Customer Surveys: A Slow and Painful Death

I was fortunate to have taken a short holiday last week in a comfortable hotel on the south coast of England (we won’t mention the weather). On my last morning, tucked in amongst the condiments, I found an A4 folded sheet with both sides full of text and little tick boxes: it was a guest survey.

Now I am all for customer feedback and indeed see it is fundamental to developing a great product; however do I really want to spend my last morning completing a 20 question survey? No, I want to enjoy my breakfast and prepare for the journey home.

You say it will help you provide me with “the best possible” holiday; but how knowing which newspapers I read and whether or not I have internet access at home will assist in that endeavour?

Be honest. This survey is about helping you sell more holidays to me. And what is in it for me if I help you with your market research (call a spade a spade)? The answer, the chance to win a free break. There is no mention of who I am up against for this free break. Is it all departures from your hotel today, this week, this month, this year? Or perhaps it is for all of the departing guests from all the hotels in your group for the whole year.

I have no way of knowing so I shall assume the worse: I have as much chance of winning a free break as, well, the UK joining the Eurozone (I am so topical!).

I would be interested to know the return rate on this survey but I am guessing it is not very high.

This type of survey is surely on its last legs. Your customers are a lot more savvy and know exactly why you want this information and without a very good reason they are not going to give it to you.

Now coincidentally Ron Kaufman, an International Customer Service speaker, recently published a video on this very subject.


If you do not have time to view the video, Ron is basically saying the customer survey should be for the customer’s benefit and not yours. You should be finding out what you can do to create more value for them. There are three key points:

1. Ask a few smart questions: what could you start doing or stop doing? What can you do more of or less of?

2. Make it a positive experience. Keep it short, sweet and easy to do. A card in the room (although perhaps passé) or a follow up online.

3. Close the loop. Let them know you are listening by responding to their input.

Let’s agree to put the traditional customer survey out of its misery now and make it easy for your customers to give feedback in the best way that suits them.


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