Surveys Kill Kittens

By Aaron Ward
on 20 July 2017

What is it that holds the internet up? Once you get past Facebook and Twitter and sports results and your company’s website, what’s underneath? What’s down in the engine room, powering the whole thing? What’s down in the basement, supporting the entire structure?
Cat videos. That’s right. Cat videos. Those cute, little, furry procrastination machines, larking about with balls of wool, tumbling about on carpets, or in barns, or in all manner of delightful surroundings, frolicking and… well, you get the picture.


via GIPHY

So, with such an important role to play in the dynamics of the internet, it is disturbing to learn that our feline companions are slowly being killed off. The culprit? The online survey. Yep. The online survey is killing cats and kittens left, right and center, and threatening the structural integrity of the online environment.

Ok, so there is no real hard evidence for this mass furry genocide, but the point is this… people who go online want to see cat videos (pleasant, fun things which make them feel warm inside) and not surveys (mind-numbingly boring things which make them want to do anything else but go online).

So, let’s consider this a little more closely. What is the problem here? Well, if we interrupt someone’s day and provide them with a cat to play with, chances are they won’t be too displeased. In fact, most people will take some time to play with the cat, which will, in turn, tailor its responses to the interactions of the person who is playing with it.

How about surveys? Well, straight away, surveys are less engaging than cats, so fewer people are going to be pleased by the interruption. What’s more, surveys don’t tend to be very intuitive, responsive, or active in any way. To put it simply, they don’t adapt to the responses and actions of the individual, instead opting for the ‘one size fits all’ approach.

That’s great, we hear you say, but what are we supposed to do? We need feedback and customer data, and, while we’re not sure about the ethical and legal issues surrounding printing feedback forms on cats*, we don’t feel comfortable with it, anyway.

*Absolutely do not do this.

Well, no problem, how about a different approach? How can we make feedback more like a kitten? You know, engaging, interesting… maybe even fun!

Here’s some thing to think about…

  • Be short and sweet: You can pick a cat up, cuddle it as much as you want (well, most cats). But then put it down, and it’ll do it’s own thing – they’ll never demand too much from you. Make sure you’re not being too demanding when collecting feedback from your customers and they’ll love you for it (almost as much as a cat). Keep your questions short, sweet, and to the point. This way you are not disrupting anyone’s day.
  • Make the process intuitive: There’s something natural about playing with a cute little kitten – as humans we’re instantly drawn to them. Put a kitten in front of anyone and they can’t help but start to play, scratch its belly, behind its ears – whatever the kitten wants. Shouldn’t it be the same when you ask your customers for feedback? Shouldn’t they be able to instantly understand what you’re asking them and see what they’re doing without a map and compass and complex set of instructions? Of course… so let’s make the process easy for users… and maybe even enjoyable.
  • Make the process responsive: Perhaps one of the best features of a kitten is the purring – you can obviously tell when they’re happy and they’re responding to you – it wouldn’t be so satisfying to scratch them behind the ear if they just acted like you weren’t even there. The same applies when you ask a customer for feedback. If you ask them questions you should already know or ask them one question then follow up with another question that is no longer relevant based on their answer, they feel like they’re not even there. So make the process of giving feedback more responsive, think about the data you already have and think about how different questions and answers affect each other.
  • Base your feedback around action: Cats are known for their (surprisingly enough) cat-like reflexes. Make sure your survey is the same; make sure that the feedback you receive can be quickly acted on, and worked into your strategies going forward. And make sure that action is clearly visible to your customers. Note: acting on feedback doesn’t mean fixing every problem as soon as it raised – even just making it clear that you’re listening to feedback and working on any issues raised is important.

Stick to one or two questions

We live in the age of data, we want to know more, more, more… but hold on a minute, what about the data we already have? Organisations hold extensive data relating to clients and prospects, and already have a semi-decent understanding of their aims and objectives. We really only need to enhance this understanding by a little each time, which means asking only one or two questions and not boring users with a mega-questionnaire.
Using the net promoter score, or NPS, is a good way to achieve this. Simply ask your respondents how likely they would be to recommend the product or service they have received to a friend, with the follow up question of ‘why?’ to add more detail. You have the data you need and you haven’t alienated a customer in the process; win win!

AskNicely NPS survey

It’s not just about keeping the question simple, it’s making it simple to answer – the customer can just click to give their rating directly from the email or in-app survey, no need to log-in or provide any other information.

Ask little, ask often

Uber, despite their recent struggles, have managed to fashion something of a successful business model by basing it upon drivers achieving good ratings from users. In order to do this, Uber reach out for quick, data-light feedback after each usage of their service, and do it so deftly that the user hardly even notices. They simply respond and move on.
The result of this is a steady stream of feedback received in real time, which is proving extremely useful to Uber as they work to hone their offerings to customers. So much so that, in San Francisco, Uber reports that fewer than 1% of trips result in a rating of 2/5 or below.

Do Something About the Feedback You Receive

There is nothing worse than feeling like you are being ignored, so make sure you do not treat your customers in this way, or they might do the same to you. When you receive genuine, insightful feedback, act upon it; make sure that this interaction is not wasted.

You have fought hard to receive this customer data, so put responsive strategies into practice, increasing user satisfaction levels in the process.
Don’t put the cats of the internet at risk with boring surveys; take some time to get your data strategy right, and protect our cute little feline friends.

What is it that holds the internet up? Once you get past Facebook and Twitter and sports results and your company’s website, what’s underneath? What’s down in the engine room, powering the whole thing? What’s down in the basement, supporting the entire structure?
Cat videos. That’s right. Cat videos. Those cute, little, furry procrastination machines, larking about with balls of wool, tumbling about on carpets, or in barns, or in all manner of delightful surroundings, frolicking and… well, you get the picture.


via GIPHY

So, with such an important role to play in the dynamics of the internet, it is disturbing to learn that our feline companions are slowly being killed off. The culprit? The online survey. Yep. The online survey is killing cats and kittens left, right and center, and threatening the structural integrity of the online environment.

Ok, so there is no real hard evidence for this mass furry genocide, but the point is this… people who go online want to see cat videos (pleasant, fun things which make them feel warm inside) and not surveys (mind-numbingly boring things which make them want to do anything else but go online).

So, let’s consider this a little more closely. What is the problem here? Well, if we interrupt someone’s day and provide them with a cat to play with, chances are they won’t be too displeased. In fact, most people will take some time to play with the cat, which will, in turn, tailor its responses to the interactions of the person who is playing with it.

How about surveys? Well, straight away, surveys are less engaging than cats, so fewer people are going to be pleased by the interruption. What’s more, surveys don’t tend to be very intuitive, responsive, or active in any way. To put it simply, they don’t adapt to the responses and actions of the individual, instead opting for the ‘one size fits all’ approach.

That’s great, we hear you say, but what are we supposed to do? We need feedback and customer data, and, while we’re not sure about the ethical and legal issues surrounding printing feedback forms on cats*, we don’t feel comfortable with it, anyway.

*Absolutely do not do this.

Well, no problem, how about a different approach? How can we make feedback more like a kitten? You know, engaging, interesting… maybe even fun!

Here’s some thing to think about…

  • Be short and sweet: You can pick a cat up, cuddle it as much as you want (well, most cats). But then put it down, and it’ll do it’s own thing – they’ll never demand too much from you. Make sure you’re not being too demanding when collecting feedback from your customers and they’ll love you for it (almost as much as a cat). Keep your questions short, sweet, and to the point. This way you are not disrupting anyone’s day.
  • Make the process intuitive: There’s something natural about playing with a cute little kitten – as humans we’re instantly drawn to them. Put a kitten in front of anyone and they can’t help but start to play, scratch its belly, behind its ears – whatever the kitten wants. Shouldn’t it be the same when you ask your customers for feedback? Shouldn’t they be able to instantly understand what you’re asking them and see what they’re doing without a map and compass and complex set of instructions? Of course… so let’s make the process easy for users… and maybe even enjoyable.
  • Make the process responsive: Perhaps one of the best features of a kitten is the purring – you can obviously tell when they’re happy and they’re responding to you – it wouldn’t be so satisfying to scratch them behind the ear if they just acted like you weren’t even there. The same applies when you ask a customer for feedback. If you ask them questions you should already know or ask them one question then follow up with another question that is no longer relevant based on their answer, they feel like they’re not even there. So make the process of giving feedback more responsive, think about the data you already have and think about how different questions and answers affect each other.
  • Base your feedback around action: Cats are known for their (surprisingly enough) cat-like reflexes. Make sure your survey is the same; make sure that the feedback you receive can be quickly acted on, and worked into your strategies going forward. And make sure that action is clearly visible to your customers. Note: acting on feedback doesn’t mean fixing every problem as soon as it raised – even just making it clear that you’re listening to feedback and working on any issues raised is important.

Stick to one or two questions

We live in the age of data, we want to know more, more, more… but hold on a minute, what about the data we already have? Organisations hold extensive data relating to clients and prospects, and already have a semi-decent understanding of their aims and objectives. We really only need to enhance this understanding by a little each time, which means asking only one or two questions and not boring users with a mega-questionnaire.
Using the net promoter score, or NPS, is a good way to achieve this. Simply ask your respondents how likely they would be to recommend the product or service they have received to a friend, with the follow up question of ‘why?’ to add more detail. You have the data you need and you haven’t alienated a customer in the process; win win!

AskNicely NPS survey

It’s not just about keeping the question simple, it’s making it simple to answer – the customer can just click to give their rating directly from the email or in-app survey, no need to log-in or provide any other information.

Ask little, ask often

Uber, despite their recent struggles, have managed to fashion something of a successful business model by basing it upon drivers achieving good ratings from users. In order to do this, Uber reach out for quick, data-light feedback after each usage of their service, and do it so deftly that the user hardly even notices. They simply respond and move on.
The result of this is a steady stream of feedback received in real time, which is proving extremely useful to Uber as they work to hone their offerings to customers. So much so that, in San Francisco, Uber reports that fewer than 1% of trips result in a rating of 2/5 or below.

Do Something About the Feedback You Receive

There is nothing worse than feeling like you are being ignored, so make sure you do not treat your customers in this way, or they might do the same to you. When you receive genuine, insightful feedback, act upon it; make sure that this interaction is not wasted.

You have fought hard to receive this customer data, so put responsive strategies into practice, increasing user satisfaction levels in the process.
Don’t put the cats of the internet at risk with boring surveys; take some time to get your data strategy right, and protect our cute little feline friends.


About the author

Aaron Ward

Aaron is the Co-Founder and CEO of AskNicely and one-time undefeated boxer (because it was only one time). He's a passionate evangelist for the new religion of advocacy but when he’s not spreading the gospel of NPS, he’s spending time with his lovely family. Or binge-watching Rocky movies.

Other posts by Aaron Ward

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