It seems like it is not possible to buy anything anymore without receiving a request to fill out a customer service survey. After purchasing a laptop computer recently, we even received a separate phone call asking about our satisfaction for each individual component and peripheral device (there were 6 or 7). The process was just too long, with too many pop-ups after purchase, too many "special offers" on receipts, too many requests to stay on the line for a short survey and a bunch of other junk. We pretty much ignored all survey requests and we know we are not alone. It begs the question--how valid are survey results if only a few people fill them out?
Banks are constantly seeking more information about customer satisfaction. This makes sense because more technology also means banks don't see their customers as much as they used to. These days, most customer interaction takes place through internet banking, mobile access, ATMs and other non-personal channels. Remember when you worried customers in drive-up lanes might be too remote in terms of communication? Those were the good old days compared to the low level of face-to-face interaction we have now.
That said, surveys do add some value, so we share some guides for creating a good one. Focus on narrative, have check boxes but also have open-ended questions, be sure questions are neutral and not leading, make your survey real time, reach out and follow up (especially if someone offers suggestions) and finally, share the results around the bank. This not only includes frontline staff, but everyone else too.
A good survey is terrific, but still, if fewer and fewer people respond, does the information matter? To better understand, we looked at SurveyMonkey research. This company helps its clients gather more than 2mm surveys a day or billions per year. Even it finds 80% of customers who actually make the effort to do a survey abandon it halfway through. Further, 52% won't spend more than 3 minutes on any survey and 72% say a survey pop-up interferes with the experience of a website. In the end, survey response rates have dropped from around 20% twenty years ago, to around 2% today.
Like many things that have not adapted to a rapidly changing world, the customer service survey may progress from a valid means of gathering data, to customer irritant to non-existent. Perhaps that is why interest in data analytics has surged. For example, after logging into a data analysis site we hadn't used in a while, we received an instant email saying, "Welcome back--let us know if we can help you find anything." This felt appropriately targeted, so it didn't bother us at all. Clearly you don't want to do this every time someone logs in to your site, but it seems like a reasonable way to go to try and engage with customers.
There is a ton of data out there and buckets of it do not require the customer to act. Maybe it is time to explore ways your bank can use the information it already has, like where customers shop, where they transfer money, whether they have kids in college and whether they own a business.
All this information tells us something the customer may need, and it delivers the bank a more meaningful communication path with the customer. Personalized and meaningful are what community banking is all about, so keep exploring ways your bank can better understand customers as you provide awesome service at every juncture.