How Survey Begging Skews Customer Feedback


The Gist

  • Survey begging exposed. Survey begging harms customer experience by making interactions awkward and imposing, leading to unreliable feedback.
  • Flawed feedback. Tying employee compensation to survey scores creates perverse incentives, skewing customer feedback and affecting business decisions.
  • Quash the Begging. Quashing survey begging requires decoupling survey scores from compensation and ensuring surveys are administered objectively.

Survey begging, driven by the pursuit of positive customer feedback, is the bane of the customer experience. We’ve all encountered it, whether it’s servers saying they’ll lose shifts if they don’t get all 10s on a survey, or a car dealer outright asking for a five-star review, regardless of what actually happened.

5 star rating

I recently purchased a new oven for my kitchen. After the delivery team had installed the new appliance and hauled away the old one, I got a call from the retailer asking me to review my experience. “We consider anything less than a 10 to be a failure,” the employee on the phone told me.

At a restaurant, the server brought our check with a survey printed on it and told us, “Just so you know, I’m assigned worse shifts if I don’t get 9s and 10s on the survey.”

At the end of a phone call with his healthcare provider, the employee on the line asked my friend John how he would rate his satisfaction with the healthcare system. He gave them a rating of eight. “Only an eight?” the employee responded. “Not a 10 today?”

From the customer’s perspective, these conversations are awkward and annoying. But there’s a bigger problem: Survey begging produces flawed customer feedback.

survey invite

Wait, What’s Survey Begging?

Survey begging is when employees coax customers into leaving high survey ratings, often in exchange for a discount or other incentive.

Sometimes, question biases and leading constructs are lumped in with survey begging. But for our purposes here, we’ll define survey begging as just the bias that results from employees (subconsciously or consciously) affecting customers’ answers to your survey. 

Related Article: How to Create Effective Customer Surveys and Obtain Actionable Insights

Survey Begging: Why It’s a Problem

No matter where or how it happens, survey begging makes customers feel awkward and imposed upon — two emotions at odds with a positive customer experience.

Even worse, your customers will feel uncomfortable just as their interaction with you draws to a close. The timing matters here because extensive social research shows that an interaction’s peak and conclusion leave the strongest impression. So, even if the entirety of an experience is positive, if your associates are begging at the end, that is what your customers will remember most.

Moreover, survey begging is bad for business. Bill Gates has said, “…the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts.” Skewing customer data obscures research and prevents you from hearing your customers’ actual thoughts.

Are your customers unhappy? You want to hear why. Are they delighted? You want to hear about that, too. Customers’ opinions show you how to steer your company. But survey begging all but guarantees the opinions you’ve collected are unreliable; even worse, you will have annoyed your customers for no reason at all.  


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