The Need For Customer Surveys
Don’t ask the question, if you don’t want to hear the answer – or so the saying goes. But when it comes to gaining a better understanding of your customer and their needs, companies must ask the questions and also be willing to listen to the answers.
No matter how long you’ve been in business or how much you already know about your customer, surveys can always uncover new insights. When you assume you already know everything about your customer and stop monitoring their satisfaction is when you can run into problems.
Some companies hesitate to utilize surveys because they are worried about negative feedback, but unspoken dissatisfaction can fester and erode a customer’s loyalty to your company. Getting constructive criticism can help you improve your service and/or product. In fact, dissatisfied customers don’t always come to you with their complaints. Some feel that speaking up will not result in change or they are uncomfortable bringing up the issue.
Businesses have been conducting customer satisfaction surveys since the dawn of commerce. Surveys can be as simple as the grocery checkout clerk asking if you “found everything” to more formal surveys provided in writing to customers.
No matter what form they take, feedback from surveys can provide insights that help to improve your business. There are countless benefits to conducting a customer satisfaction survey:
Some companies opt to conduct client satisfaction surveys themselves. Others rely on marketing communications or survey firms to contact clients on their behalf. Another consideration when preparing to conduct a survey is whether the respondents should be identified or remain anonymous. There are no hard and fast rules for who should conduct the survey or whether responses should be anonymous. However, keen observers of human nature will agree that people are more willing to provide honest answers and perhaps negative feedback to an impartial third party that promises anonymity.
There are a number of methods that can be employed to survey customers. A number of factors come in to play when determining which survey method will provide the best results. The prime consideration for most companies is cost and overall effectiveness in getting an adequate sample size.
Client Satisfaction Survey Method Options
In-person or phone surveys are the most costly to implement, but they also provide the best opportunity to interpret responses in real time and ask follow-up questions that can expand your understanding. Mailed surveys require printing and postage that contribute to the overall cost. The flip side is that a printed survey gives respondents an opportunity to review and give consideration to all of the questions before answering. Web-based and electronic surveys are gaining in popularity because they are less costly and can be perceived to take less time by respondents. Selecting the best method for your company will depend on the demographics and preferences of your customer base.
The method you select may dictate the number and type of questions that you ask. There needs to be a balance between quick multiple choice questions that provide limited information and more time-consuming, open-ended questions that provide more insight. Care should be taken when creating the questions to avoid any bias or language that would influence the response.
Keep in mind that surveys can serve the dual purpose of providing information to your clients, by gauging their awareness or use of your services. An example would be listing all of the services provided by your company and asking the respondent to indicate which ones they have utilized. Ending your survey with an open-ended question, like “Do you have any recommendations for improving the service that we provide?” can be an effective way to elicit valuable feedback.