Dealing with survey fatigue

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A few days ago a colleague forwarded me an article about survey-fatigue. One of the main points of the author was that she felt being harassed by companies asking for her feedback on some random interaction. I must admit that people can indeed not care about your survey – even if you bring it down to the ultimate question. But this has more to do with the customer not caring about the company or brand that is asking the question than the survey itself. Countless times I have witnessed that when a customer has a strong (emotional) connection with a company or a brand they will take the time and answer (a few!) questions – even when the product isn’t that sophisticated. At the end of the day surveys are a good tool to quantify customer perceptions.
People can indeed not care about your survey – even if you bring it down to the ultimate question
But let’s be clear about something: customers don’t fill out surveys because they are expected to do so. They provide you with feedback because they expect something in return – that return can be some kind of recognition, it can be that they simply want to feel good about themselves, it can even be that they want to improve the product or service that you provide because they’ll use it in the future. The point I’m trying to make here is that if a customer gives you feedback (for whatever underlying reason) you have to do something about it; it has to translate into action.
And this is where the real problem is hiding. All too often surveys come in, numbers are crunched, KPIs are green and everything is well in the land of wonder. That’s what I call the watermelon-syndrome. Although everything can seem green on the outside, things could be fiery red on the inside. And I can’t blame the people on the receiving end because they have other things to attend to; the call center has to be managed, performance reviews have to be provided, meetings have to be attended, the BTL-campaign has to be launched. I get that. Really. We’ve all been there and we all know how it feels.
A  survey (conducted by Tempkin, 2013) showed that 74% of companies actively solicited customer feedback. Only 30% of them did anything with the results.
The bottom line here is that “it’s just a number” and that the number on its own will not help you any further. The number that comes out of the dashboard should translate into action. That action could be as tangible as fixing a problem for this particular customer or sending a thank you card. On another level it should also give you insight on what structural problems you have to attend to or what behaviors you should seek in your employees.
Surveys do help, that’s why they’re there, that’s why companies rely on them, but it has to fit into a bigger picture. That bigger picture should be a vision, or at least an idea, that your staff and colleagues can get excited about. Once you get to that point you’ll realize that it’s not about the number but about the action that goes around it.
If you want to learn more about NPS and Voice-of-Customer Programs in B2B – check the ultimate guide, which we have created, based on our 15 years experience and real life examples.