Are Customer Surveys Making Us Lazy?


Over the last few months, I’ve met with a ton of companies to get feedback on our rewards hub for professionals, VIP Crowd. I show them the product, ask questions, answer questions, and so on.

But I also spend a good amount of time finding out what they currently do in regards to generating customer-driven content and insights. It’s no surprise that most aren’t doing enough and are well aware of it. (That’s good for me, since it’s the whole reason we started VIP Crowd.)

One thing that has surprised me is how many of these companies have their (insert timeframe — annual, quarterly, or monthly) customer surveys as the first thing they mention.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for good data from a well crafted survey. Plus, they’re easy to create with tools like SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, and Survey Gizmo.

The problem is most companies aren’t gathering much useful data and appear to be using the surveys as a “check the box” item just to say they did it. Sure, they might cherry pick a few survey results that make them feel good about themselves, and also select some that can be improved upon. However, they are definitely not receiving meaningful insights from customers.

Most of these surveys are just impossible to dig deep enough. Everyone wants to standardize things, and compile lots of data that they think can be useful, but it rarely is.

Talk to Your Customers & Document Results

Instead of (or in addition to) these surveys, I would challenge companies to actually talk with their customers and document the results. I mean the customer as a person, not the company they represent.

Jeff Bezos seems to agree with this as he states, “The thing that I have noticed is when the anecdotes and the data disagree, the anecdotes are usually right. There’s something wrong with the way you are measuring it.”

I’m curious what you do at your company. I’m sure you do surveys, but how often do you strategically and proactively (not in reaction to a customer support issue) engage with customers in a meaningful way? Do you make it a goal for your sales/marketing/support teams? Do you share results (in-person) with each other?

I would bet anything that 40 of these conversations would be more beneficial than 4,000 completed surveys.

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