Conducting Customer Satisfaction Research

Published: 16th November 2006
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Understanding the needs of your customers is an important tool for identifying a starting point for future improvement. Before spending a great deal of valuable time, money, and resources on service improvement programs, you must understand how your customers rate your current service and how you can improve this service in the future. Conducting customer satisfaction research allows customers to communicate their current satisfaction levels, establishes effective metrics with which to track future progress, and lays a foundation for constructive discussions about the strong and weak points of your service plan.

When choosing a survey method, you must assess the resources available for surveying, the type of information you are looking to obtain, and the type of customer you would like to survey. A random customer survey measures overall customer satisfaction and can outline any general service problems. When conducting a random customer survey, you will select a percentage of your customers and contact them by telephone, e-mail, or in person. After contacting these customers, they are asked to rate the level of service provided by your company. When conducting a random customer survey, it is important to remember that the usual response rate ranges from forty to sixty percent. You will need to remember this when choosing how many customers to contact initially. Conducting a random survey is a good choice if you have never done customer satisfaction research before.

Conducting a company-wide attitude survey will allow you to evaluate how satisfied staff members are with their jobs, how well the lines of communication within your company are functioning, and whether or not your employees feel a sense of camaraderie on the job. Conducting a lost account survey involves surveying customers who have closed their accounts with your company. The interviews are conducted either by telephone or in person and let the former customers know that you are attempting to fix your service problems. A target account survey involves surveying a specific group of customers rather than a random sample. This type of survey is particularly useful for improving service to a specific segment of your customer base. Finally, a customer exit survey involves conducting interviews as customers exit a business establishment. This is a useful tool because it catches the customer immediately following their service experience. This provides more accurate and immediate feedback on the service experiences of your customers.

The data collected from the survey can be a critical tool in determining service areas that can be improved. It is important to analyze this data from two angles. First, what aspects of your service plan are failing your customers? Second, how well are the service experience and sales messages you put forth making it into customer consciousness? By carefully analyzing the data and forming a solid action plan, you can not only eliminate ineffective aspects of your service, but help ensure your service drives your sales message home.

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