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Measuring Customer Satisfaction - Six Steps in Conducting a Successful Survey

Businesses survive because they have customers that are willing to buy their product or service. However, many times businesses fail to "check in" with their customers to determine whether they are happy or not and what it will take to make or keep them happy.



Customer Satisfaction Survey


Customers are your best source of business information — whether it's to improve an existing product or service or whether you're planning to launch something new. There's no substitution for "getting it from the horse's mouth." When you open up the lines of communication, you are able to align your resources to best advantage, and you often can make changes or launch products more quickly.

By talking to your customers directly, you increase your odds for achieving success; you "mistake-proof" your decisions and work on what really matters. When you routinely ask your customers for feedback and involve them in your business, they, in turn, become committed to the success of your business.

Conducting survey is an effective method for measuring customer satisfaction and achieving continues improvement in quality. There are six steps in conducting a successful survey. They are:

  • Decide on your objectives
  • Determine who should complete the survey
  • Develop the survey
  • Administer the survey
  • Analyze the results
  • Communicate the results

Step 1

Decide On Your Objectives. What do you want to know from the survey? Be specific. Your objectives will form the basis from which your survey questions will be developed. Limit your objectives to just a few. If you try to include too much, you will make the survey too long (customers may not complete it), and you may uncover more than you can handle (you can't respond to it).

Step 2

Determine Who Should Complete the Survey. First and foremost, know who your customers are and which are appropriate to survey! If your market is large, you may have different segments of customers. Or depending upon the industry you may have different levels of customers.

Also, give some thought to the number of customers you want to survey. Do you have a few key accounts? Maybe you want to survey each of them. If you have multiple customers, you may have to select a sample to survey. Also, you may want to hear from different individuals at the same customer site. Feedback from individuals other than your direct contact may reflect problems that your contact doesn’t know about and report.

Step 3

Develop the Survey. Having settled on objectives and decided what kinds of customers you'll target, it's time to draft the survey. You'll need to formulate questions whose answers will help you decide what needs to be changed to achieve your objectives. The following tips may help you:

First, list potential question topics. Common service factors for which you may want to ask customers to grade your performance and product value include:

  • Products: Features, Features desired, Variety, Safety, Durability, Quality, Reliability, Documentation clarity, Documentation adequacy, Packaging quality, Packaging convenience, Cost
  • Employees: Pushiness, Friendliness, Courtesy, Accessibility, Attention, Care, Competence, Flexibility, Understanding of customer needs, Professionalism, Appearance, Effective use of time.
  • Customer feelings: Appreciated, Respected, In control, Needs and desires met
  • Post-sale service: (Same list as employee features above), Order processing timeliness, Delivery timeliness, Condition on delivery, Installation problems, Problem solving, Kept promises, Product usefulness.
  • Company perception: Confidence, Trust, Honesty, Affection, Efficiency, Stability, Innovativeness, Brand quality

Consider what you know and what you want to know regarding customer perception of each factor you consider to be significant. Then shorten the list to just significant factors that you would be willing and able to work on to increase customer loyalty or attract new customers.

Step 4

Administer the Survey. You may want to contact the people you intend to survey before hitting them with questions, and ask them if they will help you by responding. Personification will both let the survey candidates know how important it is to you and help you avoid irritating clients who resent surveyors.

If you are handing out survey cards to customers, be aware that research has indicated that it’s better to do it as they depart, not as they arrive. Having a list of features to criticize during the visit makes a customer more likely to notice weaknesses. That inspires useful feedback, but it can cost you the customer.

If you are not satisfied with the initial response rate, don’t give up. Consider supplementing the survey in another medium--for example by asking questions by telephone or on a Web page when not enough were answered by mail.

Step 5

Analyze the Results. Once your customers return the completed surveys, you are ready to compile the data and analyze the results. In most cases, competency with a computer spreadsheet program is all you'll need. First, you'll need to design the spreadsheet, enter the data, and then choose the graphs to summarize the results. These might be pie charts, bar graphs, or line graphs which are available in all of the popular spreadsheet programs.

Step 6

Communicate the Results. After you have analyzed the data, it is time to communicate the results to your staff and customers.

First the staff: Remind everyone that customer satisfaction is essential for continued prosperity. Emphasize the importance of keeping the customer wants and needs in mind whenever decisions are made--especially in product design, marketing, and customer services.

Then the customers: Communicating survey results and resulting action is absolutely necessary if you want to continue to receive feedback from your customers. If they feel that the survey results do not get the proper attention, they'll be reluctant to provide you with feedback in the future.

Get your customers involved when you can. This gives them ownership of the issues, makes them part of the solutions and allows them to experience firsthand your dedication in satisfying their needs. You might also want to solicit their input for your annual goals and objectives. Then, tell them how you're doing against the goals, and tell them frequently. That way they know that progress is being made and that you value their opinions and their participation. Plus, it provides you with some great public relations.

Article Credits

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Please be assured that your correspondence with us is confidential. We will not divulge email addresses or any other details you provide to outside sources.

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Cinoy Ravindran is a Computing Engineer, specialising in solution/ concept selling in Information Technology, Wealth Management, as well as Stress Management. Visit his website at: http://cinoy-tickets.blogspot.com/

 

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