June 23, 2021 by Jason Pittock | 5 min reading time

We’ve all been there - we’re purchasing something at the grocery store, or we’re treating ourselves to a product that we’ve had our eye on for a while, and after the transaction is over, the cashier will ask you to take a survey located on your receipt. While a majority of customers probably don’t take these surveys, the ones that do contribute to what is known as CX, or customer experience. Right now, though, the future of CX might be a bit different than what most people expect.

Companies use CX as a way to measure customer behavior and experience which in turn helps them with the advertising process. These metrics are then used as a way to track the performance of a brand or of a product, implement customer feedback, and can even be used to brainstorm marketing strategies by comparing surveys over time. 

Of course, this has its drawbacks. Not all customers take these surveys, and those that do represent a small fraction of the consumer population. Though these surveys do a good job of conducting research on what people buy, there simply isn’t enough information from their purchases to adequately market to them. 

According to McKinsey Quarterly, surveys are a great tool for gathering customer insight but not necessarily for a tool used to measure customer experience. McKinsey goes on to say that companies require more data from their customers than what a survey can provide. A comprehensive view of the customer’s journey and upgrades to the way they collect data will give business owners a positive return on investment. 

Why Surveys Are Ineffective 

McKinsey gives four reasons as to why surveys are a limited way of collecting customer data and therefore overall customer experience. 

1. The CX survey samples are extremely limited. 

CX surveys only sample about 7% of all customers, which is not nearly enough to provide a comprehensive view of what customers value and experience while shopping. This is twofold for businesses as well, as only 13% of business owners feel as though surveys have given insight as to overall customer experience. 

2. Customers and business owners have different expectations when it comes to the resolution of customer concerns. 

The customer is always right, and customers therefore expect their concerns to be addressed immediately, especially if they have gone through the trouble of filling out the survey. Business owners, on the other hand, don’t believe that surveys allow them to solve problems because there isn’t enough insight. 

3. CX surveys are extremely ambiguous. 

CX surveys are too ambiguous to accurately implement change. Surveys don’t address the root causes of customer dissatisfaction, and scores vary based on outside factors outside of both customers’ and business owners’ control. For instance, geographic location and industry shocks make it difficult to perform accurate analysis. 16% of business owners who also use CX also believe that surveys provide enough information to address root causes of customer discontent. 

4. CX surveys are unfocused. 

McKinsey argues that there is no real correlation between survey-based scores and business outcomes. Businesses who use customer experience surveys as the sole basis of their investment decisions have come under fire in recent years. It becomes difficult for business owners to calculate the return on investment that was made based on customer experience. 

What Now? What Is the Future of CX? 

If surveys aren’t a good measure of customer experience, then what is? McKinsey argues that data about customer interactions can be a better metric to measure CX rather than surveys. There are three key elements that McKinsey focuses on when it comes to measuring CX. 

1. Using a cloud-based platform. 

Using a cloud-based platform allows for a wider variety of information that can be collected, as opposed to surveys. Cloud-based platforms allow business owners to track customer behaviors based on things like interactions, transactions, and operations, rather than the basic information that’s collected from a survey, like an age group or whether the customer identifies as male or female. 

This is a great method to use to really understand a customer’s journey, which really gets to the root of the problem. In this way, it’s easier for business owners to implement changes. 

2. Customer scores. 

We’ve all seen that Black Mirror episode where people rate each other, and how that rating negatively or positively impacts a person’s life. Though this episode warns about how seeing individuals as numbers instead of people can be a bad thing, numbers can actually enhance the overall customer experience. Don’t believe me? McKinsey argues that analytics and algorithms are the best way to understand customers both in a broad manner and in an individual way as well. 

For instance, algorithms can track individual customer satisfaction as well as customer loyalty, two essential things business owners need in order for their brand to succeed. 

3. Insights 

Information that is shared with a broad number of employees, such as front end cashiers and managers, to shelf stockers and cart handlers, so that customers get the best experience possible. 

With technology like application-programming-interface (API) systems, cashiers and other employees can receive alerts and notifications regarding the actions they can take to make a customer’s experience unlike anything they have had before. Because APIs are predictive, they offer quick solutions to whatever problems may arise. 

Though surveys are seen as the tried and true way of collecting customer satisfaction, they’re not actually that helpful. Surveys don’t come close to digitizing information. The use of algorithms, cloud-based platforms, and insights allow for solutions to tough problems and are a better way of keeping track of things customers actually experience, rather than what they report.