Customer Satisfaction Surveys

There is always a case for gathering customer satisfaction data alongside mystery shopping data – the two are complementary and the full picture is only obtained when the two sets of data are put together.

Many organisations carry out their own customer satisfaction research using methods such as self-completion cards, website pop-ups and automated telephone interactive voice response (IVR) or touchpad systems. 

However, there’s nothing as dangerous as misleading research, and many in-house customer satisfaction systems really can’t give reliable results.  In many cases staff can manipulate the systems by destroying adverse comment cards or soliciting positive feedback.  Automated call surveys can usually be controlled by staff – even some of those which obtain agreement to a survey in advance of speaking to an agent won’t connect at the end of the call if the agent doesn’t hang up.  For others, the agents simply don’t offer the survey to customers that they feel won’t score them well.

In a recent example, a caller was given demonstrably incorrect information despite challenging it twice, so was extremely dissatisfied, but found the automated survey would only let them assess such things as politeness and friendliness.  In this example the business would have recorded an excellent call when in fact the customer was planning to transfer their account elsewhere.

Other issues with response cards and automated surveys are self-selection – where those who agree to take part are only those with time available, so the sample is biased.  There is also potential bias in that customers don’t want confrontation so won’t tell the organisation – but will probably tell everyone else.  In this case a third party researcher is much more likely to get an honest answer.

We can offer customers satisfaction surveys using:

  • Face-to-face (exit surveys)
  • Satisfaction cards (freepost)
  • Post
  • SMS
  • Telephone

A combination of SMS (for volume at minimal cost) with telephone (to follow up specific answers, especially the very poor gradings) can often provide the best value for a modest investment.

For some clients such as business to business, we have an ongoing contract whereby we’re provided with contact details of new (or existing) customers on a daily or weekly basis so we can contact them shortly after their transaction is complete. This is the time when they are most likely to be able to remember the details accurately.  This also provides the opportunity for us to offer to have the client rectify anything that the customer is dissatisfied with.

We also survey customers who made an approach but did not buy (such as people who have been shown around a health club but not joined) and customers of competitors (for example, fleet managers who aren’t customers of a tyre supplier).

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