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Pitfalls in Customer Surveys

“Our customer satisfaction doubled in comparison to last year”. “Our customers are the most satisfied throughout the industry”. “95% of our customers consider our service excellent”.

>>> Everyone has heard those statements and of course they sound good, but are they really valid? The truth is that in fact many empirical studies are not valid. In many cases, basic rules of empirical research are ignored, results often become eyewash leading to misinterpretations and wrong (re-)actions. The following article describes the most common empiric pitfalls and shows how these can impede the right course of direction.


Wrong Intervals Although outstanding customer service is concordantly considered one of the most important differentiators in modern economy, many companies do not know which level of servicequality they actually provide to their customers. In a desperate attempt to get an overview of what customers want and feel customer survey initiatives are done each year, sometimes only every second year. These surveys are not only costly to conduct, but do not even provide a comprehensive picture of reality. When customers are surveyed only every 12+ months, this irregularity and infrequency makes it impossible to measure the effect of the actions that had been taken by the management to improve customer service. Too long time spans between customer surveys lead to unclear relations between cause and effect become unclear; ambiguity rules. It is better to measure the performance of your customer service on a permanent basis. A customer survey system that permanently supplements the business process is not only able to operate more cost-efficiently but also enables you to follow and anticipate dynamics in your customer service.

Surveying only the peak of the iceberg Customer service goes far beyond the provision of a customer care hotline. Customer service happens organisation-wide as it reflects the corporate philosophy of how a customer should be treated. It is therefore of major importance to implement a customer survey program at all the different touch points between customer and company along various communication channels. Based on that, a comprehensive picture of the current state of the customer service quality can be drawn, helping you to find internal performance benchmarks and impede poor performance.

Asking the wrong questions Measuring the quality level of customer service is a multidimensional task as it is determined by different indicators which are unique for each touch-point between customer and company. Depending on each particular touch point which could be different departments, different branches etc., specific questions have to be asked in order to conduct a valid survey. Different tasks in customer service often lead to distinct requirements in the survey process making it inevitable to customize the survey questions according to their touch point. Unfortunately, it is still common for many companies to apply one-size-fit-all solutions, thereby obviously ignoring differences and touch point complexities. The results are often poor and misleading.


Lack of automation Effective customer surveying should always ask the customer; directly. There might be certain advantages of mystery calls, but still no mystery call can re-create a real customer’s necessities and experiences. Furthermore, a successful survey requires, that samples are picked on a random basis and that personnel influences are excluded as far as possible. Only under these pre-conditions would it be possible to prevent biased survey results. Unfortunately, mystery calls often present considerable weaknesses in this important area. Automation is the key to maintain equal, unbiased survey conditions thereby reaching high levels of objectivity and reliability. However, it would be wrong to put automation on one level with standardisation, far from it: successful automation can only work on the basis of touchpoint specific survey questions.

When you succeed in avoiding the above mentioned pitfalls, you will be able to better understand your customers by using well conducted survey methods. An integrated, dynamic and automated customer survey program that is built across the various communication channels of your company and that permanently complements your business processes brings you a lot closer to the pulse of your customers.

>>> Find in TeleFaction a partner with the necessary empiric know-how and the adequate technology to help you creating excellent customer experiences.

Contact: TeleFaction A/S Nordre Fasanvej 113-115 DK 2000 Fredriksberg Denmark

Tel: +45 33 30 88 30 Web:

Contact persons: Pia KjĂŚrbye, Michael Kragelund Nielsen,

Responsible for content: Peter Niemeyer,


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Pitfalls in Customer Surveys  
Pitfalls in Customer Surveys  

Many empirical studies are not valid. In many cases, basic rules of empirical research are ignored, results often become eyewash leading to...