Customer Surveys Are Everywhere, but Are They Helping?

Ken Landoline
Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • With recent advances in survey technology, customer post-interaction surveys are pervasive. However, my experience is that their effectiveness is well below an acceptable level.
  • From an enterprise perspective, the real measurement of success in the customer service world is customer satisfaction and reducing the number of contacts needed to solve a customer issue. So, shouldn’t surveys focus on those issues?

As someone who has spent the last 15 years examining contact center technologies and processes in great detail, I realize I am often overly critical of customer interactions in which I am personally involved. My long-term intent is not simply to criticize the operations of companies with which I interact, but more focused on making the customer service world a better place. Therefore, I never miss a chance to complete a post-interaction survey whether it be via e-mail, callback, text or the U.S. Postal Service. In addition, since many of my contact center vendor clients develop and offer survey solutions, I am always on the lookout for ways they may improve their products and services to enterprise clients.

Recently, I had a customer interaction experience and follow-up survey that was so off track in terms of being a productive, satisfactory implementation I thought it was worth writing about. I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say that I had been struggling with a medical payment issue with my health insurance provider for more than six months and made just one more call to try to rectify the problem. That call, during which I was transferred to a second and then third customer service agent, went on for 45 minutes. I departed from the tiring conversation feeling that my net gain was zero. After the agent had dropped off the call, I was asked to stay on if I would like to participate in a customer post-call survey. I was ecstatic that someone was really interested in my feelings about the call. The ecstasy was quickly drained away.

The series of questions that followed asked about my satisfaction with the interaction: “Was the agent respectful?” “Did he/she have compassion?” “Did they fully understand my issue?” “Did they speak clearly and listen well?” On a scale of one (poor) to five (excellent), I was asked to rate the final agent with whom I spoke (I guess the company did not care about the first two agents). Agent number three was rated a ‘five’ on all counts because she was very respectful, compassionate and articulate, and listened very well. I was then put into a recorder to make any other comments I would like to add. As you can probably imagine, my open-ended comments were: “Judy was the perfect agent. She fully understood my issue, showed compassion, spoke clearly and listened intently. However, I think the more important question for you to ask is: ‘Was your issue resolved, or will you be calling us back three more times to discuss this issue?’”

The bottom line is that if post-interaction surveys do not get at the pertinent issues, they are relegated to being used as agent training tools or evaluation feedback for annual agent reviews. Shouldn’t these surveys be driven by a desire to increase customer satisfaction, enhance loyalty and minimize the customer care costs of the business? If not, businesses and contact center solution providers are missing the real opportunity to be gained by the collection of customer opinions.

P.S. I am still awaiting a call back from the company. I guess I will call again.

What do you think?

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