Customer satisfaction surveys - online and other surveys (article)

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In this article, Derek Stockley discusses the importance of customer satisfaction surveys and the different ways to implement them. Derek Stockley provides customer service consulting assistance and customer service training including a specialised Public Customer Service Course.

Surveys/questionnaires - customer satisfaction

Customer feedback is difficult to obtain. In Australia, as elsewhere, customers are often too busy to bother with feedback, particularly positive feedback.

Negative feedback is more common. If customers have complaints or grievances, they are more likely to contact the businesses or organisations concerned. Sometimes, particularly online, prospective customers give up and go on to the next available website.

Complaints are an excellent barometer of customer satisfaction. Naturally, the complaint should be addressed immediately, but the underlying situation should also be probed and evaluated. The customer service process should undergo corrective action if necessary.

Measuring customer service in efficient organisations

If an organisation or business does not receive complaints, then how does it evaluate customer service levels and quality?

How does an organisation know if it is providing acceptable or excellent service?

The simple response is to ask. The more complex issue is how.

Three customer survey approaches

I suggest three broad approaches (one external, two internal).

  • Use an expert, external survey company to undertake formal, detailed surveys and research. The consultant can design and/or conduct the research for you, using survey software if appropriate. One advantage is the independence - the raw data is kept confidential, only the summary results are fed back to the client. (Note: a broader variation is some general form of external evaluation, for example, entering a customer award program or being nominated to an external award process).

  • Build feedback requests into every key customer service process. Many written documents can provide an opportunity to comment. In particular, websites should provide the opportunity to provide feedback. The survey design should always be very accessible - short, quick and easy to use. Informal feedback can also be gathered in face-to-face or telephone conversations.

  • Organisations and businesses can also adopt a D.I.Y (Do It Yourself) approach. This involves the design and distribution of a specially designed customer/client feedback survey/questionnaire.

Whichever method is used, action is required. Every organisation needs to obtain feedback, whether it is obtained formally or informally.

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