Finding out what your customers really think!

Two weeks ago, I took my son to A&E as he had a dislocated knee.  Ouch!  Imagine my amazement, when this weekend I received a ‘patient survey’ on my mobile asking about my (or in this case my son’s) ‘recent experience’.  I was asked how likely I would be to recommend their services to a friend or family member if they needed care or treatment.  Like I’m really going to say to a friend whose child is in pain, bleeding or injured,   “Oh, don’t take him to your local Urgent Care/A&E,  I highly recommend you take him/her to XXX Hospital’s A&E”.  Of course, they will go to the nearest A&E – the clue is in the word ‘emergency’!

So, what is the point of asking me to complete this survey?  Now I’m a marketing professional, so I should be advocating feedback to allow an organisation to make improvements and perfect the customer experience….and I do……but in this case it felt meaningless and pointless.  Even if I gave my feedback as ‘poor’ due to long waiting times, incorrect assessment and advice given blah blah blah, there wasn’t the opportunity to do this and I wondered whether they could to do anything about it anyway?  Probably not…most likely because they can’t…. maybe due to funding, maybe due to contracts, who knows!

However, this experience gave me food for thought about asking for customer feedback and made me think about a few of the basics for survey/questionnaire design and implementation:

  1. Only ask for feedback if you are going to be able to make a change as a result of it….don’t do it as a marketing exercise simply to tick the box!
  2. If you do make changes as a result, let the respondents know…they are far more likely to give you feedback in the future if you tell them that their comments are being actioned!
  3. Ask at the right time! You want to ensure that the customer has gained the full experience, especially if it a service, to enable full feedback.
  4. Let the respondents know roughly how long it will take to complete the survey/questionnaire. They can make an informed decision to complete or not, avoiding the ‘half completers’ situation.
  5. Let respondents know WHY you want them to complete the questionnaire, what the purpose is and how they have been chosen.
  6. Ask what you need to know, not what you (or several others) would like to know! The length of questionnaires can get out of hand if you don’t stick to your original intent!
  7. Use technology! We have all completed surveys where we think we have finished, only to be met with another page of questions….use a progress bar….respondents are more likely to complete.
  8. Give people the opportunity to answer ‘open ended’ questions – I know it’s a drag to analyse, but some of the best suggestions come as a result of allowing respondents to expand on their answers.

There we have it!  The next time you are developing questionnaire, think of your customer.  Imagine you are completing it…that will help you get the most valuable feedback!

At London Marketing Set, we cover questionnaire design as part of our MRS Advanced Certificate in Market and Social Research course.  To find out more, click here.



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