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  • Writer's pictureOfer Zeevy

The ultimate alternatives to customer surveys

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

Businesses and organizations tend to measure their customer satisfaction in several different ways. Recognizing the importance of customer surveys, they manage online survey tools, customer experience surveys, and more market research. The data collection can come from any or all of those methods and serve those companies to evaluate customer satisfaction.

Some of the known techniques used to measure customer satisfaction are the net promoter score, customer satisfaction score, and the customer effort score. However, those are customer survey methods that tell only part of the customer experience and customer journey.

As businesses constantly strive to improve customer satisfaction, they first have to understand what the customer sentiment is towards their products and services. Then they create surveys and survey templates that manage to gather the needs and wants of their customers. Every customer satisfaction survey, be it short or long, relies on the cooperation of the customers (their response rates) and the way the survey tools have been designed, so they can be challenging to operate. The survey data collected from them must also be analysed with relation to other product feedback and other surveys done.

The big question regarding the traditional survey is whether it still provides a true data picture of exactly what the customer satisfaction rate is and if alternative methods should be used. Customer satisfaction surveys are the norm within many industries and have been conducted for many years in order to gather more feedback as companies were trying to figure out how their customers feel. But it was not always easy to capture nuances of what customers think and feel or get specific actionable insights through a feedback survey. It was not also clear what are the critically important points for every brand since some of the questions were either missing from surveys or have been specific enough. But most businesses continued to hold them since they did not have other choices by which to learn if they have happy customers.

Surveys of different kinds are still popular for many organizations, but for customers to answer questions may not serve as the best way to measure their satisfaction. In order to provide feedback, other tools may serve as a great alternative. In today's dynamic and fast-moving markets, replacing doing unlimited surveys and using other survey tools may be something companies need to think about. To gather data about how satisfied customers are with modern and more efficient techniques can serve as a key difference for organizations before they make future brand and product decisions.

The advantages of traditional customer surveys

Customer satisfaction surveys that measure customer experience and the customer journey still carry several advantages:

  • Understanding what your clients think about your brand and products via direct questions: customer satisfaction can simply be measured by having your clients answer straightforward questions about your brand's products and services. Customer feedback can then be summarized and analyzed. Such customer satisfaction surveys can be carried out via written questionnaires or chat surveys. Survey templates may be prepared and offered through an online survey system.

  • Sales do not tell the full story of your brand’s success: the number of units sold, the bottom-line of every product and company, may not be enough when planning ahead and truly understanding what needs to be improved. Today's products may not hold ground in tomorrow's markets, so feedback from customers must always be collected and analyzed for a combined "quantity and quality" picture. Customer satisfaction must be understood from what the customer sentiment truly is and there could be situations when even popular products derive scrutiny over social media customer complaints or when collecting data from customer surveys or other survey tools.

  • You can find out what they complain about and if they consider churning: the satisfied customers of today may not necessarily be there for the company's products and services of tomorrow. But if companies do manage to listen to their customers and track their customer satisfaction, they can learn in advance what type of complaints they have and even if they plan to leave and find other alternatives in the market. Popular metrics may tell the current brand story but companies wishing to stay ahead of their competition and maintain their market leadership must keep gathering and analysing feedback.

The disadvantages of traditional customer surveys

Customer satisfaction surveys do carry more concerns, however, for the companies running them, as they do not tell the full customer feedback story. Be it through an online survey tool or by conducting interviews via face-to-face techniques, satisfaction surveys may carry data that is lacking in both quantity and quality. Every customer survey with whatever business data, regardless of the effort invested in it, may carry some of the following disadvantages:

  • The scope and focus of the surveys are limited (faulty survey design): surveys can be too short or too long. They may carry questions that are worded to direct a customer to answer in a specific and sometimes desired manner. The people who create surveys may regret in hindsight that they should have asked some of the questions differently. Customers may answer wrongly, not because of what they think but because they did not understand some of the things they were asked about. If the survey includes multiple-choice questions about customer satisfaction, customers may get confused or choose an answer which does not necessarily represent their true feelings about a brand or a product.

  • The survey covers a specific period of time but feedback can change quickly: a company just finished performing a dozen interviews or several satisfaction surveys. Now the company is ready to act upon the conclusions it derived from those satisfaction surveys. However, in today's fast-moving markets, yesterday's results may not be relevant anymore since customer sentiment may change quickly. Satisfaction surveys may quickly become irrelevant due to new competition in the market or to crisis events for the company which can turn things around in a heartbeat. So a business that tracks feedback must find quicker ways to understand what its brand sentiment is at all times.

  • Self-selection bias: such bias arises in any situation in which individuals select themselves into a group. In the case of customer satisfaction surveys, this refers to a somewhat manipulated choice of participants who may contaminate the true results of the survey. And if the survey is misguided, so do its results, data, and conclusions. Regardless of survey types, the customers chosen may not represent the full and true picture of the brand or company.

  • Lack of qualitative insights: many customer satisfaction surveys carry requests to fill in ratings for a brand, product attributes, or service. This results in a clear quantitative brand situation, assuming such results are not in the 50-50 zone, but definitely do not supply any answers in the quality segment. Customers may have a lot more to say than to rate a brand but it won't show in the data.

  • Lack of honesty if the survey is not anonymous: customers may fear telling what they truly think about a business if their names appear on a customer satisfaction survey. The data collection therefore may not represent what they truly think even if their response rates may be satisfactory.

  • Hard to identify outliers: in statistics and in a data collection customer satisfaction survey, an outlier is a data point that significantly differs from other observations. With a small sample of participants, it may even present a bigger problem and may deviate from the survey completely. Customer satisfaction measurement may suffer, as a result, and can mislead companies if not excluded. However, survey managers may not always know to detect such a factor and the customer survey may suffer as a result.

  • Survey fatigue: this is a known phenomenon where a customer filling out a survey all of a sudden gets tired of the questions. This can seriously damage the true intent of his or her performance in the survey, as the customer may stop answering questions completely or opt to give short or unclear answers. Customers may also be spreading dissatisfaction when becoming tired of answering such a survey. All of these problems can happen with face-to-face situations or even on online surveys. There is no clear survey solution to such a situation but a better selection of participants is required. A lot also depends on the way a survey is planned and written and on its length.

Alternative measurements to customer surveys

Alternatives to customer surveys that rate and give data as to the level of customer satisfaction include:

  • Online reviews: such reviews can replace online surveys since they are natural and come from customers without the pre-request from the company. Businesses tend to follow what customers write about them so this tool may give more honest opinions from consumers with regards to brands and products.

  • Social media monitoring: customers react and write their feedback on social platforms with regards to companies and brands as well, so monitoring their comments may lead to a better understanding of their voice. In many cases, they don’t tag the companies or brands, so their indirect conversations are straight and unbiased. Surveys do not compare with such free, unbiased opinion statements online, so a company can learn a lot from tracking and monitoring such comments.

  • Focus groups: another traditional survey tool may be to gather a small group of people, question them, and track their responses for data. However, the group usually does not represent other demographics and may not assist in covering major business issues companies face, but it can add some qualitative data to other metrics measured.

Affogata’s alternatives to customer surveys

Affogata offers a unique and comprehensive solution to measuring feedback and customer satisfaction. The platform gathers real-time customer feedback from all over the open web and offers market research analysis that replaces net promoter score, CSAT surveys, focus groups, or other survey types.

Affogata offers a giant customer survey taking place in real-time all the time, as it combines the metrics with a detailed qualitative analysis of the customer data and feedback. Online survey tools are not needed and survey questions are redundant since the AI collects many independent opinions from customers about brands, products, and services. The analysis of the data presents the true customer satisfaction situation for each and every business and for various departments within this business.

By using Affogata, companies can learn their brand reputation score and brand sentiment, both as a number score and through a detailed qualitative analysis. They can also find out what are the top related topics to their brands and what customers also think about their competition.

A customer survey like no other, Affogata's AI measures customer satisfaction in the truest form and quickly adapts its analysis to the changing sentiments of the customers. Such a customer survey leads to a more accurate reading of the customer satisfaction story and enables companies to know where they stand and to better plan how to further improve their brands.

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