The Customer Service Survey

Pretty Good Practice: Dynamic Surveys

by Peter Leppik on Thu, 2012-10-11 17:10

I see a lot of customer surveys which haven't changed in years. Not a single question, not even any punctuation.

This seems odd, given how dynamic most businesses are today. Many in the survey industry have elevated the idea of "consistency" to the highest possible value for a customer survey. A survey isn't any good, they claim, if it isn't consistent over time and with other benchmark surveys.

It is true that consistency makes the statistician's job easier, but consistency is not more important than relevance, actionability, responsiveness, and many other important qualities an effective customer feedback program should have.

The problem is that a survey which never changes can't respond to changing business needs. There needs to be room for addressing new issues, while maintaining a certain level of coherence so that you can track key metrics.

To do this, I recommend allocating space in a customer survey for questions which can change as needed. Core metrics--the questions which rarely change--should be at the beginning so they won't be affected by the questions which change. But then allow for a couple slots for dynamic questions which can be revised as needed.

Sometimes there might be a short-term event you want to get feedback about, such as a severe weather disruption. Sometimes you may want to test out alternatives to your core metrics. And sometimes those slots may not be used, making the survey a little shorter. There's nothing wrong with that.

Having this flexibility will allow the customer feedback process to become much more responsive to the needs of the rest of the business. So when the Senior Executive Vice President of Something Important comes with an issue she wants feedback about, you don't need to turn her away or ask for budget to hire a market research company for a special project. Just drop it into the survey for a few weeks and get what you need.

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