We Annoy Our Customers

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Worst Practices  |  New Rules of Sales & Service  |  Marketing  |  Advertising

we annoy our clientsMany companies automatically send a survey after every transaction. Don’t these companies realize that they’re annoying the customers they say they value?

  • After a purchase, a survey.
  • After a car service, a survey.
  • See a movie, get a survey.
  • Update software, yep, a popup survey.

It seems to me the problem with these surveys is the survey people (those in customer support who are measured on the satisfaction of people on a transactional basis for each telephone support call or product purchase) aren’t at all connected to the marketers who are responsible for educating consumers.

quickbooks surveySenior executives are so focused on spreadsheets that they can't even comprehend that the process of gathering that customer service data is harming the company.

  • Some companies bribe customers to fill out surveys, for example with “drawings” for some inane prize like a $50 gift card.
  • Some companies use high pressure tactics, for example telling customers when they pick up their car at the service department that a survey will come and asking for a good rating.
  • Some companies lie to customers, for example by saying that the survey "will take 1 minute” but when you click through, it takes longer.
  • Many companies deliver annoying popups within the software or website, slowing down your work.

surverys in email

Give something of value before the ask

I would just do away with this kind of survey completely. But if companies must do it, why not offer something of value first?

  • Why not have a video link showing how people use the product I just purchased? Then ask for my opinion.
  • Why not link to the company blog that talks about common customer issues that can easily be solved? Then ask for my opinion.
  • Why not link to the online forums for the service that I just signed up for? Then ask for my opinion.
  • Why not tell me, in writing, the answer to the service question you just told me over the phone? Then ask for my opinion.

Each time you contact a customer you should be providing something of value. You should always be giving more than you are taking in a relationship with a customer.

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