Ultimate Guide: Surveying Customer Satisfaction
They say that brand loyalty is a thing of the past. But is that really true?
Certainly, there’s an entire world of choice out there, and unhappy customers don’t stick around for long. But the truth is that if you can differentiate your business via excellent service, your customers may well prove to be more loyal than you think.
Of course, competence is key. That means optimized workflows and top-tier customer service.
But how can you tell if your customers are genuinely happy with your offer? This guide will take you through the process of surveying customer satisfaction so that you have a clear idea of where you stand. To begin with, let’s take a look at how customer satisfaction is measured.
Types of customer satisfaction metrics
There are three different metrics commonly used to measure several important aspects of how satisfied (or otherwise) your customers are.
CSAT (customer satisfaction score)
To measure a customer’s overall satisfaction, use the CSAT score. This measures what proportion of customers are happy with their experience of doing business with you. It’s generally presented on a five-point scale, either numerically (with, say, 1=very unhappy to 5=very happy) or in words (1=very dissatisfied to 5=very satisfied).
You can create your own CSAT questions according to your needs, but a typical example could be something like: “How would you rate your overall satisfaction with our product?”
NPS (net promoter score)
This metric uses a slightly different approach. It’s based on the idea that satisfied customers may decide to recommend your product or service to other people.
Unlike the CSAT, it uses a fixed question form: “How likely is it that you would recommend this company/product/service to a friend or colleague?”
Responses are measured on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 representing “not at all likely” and 10 “extremely likely.” Anyone responding with a score between 0 and 6 is considered a detractor (unhappy customer), 7 or 8 passive (neutral), and 9 or 10 a promoter (happy customer).
The overall NPS is calculated by subtracting the proportion of detractors from the proportion of promoters.
CES (customer effort score)
Another way of measuring customer happiness is to try to determine how easy they find it to use your service. Ask a question like “How easy did you find it to complete your transaction?”. Give options that can be used as a numerical scale, such as 1=very difficult to 7=very easy.
Add up all the scores and divide by the number of survey participants to arrive at your CES figure. The higher the overall score, the more seamless your customers find interacting with your business.
Types of survey questions to use
There’s both an art and a science to surveys. Whether you’re crafting a product market fit survey or a customer satisfaction questionnaire, it pays to ask the right questions. Broadly speaking, there are four types of questions you can ask:
Multiple choice questions: very straightforward. Ask a question and give a number of possible responses. The customer then selects one or more of the available options.
the binary choice. Because this is the simplest of all question formats, the customer doesn’t have to think too hard, and response rates for these questions tend to be very high.
Likert scale questions: the Likert scale asks the respondent to agree or disagree with a question and rate the level of agreement or disagreement on a scale. These are useful because they assign a numerical value to opinions. This means overall average customer opinion can be compared like-for-like on an ongoing basis.
Open-ended questions: with these, the customer is free to express their opinion in their own words. You’ll find that some of the most valuable feedback you receive will come from open-ended questions because your customers will tell you things you hadn’t even thought to ask.
However, they should be used sparingly. That’s because this is the type of question the customer has to put the most effort into answering, so if you ask too many, your survey abandonment rate will shoot up. It's best to ask just one open-ended question and to put it at the end of the survey.
Best practice for implementing surveys
You’re probably using multiple approaches to establish customer satisfaction levels and to try to increase them. Maybe you’ve been focusing on using SEO to improve customer experience, for example, or expanding your after-sales support. All of these sorts of initiatives can benefit from data gleaned from well-designed surveys.
Here are a few tips for creating a survey that’s effective and won’t irritate your customers.
Don’t ask leading questions
The language you need to use when writing survey questions is different from the one you need to use for press releases. Survey questions are not the place for questions like “On a scale of one to ten, how much do you like our new awesome top-of-the-range product?”
Remember that surveys should be neutral in their language in order to achieve honest responses. Leading questions—where the words used imply an expected response—will, at best, lead to inaccurate responses and, at worst, actively annoy the respondent.
Sometimes, this is easier said than done. It’s unlikely, for example, that you’d include a question like “Why are you leaving us, you ungrateful wretch?” in a customer churn survey. But it’s all too tempting to let more subtle leading language slip through unnoticed. Make sure several people check the wording before it’s finalized.
Don’t go on for too long
It’s best to keep surveys short. Although you may be tempted to ask every question you can think of to try to find out as much as possible, it’s a bad idea. As a rule, the longer the survey, the fewer respondents will complete it.
Aim to create a survey that will only take five minutes to fill out. This means including somewhere between five and ten questions. Get a team together using something like Dialpad’s cloud collaboration services so you can brainstorm ideas. Then narrow down your options until you have a set of core questions that will yield useful insights.
Make sure your scales are consistent
If you’re using more than one question that asks for answers rated on a scale, use the same scale for all of them. This is to avoid confusion.
That’s to say, don’t ask respondents to rate something on a scale of 1 (not at all likely) to 5 (very likely) in question one, then a scale of 1 (very happy) to 5 (very unhappy) in question two. If you do, it’ll be too much of a mind-twister for respondents, and you’re likely to get inaccurate results.
Only ask one question at a time
It can be tempting to bunch related questions onto one page. But again, this can lead to customers switching off and clicking away. Never forget that by asking customers to fill out a survey, you’re essentially asking them to work for you for free (unless you provide a paid incentive).
Their time is valuable, and it won’t take much for them to feel as if you’re wasting it.
The most effective approach is to ask one question at a time, and then, if you want, you can ask a follow-up question on the following page.
How to deliver your surveys
Different surveys are best suited to different delivery mechanisms, depending on your goals. As part of your broader marketing aims, you may be using something like the forecasting templates Excel offers to shape an ongoing strategy. You’ll be slotting your surveys into this wider plan, so it’s crucial to make sure you approach customers with them in the right way.
These are highly convenient. Your customers are right there and hopefully available to share their insights. Consider:
Feedback buttons: customers can click on these to be taken to your survey page.
Feedback pop-ups: use pop-ups on relevant pages to take site visitors to your survey.
Feedback slide-outs: similar to pop-ups, these use a slide-out format to issue the invitation.
Any method you can use to get messages to your customers, from email to a virtual fax service, you can also use to invite them to fill out a survey.
SMS: you can send a link to the customer by messaging them on their cell phone. Often, this will be soon after they’ve interacted with your business, so the memory is fresh.
Email: a tried-and-tested method. Email is a good post-sales option for investigating how your customer felt about their transaction.
QR code links: these have the advantage of being able to be printed on packaging or other marketing materials.
If your business has a physical store presence, you could try setting up survey points on the premises. You can either have staff talking to the customers face-to-face or offering them devices to answer on. Staff can also simply place tablets around the space at convenient locations for customers to interact with if they so choose.
Getting customer satisfaction right
These days, there’s an enormous variety of ways to investigate exactly what your customers are thinking. Everything from snowball sampling to focus groups can help you get to grips with how they perceive your organization.
At the heart of each of these lies the humble survey. Get the survey right, and the insights will follow. So it’s worth spending some time perfecting it. After all, a satisfied customer is one who’ll return over and over again—and that’s great news for your business.
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