Are Surveys A Good Idea?

Surveys have the potential to be very useful tools for any organization to gain insight about their customers, products, and services. The number of surveys presented to us is on the rise but, in my opinion, most are misdirected. The typical survey basically asks two questions. 

First is “Based on your most recent interaction with our customer service team, how likely are you to recommend our product or service to friends or family?” I remember back 25+ years ago when this question emerged from the bowels of marketing research firms. The question was shown in some studies to show the most accurate correlation to customer satisfaction. The question has lingered now for decades as the gold standard for surveys. I reject the question because I don’t feel it is my duty to make recommendations, pro or con, for any product or service I may have purchased. The question just doesn’t tell the real story about the quality of the product or service.

The other focus of most surveys is to ask about the customer service representative and how they handled your interaction. The questions are focused on the rep, not on the product or service. For example, AT&T, Comcast, Spectrum, Verizon, and other carriers have terrible customer satisfaction. It is not because their reps are bad, it is because their service price, quality, terms and conditions, etc. are terrible, yet they don’t ask about any of that. 

Apple and Amazon understand. Although they both survey about their reps’ responsiveness, they also survey about their products and services. Telecommunications providers are not alone as providers of terrible services. Financial services companies also survey about their reps, not the quality of their products and services.

Healthcare is on a level of its own. Medicare requires all patients to receive a survey called hospital consumer assessment of healthcare providers and systems (HCAHPS). It sounds comprehensive, but is not. They ask about the quality of the food, the level of noise in the hospital room, communications from doctors and nurses, and the level of understanding the patient had. As healthcare has become more digitally oriented with mHealth and Telehealth, none of the HCAHPS questions ask about how well video consults have worked (I have had five video consults and none of the five had working video, although millions, including children, use Zoom every day with no problems.) The survey does not ask how easy it is to retrieve data from lab or imaging studies, how easy it is to transfer that information to another provider, or how easy it is to schedule an appointment.

I don’t take most surveys because I don’t want to add evidence leading to a rep getting fired because their company’s product or service is terrible. Now, it is time for me to practice what I preach. I have created a short five-question, less than one minute, survey about I really want to know what you think about it. Are my e-briefs too long or too short, are they informative, etc. All responses aer anonymous, and I will share the results over the coming weeks. Please take a minute to click on the image at the top of this story or here or click the QR code below. Thanks!

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