Bring the customer experience under control without harassing them!

It is not possible anymore for a customer to bring his car for maintenance without receiving an email inviting him to answer an online survey. On the pretext of putting customer experience under control, companies multiply transactional surveys (as opposed to “relational” ones, which are not related to a particular event of the customer relationship).

Do these companies actually put themselves at the place of their customers? Customers are overwhelmed by this type of approach which brings them generally nothing positive. Try expressing a very negative comment with this type of request. 9 times out of 10, you will not get a reply. Indeed, this information is often used by the marketing team without coordination with the sales team or customer service. The company uses the customers’ time only for its own needs!

By trying to do the right thing, companies deteriorate customer experience.

Even when a customer makes the effort of answering (because his advisor told him it was important and that he should tick 9 or 10 on the question about recommendation, otherwise he would be poorly graded by his hierarchy), the customer might find some surveys extremely frustrating because they do not allow him to express what is important to him. For example, following a phone call with his bank advisor, a customer receives a survey enquiring him about his satisfaction about… the time it took the advisor to pick up the phone, while he wants to highlight the fact that he is always the one who needs to call his account manager and that the latter never takes the initiative to organise a meeting!

Some companies mean well by offering an “incentive”. Why not, but then we can question the objectivity of the answers provided. The customer’s interest, in this case, is not to get a better service but to obtain a compensation.

Customer experience management is necessary of course, but it must follow a few basic rules.

 Use all customer feedback

The customer does not necessarily expect to be surveyed to express his perception, whether it is positive or negative. For example, he can do this when speaking with his advisor who must encourage him in this direction. It is thus essential that this spontaneous expression of the customer is caught and capitalised by the company.

 Give the opportunity to your customer to express his viewpoint, without requiring him to answer a survey

The way the customer is called upon is important. Do not present it like a necessity “We need your opinion to progress” (after all, it is the company’s problem, not the customer’s), but more like an opportunity to express his opinion if he whishes to do so.  It is the customer who decides. Usually, he uses this opportunity to make a complaint to the company or when he was very positively surprised. If the service is just alright, he will not take the time to answer.

 Remain very open with the way of asking questions and avoid the too systematic use of ratings

Do not impose topics but actually give the customer a chance to speak: “What did you like?” “What should we improve first?” With this type of open-ended question, the customer actually gets the feeling that he is being listened to and that he can express himself freely. Avoid too systematic ratings, like asking for a recommendation rating to calculate the NPS every time a customer buys a product. It does not make much sense.

The feedback must be useful to the relationship with the customer who expressed his opinion

Except in political polls, nobody whishes to be treated anonymously. If a client mentions a topic of dissatisfaction, he expects a personalised response. Thus, the customer experience management system must allow managers and teams involved with the customer to react in a relevant way.


 As a consulting firm specialising in customer relationship and sales performance, WHY Consulting supports companies wishing to place the customer at the heart of their strategy and their organisation. Among our clients are: Air France KLM, Gemalto, Naval Group, Suez, Société Générale, Solvay, Thales, …

Director of the firm WHY Consulting which he co-founded more than 17 years ago, Serge Rouvière has published several books on customer orientation and sales performance: “Make a success of the customer relationship” (“Réussir sa relation client”) – Dunod, 2010 – “Sell more in B2B” (“Vendre plus en B2B”) – Dunod, 2016 (2nd edition) – “Customer orientation, the ultimate differentiation among companies” (“Culture client, l’ultime différenciation entre les entreprises”) – Maxima, 2016