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If Your Numbers Are Boring, You've Got the Wrong Numbers

Posted on December 3, 2010 , by lizteubner

I’ve been working the past six months on a re-do of my company’s Client Satisfaction program. The element that is giving us the most trouble is our basic questionnaire: what do we want to know, and how do we want to ask it?
This is where I find the development of Client Satisfaction surveys get interesting – is the data your asking for the data you need?
With every sample questionnaire, I find myself mocking up a sample report. This is my own test — do I think these questions and subsequent data points can provide the analysis we want? If I find myself struggling to include a question from the survey into the overall report, I tend to remove the question entirely. If I’m not going to use the data, why bother asking the client to provide it?
One of my favorite reads on the internet is an old Wired article from 2003, titled “PowerPoint is Evil“. Written by Edward Turte, the article claims that

Presentations largely stand or fall on the quality, relevance, and integrity of the content. If your numbers are boring, then you’ve got the wrong numbers. If your words or images are not on point, making them dance in color won’t make them relevant

I’m finding the same is true with satisfaction surveys. If at the end of the day, you can’t provide the business with strategic insights from the data you’ve collected, it doesn’t matter if you asked the most sophisticated questions or dressed up your data in a fancy charts. If you don’t ask your clients for the information you really want, you’re not going to get the data you really need.  So next time you sit down to think about surveying your clients, ask yourself: What am I really trying to learn?