We are in the age of customer experience management, where consumers are given the opportunity to give feedback following transactions, and businesses interpret the feedback to improve and differentiate their products.
Listening to customers has transformed the service levels provided by the global marketplace, however, this has resulted in us receiving countless requests to give our feedback. Surveys are sent via email, we are taken to feedback pages following online purchases, and we are even asked to stay on the line after phone calls to rate the service received. With a regular stream of online/phone surveys, how many of them do we actually bother to complete, and how often do we instead simply delete the email or end the call?
Businesses that send online surveys need to consider whether to keep their survey short, or go into more detail. The shorter the survey, the more likely it is the customer will complete it but the insight into the customer and their levels of satisfaction and loyalty will be limited. Surveys that go into more detail will give much more customer insight, but can prove to be an arduous task for the consumer, waiting several seconds while each page refreshes and watching the painfully slow advancement of the progress bar. The completion rate will be much lower.
In some industry sectors, a paper survey can be a much better option for gathering customer feedback. Take the travel industry, for instance – customers on board a ship, a coach or on their last day in resort have the time to complete a survey, their experience is fresh in their mind, and they can hand their survey directly to a member of staff. Once back from their holiday, they are spending their time catching up, and the percentage of customers who manage to complete an online survey about their holiday is dramatically lower. An in depth paper survey takes very little time to complete, compared to a digital version, and can be scanned, analysed, and the results reported upon within 24 hours, thus allowing the travel company to address any issues raised immediately. It may be over a week, or even longer, before a customer has time to complete an online survey. And if the customer is a trade sale, the company will almost certainly not have an email address to which to send an online survey in the first place, let alone have compliant contact. It’s all about timing.
Online surveys are a good way of assessing a general level of customer satisfaction, but for a more in depth, timely look at what our customers are saying, should we be looking at paper surveys? Paper surveys, developing that in depth insight of customer satisfaction, loyalty and future intentions seem to remain the best and simplest investment in the future of your business.