Over the next few months I’m going to share some insights on why customer satisfaction plays such an important role in the long-term health and profitability of your business.
So, why is customer satisfaction important and why should you care? Firstly, across many industries success is not just about competing on price. Successful companies need to have a superior quality of service to their competitors, especially if, no matter how you try, your products may not alwaysbe perfect. What, then, can you offer that your competitors can’t? Usually it’s good service.
How do you start?
The first place you look is internally, within your company.
Listening to your customers and vendors
How do you currently listen to your customers and vendors and collect information? Have you looked at the mechanisms you already have? How do you respond to customer queries currently? Do you have a process to respond to customers within a specific time?
Your current listening tools
To get an initial feel for the lie of the land, look at any existing feedback from your customers or vendors. This could be from:
The next step is to formalise a mechanism to get feedback from your customers and vendors. What will be the easiest process to implement and collect data? Choose one or two to start with. Don’t over-burden yourself or your teams.
Surveys can be structured or unstructured with ad hoc questions, conducted as one- on-ones or in groups, conducted online, over the phone, via hard copy or in person, completed ]anonymously or not. You can rely on your own employees or engage an external third party. Perhaps one of your vendors has survey tools you can leverage.Do a search for online survey tools and you’ll be amazed at the results.
Consider the audience you want to survey. It may not be your total customer base. Define this up front.
Talking of the respondent remaining anonymous, it has been found that if you allow this option your respondents will feel more inclined to give you honest feedback.
Allowing a free text area for customer comments is also worth doing during survey time, because this allows them to explain in more detail their challenge, rather than just answering yes or no or supplying a rating.
Incentivising response rates
Will you need to incentivise respondents to complete a survey? Often this can increase your response rate. This could take the form of a donation to a New Zealand charity for each response. Frequency of these surveys is also important. To start with I would suggest once a year is sufficient, as this will be manageable by you
and your team. You can of course continue to have regular customer feedback on the completion of projects or via your website, but you need to consider how you pull this data together and how you report on the findings to your internal team.
The structure of surveys and questionnaires is important, as are the types of questions to ask. It is recommended that you keep it brief and a survey should take no more that 10 minutes to complete. Each question should address one issue only and you should not ask leading questions, eg: If you were considering upgrading your infrastructure would you...?
It’s best to keep it simple, using plain English with no double negatives or technical jargon. Remember to consider privacy surrounding the information gathered about customers and individuals.
Great statements to consider
Ask your customers to consider and rate the following using a satisfaction or 1-9 rating: