Savvy business owners know the real cost of a dissatisfied customer. Lose them once and they’re gone for good. In fact, an Amex study says that 78 percent of consumers bail on a purchase because of a poor service experience. Only one in 26 upset customers will vent to you – the rest just tell their friends.
Conducting customer surveys isn’t glamorous. It’s as mundane as a grocery bag. But like a grocery bag, it lets you collect and store something valuable.
Like grocery bags, survey media have evolved over time. The type of survey you use depends on what you’re carrying – and how much it costs.
Which media is best for you? Paper, plastic or bring-your-own-bag?
The bag evolves
Grocery bags used to be made of paper. In the mid-1980’s, flimsy plastic bags arose, and for a while, we got a choice. “Paper or plastic?” Then paper bags faded away – but not completely.
But what does the evolution of grocery sacks have to do with satisfaction surveys?
Paper is still paper
Like shopping bags, paper cards used to be the only media for collecting information from customers. If you wanted feedback about a restaurant visit, a car purchase or a service call, you gave the customer a paper form.
Feedback cards range in size, from a postcard to a small magazine. (Remember J.D. Power car surveys in the mail?) Whatever the length, the problems with paper surveys remain: low participation and high costs.
A customer has a choice about whether or not he completes and returns the card. If it’s inconvenient or takes too long, they won’t do it – unless they’re angry. Low participation skews the results, making them inconclusive.
Also, paper is expensive, not to mention the costs for printing, postage and tallying the end results.
Plastic is cheaper – or is it?
Okay, so there’s no such thing as a “plastic” survey. But the rise of the Internet made possible a new kind of consumer feedback: the online survey.
Just as plastic replaced paper bags, so online surveys eroded use of paper forms. At first, creating web-based surveys was all custom programming. But in the new millennium, online survey builders like SurveyMonkey, Survey Gizmo, and Google Forms make it quick and easy. Many are even free – to a point.
Like plastic bags, online surveys can be inexpensive. No printing, no postage, no tabulating. Companies just provide a link and hope customers will take part.
But like plastic bags, online feedback doesn’t work in all cases. Detailed questionnaires – think 142 questions about your car – still require programming and lots of testing. And the longer the survey, the more likely the customer is to abandon it. With as few as 10 questions, the online user’s attention can waver.
Keep the survey short, or the bag will leak.
The reusable bag – it’s cheap, it’s fast and it holds just enough
Now there’s the reusable bring-your-own grocery bag. Unlike paper, BYOB isn’t expensive. Nor is it flimsy or bad for the environment like plastic. The customer buys it once and brings it with him over and over again.
And that’s just what tablet-based digital surveys like Check Point provide for customer feedback.
At checkout, the attendant presents the customer a short list of questions on a hi-tech tablet. It’s hard for them to refuse such a quick, simple action, so participation is high. The survey takes place right then – while the experience is fresh on the customer’s mind.
Like reusable bags, digital surveys are flexible. You can alter questions as needed, collect email addresses and even add incentives for participants.
Be creative. Just keep it short.
Pick the right bag for your survey
Customer surveys come in many flavors. Each type has advantages and disadvantages.
Paper is expensive to print, distribute, collect and tally, and participation rates continue to fall with younger demographics. However, for long and complex questionnaires, the paper survey holds the advantage.
Online tools are great for linear surveys. Distribution is as simple as providing the consumer a link to the survey. High participation isn’t likely, though, and longer surveys suffer from high abandon rates.
Reusable tablet-based surveys are ideal for collecting concise, on-the-spot feedback regarding the customer experience. They can provide high participation, flexible configuration and immediate feedback at a low cost.
So which do you prefer? Paper, plastic or BYOB?
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Jason Barge is a marketing manager at LRS and an expert in communications for the hospitality industry.