How do I improve our customer surveys?

How a service designer would improve customer surveys for a very frustrated museum researcher.

Dear service designer,

I do research for (an art museum in the Northeast). We are constantly surveying our guests in the museum, but still having trouble getting feedback. We ask a ton of questions, all the time, but don’t really use them. Help me fix this!


Here is where I would start:

Make sure your entire team understands and agrees about the type of feedback you are gathering.
This is always the first step for me. Get the whole team together — eg. marketing, frontline, sales — and ask them what feedback they need from the customer. Is S. giving them the feedback that they need and want? Does the museum need to create different surveys for different purposes?

(Don’t do this one-on-one. Get everyone into one room and ask everyone to contribute.)

Go on a service safari to understand how a survey experience happens at similar museums or attractions.
Go to another museum or attraction and see how they are doing it. You are not trying to copy approaches, but rather get out of your space and empathize with customers as they experience another museum. Do they survey people in-person, by kiosk, via email? Is there signage? When do they approach you — as you walk in or walk out?

Step back, watch and listen.
Last step. Get on the floor. Have someone else solicit surveys while you listen and watch. Are you asking happy customers to stop and interrupt their experience to tell you they are already happy? Are you finding the unhappy users and actually helping them?

I sketched a quick workflow:

How do I improve our customer surveys?

Don’t force everyone to answer questions if you don’t need the answer.

Sometimes, even when we try do the right things — getting feedback from our customers — we end up hurting the customer experience.

You (and S.) will get better feedback if you start asking for feedback yourself.

6,000+ of your peers get articles like this every week with our newsletter -- Obvious Patterns. Sign up.