Skip navigation
All Places > Industry News and Best Practices > Blog > 2016 > July

An Analyst Perspective on Customer Surveys:


Customer surveys make up a multi-billion dollar industry, and many of us get at least one per day. But just because surveys are everywhere doesn’t mean they’re always good.


At Interaction Metrics, we often find that companies assume they’re ready to launch their customer survey as soon as they’ve opened a SurveyMonkey account and pieced together a few questions. However, once we show them what their survey could be, they quickly see that a grab-and-go approach is counter to their best interests.Genius-Customer-Surveys.png


The problem is that customer surveys are easily plagued with biases and other flaws—resulting in data that’s inaccurate or that fails to uncover the drivers of customer loyalty. So read on to learn tips and tricks for better surveys, and keep in mind these two main themes:


+ Your entire survey approach, from who gets the survey to who analyzes it, must be carefully constructed, vetted, and executed to avoid biases and other flaws.


+ Unless you pay careful attention to your survey wording, you’ll only capture what your customers say, and utterly fail to uncover how they actually feel. As behavioral economists and Gallup researchers have shown, this is significant because feelings—not thoughts—correlate with buying behavior and customer loyalty.[i]


3 Genius Strategies to Improve Your Survey Immediately:


Strategy 1: Ask your team, “How committed are we to capturing truly accurate data about the feelings, needs, and experiences of our customers?” Having a conversation about which touchpoints your survey should address, and how to design an accurate (statistically-valid) methodology, is essential.


Strategy 2: Stand back and take a multi-perspectival view of your survey. Look at your customer survey from many angles:

  • The customer’s perspective—is it easy to take?
  • An operations perspective—does it uncover actionable insights?
  • The marketplace—how does your survey compare with the competition?
  • Your CEO—will your survey engage them with the voice of the customer?


Strategy 3: Brainstorm how to augment your customer survey with other measurement methods. Social media research, customer interviews, and touchpoint questionnaires are all great ways to supplement your survey. Customer interviews are particularly valuable because they capture the true voice of the customer and highlight the nuances of specific customer situations. Using complementary methods vets the validity of your survey and helps expand your customer insights.


Genius Tips: Know the Pros and Cons of Customer Surveys:


The Pros: There are a few simple reasons why customer surveys are so widely used across industries around the world:

  • They’re quick.
  • They’re cheap.
  • They allow customers to vent, which can boost opinions of your company.


When customer surveys are done well, they:

  • Provide digestible, quantitative data.
  • Uncover nuanced qualitative insights.
  • Enable progress to be tracked over time.


But despite the benefits of a great survey, it’s dangerously easy to design a bad one. Popular platforms (like SurveyMonkey and SurveyGizmo) are great for survey deployment—but only after you’ve carefully designed and vetted your questions. Make sure to account for the numerous difficulties and problems that can arise in survey design.


The Cons: Let’s look at some of the most common survey problems:


+ Sampling Issues: There are two main sampling issues—sample size error and sampling bias. Size error occurs when the sample is too small to fully reflect the target population. Sampling bias occurs when the populations surveyed are incorrect or incomplete. Both lead to misrepresentative results.


+ Response Bias: Even if your survey is distributed to a 100% unbiased and representative sample, the actual response population may not represent the target population. The most common response bias is that highly satisfied customers respond to surveys more than dissatisfied and neutral customers.


+ Wording and Execution Bias: One of the biggest problems in survey design is that the questions themselves bias the results. If answers are too limited or lack an “other” option, customers may select an answer that doesn’t reflect their true feelings—and if the question is required, customers will be forced to. In the same vein, subtle positive or negative wording can subconsciously affect a customer’s response.


+ Rigged Process: Employees can skew their own survey results with self-administered survey selection, rigged research design, or outright cheating. This happens for a variety of reasons—fear of demotion, criticism, links between survey results and employee bonuses, or even just a lack of outside perspective. Whatever the reason, a gamed system fails to produce accurate data.


+ Irrelevant Questions: Many surveys ask questions that are important from a management standpoint, but that don’t resonate with or even make sense to customers. In other cases, questions are so general or removed from the lived customer experience that they simply aren’t relevant enough to provide meaningful data.


You’re on your way to becoming a survey genius, but if you need to call in the real experts for a brainstorming session, we’re ready to help! Interaction Metrics is known for designing exceptional customer surveys that deliver actionable, nuanced results. Intrigued? Check out our free, no obligation MetricsLAB™. It’s a great way to learn about the best metrics to accomplish your goals and advance your survey strategies.



i. Fleming, John K., Curt Coffman, and James K. Harter. The Gallup Organization. “Manage Your Human Sigma” Harvard Business Review. 83.7 (2005).


About Interaction Metrics

Interaction Metrics is a customer experience agency that maximizes the value of experience planning, satisfaction surveys, mystery shopping, customer interviews, and customer service evaluations.  Only Interaction Metrics Findings Reports combine actionable customer experience metrics with specific recommendations for how to improve.

Female-Customer-Services-Agent-In-Call-Centre-000091763941_Large-400x250.jpgSpeech analytics in the call center holds many benefits, including reduced operating expenses, outstanding customer experiences, increased company revenue, and reduced customer attrition.


But just because it offers the promise of those benefits does not mean that they will happen automatically after implementing the technology.  The key is to maximize speech analytics software in order to realize each of those benefits over the long terms.


Doing so involves identifying the right kind of speech analytics technology for your business’ specific needs, leveraging insights from recorded and analyzed calls, and working to improve the customer service on a continual basis.




This post originally appeared on CallMiner.

Employee-and-Customer-Satisfaction.jpgThe Takeaway: Engagement analytics offer far greater accuracy and are more comprehensive than surveys, revealing more valuable, actionable customer satisfaction insight.


In our upcoming white paper, we focus extensively on the issue of Customer Engagement Analytics Beyond the Contact Center. As you'll see in that report, this approach can offer a wide range of major benefits. One of the most significant: Engagement analytics can serve as a replacement - and an upgrade - for the customer satisfaction survey. Here's how.


Customer Satisfaction Survey Shortcomings

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 4.09.27 PM.pngObviously, companies need to keep a close eye on customer satisfaction. In fact, a recent Salesforce study found that 35 percent of marketers consider customer satisfaction as their top overall metric, making this the most popular choice. Traditional revenue goals and customer acquisition followed, selected by 33 percent and 24 percent of respondents, respectively.


The real question for companies is how to best obtain this insight.


Surveys have traditionally held this role. But there are numerous reasons why surveys are less than ideal:


  • They're fixed: You can't change the questions on a survey until it's completed. That makes surveys inflexible and limits how quickly you can ask new questions to investigate recent customer satisfaction discoveries.
  • They're unpopular: Seventy-two percent of consumers have said surveys interfere with their experiences on a website, according to OpinionLab. The more aggressively you promote surveys, the more damage you may do to your brand.
  • They're limited: That same study found that more than half of customers will not spend more than three minutes filling out a customer satisfaction survey. That limits how much insight you can gain each time.


Put together, these shortcomings ensure that any company relying entirely on surveys to gauge customer satisfaction will likely end up with an inaccurate impression, which in turn can lead to sub-par decision-making throughout the organization.


Upgrading to Customer Engagement Analytics

By embracing and deploying customer engagement analytics outside the contact center, companies can overcome all of the shortcomings inherent to relying on the customer satisfaction survey. In the simplest terms, this approach to analytics has three key advantages over surveys.


1. Comprehensive data: With a survey, the marketing team needs to very carefully choose which questions to ask, and inevitably there will be information your company wants to acquire but is forced to leave unaddressed. When analytics is applied to every form of customer engagement - including phone calls, emails, live chat and social posts - then there's really no limit on the type of insight that the organization can glean.


Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 4.09.35 PM.png

2. Unobtrusive information-gathering: Unlike surveys, analytics can effectively run in the background - there's no need for clients to dedicate their own time or effort. This means there's no need to weigh the tradeoff between customer satisfaction insight and diminishing the customer experience.


3. Adaptability: With customer engagement analytics insight, you can shift the focus of your customer satisfaction research at any time. If a new issue crops up that requires more attention - for example, a surprising number of customers are dissatisfied with a particular product - you can further explore that development in detail, without abandoning your original information-gathering target. With traditional surveys, you're locked into that initial focus and can't adjust without compromising all of the research you've already conducted, and you'll miss valuable opportunities by the time you develop a new survey.


To learn more about the benefits of expanding interaction analytics beyond the contact center, be sure to read our upcoming white paper. And let us know: How does your company measure customer satisfaction?

1.jpgTwo-thousand call center professionals.  Two hundred sponsors and exhibitors.  One-hundred and thirty speakers.  Twelve hundred attending companies.


During Call Center Week, the world’s largest contact center conference, CallMiner had the opportunity to meet with customers and our industry peers, as well as showcase our suite of speech technology products.  When we weren’t busy with our Data & Analytics Demo Drive Session or our “Moscow Mule” cocktail reception, we spent our time discussing ways to drive optimal customer engagement in today’s customer-centric marketplace.


In case we missed you at the show (or you’re interested in show highlights), we’ve put together a list of 3 key takeaways from Call Center Week 2016.  Enjoy!




This post originally appeared on CallMiner.

call-center-phone-scripts-400x250.jpgLet’s face it: Today’s customers have high expectations of customer service.  So what does that mean for the companies providing it?


Historically, companies have relied on call center phone scripts (i.e., when agents read verbatim from a script and follow predetermined steps) to create meaningful and effective interactions with customers.


But research shows many customers dislike speaking with call center agents who sound like they’re reading from a script.  Sixty-nine percent of customers, in fact, report their customer experience improves when agents do not sound like they’re reading from a script.


Are call center phone scripts a thing of the past?  Or do they have their place in the modern call center?




This post originally appeared on CallMiner.

process-performance-700x467.jpgEvery company has its own take on customer experience—what are your goals?


Perhaps you’re looking to stage the customer experience to strengthen customer loyalty and retention. Or, maybe you need more proactive customer service to increase First Call Resolution (FCR). Sometimes, customer surveys paint a rosy picture, but your sales numbers tell a different story—and you need to know what’s slipping under the radar.


Lots of companies use outcome metrics like the Net Promoter Score (i.e. “How likely are you to recommend us?”) to gauge customer satisfaction and overall performance. And in some cases, this is enough—especially if you don’t have anything specific that you’re looking to change or improve. But if you have an area that’s lacking, NPS will never show you what’s going wrong and how to fix it—and neither will any other metric that measures outcomes, and ignores root causes.

Processes Drive Outcomes


Nothing appears out of thin air. Behind every outcome (be it customer satisfaction, NPS, sales, etc.) there are many subtle and not-so-subtle root causes and processes. When an outcome needs improving, you have to get up close and take a hard look at all the dynamics at play. This is how you identify concrete ways to manage your outcomes.


Here’s a quick example. You own a coffee shop; the number of drinks sold per day is the outcome you want to improve. Processes that shape this outcome include: coffee quality, wait time to order, wait time to receive order, cashier engagement, local competitors, and dozens of other variables.


To get a handle on your sales, you’ll need to uncover information such as:

  • What exactly did customers like and not like about your coffee?
  • How long did they wait in line?
  • Did they receive proactive customer service?
  • Did the cashier meet them where they were at and respect their mood?
  • Was the coffee shop a block over offering free pastries?


So take a critical look at all the inputs that drive your outcomes. Once you measure those inputs, you’ll know where to focus to efficiently create the greatest improvement—and meet your goals.




About Interaction Metrics

Interaction Metrics is a customer experience agency that maximizes the value of experience planning, satisfaction surveys, mystery shopping, customer interviews, and customer service evaluations.  Only Interaction Metrics Findings Reports combine actionable customer experience metrics with specific recommendations for how to improve.