Customer surveys

When the final bill arrived following a recent family dinner at a national chain restaurant, our server “Bob” made the plea for us to fill out a customer survey. He had provided decent service although not extremely notable. In his plea regarding the survey, he told us he would soon be going on vacation for a couple of weeks to visit relatives across the country. If he doesn’t get good survey results, he said his boss may cut his shifts when he’s back from vacation.

Customer surveys are very common in the world of retail and service-oriented businesses. When making a purchase, I’m frequently asked to go on-line and rate my experience. It’s also common for employees to request the rating they think they should receive. Sometimes it comes with a plea like Bob’s that the employee may face a negative outcome if they don’t get top-notch results.

Employees May Focus on Ratings while the Experience Suffers

For many employees, it becomes all about customer survey results. They probably get frequent reminders from managers that good results are imperative. If that’s the case, then the focus for employees becomes the survey results themselves while the experience they’re creating for customers that supports the company’s brand promise becomes secondary or even forgotten. Are these employees being truly trained on how to deliver excellent service or a good customer experience…or are they simply being trained to ask for a specific rating from a customer? Isn’t this the wrong message to send employees?

If employees know how to deliver an excellent customer experience, the rest should take care of itself. Sure, you can use customer surveys or mystery shoppers to confirm and validate. But the rubber truly meets the road if employees understand the experience your brand is aiming to create and how their role contributes to delivering the customer promise.

If they’re only being trained to ask for survey results, that may be the last memorable impression made on the customer. The emotion you create for your customer might be one of pity, sympathy (“I sure hope Bob doesn’t get his shifts cut when he returns from vacation”), irritation (“Why should I give Bob 5 stars when his service only ranked 2 or 3?!”) rather than excitement over a delightful experience.

Do you want your brand to be known for badgering customers to give good survey results or for delivering an outstanding experience every time?

About Alice Wright

As Director of Content Strategy, Alice directs projects while also designing program strategy and instructional content. She has more than 22 years of experience managing integrated strategic marketing, communication and training programs for globally recognized brands. Some of her current and past clients include Nike, Sunglass Hut, Safeway, Banfield Pet Hospital, Office Depot, Unilever, LensCrafters, EMC, Intel, Microsoft, Dell, adidas, Joann Stores and others. Alice earned her bachelor’s degree from the School of Journalism and Communication at University of Oregon. She lives with her husband and teenage son in Portland, Oregon where she loves exploring the outdoors and being a soccer/band mom.