Don’t beg for scores, earn them.

Image result for service survey“’PLEASE GIVE ME TOP SCORES’ is the fourth most annoying interaction customers have with companies…” This quote is from Jeanne Bliss’s book Would You Do That To Your Mother?

Survey begging. I feel certain most of you have experienced it at some point. In simplest terms, survey begging is when employees of a business ask or suggest to customers that they give positive survey scores.  For example, I feel sure you’ve been on the receiving end of employees of some business telling you they’ll get in trouble if they don’t receive a good score, or informing you that anything other than all 10’s is considered a fail.  And while these are pretty blatant forms of the practice, even talking about scores at all can sound like begging, and regardless of how blatant or subliminal, survey begging or its surrogates cause several problems.

First, it’s annoying. Customers don’t like feeling that they are being cajoled into giving a survey score and the negative feelings that are engendered can actually work to your detriment as some customers will spitefully give lower scores.

Second, this practice often creates a perception that companies aren’t really using survey data to improve service; they’re only using it to for internal reward.  This can ultimately serve to decrease the number of responses since returning customers will stop participating because they see the survey as futile. Less responses means we learn less and improve less which can lead to increased customer dissatisfaction as well as increased employee frustration as they are forced to deal with more and more disgruntled customers.

Third, begging can cover up real service issues by artificially inflating scores. Customers might want to tell the truth about some weaker part of their experience, but they don’t, they just submit the inflated survey to ease their conscience.  The problem here is that the company never learns that something is wrong which will only lead to repeats of the poor performance and more and more customer unhappiness.

The lesson here is clear, survey begging defeats, in multiple ways, the primary purpose of your customer service or customer experience survey, namely, learning about weaknesses and using that knowledge to improve.

So what do you do?  How can you introduce the survey to customers without sounding like you are begging?

To begin, it’s important to be mindful of your objective in introducing them to the survey; you want customers to know that they will get a survey and that you use their input to help you make their experience better every time.  In other words, you don’t want the survey invitation to be a surprise and want them to know that it is really, ultimately, for their benefit.  Their honest views help you to get better for them.  You could even see the survey as a rather ironic form of service.

With that in mind, here is an example of one possible way to introduce your survey.  “Mr/Ms Customer, we will be sending you a survey to share your thoughts on our performance.  We value your views and use the feedback to improve your experience, so, if you would, please take a few minutes to complete the survey so we can continue learning and improving.  Thank you.”

As you can see, all I’ve done here is to introduce the survey to the customer, let them know why I want their input, make it clear that it is a benefit to them, and show appreciation for their taking the time to complete it.  No begging, no scores mentioned, just a request for their honest opinions and thoughts.

Begging doesn’t really work, in fact, it can work against you.  Getting honest customer feedback is of benefit to customers, and ultimately, your business.  So, if you want customers to say you gave them “excellent” service … inform them about the survey, and then focus on providing excellent service.

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