As response rates continue to drop when utilizing traditional e-mail survey methods, customer experience and marketing professionals are forced to find alternate means to drive customer engagement. Currently, the data is pointing at mobile engagement as the best option for opening a continuous channel for feedback with a customer base.
Recently, the headline of an article on MyCustomer called: The Deadzone: Why customer surveys are dead grabbed my attention.
While on the surface Ms. Ganeshan’s argument is correct and while it might present pretty damning evidence about the effectiveness of customer surveys, it’s only a small part of what is a wider evolving story. A technological tide is turning consumers away from traditional customer survey methods, and toward efficient new mobile technologies. Customer feedback surveys are far from dead, but there is a gap manifesting itself in low response rates, frustrating companies still locked in the pre-mobile world.
Just as YouTube media clips viewed via a single tap in the Facebook app on a mobile device has replaced our traditional habits of watching fixed schedule TV programmes at home, mobile and tablets have replaced many behaviors that were previously the exclusive domain of older technologies. Indeed, throughout history whenever new technologies appear that suddenly make a behavior easier, new possibilities are born. Why should the customer survey industry be immune from the advances in mobile technology?
The customer feedback industry needs not bemoan the era of instant consumer gratification and poor response rates from traditional survey methods, but instead realign itself with new mobile tech opportunities in the same way as the music, television, banking and travel industries. While mobile survey apps are still a niche market compared with traditional customer feedback methods, including email and shopping receipt requests, mobile survey apps already deliver real-time customer feedback and instant gratification.
Why are response rates using traditional survey methods so low?
There are several reasons for low response rates but the overarching cause is simply that respondents are not sufficiently motivated to respond. Low response rates also mean it takes longer to get a representative sample; most companies using traditional survey methods, experience such a significant lag time between collecting data and taking action that it becomes a pointless exercise. This results in consumers doubting the usefulness of their suggestions as their feedback takes so long to result in change, further compounding the lack of desire to respond.
How does mobile technology improve customer engagement?
Mobile technology empowers the real-time exchange of rewards for feedback. Put simply, the proliferation and popularity of smartphones has made them the best possible tool for business to connect with their customers. Through a combination of incentivized use and ease of access, surveys based on mobile platforms are far more appealing to customers. These customers are more than willing to offer their feedback; easy-to-use, app-based tech offers a quick way for them to offer thoughts and continue with the experience seamlessly.
The theory behind companies rewarding customers while asking for their feedback is that it immediately engages them and offers them a voice, making them feel heard and respected by the company. Ultimately, they become a more loyal customer to the company. Whether customers are rewarded or not, the biggest advantage that mobile customer surveys apps have over traditional methods is the ability to genuinely deliver real-time customer feedback to business decision-makers. Rewarding them with offers, coupons and purchase incentives will simply entice them return sooner.
This idea of incentivized action and ease of adoption is nothing new. Discount coupons, which have been in the marketing mainstream since the 1950s. However, it is only relatively recently that global telecom and technology players like O2 Priority Rewards and Google with their Opinion Rewards app have embraced mobile apps to enable companies to deliver coupons via mobile. There are also independent mobile survey apps like My Survey, Survey Mini, and Survey.com who offer reward points, which survey respondents can earn based on the number of surveys they complete and later exchange for discount coupons to be used at mainstream shops or restaurants.
Mobile apps like SurveyMe and Kodo take the real-time exchange of rewards for feedback a step further by giving companies the power to combine their own marketing coupons with bespoke real-time and customizable customer surveys on mobile apps. These apps are designed for the mobile generation consumer.
Why is real-time feedback important?
It's a simple equation. Real-time data survey means decision-makers can make better business decisions faster. These decisions will promptly improve customers’ experience, which makes for happier, more loyal customers. The result is a company better suited to the needs of its customers, which is ultimately more profitable.
The speed with which mobile apps are able to deliver customer feedback can also be seen as a war on waste. The ability to analyze the feedback given in real time is invaluable because it allows for idea makers to expedite the time it takes to make positive change. Additionally, if a business is unsure about a change, the immediate feedback rapidly validates or proves an initiative to be unworthy of further investment. This eliminates wasted time, wasted money, and wasted energy on ideas or initiatives that customers will not ultimately value.
Best practices for achieving the highest levels of customer response
Taking into account that today’s generation has their attention pulled in a hundred different directions and is always on the go, the real value of mobile technology is creating an experience that can be completed by consumers in under three minutes, on a device that they are rarely without.
In addition, customers need to be able to reach out to a brand whenever and wherever to share feedback. Surveys rely on people to remember their experience well enough before, during and after an interaction, but their memories aren’t always accurate after the fact. When companies push a survey at a specific time, with specific questions, they fail to capture key customer touchpoints and may miss many individuals who would gladly offer their insights, if only questions had been asked at a better time.
So perhaps it’s not the customer’s desire to give feedback that has changed, it’s how to reach them - on their mobile devices - that has actually changed. Companies need to wake up in order to breathe new lifeblood into their customer survey programs.