A few months back I wrote about the dangers of tying results from satisfaction surveys to compensation. The feedback I got was mixed, so I decided to do a quick survey to see what the public thinks.

Of the 72% who were asked to do a follow-up survey after some type of transaction, about 1 in 6 (16.1%) were told by their sales rep what rating to give. While 1 in 6 is alarming, the reality is probably worse because those that do try to influence responses do so repeatedly. My personal guess is that more compensation is impacted the more likely it is that customers will be asked to answer in a certain way.

Among those who had been asked to do a follow-up I asked some questions about the experience of doing a survey.

I believe these data support my position. Satisfaction surveys can be used effectively to drive business decisions and with that results, but tying them to compensation undermines their reliability and thus makes them less effective for decision-making.

Worth adding that firms making extensive use of follow-up transaction surveys have a responsibility to inform customers of how they are used. For example, telling customers that a new service, extended hours, more staffing, better training or whatever came about as a result of their feedback in the surveys, will improve their view of your product or service and increase the chance they will participate in future surveys. Unlike the example above, the company wins both ways.