Thomas K. Perri
With my limited experience this is my take on you quandary. I can understand why your Executive wants to change to a no neutral scoring scale, I believe the general consensus is that people tend to default to the number 3 too much of the time, at least that is the general feeling in my office when we talk about executing survey's.
So what to do about the behavior of scoring answers as neutral or 3's, does it need to be addressed in the cultural environment that the survey is being used in?
Since we are talking about the behaviors of the persons that are taking your survey's, you have some assumptions that you have agreed to, I feel that your Executive is asking you to agree to a new assumption, that the neutral perception is invalid.
I would ask the question of your Executive:
- Why do you want to remove the neutral response from your survey's?
- Does he or her see that there is a discontinuity between the results of the survey and the "feel" of the cultural/ business environment?
- Where did this idea of removing the neutral response come from?
- Is there any validity to the feeling that the actual business enivronment is not being reflected truly by your survey's results?
(The same 2 questions asked in differing ways)
Some other useful things to consider could be:
- Are the questions formulated or crafted well enough to elicit other than neutral responses?
- Did this Executive have a hand in the creation of the survey or survey's now in use?
Or should you just accept the data that you are currently collecting, with the agreement that when talking about perceptions of your company in the minds of your customers, if someone in the company messed up and your customer has a experience that is not good you should or will hear about it (even more so with anonymous results). And positive perceptions are usually about "the people" that customers interact with and not usually about the company itself. Apply some of the ideas in the great replies you have gotten and apply a bit of common sense, not forgetting why the survey is being used in the first place...Keeping the customer in mind and how you can best serve them.