Two very experienced, very clever people on two different continents have been talking to me about the same problem in the customer satisfaction survey industry this week – and its only Wednesday.

They both told me that research companies don’t [generally] help their clients to do anything with the results of their customer satisfaction surveys.

They were coming at the problem from different positions.

One person said that people who are researchers aren’t operationally savvy and are unable to put the feedback into a coherent and meaningful plan which will drive profits.

The other person was blaming the surveys for the lack of action. Low response rates from web-based surveys [typically 5% to 15%] mean that taking action is risky or even foolish. Unattributed feedback, where respondents are anonymous, means action cannot be personalised. And where averages are used the depths and peaks become hidden – for example a low 15% added to a high 85% becomes a mundane 50%.

I had good news for both of my new best friends.

In InfoQuest’s Pre-Survey Check-List, item 1 is Acting on the Feedback.

We believe it is wrong to even consider running a customer satisfaction survey without planning to act on the feedback.

The idea of acting on the feedback should be central to all the other plans:

  • Which customers to include
  • What questions to ask
  • Which members of the management team check the customer list
  • Which members of the management team check the questions
  • Who is to attend the post-survey workshop (everyone on the Board plus the next level down)

And all under the premise or raison d’etre that the customer satisfaction survey is being conducted in order to “Increase Profitable Sales”.

We are “operations” people.

We only work in the B2B arena. One of our staff is a turnaround specialist. Me? 16 years of international management consultancy – making change happen without executive authority.

And there’s more good news when it comes to the InfoQuest survey.

Because we are operational people working in B2B and not researchers, none of us belong to the MRA, MRS or ESOMAR (which require their members to provide anonymous feedback to clients). So an InfoQuest report tells you exactly who said what.

And with average worldwide response rates of over 70% the CEOs of our clients’ companies can take strategic decisions with confidence.

I must say that my two new best friends were both highly complementary about what we do. And, oddly, they both did a bit of self-flagellation because neither had seen InfoQuest before (which really is my problem, and not theirs).

Finally, thank you to Survey Magazine for publishing a 5-page article on survey response rates.