How To Get To Customer Truth

   “We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.”  …Anais Nin, French/Cuban Author

   Some of your customers will always love you. It is easy to get approval for your customer service, loan origination process or branch hours if you ask the right or enough people. Before you embark on commissioning your next customer survey, be honest with yourself over what you really want to accomplish. If you are looking for marketing fodder, then that is one thing. If however, you truly seek to improve, then maybe some rewording is needed. 


   Most customers on a survey won’t be too critical and will say generally nice things about you. A survey, by its very nature, usually elicits a positively selected group of customers that will say good things about you. In addition, we have sat in many a meeting where negative results are rationalized away. A good survey starts with understanding management’s true objectives.


   Next, watch how you word the questions. Survey design is an art, and if you are doing it yourself, try to understand how bias may creep in. The average bank’s customer service and products are usually acceptable. Banking does a better job than most industries at pleasing clients. This feeling will be reflected on your average bank survey question. However, being “acceptable” is really good enough is it? Acceptable isn’t “great” and it is “greatness” that creates a legacy bank.


   For your next survey, in addition to asking the standard base line question that measures satisfaction from survey to survey, consider that instead of asking questions that seek approval, ask your customers for “tips on improvement,” “things we can do better,” or “areas where we can better preform.” While seemingly negative, when worded this way, customers tend to give you more truthful and more critical answers. Customers may even offer design or process improvements that can change the course of your destiny.

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