Is surveying customers absolutely necessary?

This is my response to Jeremy Watkin's #CXQOTD for today.


Let me start with a question. Why do we survey customers?


To understand what their pain points are. To learn what they look for in a solution. To explore their motivations. To understand their expectations better. To see what their sentiment is towards an experience or offering. All of these insights are absolutely worth obtaining, regardless of the circumstance. However, is it possible to find some, if not most, of these answers without actually bothering customers? When they come into contact with your business, customers offer a number of signals throughout their journey. Subtle Signals: Cart abandonment is a great example of a subtle signal which indicates that the customer was not persuaded by your offering. By studying at which point exactly the abandonment happened, it's possible to guess whether they were let down by a product or cost of shipping or speed of shipping or anything else. Tacit Signals: A customer signing up for a pilot program or an early beta test is a common example of a tacit signal. It indicates that they're curious about your offering and that they are challenged by the pain points that your offering aims to address. Expressed Signals: Call analytics and AI software in the market today already offer sentiment analysis for your contact center. Software can also aggregate this across text and voice channels and across the entire customer journey to indicate a "happiness prediction". Most brands still send a follow-up survey after a call, but much of that information already exists in the contact center.


These signals are all distributed throughout the customer journey. Despite these, do you still need to run customer surveys? My answer is yes, BUT do it as infrequently as you possibly can. Here are some of my recommendations:


  • Survey customers infrequently but have a deep engagement when you do.

  • Survey a sample of customers and not the entire superset of your customers.

  • A survey doesn't always have to be strict Q&A. Mix it up with a focus group or a fireside chat.

  • Always compensate them for the time and effort they spend, even if they don't expect it.

  • If you do it right, they will leave the interaction happy to help out again if you invite them.

We are all customers too. Would you prefer a deep survey once or twice a year, or a question every time you interact with a brand? I know my answer!

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