide a window of understanding into the attitudes and behaviors that shape your customers' decisions.  And to gather great feedback on how you can be doing better as a brand.  While they can be a measure of performance as well, they shouldn't be used to hold your employees hostage to the point where they use it as a weapon.  A weapon of brand destruction in this case.

And in fact, a customer survey can be another consistent touchpoint for your customers that builds toward loyalty.  When done correctly.

What's your experience?  Jim.

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