ImageFor those of us who are deeply involved with online marketing research it may appear that the proliferation of Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs is exploding these days. However, recent Forrester's research found that 56% of the executives they surveyed were not aware of any formal Voice of Customer program in their companies. One of the explanations for this discrepancy may be the fact that many companies conduct localized, departmental initiatives that are not visible to the rest of the organization.

Indeed an amount of online surveys I am bombarded with every day is staggering. It seems that people who designed every website I stop by want to know my opinion … even before I had any time to form one. Availability of inexpensive and easy to use  technology for conducting online surveys is not a good excuse for harassing your site's visitors to collect "short" and "easy" response to the closed-end questions structured on a 1 to 5 scale.

There are 3 reasons an inadequately administered survey is harmful to your business:

  1. Popup surveys reduce visitor engagement with a site and therefore promote high bounce rate.  Many people, commenting about their site user experience are complaining about timing of these interruptions and their inability to respond to the posed questions at a time they are being posed. Timing the request to allow a customer to experience your product or service would provide more meaningful reaction and responses.
  2. Questions that do not align with customer' experience and perspective do alienate the customers. The close- ended questions you pose to you customers may be very important to you and your company. However if answering them does not provide any value to the responder, why would they want to waste their time? It is much better  to provide generous space for comments and reflections of their experience from their perspective; let them tell you what elements of this experience are important to them. Make it easy to say what they want to, not what you want to hear. They are not in business of validating your assumptions.
  3. Customer Feedback that does not result in action is a waste of time - yours and your customer's. A disconnect between cause and effect explains low participation of voters in a political process. Customers want to help you improve your product or service and will provide you with clues to how to do it, if you "listen." There are tools available for automated processing of unstructured customer comments and reviews that are called Opinion Mining platforms. Use them to help you discover the insights into their experience. You can get results within 24 hours. Let the customers know that their efforts are not wasted. Communicate back what you have learned from them and what actions you plan to take in effort to improve their experience.