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Customer Satisfaction Survey

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We all know customer satisfaction is essential to the survival of our businesses. How do we find out whether our customers are satisfied? The best way to find out whether your customers are satisfied is to ask them.

When you conduct a customer satisfaction survey, what you ask the customers is important. How, when , and how often you ask these questions are also important. However, the most important thing about conducting a customer satisfaction survey is what you do with their answers.

How You Ask Whether Customers Are Satisfied

There are many ways to ask your customers whether or not they are satisfied with your company, your products, and the service they received.

You can ask them:

  • Face-to-face
    As they are about to walk out of your store or office, ask them.
  • Call them on the phone
    If you have their phone number, and their permission, you can call them after their visit and ask how satisfied they are.
  • Mail them a questionnaire
    This technique has been used for a long time. The results are predictable.
  • Email them a customer satisfaction survey
    Be careful to not violate Spam laws
  • Email them an invitation to take a customer satisfaction survey

When To Conduct A Customer Satisfaction Survey

The best time to conduct a customer satisfaction survey is when the experience is fresh in their minds. If you wait to conduct a survey, the customer's response may be less accurate. He may have forgotten some of the details. She may answer about a later event. He may color his answers because of confusion with other visits. She may confuse you with some other company.

What To Ask In A Customer Satisfaction Survey

There is a school of thought that you only need to ask a single question in a customer satisfaction survey. That question is, "will you buy from me again?" While it is tempting to reduce your customer satisfaction survey to this supposed "essence", you miss a lot of valuable information and you can be easily misled.

It is too easy for a customer to answer yes to the "will you buy from me again?", whether they mean it or not. You want to ask other questions in a customer satisfaction survey to get closer to the expected behavior and to collect information about what to change and what to keep doing.

By all means ask the basic customer satisfaction questions:

  • How satisfied are you with the purchase you made (of a product or service)
  • How satisfied are you with the service you received?
  • How satisfied are you with our company overall?
And ask the customer loyalty questions"
  • How likely are you to buy from us again?
  • How likely are you to recommend our product/service to others
  • How likely are you to recommend our company to others.

Also ask what the customer liked and didn't like about the product, your service, and your company.

How Often Should You Conduct A Customer Satisfaction Survey

The best answer is "often enough to get the most information, but not so often as to upset the customer". In real terms, the frequency with which you conduct a customer satisfaction survey depends on the frequency with which you interact with your customers. My state renews drivers licenses for five-year periods. It would be silly for them to ask me each year what I thought of my last renewal experience. Conversely, if I survey the commuters on my rapid transit system once a year, I will miss important changes in their attitudes that may be driven by seasonal events.

What To Do With Answers From A Customer Satisfaction Survey

Regardless of how I ask my customers for their feedback, what I ask them in the customer satisfaction survey, and when I survey them, the most important part of the customer satisfaction survey is what I do with their answers.

Yes, I need to compile the answers from different customers. I need to look for trends. I should look for differences by region and/or product. However, I most need to act on the information I get from my customers though the survey. I need to fix the things the customers have complained about. I need to investigate their suggestions. I need to improve my company and product in those areas the mean the most to the most of my customers. I need to not change those things that they like. Most importantly I need to give them feedback that their answers were appreciated and are being acted upon. That feedback can be individual responses to the customers if appropriate, or it can simply be fixing the things that they tell you need to be fixed.

What's Next in Customer Satisfaction Surveys?

So how do you know what's important? How do you know what really matters to them? More importantly, how do you know which things to focus your limited resources on first in order to have the biggest impact on improving customer satisfaction? Read part 2 of this article, "Key Drivers of Customer Satisfaction".
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