Putting the Satisfaction in Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Yours is probably one of the 96 percent of organizations that does customer satisfaction surveys (according to a Wirthlin Worldwide study in 2003) and your organization is probably one of the 64 percent that do Web surveys. In fact, Web surveys have been so stunningly successful (beating traditional surveys by offering lower costs and faster responses) that your organization has probably adopted Web-survey systems multiple times and in multiple ways from different suppliers among the 140 vendors in the Web-survey market. In fact, your organization's survey data may now be as disparate and decentralized as your customer data was before you adopted a CRM solution. Before the rise of the Web you might have surveyed customers semiannually, selecting a random sample each time to keep the costs down. But now that you're not paying people to interview your customers over the telephone and type in their answers, you might have decided to interview your customers through the Web. After all, you have their email addresses, and if you have installed Web-survey software, you don't incur an incremental expense for each additional completed survey. Your customers are doing the data entry for you. Yet, what seemed like a good idea for your division also seemed like a good idea for another division of your organization. Suddenly, your customers are receiving a lot of surveys, often looking different from one another, yet sometimes even asking the same questions. Web surveys have become victims of their own success. Now you have some customer data on internal systems not connected to anything else and some customer data on external survey ASPs outside of your IT department's control. Your organization has probably run afoul of its own privacy policy. If nothing else it is guilty of the technical foul of gathering information multiple times and failing to appropriately distribute that information. You are spending time to learn from your customers, but you're not leveraging what you learn across the organization. You went through this all before when you decided you needed CRM. Fortunately, the Web-survey software market is evolving from a DIY approach to an enterprise feedback management (EFM) approach. New Web EFM systems do for your survey data what CRM did for your customer data: They centralize information while decentralizing access to that information. With EFM systems, staff in your organization can share existing survey results, field new surveys, and can integrate information from your CRM system. You can allocate customer panels so that you are randomly sampling them again, rather than repeatedly surveying them. According to the Wirthlin Worldwide survey, 23 percent of organizations found customer surveys to be the most effective tool for improving customer satisfaction, compared to just 10 percent who found CRM to be the most effective tool. In fact, 52 percent of customers felt better just from having completed a customer satisfaction survey--that doesn't mean, however, that they want to complete a survey each day. EFM systems allow you to satisfy them three times: Survey them to get their feedback, don't survey them too often, and make sure everyone appropriate in the organization can know how the customer feels and act on it. The last thing your satisfaction survey should do is dissatisfy them. About the Author Jeffrey Henning is cofounder and COO of Perseus Development Corporation, a global leader in Web-based survey and enterprise feedback management solutions. He has 16 years of experience in the market-research industry, developing software applications for in-house use, as well as commercial products, and managing survey-research projects for the high-tech leaders of the Fortune 1000. Prior to Perseus Jeffrey worked with BIS Strategic Decisions (now part of Forrester Research) in the United States and in Europe, managing custom consulting projects of all sizes and scope. For Perseus he developed SurveySolutions for the Web, which won the PC Magazine Editors' Choice Award for Web-survey software; he was named a Visual Basic Programmer's Journal "Basic Hero" in 1999. He wrote the influential research study, "The Blogging Iceberg." He is an alumnus of Arizona State University.
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