The hotel that my family and I stayed at a while back sent me an online questionnaire. Didn’t mind filling it out, because there were a few things I wanted to call to their attention. But the questionnaire had only a sequence of multiple-choice questions, like—Did I find that the service/restaurant/whatever was “above expectations.” Was I “most likely to recommend.” Was I “very happy,” “somewhat happy,” “very unhappy.”
I am sure that when they had all the answers, from mine and all the other respondents, they could put them in a spreadsheet and cross-reference, analyze, compare, rank, and conclude, with a ninety three percent confidence level, that forty six percent of guests ages 35-50, making over $75,000 per annum, who took more than 2.5 vacations a year, thought the pool staff provided superior services.
But what does this really mean? How does this survey let them know how people actually felt about the experience? Sure, I checked off “somewhat satisfied” with a particular hotel restaurant. But what I wanted to explain was how disappointed I was that it was not open in the evening, as it had been in the past. And that I would have selected “very disappointed” were it not for the fact that the restaurant provided a New York newspaper and complimentary coffee in the morning.
All the logical reasons in the world, all the facts at your fingertips, will not provide the real insights, the truly persuasive and provocative answers. Rational results may lead you to the good idea, but will never replace one.
As someone reminded me this week with this Winston Churchill quote: However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. That’s true for surveys. And true for your marketing communications.