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Surveys to Improve Your Customer Experience (Part 1 of 2)

October 19, 2016  - Tips for Small Business
Survey Your Customers For Success

For small to medium sized businesses, keeping your fingers on the pulse of the business is vitally important. This is especially true in this age of social networking where recommendations or negative comments can spread virally. The secret is in understanding customer sentiment and working toward continual customer satisfaction improvement. A customer survey is an effective way to get feedback that you can analyze and use to improve the customer experience.

Surveys serve several purposes for you and your customers and should be part of the sales and service process to improve every area that a customer experiences your brand. How you plan to use the data may impact the type, size, and scope of the survey, so first ask yourself the following questions:

What should the survey accomplish? 

Your initial answer may be to simply find out what your customer satisfaction level is with regard to what you sell.  Think broader.  How are customer interactions with your customer service department – in store or with call center agents? Are your customers loyal and would recommend you or are they neutral? Do they find your website or order management processes to be easy to use?  Do you offer any self-service options and how well are they received? What other products or services should you offer that your customers want?

Who will take the survey?

Does your entire customer base need to be included? You may be in the position to segment your target audience. Perhaps your survey should focus on a certain line of business, geographical area, even in-store vs on-line customers, or based on the timing of a recent transaction. The questions you prepare may vary depending on these factors.

How do I plan to implement the survey?

Is this a simple customer survey offered at the end of a telephone interaction through your interactive voice response (IVR)? Or are you looking to implement an outbound proactive communication? Do you plan to email your customers or will your survey be via an online survey tool? And, importantly, will it be a customer satisfaction (CSAT) survey that deals primarily with how your customers feel about your company or its competitors? Or will it be a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey which measures customer loyalty by asking whether your customers would they recommend your company to family, friends or industry peers?

Am I prepared to act upon learnings from data analysis?

Once you collect the responses, you need to analyze and search for key findings that validate your practices and processes as well where you may need improvement.  Do not plan to sit back and feel the survey work is over – this is sometimes the hardest part.  You need to show your customers that you’ve heard them and try to implement changes that will improve their customer experience. Plan to have dollars and time allocated to the survey findings so it doesn’t become a check-the-box-and-move-on project.

Once you’ve established what your survey should accomplish, your target audience, the right implementation tool or channel, and have prepared internally to act upon the findings – you are ready to start crafting the survey.

In our next post, we'll cover tips to make your survey successful, including how to set up, the types of questions to ask—or not to ask, and the importance of testing.


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