When properly used, customer surveys can greatly improve upon customer experience. The trick is to make the survey as quick, painless, and straightforward as possible and then utilize the information gleaned from the survey to find ways to improve your business.
Start with Your Mission
Most successful business models have a business plan that includes a clear mission statement. If you don’t have one yet, create one. Identify the ways that you want to differentiate yourself from your competitors and be sure you know how you define a “successful” client interaction. After all, you can’t move toward improving those interactions until you have a clear understanding of how you define success.
Using your mission statement, take care to craft survey questions that will help you determine whether your mission has been achieved.
Keep it Short
Chances are that your customer will not spend more than two or three minutes completing a customer satisfaction survey. Keep your surveys short, simple, and to the point. Narrow it down to no more than five questions if at all possible.
Be sure to ask for the names of both the customer and the employee(s) with whom they worked if at all possible. If the customer is complimentary about their experience, be sure to share that information with the employee. If the customer has a complaint, take immediate action to address those with the specific customer, the employees interacting with that customer, and as it applies to your business as a whole.
Make it Easy
There are a number of web applications out there that allow you to create simple online surveys for free. Take advantage of these applications. The easier that you make it for a customer to complete a survey, the more likely it is that they will do so. It doesn’t get easier than taking a brief survey that doesn’t require postage or need to be attached to an email. Send the survey to the customer shortly after the business transaction has occurred and ask them directly to complete it – do this automatically with Purple. If you wait too long to send it out or if you fail to specifically ask that the customer complete the survey, chances are that the survey will be ignored. Surveys are not helpful if no one is actually filling them out.
Ask about improvements they would like to see to existing products or services or new services they should consider.
Ask for Ideas and Feedback
Your customers are intelligent and creative. Always leave room on a survey for them to make suggestions or offer ideas that are not specifically addressed in the questions you ask. You may be surprised by the feedback you receive.
Most importantly, make sure that significant feedback from your survey gets logged in your customer relationship management (CRM) software along with customer demographics, purchase history, and records of other interactions. This gives your customer support and sales teams full context when they re-engage the customer.
So your customer completed a survey. Now what? It doesn’t matter how great your survey looks or how many customers complete it if you aren’t actually using the information to improve your business. Sometimes a customer complaint deals with a specific interaction, such as a bad experience with a particular employee. However, some complaints may point to a needed change. For example, if several customers complain about the usability of your website, it is probably time to modify it. If there are multiple complaints about responsiveness within the business, you may need to create (and enforce) a specific policy about returning calls, emails, and messages for all employees to follow.
Do keep in mind that not every customer complaint requires a complete overhaul of your business practice. If any adjustments need to be made, chances are the adjustments will be fairly minor. Remember that it is not your job to please every single person who walks through your door. The goal is to please the type of customer you are actually trying to attract. That does not mean that you need to reevaluate your entire business model every time you have a philosophical difference of opinion with a customer.
Review Surveys Together
You should review each and every survey as soon as possible after it has been completed so that you can address any complaints individually. However, it is also important to keep them in one location and review them all together once every three months or so to look for common themes among customers that might need to be addressed.
Sometimes it is hard to tell whether changes to your business are actually helping to address a problem. Keep a spreadsheet to track your survey results over time. Note any changes or improvements made based on surveys and the dates those changes go into effect. As you improve upon your customer interactions, the number of complaints about a particular issue should gradually decline over time. If it doesn’t, keep trying new things until it gets better. The more data you have available and the longer you spend tracking the data, the better able you will be to see how your adjustments are improving your business.
Guest post: Mary Hutto is a writer for TechnologyAdvice. She studied English/Writing at Western Kentucky University. She lives in Westfield, Massachusetts and often contributes to blogs as a guest writer. She also enjoys writing creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry in her spare time.