Last month I blogged about what you need to consider when conducting employee engagement research, for the second instalment in this mini-series I’m looking at customer satisfaction research.
This is the one piece of research that every organisation – no matter how big or small – should be conducting on a regular basis. Without happy customers then no business can succeed, so it’s essential that you have a way to gauge how satisfied your customers are.
Do you know why your customers buy from you rather than the competition?
Do you know why people buy from your competitors rather than you?
Do you know why your best customers keep coming back?
Do you know why people who have only bought from you once haven’t returned?
Do you know anything about your customers other than their name, address and what they bought?
A review online isn’t the same as a customer satisfaction survey. Online reviews are most likely to be completed by those who are very happy or very unhappy with the product/ service you provide. If the experience was ok, it’s unlikely they’ll leave a review. Of course, a good set of online reviews are important but they aren’t a replacement for customer satisfaction research.
Some clients have said to me that they are put off from starting a customer satisfaction programme because it feels like a huge mountain to climb. It doesn’t have to be at all. You could start by sending a questionnaire when a customer has purchased from you. If you are selling a physical product, then include a note with each parcel with a link to online questionnaire. If you are a service based provider then ask your customer to complete the survey once the first invoice has been paid.
Before you start, here are some key considerations
- What TYPE OF CUSTOMER do you want to include? Customers who have bought a particular product or service? Or customers who have bought in last 6 months? Or the last year? Or customers who haven’t bought anything in the last year? Or customers who have an irregular buying pattern?
- Once you’ve decided what type of customer it’s important to INCLUDE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM in the research. Don’t filter out those that you know are grumpy, or give priority to those that you know will give you glowing reviews. In order to get a true picture you need to get a spread of replies from your customers, no matter how happy they are with you.
- PERSONALISE as much as possible. Address each customer by name, and get it right! I’ve lost count of the times I’ve received an email that starts “Dear Mr Amand” – if you can’t be bothered to get my name right, why should I give up my time to give you feedback? Make use of software routing and filtering – if there is a section that’s only relevant to people who bought Product A, then only show that to people you know bought Product A.
- BE TRANSPARENT about what you are asking and why. Reassure your customers that you want to improve the product/service you are offering and that you’ll keep their answers confidential. Don’t tell people that the survey is 5 minutes long, and then ask 45 questions. Be honest and be transparent.
- Offer an APPROPRIATE INCENTIVE for people to reply. Everyone’s time is precious, so it’s a good idea to offer a prize draw for all completed replies. Tailor your incentive according to your audience. Don’t offer a discount or free product – this could be seen as bribing your customers and could potentially lead to biased answers. It’s also not going to encourage your unhappy customers to respond as they aren’t likely to want a discount or freebie from you.
- DON’T OVER PROMISE – you don’t need to change everything just because 1 or 2 people are unhappy. Take comments on board, but only change things if it’s needed.
But the most important thing is to start, get a programme in place – you’ll be amazed at the value it brings and the number of improvements you’ll be able to make to your business.