What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

Dissatisfied customers are a slow, silent killer. They defect one by one, often without making a sound. What's worse, they often bring other customers or potential customers along with them--slowly, silently, and viciously. There is a way, fortunately, to give voice to this otherwise silent group, and fix many problems before they cause customers to defect: customer satisfaction surveys. Based on our experience executing dozens of customer surveys for leading companies across the country, our customer satisfaction survey firm has distilled the survey process into five easy steps that any company can take to design and execute an effective customer satisfaction survey program. The process is quick, inexpensive, and guaranteed to yield invaluable results. Step one: the buy-in phase Experience shows that a memo released from the company's CEO touting the importance of the customer satisfaction survey program is a fast and effective way to get employees on board. Not only does this demonstrate the value of the survey program to upper management, but also alerts salespeople and account representatives that the silent group is about to be heard. Step two: survey design
Typical customer satisfaction surveys are designed to measure overall satisfaction, product-specific satisfaction, timeliness of delivery, customer service process satisfaction, returns and exchanges process satisfaction, and interest in new products and services. Naturally, these topic areas will vary by industry. It's important to hit upon all aspects of the customer experience that might affect a customer's likelihood to remain loyal. Step three: survey administration The main goals of the survey administration stage are to achieve the maximum response rate possible, while avoiding the introduction of respondent bias. Response rate is calculated by dividing the number of completed surveys into the total number of potential survey respondents. If a company invites 100 customers to take a survey and 25 of them complete it, they have achieved a 25 percent survey response rate. Respondent bias is introduced when those customers who complete the survey are not representative of the customer population in general. Step four: survey analysis The survey results are in. Now what? Blending the feedback of hundreds or thousands of customers into a single coherent voice can be tricky, but is of vital importance if meaningful conclusions are to be reached. Step five: results implementation Too many well-designed, administered, and analyzed customer surveys fail to yield positive change due to a simple lack of results implementation. We recommend that if an organization is not ready to make changes for the better, they should save time and money by avoiding the customer survey process altogether. Companies that have committed themselves to an ongoing customer satisfaction survey process will often tell you that it's one of the best investments they have ever made. Many can't imagine how they would get by without the instantaneous and actionable feedback that their surveys provide. Those companies who fail to give a voice to their own silent group do so at their own peril. About the Author Jared Heyman is the founder and CEO of Infosurv (www.infosurv.com), a full-service online customer satisfaction survey provider established in 1998 and located in Atlanta, GA. Mr. Heyman has overseen employee and customer satisfaction surveys for a long list of Fortune 500 corporations, major government agencies, smaller companies, and nonprofit organizations.
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