Should Customer Experience and NPS Surveys be Anonymous?
02.11.2021 , by Rose Murphy
CX and NPS feedback – should it be anonymous?

Should Customer Experience and NPS Surveys be Anonymous? The simple answer is NO – anonymity is not required for a B2B CX or NPS programme.

But the answer is not that simple. Let’s start by defining what Confidential and Anonymous mean in the context of surveys. This may sound obvious, but I have been amazed at the number of times I have needed to discuss this:

ANONYMOUS: No person or application can associate the answers you give with any identifiable information about you
CONFIDENTIAL: Any identifiable information about you will be held confidentially, and stored in an appropriately secure manner
OPTIONAL CONFIDENTIALITY: Any identifiable information about you will be held confidentially, and stored in an appropriately secure manner unless you specify that you would like to be identified (in other words, you decide to waive your right to confidentiality)

So for the rest of this blog, I am not longer going to dwell on anonymity. It’s simply not needed.
 

Confidentiality – now that’s a different matter

In any setting, when a third party asks for your opinion about someone, confidentiality is important to ensure a really open and honest response. In personal relationships this goes without saying but in the B2B world this is also true. It’s especially true if your staff are doing what you need them to be doing – building strong and personal relationships with clients.

Of course, many of your customers will indeed give you an honest response regardless of whether it is confidential or not. But many won’t. Cultural differences will mean this statement is truer in some parts of the world than others. However, regardless of where your customers live, there will always be those who will not respond, or who may not be as open as you would like them to be, unless their responses remain confidential.
 

Example 1

This example is an actual Deep-Insight client.

Company A ran a Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ) assessment (Survey 1) and told respondents that they had the option for their responses to remain confidential. Six months later Company A ran the survey again, but this time told respondents the option to remain confidential was removed.

The impact on their average Net Promoter Scores (remember NPS is a measure of advocacy on a 0 to 10 scale) was as follows:

Individuals’ responses in Survey 1 Completion Rate (Survey 2) Average NPS (Survey 1) Average NPS (Survey 2)
Chose confidentiality (did not share details) 55% 6.3 7.5
Waived confidentiality (shared details) 70% 7.1 7.2

 

For respondents who had shared their names with their responses in Survey 1, there was no significant impact. When asked to complete Survey 2, 70% did complete and only a small uptick in scores was noted (7.1 to 7.2).

However, where respondents chose to keep their feedback confidential in Survey 1, there was a much bigger impact. For starters, only 55% of these individuals chose to complete Survey 2. For those who completed Survey 2, there was also a significant increase in scores (from 6.3 to 7.5). In fact, ‘Confidential’ respondents went from scoring more poorly than average to scoring more positively than average when forced to share their details with the response.
 

Example 2

Here’s another client of ours. Having received very high scores for several consecutive surveys, Company B decided to introduce the option of confidentiality to ensure the integrity of what it was measuring. The findings were interesting, especially for newly-included respondents:

  • 26% of respondents opted to remain confidential overall but for newly-included respondents the figure was 38%
  • ‘Confidential’ respondents scored more poorly than those who agreed to share their responses – but not significantly so
  • Newly-included respondents who opted for confidentiality scored significantly more poorly than other respondents

 

“…but my teams are frustrated by these unactionable ‘Confidential’ responses”

In both examples above, the organisations had good business reasons when they chose not to include confidentiality in their CX process:

  • Improved usefulness as an account management tool as ALL feedback is provided to account management teams
  • All raw data can be fully integrated with internal systems, allowing ongoing re-segmentation of responses (this is limited when responses are confidential)

But the argument that your CX or NPS programme should include ‘Optional Confidentiality’ is far stronger. If you don’t include optional confidentiality, your most unhappy customers will either not respond or will not give you a completely honest response.

This puts your entire CX or NPS programme at risk. You will end up making decisions based on inaccurate or incomplete data.

So should NPS Surveys be Anonymous? No. Should they include ‘Optional Confidentiality’? Absolutely!
 

“Is there any way to convince ‘Confidential’ respondents to share their details but still give an honest response?”

Maybe, but this will take time; people are people after all.

If a customer is at a point in their journey with you that they do not want to share their details, but they are willing to give feedback, that’s OK. Of course, you can explain the benefits of what you can do if they agree to share their details with you (you can address their issues more easily) but don’t push too hard. There is a trust issue here. Pushing won’t help.

You have a much better chance of convincing this customer by including them in your ‘Close the Loop’ process even though you don’t have a response from them. Over time you will gain their trust, both in the CX or NPS programme as well as in your organisation. You’ll eventually win that shared response.