Fred Reichheld is the grandfather of the one-question customer satisfaction survey. In 2003, he famously introduced the concept of the Net Promoter Score with a single question: “how likely are you to recommend X to a friend or colleague?”
Today even Fred Reichheld has survey fatigue. In a Bloomberg interview a few years ago, he said “The instant we have a technology to minimize surveys, I’m the first one on that bandwagon.”
There are far too many surveys for every minor brand interaction. And because consumers increasingly ignore the survey tidal wave, surveys become more aggressive with constant reminders.
Tom Goodwin wrote a fascinating recent article in MarketingWeek on how marketers currently use customer satisfaction data. Here are a few takeaways:
“I’m pretty sure if I sneeze near a bank today I’ll soon get a text message asking me to rate the bank for sneezeworthyness; or if I take money from an ATM, I’l soon receive an email asking me how my ATM experience was. We are near constantly being asked how the coffee was, what the checkout was like, how well the comb met our satisfaction…
“Too many marketers are asking for data that’s easy to measure and KPIs that are simple to track, rather than really listening to customers and understanding their wants and needs…
“What they want is measurement, not feedback. Actually telling an airline or hotel how you feel — unprompted, qualitative, context-rich, honest feedback — is near impossible…
“We talk a lot about big data these days but we talk little about data literacy or our ability to extract meaning or make decisions from it…”
Gartner found that while 95% of companies collect feedback, one in three actually use it to make improvements. Fewer than one in 20 tell customers about the changes they’ve made.
And then, of course, there’s rating inflation, which throws into question the accuracy of all of the data being collected. Uber, for example, makes ratings mandatory and requires rating drivers on a scale of 1 to 5. Anything lower than a 5 requires an explanation on what is below expectations. A driver with a score lower than a 4.6 goes on probation.
One Uber driver captured the sorry state of customer satisfaction ratings today with this definition of Uber ratings he posted on the back of his seat:
★★★★★ = “The ride was good, great, legendary, mediocre, average, decent, okay, maybe he missed a social cue or made a bad joke, but at least he got me where I needed to go, of course he can improve!”
★★★★ = “This driver sucks, fire him slowly; it does not mean “average” or “above average”. Too many of these and I may end up homeless.”
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years:
“Naughty or Nice” December 2013
“Data-Driven Marketing” November 2014
“Brand Engagement” April 2015