Rethinking Surveys as Part of the Brand Relationship

Its time to rethink the role of surveys as a tool for building the brand relationship between a company and its customers.

Editor’s Note: This post is part of our Big Ideas Series, a column highlighting the innovative thinking and thought leadership at IIeX events around the world. Kelsy Saulsbury will be speaking at IIeX North America (June 12-14 in Atlanta). If you liked this article, you’ll LOVE IIeX NA. Click here to learn more.

By Kelsy Saulsbury

Over the past 30 days, I have taken nine surveys from companies I do business with in my personal life. They come from airlines, financial institutions, social media sites, physical fitness businesses and more. They are all seeking information from me so they can improve the services and products they offer consumers.

But how consumer friendly are the actual surveys and the communications around them? I know I often get frustrated with the frequency and tone of the communications I receive, and this is where my personal and professional lives collide. In the past 30 days at work, I sent emails, without offering incentives, to Schwan’s Home Service customers asking for their feedback on eight different surveys covering everything from a marketing postcard to how they felt about their recent experience.  

At work and home, I am obsessed with surveys as part of the brand relationship between a company and its customers. The last thing I want is someone deciding to not be a customer because a survey I wrote made them feel like Schwan’s doesn’t really care about what they have to say. Unfortunately, I’ve written surveys that have done that, and my customers have called me on it. Textbook surveys that comply with market research standards and are totally inconsiderate of the very customers whose voices I am committed to representing at Schwan’s.

The recent GRIT CPR (Consumer Participation in Research) Report is a great start in moving us toward building more consumer-centric surveys. While the report focuses on panel respondents receiving incentives, there are brands talking directly to customers in the right way, and customers responding because they want to be heard.  
The surveys companies send consumers are already part of the brand experience, and we need to consider this carefully. It can be extremely annoying for a consumer when a company says they want feedback, but then they don’t provide an opportunity for the consumer to say what they really want to say. Rethinking and undoing years of survey training best practices and industry standards isn’t easy. But it’s a must if we truly care about our customers and the future of research.

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