I read a blog post this morning by a marketer I respect. The basic premise is that surveys are of value. Michael then gives tips on conducting surveys.

I have to say that I disagree on this one.

Surveys, especially voluntary surveys are of little value.

First the obvious. If a survey is voluntary, you’re only going to hear from those who want  to be heard—they are mad or they are uselessly euphoric. The angry will let you know it. No survey necessary. The euphoric? They are are always happy. They send thank you notes or write THANX on their invoices.

Let’s go deeper.

People don’t know what they want. Why ask?

Did Apple conduct a huge consumer survey asking if we’d buy an I-Pad if they made it? Did Apple ask us how much we’d pay for an I-Pad?

Consider the infamous Coke vs Pepsi taste tests. Pepsi consistently wins the blind taste test. They tout that in their ads about every 5 years. (It never works) Survey says! Pepsi wins taste test.  Sales say! Coke outsells Pepsi.

Google asked me to answer a survey recently. They wanted to measure customer satisfaction. Give me a break. Google makes billions having captured a market by finding the best way to deliver a service. That’s known.

Still, if you spend thousands of dollars per month with Google and have a question about a charge, you have no one to call. Google doesn’t take calls—even about billing problems from customers who spend thousands of dollars with them.

Why would Google ask me how satisfied I am with their customer service? They have no customer service. They have a FAQ page and a help section. Neither has the answer to why I was double billed or why my credit card was charged but my Google account was not credited.

If all else fails, and this is my favorite, I can join a discussion group made up of other customers with similar problems. We can “discuss” figuring out how to solve our own problems. Most of the topics are things like “Help! Has this happened to you?” That’s not customer service.

Google is sending me a gym bag for answering 15 minutes of questions, all pretty much the same, trying to get me to say how wonderful their truly poor service is. What is the value of that? A gym bag I suppose.

If you really don’t know if your customers are happy with your offering or service, you’d better open the lines of communication. That’s what customers want. Communication.

Don’t waste your time with surveys. Work on being BETTER. Improve your offer. Improve your service.

People will tell you what they think with their money. When they are willing to buy from you, you’re doing fine. If they come back, you’re doing very well. If they give you referrals, you’re doing great.

Chris Reich