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A recent article in the New York Times titled “When Businesses Can’t Stop Asking, ‘How Am I Doing?’” addresses the real (and growing) problem of survey fatigue. Tools like SurveyMonkey and QuestionPro make it easy for every department of every company to ask customers about various aspects of the business. While this practice is easy internally, it is increasingly viewed by customers as a needless frustration.

Just because a company can send client satisfaction surveys, doesn’t mean they should. The request for your customers’ time should not be taken lightly. Customers offer valuable insight into your business, and the right to this insight must be earned.

This post will examine the four practices that help you earn this right, ensuring that customers will continue to offer the feedback you need to build a better business.

#1: Don’t ask what you already know.

Last year, our EVP Kate Feather, explains that often companies want to avoid over-burdening their internal staff with the data gathering needed to match surveys with existing customer data. But while this practice of asking customers for demographic information or details about their existing relationship with your company may ease the burden internally, it clearly communicates that you either don’t know your clients or simply don’t care about the survey experience.

#2: Consider how customers experience your business prior to designing the survey.

Before you listen to the voice of your customers, it’s important to first understand how they experience your organization and what is likely most important to them. Where do they experience pain points in the process of doing business with you? How do they feel at each stage of the customer journey? Being aware of the entire customer experience from their point of view, not from your organization view, ensures that the survey will provide you with insight on both the functional and emotional elements present across the entire customer journey.

#3: Don’t be self-centered.

Jonathan Levitt, CMO of OpinionLab, wrote a piece responding to the aforementioned NYT article titled “The Snore Factor: 3 Reasons to Ditch Long Surveys.” Levitt puts it simply: “Your brand’s not annoying, but your survey’s a different story.” Levitt reminds leaders that while they may need answers to questions about business performance, customers don’t really care about the same things. Forcing them to endure your tedious, self-serving survey will likely just mean you get a whole lot of invalid responses or drop off before they get to the end.

#4: Focus on timely customer feedback management.

This could be a simple automated “thank you” that expresses that your company values the customer’s input or perhaps offers an explanation of how the feedback will be used. What matters is that customers hear that their feedback is important. If the customer reports a problem, technology solutions can make it easy for managers to take prompt recovery actions. Your customer experience management software should empower the right people to take the right actions, and quickly.

~Janessa Lantz

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Posted on 04-17-2012