Week 5: Customer Research: Just What Are Your Customers Thinking?

Because of the irrational thinking, and behaviors, of our customers…asking them for customer satisfaction surveys can be dangerous. This is primarily because customers have a habit of lying: whether it be exaggeration, a blatant lie, or not speaking up. This can make customer satisfaction surveys lead you down the wrong path to correcting mistakes, or continuing the trends that customers are saying they enjoyed. Cusik argues that this leads to one conclusion: surveys are only good for knowing if you are doing well or making customers upset, not qualifying success or failure measures.

He then goes on to write that, since surveys are a poor way to measure customer satisfaction, why not measure customer satisfaction through direct observation? Cusik suggests that we should watch and learn what are customers are doing and that we should put ourselves in our customers’ shoes. Ask your customers behavioral questions, instead of basic questions like: did you enjoy your service? Was everything satisfactory? Ask questions like: how long did you have to wait in line? Was every item working properly upon initial purchase? These types of questions will give you a clearer idea as to what your customers are actually thinking.


  1. I think this post and the author you mention have stumbled upon an interesting concept. Most people have gone on Yelp, or any other site that allows for reviews and surveys, and has experienced the so called “flame” review. The single customer who had had a bad day and didn’t get exactly what they wanted when they wanted it. I think that is part of the feedback problem from customers. Generally speaking, they only review and fill out surveys when they’re unhappy and when they aren’t unhappy, the straight ticket everything was okay survey is not exactly useful. I’d like to think that in a perfect place you could make observations on customers to see if they’re happy with the service or product but I think in practice this is impractical. But the notion that asking better questions will lead to better results is certainly one to consider. Good post.


  2. I agree with the idea that customer satisfaction surveys can be dangerous for each of the points you make above. They are highly subjective, in my experience.

    Surprisingly, may companies are now using “customer satisfaction surveys” as a component of employee evaluation. These “How am I doing?” links or other survey methods measure the customer’s emotions at the point of interaction. If the customer got the response they wanted, for example, then it is probable an employee will get a positive rating. If the customer did not get the desired response, it seems the employee would likely not get a positive rating even if the employee could not have possibly solved the problem due to corporate rules/regulations. It’s a strange way to rate things, especially employees.


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