The case for positive surveying

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Have you ever used a customer survey to measure satisfaction or find areas where your business could improve? While the intent behind these questions is noble, improving customer satisfaction and experience, the reality is that this approach is a deficit based approach. In a deficit-based framework we focus on the problems rather than what is going right and we should be doing more. Taking the approach of improv, have you ever considered framing your customer surveys around what is working for them and what you are doing right? Your business and your customers are in many ways like an ensemble, working together to create the best possible product. In this sense, they want to tell you want you need to do to make it better because they want to play a part in wins, not failures.


This isn’t just a feel good survey for your firm to pat itself on the back. As Dr. Sterling Bone has found in his research at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, the customer feedback process is actually an opportunity to subtly change customer perceptions through asking questions that elicit more positive responses.  For example, “What went well during your test drive?” gives customers the opportunity to start the survey off in a positive direction and can influence customer perception as they complete other survey items. Bone has also found that these positive perceptions created by “open-ended positive solicitations” increased customer satisfaction even after the completion of the survey.


So, the next time you are designed a customer satisfaction survey, consider using some positive-surveying techniques.


Lauren Collins is a Research Director for Resolution Research & Marketing, Inc and, as well as Global Women in Blockchain where she is a board member. Lauren is a higher education scholar and PhD Candidate at the University of Denver, where she also teaches Global Citizenship and is a fellow at the Center for Sustainability.