Archive for January, 2012


Feedback from customers is really important. Think twice before hiring someone to do this for you. The data they acquire is suspect, because…

  1. Surveys generally don’t offer anything of value to justify professional people taking the time to take it. So, the results are inherently skewed towards people who…
    1. Have the time
    2. Have a strongly held opinion they want to vocalize
    • Unless this is a good sampling of your overall user/customer base you can’t fully trust these results.
    • Add to this that the nature of the survey is potentially annoying (see below) and the results become even more skewed.
  2. The questions are often too generic to be really insightful. Example: “How likely are you to recommend us?” Only professional survey takers know how to answer this question. The real answer is always….it depends on who I am talking to and what the circumstances are. I can’t really distill it down to a number for you. (Personally, I usually close out of a survey upon seeing this question as I usually find the following ones will be similarly ambiguous and difficult to answer.)
  3. While the questions are too generic the answers are often too specific, or don’t allow room for nuance. “Did the item arrive when expected?” What if it arrived at the end of the envelope of their promised delivery date, but not in the timeframe that was desired upon starting the transaction?
  4. The survey givers often don’t see how their process biases the results because they have little to no domain knowledge within the market segment. They don’t understand your customers the way you do (also has a lot to do with why the questions are so generic).

A few other “gotchas” — Don’t offer the survey until the customer has had ample opportunity to complete the relevant process. Best if you can know this for sure. Don’t interrupt the customer ever. Let her do it on her own time at her own convenience. Interrupting someone who is trying to get to information isn’t going to give your business the feedback you want. Splash screens and the like are just tricks survey companies use to bump their numbers (of bogus responses).

Ultimately you’re far better off if you can create an openness that encourages customers to give you their feedback directly, whether it’s you following up, or just providing convenient conduits for it to happen spontaneously.

How do you create this conduit and what does it look like? Stay tuned…

Lose Control

Tangentially related to the last entry…Control is over rated. Often times the best things are happening when you aren’t in (complete) control. Make the jump — a leap of faith if you will — and hang on for the ride. You can nudge, influence, and otherwise direct, but control is too costly to obtain, and too stifling to boot.

The stuff that’s really great can’t be controlled.


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