Are customer surveys effective?

Published December 11, 2018
Last updated December 11, 2018

What are customer surveys?

Customer surveys are a method of getting consumer feedback to help companies measure satisfaction, perform market research, and gauge expectations. 96% of consumers don't bother to complain, making consumer surveys an excellent way for organizations to gauge customer satisfaction and ask questions to better understand their customers' problems. When you create a survey designed to gather feedback, instead of relying on internal perceptions, a company can check in a concrete way on how they are actually performing. So it's no wonder that, with the advent of customer survey companies, marketing teams that specialize in research and analysis, and social media, many businesses are increasingly reaching out to their customers for feedback on what they're doing well, and what needs to be improved. Done well, a survey is an honest approach to authentically improving customer satisfaction, and not taking the time to create a high-quality survey instead create a wasted opportunity.

How effective are customer surveys?

The question of effectiveness is huge. Because it's easier than ever to solicit feedback through customer surveys, it seems that many companies are overdoing customer surveys. So much so, that seeking customer feedback in this way has the potential to annoy the very people companies are trying to please. As our latest infographic illustrates, many are starting to show signs of customer feedback fatigue. Respondents to a recent survey (there must be a good joke in there somewhere) claimed that customer surveys are too long, too personal, and inconvenient. Plus companies are asking customers to fill out surveys more than ever. No one wants customer feedback to come at the cost of irritating customers and losing access to their valuable thoughts going forward, or to create ill will that will inevitably damage the brand.

At Zendesk, we're big fans of customer surveys because they help us improve—customer satisfaction, our internal process, the quality of our marketing, employee productivity, management effectiveness, and how we stay true to our mission. We love asking both incredibly detailed questions and open-ended questions to increase our own quality of work and to also increase customer satisfaction. For our customers, we offer the Zendesk Benchmark, which helps them see how their customer service stacks up against that of industry peers or even similar sized companies. Rather than ask customers a series of tiresome questions or asking to rank various components of Zendesk on a scale of 1 to 10, when a ticket is closed, we ask one survey question only: if the solution was helpful. There are plenty of other metrics that go into the benchmark, but the customer is only asked to respond to a yes or no question.