Ever wonder what customers are saying about you? Want glowing Yelp or Google reviews? Wish you could get that Facebook fan number up? In a competitive marketplace where social media has given the customer voice center stage, now more than ever it’s critical to know exactly what your customers think. Engaging your customers from the inside out, and making sure everyone in your company shares the same vision—across departments, touch points, and geographies—are vital components to the health and success of your business.
Not only will consumer surveys and Net Promoter Score analysis help you understand the factors that strengthen relationships, boost sales, and build customer loyalty, but they’ll also help you define and set goals for short- and long-term decision making.
Ultimately, customer surveys will help you get major street cred for your company, product, or service, and drive the growth of yourbusiness.
Why Customer Surveys?
A consumer survey will help you pin down your customers’ likes, dislikes, and the areas of improvement that exist. For example, what does the average customer think about your prices? Too high? Just right? How well is your staff doing on customer service, or how well does your client success team understand the growing needs of your customers—and prospects? Is there anything at all about the customer experience that turns off your users? You might even send out a survey to figure out why clients stop doing business with you, how you might win them back, and how you can prevent customer losses in the future. Empower your employees to meet milestones based on client needs. And, if you’re developing a new product or updating an existing one, customers can provide you with invaluable feedback about design and functionality. Oftentimes, users will shed light on problems that would have otherwise been missed.
Where to Start
So what are the right questions to ask, and when should you ask them?
This depends on your goals, and what exactly you’re trying to find out or improve. Here are a few common areas that many business owners address with customer satisfaction surveys.
- Product/service performance. Your local spa might survey clients who haven’t used their massage services for months to identify what went wrong, and what staff can do to win clients back. A customer feedback survey can also be a good tool to measure employee performance and how each person’s role is tied to client satisfaction.
- Product feedback. A camping goods company launching a new product line might create an online survey to send to customers who’ve just made a purchase. Did that new and revolutionary tent fabric weather the elements? The results could reveal valuable insights on how to improve product features or address design flaws.
- New product development. A beverage company might send out a customer satisfaction survey to create or launch new formulations and leverage new opportunities. Should they look into launching health drinks? Does that mean sugar-free or low calorie? Survey data can reveal what customers are likely to guzzle down (or not).
- Customer loyalty. Surveys can help you discover your most loyal customers and influencers. Brand champions, power users, brand loyalists, brand heroes. No matter what you call them, they’re your answer to knowing exactly what you’re doing right, what to keep doing, and what to start doing. Showing customers that you’re listening goes a long way.
- Keeping in touch. Customer satisfaction surveys are a great tool to drive regular communication between you and your customers. Ask them how they’re doing, what suggestions they might have, and consider offering loyal customers swag or rewards for answering your surveys.
- Market research. Want to grow a new service area? Get to know potential target markets by first sending out an online survey to find out more about demographics, such as age, gender, income, hobbies, etc.
- Establish performance goals. Now that you’ve got all of this great actionable data, you need to make sure feedback is implemented. Use customer feedback surveys to reach back out to customers and measure your progress over regular periods of time. Leverage what you’ve learned from this valuable data to rake in revenue and improve customer and employee satisfaction and loyalty.
- Management reporting. Customer satisfaction survey data can also help managers identify key drivers and metrics they should track across departments and roles.
3 Tips for Creating Winning Customer Surveys
Go. Fight. Win. Well, maybe it’s more like: Ask, Listen, and Win. In addition to using methodologically-sound questions in the key areas already mentioned, you’ll also want to follow these tips for creating a great survey:
- Be clear. Say you’re surveying on customer satisfaction for a hotel stay. Don’t make your respondents guess what you mean. Tell them. Ask if the room service was prompt, if the swimming pool was clean, if the check-in clerk was friendly, if their bed was comfortable, and so on.
- Be specific. Don’t ask questions about general concepts or ideas; ask about specific concepts or ideas (i.e. being “a good person” is general; being “polite to waiters” is specific). A question that focuses on a specific concept is known as a “construct-specific” question (“construct” is really just a fancy word for concept).
- Ask a lot of questions. Asking multiple specific questions instead of one general question will not only make your questions easier to answer for your respondents, but it will also make your data easier to analyze and act on. Did your waiter let you know about the specials of the day? Did he take our order promptly? Was he able to answer all of your questions? Was he able to coordinate the timing of your courses?
No matter what goal you’re working toward, you’ll get closer to rockstar status if you’re armed with a plan of action on how you’ll use these new insights. You’ll also want to conduct surveys regularly—aim for once or twice a year—to gain a better understanding of where you should focus your customer satisfaction efforts, and how to follow through. Being consistent about soliciting and analyzing feedback is crucial if you want to continue to deliver great results.