How to Drive Customers Away With a Survey

August 26, 2010 at 7:46 AM 2 comments

Some of my readers, who are frankly tired of working and overdue for a rest, have been asking me how to alienate their customers and prospects, and drive them away for good. A small customer base is so much less trouble, after all.

It’s not hard to do. In fact, you don’t even have to make lousy products — you can drive people away with a survey, if you follow the rules. Here’s what I’ve picked up from completing surveys over the years.

  • Keep it long. The idea is that customers have no function other than to be founts of data for you, and they have all the time in the world. This is your one chance – don’t leave anything out.
  • Keep ’em guessing. Don’t warn anyone when you go to a new topic. Their job is to answer questions, and not complain.
  • Ask the boring stuff up front. Sure they like to discuss their work, their ideas, and the problems they’re trying to solve. So start with their median income, age, and ethnic background, then go on to their monthly dental expenses.
  • Tell them it’s quick and easy when it’s not. This is a beauty. Promise them it’s a 2 minute walk in the park. Then hit them with a half hour’s worth of long multiple-part questions that require lots of writing. Don’t you wish you could see their faces when they find out they’ve been sandbagged?
  • Reveal nothing. Don’t tell them why you’re doing the survey, why it’s important to respond, or how the data will be used. What business is it of theirs, anyway? I mean, who’s the boss here?
  • Keep language technical. Use lots of jargon. Always call a spade a quality-driven fast track implement for interfacing with and leveraging dirt modalities for value-added ditch enhancement.
  • Ask lots of personal info. Whether or not it’s relevant or whether you offer anything in return. Your address. Phone. Income. Kids? Pets? How’s your sex life, by the way?
  • Make them do the math. My favorite. The more items you can give them to rank, the better. Ask people to put all 63 of your features in order of importance. I tell you, we really need a spy cam to watch them do that one.

Do surveys like this and in no time your desk will be clear and you can concentrate on what’s really important. Say, job hunting.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Watching Customers is Not Listening to Them How to Drive Customers Away AT&T Style

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Derek K.  |  August 26, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    For quite some time I had a Demotivator on my desk that showed a cobwebby phone with the tag line:

    APATHY: If we don’t take care of the customer,maybe they’ll stop bugging us….

    While it amused me tremendously, it was also a warning of just this sort.

  • 2. Thompson Morrison  |  August 29, 2010 at 7:00 AM

    Derek, agreed. One of the things that we often forget is that our customers actually want us to be successful. When we ignore them or treat them as as “necessary evils” we risk following a path to failure. Maybe not right away, but faster than we might imagine.


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Thompson Morrison

Thompson Morrison

About Thompson

As CEO of FUSE Insight, Thompson Morrison uses powerful new web interviewing technologies to help businesses better align their brand with the needs and aspirations of their customers. Learn more at


"The single most significant strategic strength that an organization can have is not a good strategic plan, but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization." -- Tom Peters



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