The Rules on Using Customer Survey Results in Marketing

A few months back we published a post on the importance of customer satisfaction surveys. We discussed how they can help to glean a more in-depth comprehension of what a customer truly wants and how this can provide the clarity required to make improvements to services and systems.

Customer surveys also show that you are willing to listen and to this effect they can boost loyalty as well as raising issues that you may never had known existed.

Marketers also use the results of customer surveys as promotional tools in themselves. Publishing the results of polls and feedback can be a great way to draw attention to a product or service and demonstrate how well it is rated by the public. However, there are rules surrounding the way in which you are allowed to communicate survey findings.

These rules are set down by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) who write and maintain the UK Advertising Codes administered by the Advertising Standards Authority.

So how to stay on the right side of the official rules when publicising the findings of your customer surveys? Here’s a summary guide.

business rules

Marketers use the results of customer surveys as promotional tools in themselves. But there are strict rules to follow in publishing them.

Can Claims be Substantiated?

Claims must only be made on subjective results rather than objective opinion. So for example if you claimed that 100% of customers would recommend your product, but this statement was based on a question asking whether a respondent would recommend the product to other people, rather than them having actively used or personally recommended the product, then it will be classed as a misleading statement.

Unsubstantiated claims are a fairly common misdemeanour amongst marketers. In order to avoid this pitfall, which could lead to an order to remove any published communications or advertisements, it is essential that surveys are well designed. Whilst CAP does not offer guidance on survey design, they have published some useful information including examples of the most common complaints that arise around the publication of results.

Have you Surveyed a Representative Sample?

Whilst you are free to conduct surveys on any group of people, including those who may be biased towards your product, the Code states that it must be made clear as to whether participants in a survey are customers, or a representative sample of people who have not used your product or service. If your survey is only aimed at people who have actually used your product or service then you are required to disclose this fact alongside your published results.

Can the claims you are making in your marketing communications actually be substantiated through your customer surveys?

Can the claims you are making in your marketing communications actually be substantiated through your customer surveys?

Was your Sample Size Big Enough?

There is no need to publish sample sizes alongside survey results when used for marketing purposes. When conducting surveys it is obviously good practice to use a good sized sample so that the results have meaning. If this was not possible or for some other reason a relatively small sample size was surveyed, then the safe route, as advised by CAP, is to state the sample size within the communication.

honesty in business

Are you honestly communicating what your customers are saying in reality?

Getting it Right

There is clearly a lot to think about when designing a customer survey. Not only do you need to get it right in terms of how the survey is received, you also need to take careful steps when publishing results.

If you could use some help in designing an effective customer survey or would like advice on how to go about marketing survey results without breaching official advertising rules, please get in touch.

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