Your Feedback is Important to Us
When you are the customer, how often are you asked to fill out a customer satisfaction survey after you do business with a company? How often do you actually fill the survey out? How much time and effort are you willing to devote to filling out the survey? And what’s in it for you if you do?
Over the course of the last few weeks, I have received no less than five customer satisfaction surveys in the mail or through e-mail from companies I have done business with. Some have been four-page questionnaires that would probably take me twenty minutes to fill out. I counted seventy-five questions to answer on one of them. Some “suggested” that I score all of my answers “5” and another demanded that I send the survey back immediately. One survey stated that my comments will be confidentially reviewed and addressed by their management team which is located in Plainview, NY, yet the survey was to be returned to the “Survey Processing Department” in South Bend, Indiana. Do you really think the management team will even see my survey answers if I take the time to fill it out? By the way, I received the survey two weeks after my experience with their company.
When it comes to taking care of your customers, you might think you are doing a great job. But what your customers think is even more important. We all know that taking care of customers is essential to the survival of our businesses. We can’t just assume they are happy just because they haven’t told us otherwise.
When you conduct a customer satisfaction survey, the questions that you ask your customers are 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. If your answer is “I’m not sure” or “We don’t really do anything with the answers”, please don’t bother doing the survey.
If you are considering a survey, 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. This might occur after they have completed their purchase or after you have provided them a service. You can ask them to fill out a comment card. You can call them on the phone after the interaction. You can send them a survey through the mail. You can send them a link to an online survey. No matter which method you chose, keep the following in mind.
Your customers are busy. They don’t have and don’t want to spend time filling out a survey that will take them twenty minutes to complete about their experience with your company. Your customers can’t remember what happened three weeks ago. Make sure the survey is timely. 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. They may have forgotten some of the details. They may color their answers because of confusion with other visits. They may confuse you with another company they recently did business with.
Some experts think that you only need to ask a single question in a customer satisfaction survey. That question is, “will you refer others to us?” While it is tempting to reduce your customer satisfaction survey to this one question, you may 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 refer others to us?”, whether they mean it or not. You want to ask other questions in a customer satisfaction survey to get to collect information about what to change and what to keep doing. That is a key point. What exactly are you going to do with the information you get from your customers? If we take the time to listen to our customers, whether through a formal survey or by having a conversation with them, they will give us insight into what they want, and maybe more importantly, what they don’t want. The question is, are you listening?
You need to act on the information you get from your customers though the survey. You need to fix the things the customers have complained about. You need to investigate their suggestions. You need to improve your product and service in those areas that mean the most to your customers. You need to not change those things that they like. Most importantly, you 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. The next time you want to send a survey out to your customers, think about why you are doing so and what you plan on doing with the answers.
Your customer’s feedback should be important to you.