Customer Survey – Perhaps You Have Questioned Why You Will Be Needing This..

The basic concept of business-to-business CRM is often identified as allowing the larger business to be as responsive to the requirements of its customer as a small business. In the past of CRM this became translated from “responsive” to “reactive”. Effective larger businesses recognise that they need to be pro-active to find [hearing] the views, concerns, needs and levels of satisfaction from their customers. Paper-based surveys, including those left in hotel bedrooms, tend to have a low response rate and are usually completed by customers who have a complaint. Telephone-based interviews are often affected by the Cassandra phenomenon. Face-to-face interviews are expensive and can be led by the interviewer.

A big, international hotel chain wanted to attract more business travellers. They chose to conduct a client satisfaction survey to learn whatever they needed to improve their services for this type of guest. A written survey was placed in each room and guests were required to fill it out. However, once the survey period was complete, the resort found that the sole individuals who had filled in the surveys were children as well as their grandparents!

A sizable manufacturing company conducted the very first year of what was designed to become Experience survey. The first year, the satisfaction score was 94%. The next year, with the exact same basic survey topics, but using another survey vendor, the satisfaction score dropped to 64%. Ironically, simultaneously, their overall revenues doubled!

The questions were simpler and phrased differently. An order of the questions was different. The format of the survey was different. The targeted respondents were with a different management level. The Overall Satisfaction question was placed after the survey.

Although all client satisfaction surveys are used for gathering peoples’ opinions, survey designs vary dramatically long, content and format. Analysis techniques may utilize a multitude of charts, graphs and narrative interpretations. Companies often use a survey to check their business strategies, and lots of base their whole business strategy upon their survey’s results. BUT…troubling questions often emerge.

Are the results always accurate? …Sometimes accurate? …Whatsoever accurate? Are there “hidden pockets of customer discontent” which a survey overlooks? Can the survey information be trusted enough to adopt major action with confidence?

As the examples above show, different survey designs, methodologies and population characteristics will dramatically change the outcomes of a survey. Therefore, it behoves an organization to make absolutely sure that their survey process is accurate enough to create a true representation of their customers’ opinions. Failing to do so, there is no way the company are able to use the outcomes for precise action planning.

The characteristics of a survey’s design, as well as the data collection methodologies employed to conduct the survey, require careful forethought to make sure comprehensive, accurate, and correct results. The discussion on the next page summarizes several key “rules of thumb” that really must be followed in case a survey is to become a company’s most valued strategic business tool.

Survey questions ought to be categorized into three types: Overall Satisfaction question – “How satisfied are you overall with XYZ Company?” Key Attributes – satisfaction with key areas of business, e.g. Sales, Marketing, Operations, etc. Drill Down – satisfaction with problems that are unique to every attribute, and upon which action may be come to directly remedy that Key Attribute’s issues.

The Entire Satisfaction real question is placed at the conclusion of the survey so that its answer will be afflicted with a much more comprehensive thinking, allowing respondents to get first considered solutions to other questions. Market research, if constructed properly, will yield a great deal of information. These elements of design needs to be taken into consideration: First, the survey should be kept to a reasonable length. Over 60 questions in a written survey will end up tiring. Anything over 8-12 questions begins taxing mdycyz patience of participants in a phone survey.

Second, the questions should utilize simple sentences with short words. Third, questions should demand an opinion on just one single topic at any given time. For instance, the question, “how satisfied are you with our services and products?” cannot be effectively answered just because a respondent may have conflicting opinions on products versus services.

Fourth, superlatives like “excellent” or “very” should not be utilized in questions. Such words have a tendency to lead a respondent toward an opinion.

Fifth, “feel happy” questions yield subjective answers which little specific action can be taken. As an example, the question “how can you feel about XYZ company’s industry position?” produces responses which can be of no practical value when it comes to improving a surgical procedure.

Although the fill-in-the-dots format is one of the most common kinds of survey, you can find significant flaws, which could discredit the final results. As an example, all prior answers are visible, which leads to comparisons with current questions, undermining candour. Second, some respondents subconsciously tend to find symmetry inside their responses and turn into guided by the pattern with their responses, not their true feelings. Third, because paper surveys are typically categorized into topic sections, a respondent is a lot more likely to fill down a column of dots in a category while giving little consideration to each and every question. Some INTERNET surveys, constructed within the same “dots” format, often cause the same tendencies, particularly if inconvenient sideways scrolling is essential to respond to a matter.

In a survey conducted by Xerox Corporation, over 1 / 3 of responses were discarded because the participants had clearly run along the columns in each category as opposed to carefully considering each question.

TELEPHONE SURVEYS Though a telephone survey yields a much more accurate response compared to a paper survey, they could also have inherent flaws that impede quality results, such as:

First, each time a respondent’s identity is clearly known, concern over the potential of being challenged or confronted with negative responses at a later date creates a strong positive bias inside their replies (the so-called “Cassandra Phenomenon”.)

Second, studies show that individuals become friendlier as being a conversation grows longer, thus influencing question responses.

Third, human nature states that people like to be liked. Therefore, gender biases, accents, perceived intelligence, or compassion all influence responses. Similarly, senior management egos often emerge when attemping to convey their wisdom.

Fourth, telephone surveys are intrusive over a senior manager’s time. An unannounced phone call may create a primary negative impression from the survey. Many respondents might be partially focused on the clock rather than the questions. Optimum responses are depending on a respondents’ clear mind and leisure time, two things that senior management often lacks. In a recent multi-national survey where targeted respondents were offered the option of a telephone or any other methods, ALL select the other methods.

Taking precautionary steps, such as keeping the survey brief and using only highly-trained callers who minimize idle conversation, can help minimize the previously mentioned issues, but will not get rid of them.

The objective of any survey is to capture a representative cross-portion of opinions throughout a group of people. Unfortunately, unless most the individuals participate, two factors will influence the results:

First, negative people have a tendency to answer market research more often than positive because human nature encourages “venting” negative emotions. A small response rate will normally produce more negative results (see drawing).

Second, a lesser percentage of a population is less associated with the entire. As an example, if 12 individuals are required to have a survey and 25% respond, then the opinions of the other nine people are unknown and may be entirely different. However, if 75% respond, then only three opinions are unknown. Another nine may well be more likely to represent the opinions from the whole group. You can assume that the higher the response rate, the better accurate the snap-shot of opinions.

Totally Satisfied vs. Very Satisfied ……Debates have raged over the scales utilized to depict levels of customer satisfaction. In recent years, however, studies have definitively proven which a “totally satisfied” customer is between 3 and 10 times more likely to initiate a repurchase, which measuring this “top-box” category is significantly more precise than any other means. Moreover, surveys which measure percentages of “totally satisfied” customers rather than the traditional amount of “very satisfied” and “somewhat satisfied,” provide an infinitely more accurate indicator of business growth.

Other Scale issues…..There are other rules of thumb that may be used to ensure more valuable results:

Many surveys offer a “neutral” choice on a five-point scale for individuals who may not wish to answer a question, or for those who are unable to create a decision. This “bail-out” option decreases the amount of opinions, thus diminishing the survey’s validity. Surveys designed to use “insufficient information,” as being a more definitive middle-box choice persuade a respondent to produce a decision, unless they just have too little knowledge to respond to the question.

Scales of 1-10 (or 1-100%) are perceived differently between age ranges. Individuals who were schooled employing a percentage grading system often think about a 59% to be “flunking.” These deep-rooted tendencies often skew different peoples’ perceptions of survey results.

There are several additional details that may improve the overall polish of any survey. While a survey should be a workout in communications excellence, the knowledge of having a survey also need to be positive for the respondent, in addition to valuable for that survey sponsor.

First, People – Those accountable for acting upon issues revealed inside the survey should be fully involved in the survey development process. A “team leader” should be responsible for making sure all pertinent business categories are included (up to 10 is good), which designated individuals be responsible for addressing the outcomes for every Key Attribute.

Second, Respondent Validation – After the names of potential survey respondents happen to be selected, they are individually called and “invited” to sign up. This method ensures anyone is willing to accept survey, and elicits a contract to accomplish this, thus improving the response rate. In addition, it ensures the person’s name, title, and address are correct, an area where inaccuracies are commonplace.

Third, Questions – Open-ended questions are generally best avoided in favour of simple, concise, one subject questions. The questions also need to be randomised, mixing in the topics, forcing the respondent to get continually considering a different subject, and never building upon a solution through the previous question. Finally, questions should be presented in positive tones, which not only helps maintain an unbiased and uniform attitude while answering the survey questions, but allows for uniform interpretation from the results.

Fourth, Results – Each respondent gets a synopsis from the survey results, either in writing or – preferably – in person. By offering on the outset to share the final results in the survey with each respondent, interest is generated in the process, the response rate increases, as well as the clients are left using a standing invitation to come back for the customer later and close the communication loop. Not only does that offer a method of dealing and exploring identified issues on the personal level, however it often increases an individual’s willingness to participate in in later surveys.

A highly structured customer satisfaction survey can offer an abundance of invaluable market intelligence that human nature is not going to otherwise allow usage of. Properly done, it could be a way of establishing performance benchmarks, measuring improvement with time, building individual customer relationships, identifying customers at risk of loss, and improving overall customer care, loyalty and revenues. In case a company is not careful, however, it can turn into a way to obtain misguided direction, wrong decisions and wasted money.