"Our experience suggests that most companies use a crude approach to gathering vital customer data," says David Jackson in an article at MarketingProfs. "Periodic, often annual, surveys that are disconnected in time from the events they are purporting to measure are the norm."

Jackson dismisses such efforts as vain "Do You Love Us?" surveys, and suggests several reasons they don't deliver the data you need:

  • They're too long, and often wind up in the trash.
  • They often ask irrelevant questions.
  • They fail to identify problems in a timely fashion.
  • They focus on satisfaction, not performance. "Customers don't want to be satisfied," he argues, "they want companies to perform well on things that matter to the customer."

According to Jackson, an ideal survey program will:

  • Ask customers to comment only on products or services with which they have firsthand experience.
  • Request feedback when the experience is fresh in a customer's mind.
  • Deliver results to the teams responsible for correction or improvement.
  • Bolster investor confidence when you report its outcomes alongside your financial data.

The Po!nt: Forget those annual surveys that tax your customer's memory and annoy her with their length. "Collect specific event data when the event happens, and combine that into an overall picture of the customer experience," advises Jackson.

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