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The Fallacy Of "How Likely Are You To Your Friends And Colleagues?"

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You will probably find this question at the end of a blog, on an online “submit” form, on a customer ticket, or any other service-related web page you use daily. “How likely are you to recommend THIS WHATEVER to your friends and colleagues?” Then, you are given choices from “extremely unlikely” to “extremely likely.” However, without proper context and follow-up questions, this information is basically useless.

There are many types of survey responders. That’s the reason you can’t always take survey replies at face value.

Someone who is “evangelical,” or a true-believer in your product or service, might legitimately answer your question. This user will most likely give a positive response indicating their satisfaction with your company. However, someone who likes to make recommendations for the sake of making recommendations just to be included in a conversation–their audience might not value what you had hoped would result in a strong recommendation.

Then there are shy people. They may answer your question truthfully. But, because of their shyness, they aren’t comfortable imposing their opinion on a colleague. I’m usually like that. Honestly, I am very unlikely to make a recommendation unless prompted. Is that the survey’s intent? Probably not. Of course, the really shy ones probably won’t answer the question at all.

Unfortunately, there are also disappointed responders. Some may answer spitefully that they aren’t likely to recommend your product or service at all. From this group, you might glean important information, such as calling out specific areas for improvements. But, many in this group simply won’t bother responding–they are already seeking out your competition.

Then there are the trolls. Their response will be untrustworthy. They may think they are spamming you with answers that may, or may not, be on target just to give your marketing team something new to tackle.

With all the different ways you can interpret a response, how will this one simple survey question yield any worthwhile information?

How likely are you to recommend this blog post to your friends, colleagues and marketing team?

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