Across all industries, there is one thing successful brands and organisations have in common: satisfied and loyal customers. Those brands know that keeping happy customers costs much less than converting new ones – so customer retention forms part of their marketing strategy
But how do you know if your customers are truly satisfied and would even go so far as to recommend you? The answer lies in research. Regular customer research to monitor trends, understand what your customers want, what they like about your product or services and what they don’t. There are several ways to do this – from large-scale customer opinion panels to one-to-one interviews with an objective third party – but one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways is by conducting a satisfaction survey.
Build your brand, grow your business, eliminate risk or engage your employees
The benefits of survey research to your business are considerable. Firstly, there are significant advantages to knowing who your satisfied customers are. Satisfied customers are loyal, they come back to your brand again and again and they tell their friends and family about your business and their experience, good (or unfortunately the bad too and much more often) so it pays dividends to know what you’re doing well as an organisation and what you need to improve on.
Research by InfoQuest looked at 20,000 organisations internationally, and found that a ‘totally satisfied’ customer contributes 14 times as much revenue as a ‘somewhat dissatisfied’ customer. These brand ambassadors are your VIPs and need looking after – but you won’t know who they are, or how to look after them, without a tailored and relevant survey.
Secondly, having a detailed understanding of your customers’ perceptions of your brand, products, quality of service, values and culture is vital in informing your marketing strategy. You can use the results of your survey to target your marketing messages and therefore influence business growth. For example, if your survey results show that your 14-day no quibble guarantee is perceived as a great benefit, or that people love how proactive your organisation is in communicating with customers, you can make this a feature of your marketing, to attract and convert new customers.
Customer research isn’t just about understanding what’s working, but also what isn’t working. There is great value in gaining insight into why customers may be dissatisfied. In the age of social media, dissatisfied customers pose a huge risk to your reputation and the strength of your brand – so understanding why they’re unhappy, and working to improve it, can help to mitigate this risk and therefore protect your reputation.
On top of all this, there can be benefits to understanding your organisational culture too. Gaining in-depth feedback from your customers is an excellent way to motivate employees and help them to focus on how their work does and can exceed customer expectations, really putting your customers at the heart of your business.
What does an effective customer satisfaction survey look like?
When designing your survey, (any survey type and for whichever audience, customers, suppliers or employees), there are a few key things to take into consideration;
- Firstly, and most importantly, conducting customer research is of little value if you don’t act on the results. Before you set out to ask your customers questions, ask yourself this: what is the goal of the survey, and how are you going to analyse and act on the results? More often than not, the way you design a survey depends on what you’re going to do with the information you receive. So establish a process to measure responses and draw conclusions before you start.
- Secondly, a key purpose of customer satisfaction surveys is to build stronger relationships with your client base. Gaining insight that will help you promote your successes with new potential customers and feedback positive changes to existing customers can strengthen your business reputation. Often results allow you to identify and then address areas of improvement operationally and, where identified, share best practice across the organisation too. As with the rest of your marketing efforts, you should make sure your survey is personalised. Levels of personalisation can vary – from addressing your customer by name to tailoring the questions they receive based on their buying preferences – but even the simplest personalisation can help to let your customers know that you value their opinions and that their feedback will be taken seriously.In the same vein, following up on your survey is also essential. Once you’ve collated and analysed feedback and have a plan in place to improve your product or service, you should tell your customers. There is no stronger message than “we listened – and we’re doing what you asked”
- Thirdly, think about how you can maximise response rates. We’re all victims of information overload, so short, regular surveys are much better than lengthy questionnaires. Similarly, a mixture of question types, that give both quantitative and qualitative results, is critical. If you ask your customers to comment on every question, they’re unlikely to complete them all as it will take too much time and thought. Rating scales, such as the Net Promoter Score, are a useful tool in establishing overall satisfaction rates and comparing how they are changing over time. They’re also quick and easy.
- And finally, ensure your survey is branded, personalised, and mobile responsive. Studies have shown that standard customer satisfaction surveys achieve a 10 – 15% response rate, but personalised surveys can be much higher, so consider how you can make your questions relevant to all segments of your audience and that includes knowing when and how they might like to participate, on the move, online, on paper, face to face, that’s true personalisation.
Measure how your business fares against customer expectations
At Carlton Kennedy we provide independent marketing services including a tailored customer satisfaction and research survey service. If you need help understanding what your customers need, think or want in order to better shape your business get in touch for an initial chat about how we may be able to help firstname.lastname@example.org