Customer-satisfaction surveys 'can harm your business'

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Washington, Nov 4 (ANI): A new study has indicated that post-service customer surveys, designed to enhance customer experiences, might actually harm a business' relationships with clients.

Researchers at the Rice University found that the customers who participated in firm-sponsored surveys delayed doing future business with that company.

They, however, said these surveys had net positive effects on customer behaviour in the long run.

The study found that companies that use immediate follow-up customer surveys or multiple follow-up surveys may open themselves to negative consequences because customers who were satisfied with the specific service they received may jump to the conclusion that their service was comprehensive and that consequently they do not need to return in the near future for other services.

"Even when customers express high levels of satisfaction, the inferences they make from answering such questions could have the adverse effect of delaying their next purchase for businesses," said co-author Utpal Dholakia, associate professor of management at Rice's Jones Graduate School of Business.

The findings are important to service-oriented businesses, because the industry typically uses a significant amount of their marketing-research budget on customer-satisfaction surveys.

These surveys also collect important data on customers, such as types of service used, name, e-mail, phone, address and customer history.

To combat the delay of repeat business that surveys create, companies should consider offering their customers an attractive coupon redeemable only within a certain period, or free services on the next post-survey visit, to stimulate customers to come back sooner, said Dholakia.

While the study found these pitfalls of post-service customer surveys, Dholakia said that in the long run surveys do work for service-oriented businesses.

"In our study, although customers delayed their very next service visit to the company's stores, over the longer term, they came back more frequently and were more likely to redeem the company's coupons," Dholakia said.

"In the long run, surveys have net positive effects on customer behavior."

The study was based on the quick-lube (oil change) industry and used data on purchase history, service information, vehicle data and demographic characteristics from 11,373 customers.

The information, obtained from a national quick-lube's data warehouse, were obtained for all quick-lube service visits at the firm's outlets both prior to and after the survey over a seven-year period, for a total of 75,423 service visits.

The study is published in the Journal of Service Research. (ANI)

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