Is a two-question survey still a survey?

In the last month, I took both of my cars to the dealer for regular service. For my Mercedes, I waited in their lobby while the car was serviced. I was offered gourmet coffee and cookies and was able to use their free Wi-Fi. At the Ford dealer, the work was going to take longer, so I was offered a free loaner for the day. While waiting for the loaner I sat in their lobby. They offered free soda and cookies.

In both cases the cars were finished when promised and all repairs were completed with no issues. In my mind both service experiences were equal. It’s the post-service surveys that set the dealers apart.

A day after the service at Ford, I began to receive a daily e-mail asking me to complete their customer satisfaction survey. I put it off for a few days, knowing it would take a few of my precious minutes, but I finally got around to it. It was a typical survey, asking me about topics such as: the ease of making the appointment; the friendliness of the service adviser; the cleanliness of the facility; the quality of the service adviser’s communication skills; was the car ready when promised? In all, the survey took about seven minutes.

A day after I took the Ford survey, I received a call from the Mercedes dealer for their customer satisfaction survey. The woman on the phone asked just two questions: Was the work done to my satisfaction? Would I return for future service? My answer to both was yes. The survey took 15 seconds.

I was surprised at how brief the Mercedes survey was, but after thinking about it, I liked it. It was short and to-the-point. If I had had a problem, I would have let her know or I would have called the dealer earlier.

While I realize that Ford collected much more data and used well-established techniques, is the conclusion not the same from both surveys? One satisfied customer, who will return for service.

My experience with these surveys also raised these questions:

  • Should Ford do a shorter survey, or does the amount of information it gleans from its survey justify the time and effort it asks of its customers to take it?
  • Does Mercedes not ask as many questions because, as a luxury automaker, it is required to have higher service standards than other automakers?
  • Did the Mercedes dealer really capture all of the data it needed?


What are your thoughts on the merits of the two-question satisfaction survey?

This entry was posted in Consumer Research, Customer Satisfaction, Data Collection/Field Services, Interviewing. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Is a two-question survey still a survey?

  1. I think it very much depends how the data is to be used. If it’s about the board ticking boxes, then the Net Promoter (NPS) style short questionnaire will meet that aim. If the company actually wants to drive improvement to service levels from the survey, the front-line staff in the dealerships will need some direction. Try telling the dealer principal they need to raise their NPS or Satisfaction score from x to y. You”ll get blank looks. If however you can tell them that the issue is around providing loaners, or not explaining fully what work has been conducted, these are concrete things which staff can work on.

    The only caveat – be respectful of your customer’s time and don’t ask the question in the survey if you can’t use it, staff can’t action it, or you have no intention of changing things in the first place.

  2. Resoundingly, YES, a 2 question survey is still a survey. Brands need to ask less in trying to ascertain additional market research information, and get to the crux of the experience: Was I happy, Was my problem solved. If I can’t answer either one of those questions positively (or similar questions), then that is all the brand needs to know in order to provide me with a resolution. This also assumes that the purpose of the survey is to provide resolution, and not to provide a BOD with a monthly dashboard report. I address the issue here in one of my blogs-lengthy surveys are disrespectful of the customer’s time.

    http://servicewitch.com/2012/01/17/the-good-bad-and-ugly-of-customer-satisfaction-surveys/

  3. It depends on what you are wanting to get out of it. If it s quality assurance survey, then definitely. It is possible they were looking for something similiar to Reicheld’s net promoter score where they could determine the amount of influencers vs detractors in their customer base.

  4. Tom Catalano says:

    I wonder what the followup question is on the Mercedes survey when a person says ‘no’ to either question? Most Customer Satisfaction work is done to determine which area(s) improve.

  5. Robert Stephan says:

    Yes – quality over quantity, as long as you get everything you need from those 2 questions.

    Deviating a little from your experience with Mercedes, just remember that a “2 question survey with 20 parts to each question” is a much different beast!

  6. I think the Mercedes survey is great – they know the key business drivers – satisfaction and repeat business. Why collect information that you won’t use or that won’t cause you to take action. This type of thinking is critical in designing mobile surveys that will zero in on a few key questions. I also agree that the two question survey is a valid survey.

  7. Oleh says:

    You are asking the wrong question. The question you should be asking is: Am I asking the right person/ people. WIth the wrong sample demographics, your two-question whatever-you-want-to-call-it is not helpful.

    But if one person , who has the information I need, and I ask that peprson one question, to me: that was a very useful syrvey.