6th Jan 2016
Too many questionnaires only cover issues that organisations deem to be important, rather than those that matter most to their customers. Instead, the Institute of Customer Service believes companies should approach satisfaction surveys through the ‘lens of the customer’ and ask themselves what the customer would like to be asked.
To help you understand what your customers want, conduct exploratory research, either through focus groups or in-depth interviews, to allow customers to explain what they look for in a particular product or service.
For an accurate measure of customer satisfaction, surveys should always be based on the same criteria that customers use to make their own service judgements. The Institute recommends that this exploratory research is repeated every three years or so.
Once you’ve carefully considered what questions you want your survey to ask, there’s a good chance that you may want a mixture of both event-driven and relationship surveys.
Event-driven surveys are a great measure of current performance. A good event-driven survey will allow you to link customer satisfaction to tangible things that your organisation should be doing more or less in order to make customer experiences better.
A relationship survey, on the other hand, is a better indicator of how your customers feel about your company, and how they are likely to behave as a result. It should touch on big strategic issues such as brand, positioning, reputation and trust.
Timing can have a huge bearing on the success of a survey – but getting it right depends on your objectives and the nature of your business. Some organisations push for real-time customer satisfaction measurement, as ongoing measurement with a rapid turnaround allows customer feedback to become part of how the business is run. In practice, however, this often leads to businesses making knee-jerk reactions to fluctuations in results.
In order to really understand your customers, it’s usually more effective to take a step back and work out what your priorities are. Ongoing measurement is good for tracking progress, but not for thinking or planning.
Having a passion for delivering what customers want and need, and encouraging everyone in your company to adopt the same mindset, can go a long way towards keeping customers happy. If customer satisfaction becomes a purely operational measure, you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle – and quite possibly some big profits along the way.