As a small business, you will know how difficult it can be to turn a prospective buyer into a long-term and valued customer. It takes time and resources, but done well, the activity underpins the profitability of your business. But how much time do we give to ensuring that our existing customers remain our customers? Do we know what made them come to us or what more we could be offering?
Think back to the last time you, as an individual, received unsatisfactory service, or your expectations were not met by a business. Did it change your attitude or buying behaviour? Did you share your frustration with others? Did you simply wish the business had done a better job?
Customer satisfaction is intuitively important, but understanding what makes a customer satisfied in the first place, can be really hard. How do you find out? What questions do you ask and how often do you ask them? Let’s find out.
Why run a customer satisfaction survey?
Simply put, unless you ask your customers if they are satisfied, you risk only finding out when they leave you. Even then, some businesses are so engrossed in selling, they never stop to find out who their customers actually are. A well-crafted customer satisfaction survey will open up a world of valuable information to help your business thrive.
Find out who your customers are
By conducting a survey, you first have to establish who your customers are. The simple act of doing this can often show geographic or sectorial patterns, helping you spot potential gaps in the market or sweet spots to exploit. And if it’s not a simple act to find out who your customers are, why not?
Build on what is going well and what is important to the customer
Understanding what your customers like and need from your business is vital. Feedback saying they value your ‘fast turnaround’ or ‘personal touch’ will help you reinforce those elements of your offering. This will help not only with customer retention, but also in attracting new customers who may have similar values.
Improve the improvable
No business is perfect, not all customers are happy. Spotting areas where your clients are less satisfied or indeed unhappy, allows you to fix the problem and turn a weakness into a strength. Comparing periodic data from multiple surveys is a great way to spot the beginning of a potential problem.
Get hard data on products and services
Often, the only data a business has on a product or service they offer, is how many units they have sold. Knowing why the offering has been less popular than hoped, or why the new product has flown off the shelves, will help shape the path ahead. Asking for feedback on a specific product or service also allows you to tightly focus an individual survey, either on customers who bought the offering, or prospects that ended up not buying.
Get new ideas for free
“Is there anything you wished we sold, but currently don’t?” It’s a great open question, asking your customers to tell you what they want and value. Sometimes you get new ideas, sometimes you realise that what you already offer is being poorly marketed. Either way, a carefully crafted open question is a great tool in the satisfaction toolbox.
Make your customers sticky
If customers love what you are doing, they stick with you. That’s what stickiness is all about. A great customer survey not only gives you valuable data, but it also shows the recipient that you care about them, and your offering to them.
How to run a customer satisfaction survey
Deciding to run a customer satisfaction survey is only the start of the process. What questions should you ask and how many? Should you ask all your customers at the same time, or focus on a small group? What about lapsed customers? What format should the survey take? How often should you run a survey? What do you do with the information you get back?
Designing your survey, what should I ask?
Ask yourself “what am I trying to achieve with this survey?” This will help ensure the survey asks the right questions.
- Your focus might be on a new offering, or route to market?
- It could be targeting people who live in a geographic area
- A mixture of multiple choice and open-answer questions is good
Make them clear and obvious. In our experience, six to eight questions is a good number, balancing useful information returned whilst maximising the return rate from those surveyed. This should include a Net Promoter Score (NPS) question and a final “anything else” opportunity to respond. You should also get impartial feedback on your survey questions before you send them, to make sure they are polite, clear, and easy to answer.
Who should I survey?
In an ideal world, a business has granular data for their customer base, which can be sliced and diced to focus on specific groups. This approach allows for targeted questions to be asked of relevant customers. Where this is not possible, a general survey of all known customers is a more productive option.
What format should the survey take?
The format of the survey depends on finding a medium your customer base is comfortable with and for which the business has the relevant information. If you have a list of email addresses, then it is reasonable to assume the customer would be comfortable with an email-based survey. The same logic applies If you only have physical addresses or phone numbers. A good compromise is an online survey, with the link being sent out via a preferred medium, for example email. If you are going to personalise a survey, make sure you have a clean customer database, with correct first names. Nothing annoys a customer more than getting their name wrong!
How often should I do a customer survey?
Larger businesses often favour a single, annual survey of all customers. For smaller businesses, where resources can be more limited, a bi-annual all-customer survey may be more appropriate. Smaller, targeted surveys can be carried out in the interim time, focusing on new offerings or where there are felt to be potential problems.
Learning from the results of your customer survey
Any data you get back from conducting a survey has huge value. Businesses should listen carefully to the feedback of any customer who has taken the time to respond. If the customer has given permission, a personal response addressing any issues they have raised is very powerful. Issues which are common across multiple responses may be best addressed via the company website and social media channels. Issues or opportunities raised in the survey results should be prioritised in terms of business impact. Be sure to clearly link changes you make to the business, to the feedback in the customer survey. The “you said – we did” model is often used and is a great marketing tool for social media.
How can Milk and Tweed help?
If you would like to send a Customer Satisfaction Survey but not sure where to start let us know. We can help you come up with the questions, create the survey and provide you with a bespoke report to see results. Email us on email@example.com or call us on 01249 847 447