Marketing

“No, I don’t want to take your survey”: Why you should stop asking and start noticing your customers

Michel Hogan /

After a recent flight, and before I’d even completed my return home, there it was in my inbox.

The survey, so I can tell the airline how they can “keep improving”. It also happens with the hotel, or the homewares online store, or the public bathroom.

It seems everyone wants me to help them improve. Except it feels less about improving and more about a self-serving way to stay “engaged”.

Because sitting underneath, I get a whiff of desperation, like it’s another way for you to see if I (still) love you. To feed the need for “engagement”. And as anyone who’s ever suffered through unrequited love can tell you, it’s not a great place to be for either side.

To learn more about what engagement looks like click here.

A turbo-charged industry has grown around deliberately designing an experience for the customer, rather than it being a random collection of actions. And there are plenty of those actions that could benefit from a makeover. However along with it is no shortage of projected thinking about what customers need and just as importantly, want.

There are few places where this runs further amok than around engagement. Finding ways to “build engagement” is a bread and butter discussion in nearly every customer experience process I’ve been part of.

The result plays out as an uninterrupted one-way barrage of emails, surveys, calls and programs that continue unabated until the customer leaves for less annoying pastures.

It’s a delicate dance because while customers do want information about things that are relevant to them, they will run away if that starts to seem like it’s more about you.

Going back to the survey. How else could your organisation gather information? Instead of interrupting my day or pulling me out of what I’m doing, how else might you notice what is working and what’s not?

Examine your CCTV footage for more than shoplifters. Look at your web analytics for more than abandonment rates. Listen to customer calls for more than the script the call centre person uses. Train your staff to notice, not interrupt and give them a way to capture what they observe. If you do send out a question to your customers respond to them when they respond to you – and I don’t mean with a by rote thank you.

There are many places and ways customers tell you what they love or don’t love about you. So before you take the easy (for you) way out, take a bit of time in that experience design process and think about how else you could find out what you want to know and truly put the customer first.

So, no I don’t want to take your survey to help you improve. Instead, what did you notice during my last trip?

See you next week.

NOW READ: Building a brand? Stand behind what you stand for 

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Michel Hogan

Michel Hogan is an independent brand thinker and adviser dedicated to helping you make promises you can keep and keep the promises you make — with a strong, resilient organisation and brand as the result. You can find Michel at michelhogan.com.

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