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A guide to evaluating visual enhancements to your customer experience platform

Kelcey Curtis | Sep 13, 2018 Kelcey Curtis 09/13/18

We’ve all heard it from mom: looks aren’t everything. But we all also live in the digital age and have come to know: looks certainly do count for something. In terms of your customer feedback platform, both theories ring true.

You want your survey to serve as a proud representation of your brand and be engaging for customers. Because you’re using the data to make operational improvements and business decisions, you also want one that collects authentic, reliable data you can act on. That’s why we take research so seriously at SMG and do a ton of research on what really is the best way to do research. Because at its very core, your VoC customer experience platform should provide:

  1. An understanding of the magnitude + direction of CX scores
  2. Maximized insights and minimized respondent fatigue
  3. Reliable results that inspire action

Thus, our research on research is all geared toward achieving those 3 objectives.

In this blog, we’ll briefly discuss some visual survey trends. For each, we’ll share our research on how they could impact results—so you can make an informed decision on what’s right for your brand and your CX platform.


Trend #1: Emoji scales

There’s much to learn from customer use of the all-powerful emoji, but does it make sense to adopt them into your CX platform’s rating scale? Here’s what you should consider:

  • 25% of respondents tested interpret sentiment and semantic for the same emoji differently. So even if they’re seeing the exact same emoji, the feelings that emoji elicits for them is different. This conflicting interpretation can muddy the data waters—because emoji ratings aren’t universal.
  • They can present challenges for global surveys, as seemingly innocuous symbols (think: thumbs up/thumbs down) can be offensive in some cultures.
  • There’s potential for question wording to get complicated or over simplified. For example, if you asked “Did you experience a problem during your visit?” are you looking for a thumbs up (which typically means a positive/good response) or a thumbs down (which typically means no)? Respondents may be confused, too.

Trend #2: Color scales

Color can be extremely powerful and turn up the volume on almost any experience (we’ve all seen The Wizard of Oz, right?). So are color rating scales the right move for your CX platform? Here’s what to know:

  • Research shows color influences the perception of a scale’s spread and can amplify the distance between scale points—meaning the data your survey gives you without a color rating scale means something different than the data one gives you with a color rating scale. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily—it’s just something to consider if data trending is important to you.
  • A color scale will present difficulties for customers with color blindness (which is much more common than you may think—according to the National Eye Institute, 8% of males are affected). Respondents who are color blind could see green, yellow, and red differently—which would affect how they rate you vs. a customer who can see color.

What about survey engagement?

With the considerations outlined above, are these visual CX platform enhancements worth it if they drive up customer engagement? Maybe—though our studies have shown these visual scales don’t significantly impact engagement or participation rates.

If you think your customer set may be different and really respond to a visually enhanced CX platform, our recommendation is to do a round of testing before rolling out system-wide. That will give you a chance to understand if and how your data may be impacted.


The bottom line

Because the ultimate goal is to collect the most robust, actionable data possible while keeping customers engaged, the 5-point ordinal rating scale continues to be our top recommendation.

Next month we’ll be publishing a blog about new purchase-informed smart survey technology, an enhancement that really does drive up engagement. In the meantime, you can learn more about how to design the most effective and meaningful CX platform in our white paper: Best practices in survey design: Setting your scale up for success.


Kelcey Curtis | Research Manager