Customer surveys are worse than worthless


Customer surveys are used to trick and bribe customers, not “to serve you better.” Overused and misused, consumer polls are plague on buyers.

10/24/2011 — Nothing has changed since I created a big stir on web forums when I posted this more than two years ago.

When marketing professionals use a campaign tool long enough, it becomes a meaningless tactic that offends and alienates customers. Fifteen years ago, surveys were an excellent tool for engaging customers. Today, companies assault people with shallow, patronizing surveys.  They use surveys to trick and bribe customers, and not truly find out how “to serve you better.”   Due to overuse and misuse, the survey has become a plague on customers that companies should eradicate forever.

Back in the day, businesses needed creative methods to generate two-way communications with large audiences.  Then, as now, the intelligence gleaned from surveying customers was often less important than earning their respect by communicating with them, and not selling to them.  By sending a mailing or engineering a phone survey once a year, marketers could effectively break the cycle of invasive advertising and sales calls.

The Internet now offers unlimited ways for companies to build and keep up dialogues with customers.  Combining e-mail, webinars,  instant messaging, and call centers, companies can use technology to communicate with each customer segment in the way that best suits the circumstance.  With new media like Twitter, Blogs, Facebook and whatever comes next, the options continue to grow.

But the good old survey has become omnipresent, like a multiple-choice test in school.  By adapting them for both the web and CRM call-center technology, marketers use surveys to grade both customers and employees. They gather boatloads of facts to go over in meetings and put into PowerPoint graphs to confirm their strategies.

Telesales, once an effective channel, became so offensive that laws were passed against it and no A-list companies consider it as part of the mix.  Customer surveys are not far behind.

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