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Making Customer Satisfaction Surveys Work (customer service advice)

By Martin Day

Why bother?

Good customer service is the life blood of any business. Although new customers are important good customer service will help generate customer loyalty and repeat business. With each satisfied customer your business is likely to win many more customers through recommendations and remember, if you are not taking care of your customers, your competition will.

A Customer Satisfaction survey will help you not only identify problem areas but will also demonstrate to your customers that you care and are proactive in looking for ways to improve the service that you provide.

Where to start?

Objective – Before you start compiling your survey you should first consider what the objectives of the survey are, in that way you will remain focused and find it easier to decide what questions to ask.

Analysis – In addition to the objective consider also how you will analyze the answers having completed the survey. Keep in mind that ‘closed’ questions (where the respondent is asked to choose from a limited number of responses) are easier to analyze than ‘open’ questions (where the respondent can reply in anyway they want). Much will depend on the volume of respondents, the higher the volume the more important it is to have an easy method of analyzing the results.

Opportunity – Keep in mind that as well as obtaining valuable market research data customer surveys are also a good way to publicize aspects of your service that your customers may not be aware of. After you have drafted your survey read through the survey from a market research view point and check that you are asking the right questions in the right way and that with the feedback information you will be able to make informed decisions. Then, read through the survey from a marketing view point, check that you have phrased each question so that every opportunity has been taken to promote your business? The ideal question will perform the following three functions:

Market research – provide valuable feedback to help you improve your customer satisfaction levels and in turn your business
Marketing – promote aspects of your business
Information/Education – advertise a service that you provide that your customers may not have been unaware of

For example:- Do you find the in-store baby changing facilities useful?

By asking this question not only will the store receive good feedback on the facility they provide but they will also advertise their baby changing facilities and promote themselves as a family friendly store beyond those customers who have a specific need for the facility provided.

Warts and all – to benefit most from a customer survey you need to be prepared to dig deep and accept the worst. A customer satisfaction survey should be designed to highlight problems so that they can be addressed;

Regular customer satisfaction will prevent complacency and will also give early warning on where your competitors initiatives may be loosing you business.

What to ask?

Although each business is likely to have specific and unique factors that are important in providing good customer services there are common areas that are relevant to all businesses be they a physical store, Internet based or a service industry. The following are some key areas to providing good customer service.

Communication – Do you make it easy for the customer to communicate with you? When a customer telephones is the phone answered promptly; are enquiries about products or services properly handled? A good business will make every effort to ensure that whatever the customers query it is resolved by the right person, quickly, politely and fairly. If a problem is not resolvable immediately do you promise to respond in a given time period and do you deliver on your promise? Use a customer satisfaction survey to confirm that all your staff are perceived by your customers as being helpful, courteous and knowledgeable.

Location – Do your customers find it easy to visit you, if a physical store, is it conveniently located with good access?

Making it pleasant, making it easy – For a virtual business it is important to ensure that your website is aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. Physical store or website, is the store properly laid out, can your customers find what they need and is there sufficient information and help on hand to explain how a particular product works?

The right quality products – Not only should you measure the quality of the service that you provide but you should check that the products and services that you market are what the customer wants and closely match their expectations.

Value for money – Cheap or expensive is not always a good measure, value of money is. Do your customers equate your business with value for money, if not, why not?

Speed and attention – No matter what the business, the majority of customers will want to be dealt with quickly but attentively. Are you doing everything you can to avoid delays? Good businesses will try to treat each customer as an individual, does yours? Attention is one thing but this has to be hand- in-hand with a quick and satisfactory resolution of the query.

Demographics and Specific issues – Take the opportunity to profile your customers, for example where do they live and what is their age group? The more you try to understand your customers the better you will be able to target your business. Within the survey allow customers to highlight specific problems and provide contact details.

What next?

Having completed the survey analyze the results.

Trends – Look for common and specific areas where the service is failing. Ask yourself if the criticism is valid and is there anything that canbe done to resolve or minimize the problem?

Training – Are the staff properly trained and do they have sufficient knowledge? Where staff training programs have been implemented have they had a positive impact on the business?

Follow-up –If a customer who has completed a survey has raised a specific issue ensure that they are contacted and their complaint addressed. Don’t loose an opportunity to resolve a problem and keep a customer.

Continuously Monitor – Make-changes and then measure by issuing further surveys.

The following sample customer satisfaction survey for a store demonstrates some of the areas discussed please visit: Sample Survey

Martin Day is a Director of Survey Galaxy Ltd a web site that allows anyone to create, design and publish online surveys. For more information please visit

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