Monthly Archives: November 2006

How Are We Doing?

My team and I working on a customer satisfaction survey for a client right now. This client is a very successful company, with a huge share of its primary market. The company, like most good companies I know, is continually striving for improvement. They see a survey of their customers to be one vehicle for assessing areas for improvement.

In a meeting with the president last week, where we presented the question set, he brought up a very interesting point. He said the the sales VP’s (who had driven the tone and angle of the lion’s share of the questions),

“You guys skewed this set of questions to target the things you know you’re not doing well. Why do you need the customers to tell you something you already know?”

The company is asking several questions about specific areas in which they know they need improvement (processing returns, packaging & shipping, billing), and none about areas where they truly excel (marketing, sales, management).

This brings up an interesting situation. Given that you almost always find what you’re looking for when doing research , is there any value in researching anything other than what you need to improve? How significantly could this (or any) company benefit from addressing areas of strength rather than weakness? Why is it that we so frequently ask people only what we’re doing wrong, instead of also asking what we’re doing right?

Since people are more likely to tell you when you’re faltering than when you’re excelling, doen’t it seem that perhaps the information that most needs communicating is the positive? Can’t we learn just as much by analyzing data about our strengths? Couldn’t we gain by drawing out that which more people are reluctant to share – the things we do well?