Customer satisfaction surveys are a form of research in which you ask your customers for their views on issues that indicate how well or how badly your company is performing. Satisfaction surveys are a valuable tool for small businesses, helping you gain a better understanding of your customers’ requirements and concerns so that you improve your products and your standards of service in line with customers’ needs. By monitoring customer satisfaction and responding to problems, you can improve customer loyalty and protect revenue and profitability.
The information from a customer satisfaction survey provides your company with valuable feedback on the issues that are important to your customer. You can design surveys to find out how well your products meet customers’ needs or how satisfied they are with different aspects of the service you offer. The feedback can highlight problems that you were not aware of, giving you the opportunity to respond and take remedial action.
A satisfaction survey provides a channel for customers to express their views. This is important in an environment where increasing numbers of consumers share their views and opinions on social networking sites that are outside your control. Asking your customers for their views on your company’s products and performance indicates that you’re prepared to listen to customers and take account of their views.
By sharing the results of a customer satisfaction survey with your employees, you can build an understanding of company operations from the customers’ perspective. Employees in departments such as accounts or order processing may not feel that their work is relevant to customer satisfaction. By including questions in the survey such as “how satisfied are you with the accuracy of invoices” or “how satisfied are you with the length of time taken to process orders,” you can highlight the importance of the work of those departments and build a customer-focused attitude.
Analyzing the responses to a satisfaction survey highlights your company’s strengths and weaknesses from your customers’ perspective. Focus on areas of your business that achieve very low satisfaction scores and prioritize improvement programs so that you can remedy any serious problems in those areas. The improvement programs can take the form of changes to business processes or employee training. If the survey indicates poor performance in areas such as order processing or telephone response, you may be able to improve performance by automating the processes using information technology. Responses that highlight problems with employee attitudes or knowledge indicate a need for training.
Customer satisfaction levels have an impact on your ability to retain customers. If the survey indicates low levels of satisfaction across a large number of questions, you face the risk of customers defecting to competitors. Research firm B2B International points out that customers’ attitudes can fall into three distinct zones: zone of defection, zone of indifference and zone of loyalty. The zones correspond to different levels of customer satisfaction. The higher the level of satisfaction you can achieve, the more likely you are to retain loyal customers, something that is extremely important for a small business, which likely has a smaller customer pool.
A single satisfaction survey gives you a snapshot of customers’ views at a given point of time. By conducting a number of surveys over a period of time, you can measure the results of any improvement programs you have undertaken. Ask customers the same set of questions in each survey and analyze the results to assess progress.