Kiosk Series: Using Tablets to Improve Customer Surveys

This is a post in a series exploring the use of Android tablet kiosks and the iPad as kiosks. The kick-off post can be found here.

You want to know how your customers feel about their experience with your company’s service, so you decide to do a survey. You have two challenges:

  1. How to develop a good survey that tells you what you need to know.
  2. Getting a representative sample of people to take the survey.

The first part of the challenge is to put together a clean survey that tells you things you need to know — not just what you want to hear. You may hire seasoned help to build your survey, or you may go ahead and build your own. If you do the survey yourself, consider the following:

  • Focus: what is it that you want to know?
  • Scope: what will be the range of questions, and how many respondents do you need to make the survey results credible?
  • Interpretation: will you know how to make sense of the answers?
  • Synthesis: what will you do about what you learned? How will you change your organization to take better care of your customers?

One problem with surveys is that surveyors always want to ask too much. The whole survey process is hard work, so it’s natural that a management team wants to learn as much as they can from the survey. There are at least two problems with piling too many questions into a survey: first, it makes it an unpleasant chore for the survey-taker; second, it can go off the focus of the survey.

The second part of the challenge is just getting people to take the survey. Not so long ago, businesses sent out self-addressed envelopes with surveys in them, asking customers to fill them out and send them back. There were lots of breakdowns in this process. The whole thing felt like taking a college test, for one thing. Even if the customer went through the entire ordeal, he or she still had to jam the multiple sheets of paper into an envelope and remember to drop it in the mail.

With the explosion of the Web and email, a few of those barriers went away, but the core problems were still there. Response rates to email requests for surveys are low. In the long list of messages in a customer’s in-box, how important is your message asking them to take a few minutes to take a survey?

Even a little bribe is often not enough to get the customer to click on the survey link. Responses are often skewed to customers who are mad and want to blow off some steam. It’s great to hear what people don’t like, but you may miss out on hearing enough from people that were happy with their experience.

There’s a vicious circle here. Surveys are long and annoying because customers don’t want to take them, so survey-makers keep making them long and annoying because people don’t like to take them. Time to break the cycle.

The answer? Give the customer a short survey on-site, while he’s still thinking about the experience he just had.

The need for on-site customer feedback has always been there, but has been poorly-served by expensive, clunky-looking PC-based survey kiosks. These kiosks display a massive amount of bent metal, with a small screen for user interaction, reminiscent of a 1950s-era television set. The things are just plain unpleasant to use.

Tablet kiosks provide more opportunities to take the measure of the customer’s experience, while making it more pleasant for the customer. People like to use tablets, and a tablet kiosk has a minimalist design that puts the tablet at the center of the action, keeping the enclosure to a minimum. They’re also much more affordable than traditional bent-metal kiosks.

If you want more customer feedback, put a tablet kiosk to work, giving your customers a chance to have their say. For the first time, it’s easy to make the survey experience pleasant, brief and frequent.

Check out our post and video on how to use an iPad or Android tablet to collect survey responses.


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