Top-line sales results are an essential indicator of the health of a business, but this data on its own can’t be used to predict future account losses and churn. Obviously, a loyal base of customers is a key ingredient to profitability, so having a valid way to measure customer satisfaction is important. Acquiring new customers is much more expensive than effectively servicing existing accounts.
The best time to survey a customer is when their purchasing experience is still fresh in their minds. If you wait more than a couple of weeks following a transaction, their response may be less accurate. Whether you use a phone call, face-to-face, an e-mail, or a web-based survey, keep the following guidelines in mind:
Respect Their Time – Limit the time to ask the questions and get the answers to no more than one minute and let them know up-front that it will be ‘that quick and easy'. Consequently, don’t plan on asking more than three questions…..so make them count!
Heavily Use Multiple Choice Responses – People are busy and usually unprepared when asked to help with a survey. So give them a menu of standard responses to select from that will give your company real feedback (don’t soft-pedal the wording in the standard responses).
Account for a ‘Politeness Bias’– Most people don’t want to offer critical feedback, even when they are lukewarm or dissatisfied with a purchasing experience….they just go elsewhere. Recognize this social phenomenon as you craft your standard answers. Don’t ever use a point value or an answer description that would be perceived as ‘in the middle'. Such standard answers are magnets for politeness and will distort the validity of your survey results. You want the truth!
Act on the Findings – The most important aspect of a customer survey is what you do with the responses. Look for trends. Look for differences between products or locations. Act on the information.