Why asking in the wrong way limits insight and learning?

Voice of Customer! We all get the principle of ask those who buy our service or product how to improve them. But when you engage, how you ask and when we do it has a direct impact on the insights you collect. Technology now allows more instant engagement close to the moment of truth (closeness to the actual event where emotions are still high and are likely to be reflected in the feedback).

However, ask the wrong questions and before you know it, you have a mix of confused priorities which haven’t added any value to the understanding you already had.

Sound familiar? Do you fall foul of running short Yes/No survey just to get a rating - without any verbatim to add context; or have you asked too many questions in an attempt to satisfy all stakeholder needs in the business? We have all seen these mistakes in various guises.


However, a lot has changed over the past 15+ years since these online survey tools first exploded into the market. We now understand far more about the respondent as well as their views on their survey experience. There is clearly a level of apathy and fatigue, so response rates have reduced in the more conventional channels.


However, by using a range of other channels to collect feedback such as video, audio, SMS and social chat; respondents now have greater choice about how to share their valuable insights.

You must, however, have purpose and be clear what you are expecting of your respondent. It is essential to understand your central question and then seek to answer that question. But also allow your respondents to share insights as a conversation. Here are 3 principles which have helped create successful VoC programs:


  1. Treat it like a live conversation, with the aim of listening to your customer, allow for verbatim where a coded answer may be restrictive and be comfortable if they feel is it not applicable to them.

  2. Understand the likely customer perspective and ask appropriate questions to unearth insights;

  3. Don’t over burden the respondent – only ask for what you need this simplifies the engagement and respects the time and effort give in responding.


Appropriate timing is key to engagement. Where there is a closed loop system in place, having more immediate surveys with an escalation through customer service can really improve the engagement with customers and provide an opportunity to genuinely say sorry or thanks for the pat on the back.


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