The power of a customer service survey comes from its credibility.
Credibility is what convinces customer-facing employees that they need to listen when a customer says he wasn't served well. Credibility is what gives executives the confidence to make decisions based on the customer feedback.
Unfortunately, many customer survey programs lack credibility. Without credibility, negative feedback (which is normally a gift!) is easy to ignore. Some common things which undermine credibility in a survey are:
- Survey results aren't available until weeks or months after a customer interaction.
- Obvious flaws in the survey process.
- Manipulation of which customers take the survey, or even outright cheating and misreporting results.
- No way to connect an individual employee's actions with the results of the survey.
I have personally observed: call center employees only allowing "good" calls to go to the survey, an executive who misreported survey scores in order to hit his target, survey scores delivered three months after a customer experience, and survey questions so confusing that nobody knew what they're supposed to mean. When employees see these things happening, it gives them license to ignore the feedback process because they perceive it as no longer meaningful or relevant.
Here are some tips for making a survey process more credible:
- Collect feedback as close to real-time as is appropriate and practical.
- Connect individual surveys to the customer experience which the survey is about.
- Deliver data in real time to all levels of the customer service operation.
- Update survey questions regularly to keep them relevant to current business needs.
- Get input from throughout the organization about how to improve the survey.
- Monitor for signs of manipulation and cheating.