Customer Satisfaction Surveys… and Why You Should Care

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I recently bought new car insurance.

It wasn’t a purchase I expected to make, since I had planned to go without a car for a year. The no-car situation was an experiment to see if I could live in my southern city without one. I would take the bus when necessary, but mainly I would use the bicycle that had been sitting unused in my garage for years.

Then I had an accident.

I’m fine, but my bike didn’t survive.

My insurance agent was efficient. He took my paperwork. I paid. Transaction was done faster than expected.

A week later, my agent e-mailed me a customer satisfaction survey to fill out. With it, there was a short personal note about my new car and a reference to my short-lived biking days. I was touched. This agent remembered me personally (or took great notes) and followed up. Yes, he wanted feedback and a filled-out survey back, but it nevertheless made me feel connected to his agency. He seemed to care about my experience.

So I answered the questionnaire. It took 4 minutes.

Customer satisfaction surveys help companies deliver better experiences

As a business executive myself, I know that the customer survey is beneficial to the agent, who may be on some incentive-based program. But it can also help me in the long run.

Customer satisfaction in today’s climate reflects directly back on the company fulfilling the customers’ needs. This makes surveys, questionnaires, online review platforms, and social media extremely valuable tools for determining whether or not the customer is happy with your service or product.

Feedback collection efforts like customer satisfaction surveys enable companies to connect with customers and gather information and customer data essential to delivering excellent service.

The personal note that came with the agent’s survey was a genius move. I even felt a bit obligated due to my desire to ‘help’ a fellow executive out.

Are customer satisfaction surveys effective for my business?

You might have heard of this before: it is 6 to 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.

You already know that you must maintain customers. This makes customer surveys seem like a no-brainer for keeping customers happy, and it’s obvious that your business should try to satisfy their needs.

And if you don’t satisfy their needs? 78 percent of consumers have bailed on a transaction or reversed an intended purchase because of a poor service experience.

Meanwhile, satisfied customers usually become loyal customers who return to buy more. This loyalty leads to positive feedback and increased chances that they’ll tell their friends about their experiences with you. Loyal customers also leave positive reviews and recommendations online for the whole world to see. And the connection and trust they feel with your company means they will pay your prices without surfing all over for bargain deals.

Laying out the customer survey questionnaire

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A well-designed survey with the right questions can provide your company with insights to the customer experience. Customer feedback will also allow you to see what’s working properly, even where weak links may exist.  

Having a set customer satisfaction survey questionnaire allows you to measure the customer experience more effectively, for specific areas. It can help answer key functions or target specific departments.

After receiving feedback and measuring satisfaction scores, you can then implement needed changes. Fix those areas that aren’t compelling your customers to stay with you. If you don’t have the ability to satisfy your customers’ needs, they will leave and do business with your competition. It’s a consumer-driven economy; there are enough resources out there that customers no longer have to do business with companies they dislike.

In fact, as many as 3 in 5 US consumers would try a new brand or company for a better service experience.

Formalizing a survey, where you get controlled results, is valuable for this reason. You want to measure and track purchases. Direct contact allows space for this feedback, and customer surveys provide quantitative readings in areas needing improvement. This is a fundamental tool for your company, which all your employees and executives can access so that change can occur.

Customer loyalty = financial benefits

Making lasting improvements to your company’s customer service invariably means higher profits. Making strategic changes to improve weak areas and include your customers in this improvement process will increase customer satisfaction, which then drives customer loyalty and retention. This in turn leads to higher scores and a quality reputation that attracts more potential buyers and customers.

From Kristin Smaby’s “Being Human is Good Business”:

In an era when companies see online support as a way to shield themselves from ‘costly’ interactions with their customers, it’s time to consider an entirely different approach: building human-centric customer service through great people and clever technology. So, get to know your customers. Humanize them. Humanize yourself. It’s worth it.

This is exactly how you begin to create your customer survey: by remembering that your customers are regular people, too.

Make it personal by asking specific questions with a purpose. You don’t want to lay out a 6-page questionnaire that will have people hitting the Delete button. People don’t want to waste their time. You want to be concise.

Perhaps you want to find out about their shopping experience, the quality of your goods versus price, if your website is user-friendly, or if you have a customer service issue. Whatever it is: make your questions specific and make them matter. They need to be insightful for you to then develop a business plan and implement change. The Net Promoter Score is useful in this section. It is a way to gauge how likely customers are to recommend your business.

Just like in the case of my insurance agent, I think it’s extremely helpful to add a personal touch to your customer satisfaction survey. And while this kind of personalization isn’t always feasible for most large companies, you can still talk about your company’s mission, or be heartfelt in your message about how their feedback can contribute to something worthwhile.

Here’s an example of a great note attached to a survey:

Dear Mike (Addressing customers by their real names can make a big difference),

Thank you for purchasing with us yesterday. We hope you and your family love your new car.  Our team has worked extensively to make a difference in your driving experience. Like you, we worry about the safety of their families.

In fact, 90% of all our employees drive the same model for its excellent safety ratings. You’ll always be safe in this car! I am hoping you will take a moment to fill out our survey. We would appreciate your feedback. We look forward to seeing you for an oil change next month!

Sincerely,

The Car Company

While this letter may be a bit schmaltzy, it reached Mike on a personal level and addressed his safety concerns. It also let Mike know that employees at The Car Company truly believe in the car and even drive it themselves.

Allow for candid feedback in free-form text

You also want to leave areas in the survey for specific feedback. Allow the customer to comment on their personal experience in free-form text. This gives you specific information on top of a score and it gives the customer a voice. After all, customers like being heard.

Act on insights generated by customer satisfaction surveys

Information and insights generated by your customer satisfaction survey need to be addressed and acted upon. Right now.

This doesn’t stop with the customer service department. Disseminate the information throughout the company. Allow change to happen. Make your company better based on what your customer wants and needs, as well as what they expect to see next time.

A customer satisfaction survey is a valuable tool for gauging your company’s health and profitability. The feedback you collect can empower every department in your organization to achieve a better understanding of the customer experience, and your attention to the voice of the customer is key to driving customer satisfaction and loyalty.