An informal survey, whilst not carrying the weight of a specifically commissioned survey, still has benefits. These include:

• Cost – ad hoc surveys, conducted ‘in house’ are less    expensive than independent research
• Flexibility – as the survey does not need to be procured and is   less expensive it can be produced relatively quickly and include  questions on up to the minute issues
• Frequency – lower cost and enhanced flexibility enable surveys to be run more regularly

However, these do not stand alone as a replacement for independent surveys with a rigorous methodology. Instead they are a useful way to personalise and contextualise at a local level, for example, building upon pre-existing surveys within Departments to explore particular issues in greater depth.

To get the greatest value from these it is worth taking into account the factors used in formal surveys, in order to minimise the risk of misleading data. For example:
• How do you capture the views of Customers with literacy issues?
• How do you ensure you hear from Customers who are not on the one hand very satisfied and on the other very dissatisfied?
• What about people using different Access Channels – are they adequately represented?

Customer Service Excellence ® asks that you consider carefully how you are developing customer Insight and requires that reliable and accurate methods are used to measure satisfaction. Informal surveys have an important role to play but need to be well-thought through and administered to provide the information you need.