Who ought to write items for customer surveys? Customers. Who does write them? Managers and consultants. Is it any wonder that customer surveys don’t help us understand what matters to customers?

While managers and consultants might get excited about the ability to compare results through the use of standardised items, the very requirement to standardise destroys the opportunity to learn.

Even the best customer surveys are no more than lagging data: they tell you what you did, they don’t tell you how to improve.

In many organisations we see the results from customer surveys being communicated down the hierarchy with the requirement to ‘improve’. As Deming would say, the question is by what method?

Nothing in conventional customer surveys will help us with method.