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11/09/2017

Best Practices for Branch Surveys Customers Will Want to Take

Trevor Rasmussen November 9th, 2017
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Marketing Insights

Nearly everyone has at least one childhood memory of doing something silly or pointless simply because everyone around you was doing it. In fact, YouTube is filled with these kinds of videos … there is even a channel dedicated to it, FailArmy. They post their “fails of the week” which are all submitted by their avid fans. After going through a dramatic fail, most people don’t repeat those mistakes.

Are you showing as much good sense, though, when it comes to customer satisfaction surveys for your bank branches?

To survey or not to survey?

Americans are tired of surveys; in fact, a quick Google search will help you see just how tired they are. Of course, knowing that Americans are tired of taking surveys hasn’t stopped many from asking them to answer their survey. However, just as there’s ample evidence Americans suffer from survey fatigue, there are also very good reasons why you should still conduct surveys.

When done right, surveys can still work, yielding a wealth of data you would have a hard time gathering through other means. A good survey can tell you what customers think of your bank in general, how satisfied they are with particular aspects of your business, how welcoming and helpful your branch employees are, whether they think of you as true partners in their financial lives or just a place where they deposit checks.

Surveys can be particularly valuable at the branch level, where positive experiences are critical to the customer-bank relationship. Your branches and the people staffing them are the human faces of your bank brand. It pays to know exactly how customers view them so you can make adjustments to improve customer experience in ways that will increase the profitability of the bank-customer relationship.

Where it can all go wrong

Americans feeling survey fatigue offer up some unsurprisingly universal complaints: surveys are too frequent, too long or irrelevant, and companies and employees are too aggressive in urging (read: pressuring) consumers to complete surveys.

Let’s put a little more detail to those grievances:

  • Too frequent surveys — Once a year, once a month, once a week? What’s the right frequency for asking customers to complete a survey? Too many companies have gone way overboard, asking consumers what they think after virtually every interaction.
  • Too long — Congrats, you got the customer to click on the link, don’t ruin it by asking too many questions or too complex of questions. Surveys that are too long or longer than expected will have a high dropoff as people get sick of answering question after question. Respect the customer and their time, only ask the information you need to have.
  • Irrelevant — Companies are asking for feedback on products and services that consumers just don’t care to comment on. In a Bloomberg report, one marketing company executive explained the lack of relevancy in many surveys: “We’re just in the middle of everybody doing it,” Vann Graves, CEO of FL+G, told Bloomberg. “It works for a lot of service-oriented things, but I’m not going to rate my toilet paper online.”
  • Pressure — Imagine concluding a car purchase and then having your salesperson present you with a six-page survey, a picture of his beautiful children, and the intimation (or outright proclamation) that anything less than a stellar review will take food out of their adorable little mouths. Too many companies pressure employees into promoting survey-taking by tying responses to incentives. In turn, those employees pass the pressure on to consumers.

Better branch surveys

In the case of using surveys to monitor and direct branch performance, you could be doing something silly just because everyone around you is doing it. Or, you could make your branch surveys better and thereby harness the power of surveys to help you know what your customers are really thinking.

Here are best practices for branch surveys that will be effective, fruitful, and appealing to customers:

  1. Have a single clear objective for your survey. Every other marketing tool you use has a specific objective. Why would a survey be any different? Yet too many banks try to do too much with a single survey, and that can lead to surveys that feel too long and too complicated to consumers. Instead of trying to find out everything you can about a customer, focus surveys on generating specific data. For example, your survey could ask customers about their in-branch experience, and exclude questions about online banking satisfaction.
  2. Send surveys when they make the most sense.Allow customer actions to trigger survey requests. For example, an in-branch consultation with a mortgage representative could trigger a survey on what the customer thought of the in-branch experience and the bank’s mortgage process. Be cautious; there’s no need to survey customers after every single interaction.
  3. Keep survey questions brief. Ten long questions may feel as daunting to respondents as two pages of short questions. Keep the phrasing of your questions brief and easy to understand. Avoid repetition or unnecessary mentions of the bank name.
  4. Keep survey questions focused on the respondent. Customer-focused verbiage subliminally reminds respondents why they’re completing the survey: because it’s all about them! Instead of “Employees call me by name,” your questionnaire could phrase it “I was greeted by name.”
  5. Entice respondents with short surveys. The value of short, concise questions will be lost if your survey goes on for seven sections of six to 10 questions. If each section covers a different aspect of the customer experience, what you’re really doing is trying to cram multiple surveys into one shot. This is a good example of why point No. 1 above is so important!
  6. Incentivize respondents, not employees. There’s really no good outcome for the branch in pressuring employees to push customers into taking a survey. Yet when you tie bonuses or incentives to the number of surveys branch employees get customers to complete, or even the survey results themselves, it’s human nature for employees to pressure customers for positive results. Instead, incentivize the customers by offering rewards for completing the survey. This could be points in your reward program, a gift card (Starbucks and Amazon are often popular choices), or access to something exclusive.
  7. Do something with the data you get. People who want to give their opinion will also appreciate knowing the time they took to complete your survey was well spent. A brief statement about how their responses will be used can be helpful. And, of course, once you’ve compiled survey results, it’s up to you to allow the data to inform marketing plans, employee training, and branch management.