A bottom line of your financial reports can be a good indicator of your company’s current success or the room it has for growth, but there are elements to success they cannot measure. Having an understanding of the customer satisfaction that your company’s products and services attract can be key to charting your future success.
Fortunately keeping old customers is much cheaper than gaining new ones, while being just as significant to your company’s overall growth. Satisfied customers may also be one of the most effective ways to promote your company and products.
They often draw more business to you, through personal recommendations to friends and family. In these advertising weary times, personal recommendations are priceless, and a great way to expand your client base.
Conducting an effective customer satisfaction survey
Customer satisfaction surveys are a tool that enables you to directly address your customers. You can effectively gather your customer’s feelings and opinions about each individual aspect of your business that they come in contact with.
A well put together survey is not only an effective tool and essential input to your management strategy; it also conveys to your customers that as a company you are concerned about the quality of products and services you provide. Here are some things to consider when putting a survey together.
• Often a particular segment or demographics of customers have needs or purchasing habits that link them to a specific product you market. Take these relationships into account when framing your survey. It’s important to understand who the survey is addressing when preparing it. If you want your survey to gather information across a spectrum of products and customer segments, make sure the information it gathers reflects these individual parts.
• Nothing can seem more of a chore than completing a survey that isn’t short and to the point. You are asking your customers to be gracious with their time so don’t make the experience tedious. It’s important to think about what aspects you are trying to gain an understanding of and ask questions that will help you achieve that goal.
• Put some thought into creating questions that can be limited to multiple choice answers, these are quicker for the customer to answer. Having said that, don’t overlook open-ended questions; they are a key component to inviting your customer’s opinions. Some of the things you might seek to measure in a survey could be your customer’s satisfaction with your products and service, how likely the customer is to repeat their purchase and whether they would recommend you to others.
• Much expert opinion agrees that surveys are most effective soon after the initial purchase made by the customer. The customer is most likely to give you a detailed response when the purchase is recent. If your relationship with your customers is on-going or if you also provide after-sales service for your products, well-timed follow-up surveys can be a great resource as well.
Annual or seasonal, surveys or ones that are submitted at the time of a service call can be an effective way to gather information about customer satisfaction over longer periods of time.
• Providing customers with a survey at the time of purchase or after-sales service can be extremely effective in noting their feedback, either through a brief questionnaire or a more detailed mail out. If your company generates at least part of its sales online you should consider directing customers to a brief online survey at the time of purchase. Just like the option of using mail-outs, customers can also be directed to online surveys via links included in emails.
• Organizing focus groups representative of a specific part or your entire, customer base gives you the chance to generate much more in-depth feedback. Having accepted an invitation to participate in the discussion, customers are open to committing a greater portion of their time and effort to your company. An experienced moderator can also be interactive with the group and get responses that contain much more detail than the average survey.
• The best surveys are ineffective if their interpretation is flawed or if they do not result in inappropriate action. Take the time to interpret the results coherently and consider the changes your customers are suggesting. Also, be sure to bring the changes your company has made to the attention of your customers. Providing customers with information about the changes that have come about due to their input makes them feel valued and enhances your mutual relationship. Customers are also far more likely to participate in future surveys if they see tangible results from ones in the past.