What if we thought about customer feedback the way we think about interior design?

Around the middle of the last century, the "it" aesthetic was a clean, open look. Free of the ornamentation that ruled other eras—when the value of a building was literally weighed in gold, marble, and limestone—mid-century modern was about airy spaces, natural light, and beauty through simplicity.

That aesthetic is having a moment again among design fans, but its lessons can be applied beyond showroom floors and furniture studios.

Take customer feedback, for example. Today, marketers can add more flourishes than ever to surveys. They can ask customers questions at the cash register, the online shopping cart, in an email, or via text—or in all these places. They can also pile on as many questions as they want... They have the technology to do it, so why not?

As it turns out, there are many reasons why less is more when asking customers for their input. The "decoration"—all the extra stuff in those surveys—creates areas for dust to gather. Customers don't respond well to the clutter, and companies don't get the actionable information they need to make real improvements to products or services—or the customer experience.

The Net Promoter System (NPS) is the mid-century modern of customer feedback. Based on the research of a Bain & Company consultant, NPS comes down to a single question: "How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?" Participants rank their responses on a scale from zero to ten, and are accordingly categorized as promoters, passives, or detractors. Space for an open-ended response allows customers to share some additional information in their own words.

The simplicity of NPS solves a lot of survey misconceptions. These are the top three:

1. False: Asking more questions yields more feedback

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image of Caleb Elston

Caleb Elston is a co-founder and the CEO of Delighted, a fast and easy way to gather actionable feedback from your customers.

LinkedIn: Caleb Elston

Twitter: @calebelston