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Customer Surveys are Confusing

Want a quick tip on how customers think? They not only see your company as a whole, but assess each interaction with you. 

Every customer encounter adds (or detracts) from that overall view or brand image. That’s why companies do both relationship customer surveys and service transaction ones in their customer survey research.

Now there’s the problem. The exact same question asked on both survey types — relationship and transaction — produce different results. And that can cause confusion in the ranks, not to mention the boardroom. 

For example, let’s say the score for technical support in the relationship survey is 60 percent favorable and flat. Well, the same question in the technical support survey may be 70 percent and climbing. So what gives?

The fact is, you are measuring different things, despite the questions being the same. Your technical support is improving in this case, but customers as a whole (scored on the relationship study) aren’t aware of that yet. Transaction study customers rate what just happened to them – their immediate experience with you. There’s a lag for all customers to learn that.

So what do we do about this? My suggestions are:

1. Clarify for executives and others the difference between the survey types.

2. For KPIs, use the transaction-based version of an overall score for that service type.

3. When transactions processes improve, tell the rest of the customers you are making strides — don’t just wait for word of mouth.

4. Do keep both types of feedback – actual experience ratings, but images of those on your relationship study also, because those are key drivers to be enhanced in building customer loyalty.

About the Author

Jeff Marr

Jeff Marr

Marr provides thought leadership to Walker and the customer strategy profession. In keeping with the newest proven approaches, Marr designs services used in client engagements. This includes facilitating customer-driven action by clients at the corporate, functional and account team levels, and creating new measurement solutions. Formal approaches Jeff helped create and launch include value mapping, account engagement, strategic assessment, won/lost bid assessment, and assessing lost/diminished customers.

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