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Are You Using the Right Channel to Survey Customers? (Part 2 of 2)

Posted on  26 April 10  by 

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About a month ago, I weighed the pros and cons of different automated channels for surveying customer – including e-surveymanmail, Web, and IVR.   To continue to help members select the right channel for their post-contact customer surveys, I wanted to use part two of this post to address manual channels – like outbound phone and mail surveys.       

By and large, compared to automated options, manual survey administration channels such as phone and mail are not as popular with members. This often due to time lag and resources required with manual survey channels.  Still, they offer a few advantages and pose some disadvantages worth considering.

Outbound Phone interviews have one big pro, but some significant cons relating to time and expense:

Pros of Outbound Phone Interviews

  • Because a live person is administering the questionnaire, this channel allows for clarification of unclear customer responses and the ability to capture more detail. The flexibility of this approach allows the interviewer to elicit additional information from the customer around any of the survey questions – which is very important to get past surface level information that may lack actionability.
  • The delayed interaction is also a benefit, giving customers sufficient time to reflect upon their service experience and resolution outcome.

Cons of Outbound Phone Interviews

  • It is labor-intensive to collect the data, and staff should be trained to some degree on proper surveying techniques.
  • The cycle time is lengthy as it tends to take a while to collect a significant sample, and staff must manually enter the responses, which adds to follow-up work.

Because of the lag between the service interaction and the survey, outbound phone administration works well for gauging customer satisfaction with the service outcome.

Mail Surveys are convenient for the customer, but pose some challenges for the company:

Pros of Mail Surveys

  • Surveys sent via post are nice because they can be completed at the customer’s discretion.  Because of this time flexibility, companies can often get away with administering a longer questionnaire, allowing for the collection of more (or more detailed) data.

Cons of Mail Surveys

  • The response rate for mail surveys tends to be low, so additional follow-up may be required to achieve the desired sample size.
  • Because of the significant time lag involved, there is the potential for customers to be confused about what the survey is intended to measure. Although the survey is intended to gauge the customer’s experience with the service/support interaction, there is a risk that customers may reference their overall satisfaction with the company, product, or retail experience when answering the questions.

Because of the high risk of customer confusion, mail surveys are best used to collect information about the customer’s general experience with the company or product. 

I hope this overview of manual survey administration channels has been helpful and illuminated some of the pros/cons of each channel. For those who have not checked out part 1 of this post (covering e-mail, web, and IVR channels), I would encourage you to do so.

So, what have been your experiences with the above channels?  What channel (or mix of channels) works best for your company?

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