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Embrace simplicity –
The need for simple feedback tools

Simple survey

Technology is becoming more and more complex. Tools have unlimited configurations, bloated feature sets and complicated deployment requirements. Nowhere is this more true than in the realm of customer feedback. Customer surveys have become lengthy and unwieldy. Searching “customer service survey” on Google returns over 66 million results – it’s all a bit overwhelming, isn’t it?

So where do you go when you just want a simple survey?

There’s a huge demand for simple tools in the customer experience sector.

As Peter Thiel wrote in his book Zero to One 

“today’s companies have an insatiable appetite for data, mistakenly believing that more data always creates more value.”

We’ve embraced tools originally designed for market research and unleashed them on unsuspecting customers. As technology gets cleverer, we all want the interface to be easy, intuitive and fast.

And as ChannelE2E’s 2017 predictions for technology state,

“simplicity and usability [in tools] is more important than a bevy of functions.”

It goes on to say that many of us will

“demand simplified management tools that deliver faster time to deployment and monetization. Fewer mouse clicks and ease-to-activation will rule the day.”

We’re in desperate need of simplicity. In this post, we’ll talk about where complexity is added, the effect it’s having on your business and customers, and our solutions for quick surveys.

The customer feedback ecosystem

Almost no one uses one provider for all of their customer experience software needs anymore. Massive one tool-fits-all products have been passed over for niche tools that do one thing “really well”.

Business pick and choose the tools they use, creating their own complex customer feedback processes in order to track feedback through different channels and departments. However, this means that instead of dealing with one closed system, we’re feeding data through multiple integrations and databases. The way we source, store and analyze the feedback becomes extremely complicated.

We can draw parallels between customer feedback tools and the simplification of online publishing. In the past, uploading images and publishing online used to be exceptionally complex. You’d need a web hosting service and some basic programming knowledge to set up your website.

Now, using social media platforms like Facebook, Medium or Twitter you can easily share information with your entire network with a simple click. There are even tools like HootSuite or Buffer that make publishing to every platform and tracking engagement instantaneous. We need the same “simple and quick” attitude to survey tools, in order to make customer feedback real-time and incredibly simple to analyze and understand. Even across multiple channels and departments.

simple survey

We’re pushing complexity onto our customers

As we try to gather more data, it’s not just our complex CRM systems that are suffering. Customers are being asked more questions, more frequently and they’re struggling to keep up.

Survey fatigue – where people are so tired of being asked huge numbers of questions, they stop answering them – is very real. We frequently hear from prospects with a survey response rate in the single digits hoping to raise it even about 2%.

When so few people are responding, data is affected by a greater non-responder AND negative-response bias. Are the responses even representative of your customer base?

Customers suffer indirectly too. When your team’s resources are pulled away from helping create value for customers, and into complex system deployment. Your business priorities are being divided between backend integration work and development that directly benefits customers. The additional cost of deploying overly complex systems isn’t worth it.

Added complexity reduces accuracy

Finally, once you’ve deployed a monster surveying tool, frustrated your customers with long surveys and feedback requests, you’ve got to interpret the data. Unfortunately – with such a complex system, no one actually understands how to read the feedback.

“The more complex we make things, the less we understand them, and the less inclined we are to change them.

The more code we write, based on black-box implementations, the more we paint ourselves into corners of technology, as quite simply, hardly anyone understands how anything works.”

– Garry, on Quora

Trying to interpret the mess of data means that you have to make leaps of logic to get any tentative conclusions. Often, the conclusion you come to only supports the position you originally held.

It reminds me a story of an insurance company I once heard. At the end of the year, the insurance brokers were looking at their data on motor vehicle accidents. There were a lot more crashes than the year before, leading to more payouts. Diving through all of the data they had accumulated, the experts came to a final conclusion – it had been a snowy winter, so driving conditions were more treacherous than usual.

quick survey Makes sense right?

Only until you hear that the next year, seeing even more crashes, they blamed the increase on exceptionally good weather. Drivers were “too distracted” by the sunshine. No matter what the weather was like… it’s always possible to blame the increase in car crashes on it. (Note: this is actually a true story from an insurance company in Canada).

If data scientists in insurance companies can’t accurately determine the cause of more crashes, how are we to determine the real cause of customer satisfaction. Even adding more factors into the equation doesn’t help – it just makes it more confusing.

Complex big data isn’t giving you actionable steps to improve the customer experience – it’s just making you guess.

Making a simple solution that just works

There’s a tendency to build over-complicated products in the technology world. Elegant, simple solutions for complex problems (like Why are my customers unsatisfied?) are difficult. They take time and effort, and we’re so frequently focused on shipping the minimum viable product that we end up with a half baked solution.

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter so I wrote a long one instead”

– Mark Twain

It’s a common issue in product development. Rob Hubbard, talking about the Art of Simple Design explains:  

“boiling something down and making it really simple to use takes time, thought and effort. It is far easier to design more than less.”

Besides, once you do have a product launched, customers start requesting additional features, and you’re already complicated product becomes bloated beyond recognition. A simple solution that just works is very rare.

This is why Customer Thermometer works the way it does.

We’ve purposely kept our surveys quick and simple. Feedback images are embedded directly into the emails you’re already sending to customers, and it’s literally the most unobtrusive way you can ask for feedback. There’s no surprises or complicated setup steps. From the moment you start, you’ll get real, actionable feedback from your customers. None of it’s bogged down by meaningless data you won’t be able to use – just quick, simple feedback you can act on.

Embrace Simplicity

The Harvard Business Review, amongst others, has noted that many of us “have long sought a research method that can capture customer reactions immediately, does not intrude into those reactions, minimizes bias, and can affordably be applied to customers in relatively large numbers.” In the quest for high response rates and unobtrusive methods, the simple microsurvey is on the rise.  

Resist the draw of complexity. It’s not doing you or your customers any favors.

Ready to make a change?

Customer Thermometer makes simple surveys that get great results.

Make life easier for your customers, try it today: