Friday, 13 July 2012


Recently, you were kind enough to complete one of our online surveys, following a purchase of our products.  We hope you are satisfied with your purchase, and enjoyed participating in our customer satisfaction research.
We would be very interested to hear your opinion on our surveys, and receive any feedback you would be kind enough to share with us about them, so we have devised a very short questionnaire for you.  We promise it won't take more than 5 minutes of your time, and it would really help us to fit our future research to our customer needs.  If you could spare us those five minutes, please click here to take you directly to the first questions.
Thank you, and our very best wishes,
Now, I'll admit right now that this is a spoof.  I haven't yet been invited to participate in a meta-survey...but it's only a matter of time.  It seems to me that business has become survey-mad.  You can't buy anything online, can't even enter a commercial website without being offered the "opportunity to assist us in our customer satisfaction research", before, during or after the event - or perhaps all three.

So let me ask: Why has business become so neurotic?

Accepted, it's a good thing to understand how your customers feel about you.  In a store (you know, those places in High Streets and shopping centres?), you could get someone with a clipboard and a smile to poll random shoppers.  If you're already a household name, you could hire a telephone research company to call random people and get their opinions.  So why is it unreasonable to do the same thing online?

Well, it isn't unreasonable at all - in moderation.  Unfortunately, some companies have taken it all a bit too much to heart.  Surveys after every single purchase.  Surveys before you're even allowed onto the website.  Surveys that won't let you leave the website without declining them.  Surveys hitting every single person who visits, every single time.

This. Is. Not. Necessary.

And it makes your business look deeply insecure.  Not a sales-friendly message.

If your (prospective) customers realise that they're going to be pestered by a "needy" vendor every time they come near...guess what?  Yep, that's right, you're now officially working for the competition, and you're making great contributions to their revenues.  You might even get named in their quarterly conference call.

Perhaps, after all, you ought to do a survey asking customers or visitors how they feel about your survey strategy.  I guarantee that if you do, and you act on the results, it'll be the last survey you ever do.

And your customers - those who haven't already drifted away - will love you for it.