Survey Channel Slamming

By Dr. Jodie Monger

When trying to provide the best service to your clients and their callers, it is not a good idea to force them through one communication channel. By providing several channel options for customers, we demonstrate our understanding of their desires for high-, medium-, and low-touch customer service interfaces. That is why contact centers provide multiple points of access – to improve the success of the interaction. Multi-channel integration is something that almost all contact centers must now deal with.

We certainly can, and often try to, encourage clients to serve themselves on low touch issues. If done correctly, it will not jeopardize client loyalty. With all of our efforts to reduce cost via high tech/low touch service channels, it is tempting to force electronic surveys on clients to lower the cost of measuring the “voice of the customer.”

With the multitude of choices for electronic survey solutions, the common sense approaches to the science of surveying is being lost in the hype. Beware and be aware that ‘cheap’ can be very expensive; an ‘easy’ or inexpensive solution may not provide you with any actionable data. Client feedback that is gathered by a flawed measurement strategy can easily mislead and ultimately misdirect your service strategy. One of the largest, and most easily avoided, flaws we observe today is survey channel slamming.

In the effort to quantify client satisfaction, you must not create dissatisfaction by forcing your clients through a different contact channel to measure service. When a client communicates with your organization through one communication channel, but you survey his or her satisfaction through another channel, that is called survey channel slamming.

Your measurement strategy must reflect your mission to be client-focused and to be easy to do business with and that means congruence with the clients’ preferred channel of communication. If the client communicates via email, sending a US Mail survey to gather an evaluation of the interaction is survey channel slamming. If the client calls and an email survey is sent, this also is survey channel slamming. This flaw in measurement must be avoided.

CM - Jan 2005 #11

Survey channel slamming is dangerous to your measurement program.  Ignoring client preferences can actually generate a service weakness and may create a new source of dissatisfaction; this undermines the validity of the voice of the customer measurement program.

Unless you are a call center that conducts a significant amount of client interface electronically, you are unlikely to have a comprehensive and high quality list of client email addresses. Also, you cannot assume that all your clients have the ability to contact you electronically. Therefore, you are likely to miss a large percentage of your client base if you rely solely on an electronic method for a survey. Clients who call you may not have an email address or do not update their records. Clients may also have privacy concerns about how information will be used, especially email addresses, which may further alienate them or create dissatisfaction with the process and further weaken the measurement program.  In these cases, you cannot manage feedback collected electronically because the sample is inherently biased. Bias is a term that refers to factors that systematically prevent accurate and impartial measurement of data.

The inability to randomly sample from your client base due to channel selection prevents your results from being generalized from the sample to the entire client population. If you can’t randomly sample from each channel, then don’t measure at all. Consider how statistically valid any proposed customer survey solution is. Then, invest your customer satisfaction research budget into a program that yields results that are worthy of your management team’s attention. Quality research may cost slightly more, but your return on investment will be significantly higher.

The best measure of the effectiveness of service delivery comes from immediate evaluations conducted through your clients’ preferred channel. If the client calls you, conduct an immediate post-call survey. If the client emails you, respond with a Web-based survey opportunity. To measure the effectiveness of fulfillment issues, a follow up, delayed survey is appropriate. In these cases, using of a complementary survey methodology would not be considered survey channel slamming.

Don’t listen to the hype or feel pressured to utilize an ineffective research program. Determining the method of measurement for each channel should follow the rules of common sense. Therefore, use multi-channel methodologies when surveying your clients and their callers.

Dr. Jodie Monger is the President of Customer Relationship Metrics, L.C., ( Prior to joining Metrics, she was the founding Associate Director of Purdue University’s Center for Customer-Driven Quality. Her expertise is working with Fortune 1000 companies to help them create post-interaction survey programs using automated survey solutions.

[From Connection Magazine Jan/Feb 2005]

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