Market researchers report that response rates are down dramatically. They attribute this to increased survey fatigue, evidenced by more and more surveys not being completed or even started. Far too many surveys are at once competing for our attention and stockpiling in our inboxes. But there is another, less frequently acknowledged reason for plunging response rates.

There is no denying that the Customer Experience is today’s hot topic in business. In the so-called Age of the Consumer, investment by brands wanting to deliver excellent experiences is on the rise but may be misguided by trends that shout the loudest.

No CEO on the planet would turn their nose up at the opportunity to better understand how their business is performing, yet few share the willingness to act upon those opportunities.

They say there are two sure things in this world—death and taxes—but there very well could have been a third part to that equation under different circumstances.

Manners Make the Brand: 6 Bad Habits Your Business Must Eradicate

Around this time a year ago, I was sitting on a train heading towards London for a client meeting. 15 minutes before I was due to arrive, the unmistakable ding of my phone alerted me to a rather abrupt message indicating that our meeting had been cancelled without explanation. I was furious.

The late Robert Plutchik was perhaps the leading expert on emotions. He theorised that each basic emotion has a counterpart. Thus, surprise is the opposite of anticipation and fear the opposite of anger. Moreover, emotions vary in intensity, from very weak to very intense. Thus, anger goes from annoyance to fury. Joy goes from serenity to ecstasy. Human behaviour, in spite of logic, is almost always linked to an emotional response.

Once a small business owner based out of an anonymous workshop in the Northern Hemisphere, Father Christmas has overseen an unprecedented global expansion in the last 300 years or so and, with it, all the challenges you’d expect of any large multinational business.

In talking with prospective clients, we frequently encounter similar perceptions about research surveys. Clients have become accustomed (through their use of previous satisfaction or market surveys) to the idea that they can gain important insights from a standard set of survey questions and, in some cases, it even equips them with the ability to compare their ‘score’ with that of their competitors. Perfect, right?

Some years ago, I was on the Europe, Middle East and Africa Board of a company. We had 2200 people in 34 offices in 21 countries. I had done considerable research into our people. I presented the results back to the Board at a meeting in New York.

A few years ago, Thomas O. Jones, a lecturer and author at Harvard Business School collected his BMW after its regular service. Driving the car home he was delighted by the car’s purring engine as he speeded along. The car had been cleaned inside and out and celebrating it, he lit a cigarette.