When customer surveys go wrong.. I’m looking at you Air New Zealand

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 27-Aug-2015 07:59

I love flying. I also love Air New Zealand. As a HVC (high value customer) I fairly regularly get customer surveys and I normally take time to fill these in. Over the last year or so the line of questioning in these surveys has become incredibly bad, and it really worries me that business decisions are probably being based on data from surveys where the questions are so poor that any such data probably has no meaningful real world value.

The most recent survey sent out on Tuesday night takes things to a whole new level. This survey attempts to look at regional flight offerings, grabaseat and people’s feelings towards Jetstar. A couple of spelling/grammar mistakes in the survey can be overlooked, but the actual questions posed by the survey make me seriously wonder whether anybody from Air New Zealand or TNS (who conduct the survey) bothered to actually ask themselves whether any of their questioning made sense.

Multiple questions refer to grabaseat being an airline. Multiple questions also seem to ignore the fact grabaseat is not a standalone booking site and merely uses the main Air New Zealand booking site for all flights. Every flight listed on the grabaseat site is also shown on the main Air New Zealand site, as this is what is used for the actual booking.


Since when did Grabaseat become an airline?


Once again Grabaseat is referred to an airline (if you excuse the grammar). I’m not quite sure how you’re supposed to answer any of these questions in the context they’re posed!


I hope nobody said they searched for flights on a mobile phone that isn’t a smartphone!

Any Air New Zealand HVC knows that the recent slash & burn cost cutting across the airline has delivered great profits while cutting many customer benefits and services. It also looks like it’s resulted in the culling of staff who understand how to write a customer survey.

It’s very clear that Air New Zealand face some very significant challenges from Jetstar in their home market over the next year. After bleeding money for the last few years Qantas are profitable again, and have declared war on Air New Zealand for meddling in the Australian market with their stake in Virgin Australia, something that has resulted in a fairly significant financial hit for Qantas on their home turf. They’ve decided to take revenge in the best way possible - deploying additional Jetstar resources into the New Zealand market in an attempt to hurt Air New Zealand on their home turf. I wrote about this a few months ago and still believe Jetstar have left this far too late, but it’s clear this will still have an impact on Air New Zealand. Qantas don’t care if Jetstar is never profitable in New Zealand (and it probably never will be) – if they can hurt Air NZ they’ll consider that a win.

Air New Zealand should focus on what they’re good at. Writing customer surveys clearly isn’t one of those things. If you want feedback from your HVCs then creating more focus groups and engaging with customers in real life is the way to get the feedback you’re after. I know I’d be more than happy to give plenty of feedback and comments as to how Air NZ could improve many of it’s products, services and brand if you were to only ask. I’m sure plenty of my friends who fly far more than my lowly 40-50 plane flights per year would also be more than happy to offer their services also!

Other related posts:
Fairfax takes journalism ethics and integrity to a whole new low with Stuff fibre
Why are airport taxes and service charges so high on Trans Tasman flights between New Zealand and Australia?
Flight reviews – Air New Zealand NZ87 Auckland (AKL) to Hong Kong (HKG) in Premium Economy and Air New Zealand NZ 80 Hong Kong (HKG) to Auckland (AKL) in Business Premier on the 777-200ER

Comment by Jaxson, on 28-Aug-2015 11:44

Ha, this made for quite a laugh, thanks.

Comment by kiwigander, on 30-Aug-2015 18:42

SWMBO and I agree with you.  We too are HVC's, used to get quite a few surveys from Air NZ, found them a bit puzzling.  How exciting or awesome or whatever was their favourite trite adjective can an hour's flight on a turboprop be?In fairness to whoever drew up the survey that's so put you off, surveys by design do include the possibility of nonsensical answers.  If someone indicates that Grab-a-Seat is an airline, for example, then their entire set of answers should be invalidated.  It's a technique to help filter out incompetent or malicious respondents.

Comment by LWJCarroll, on 31-Aug-2015 00:48

Yep did that one a few days ago... as you note some questions were rather oddly worded....to me Grabaseat should just be a part of the main Air NZ booking system perhaps as a Sale advert as I suggested to them. IMHO Grabaseat was just a marketing ploy to get peoples attention to seat sales... looked at it but havent used it just used their normal online booking site...Rgds...Laurie

Comment by kiwifidget, on 1-Sep-2015 15:18

That's not so bad really. My own experience involves a much worse survey. I used to work for a well known fruit exporting company that was having difficulty retaining staff. HR decided a survey was needed to find out why staff were so dissatisfied with the company. The front page of the survey had two boxes of which you had to choose one : Were you "Management" or "Other"?
My survey along with many others went straight in the bin.

Comment by k1w1k1d, on 3-Sep-2015 14:01

I'm afraid Air New Zealand is not the only company that sends out these types of surveys.

I get them at work from suppliers and just bin them. Early on I used to try to fill them out, but got tired of the weird way they asked the questions.

Unfortunately the company I work for has started sending out surveys to our customers. I just hope the survey is written better than this Air NZ one.

Comment by jmh, on 19-Sep-2015 15:54

I'm listed with one of survey companies, and so regularly fill them in.  In some the level of English language is dreadful.  Sometimes I can't even understand the question.  I'm guessing it's cheap labour, probably migrants who don't have English as a first language.

Comment by gnfb, on 28-Sep-2015 09:25

I wonder how much of the survey is there for the collection of data and how much is there to reiterate, in your mind how "wonderful" Air NZ is?

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Steve Biddle
New Zealand

I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.

I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)

  -xDSL deployments

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.

+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.

You can contact me here or by email at stevenbiddle@gmail.com