A customer survey is a questionnaire that assesses how a customer feels about a service, product, or experience.
Rather than waiting for customers to reach out to you or post an online review — which may actually harm your reputation — it’s best to communicate with them directly. The perfect way to do this is to ask for specific feedback in the form of a customer survey. Ideally, these are simple for your customers to fill out, provide opportunities for them to speak their mind, and can be analysed for insights about your company.
There are two ideas at play here. The first is to use this feedback to implement necessary changes to improve the customer experience. The second is to use any positive feedback received in the form of a testimonial, which can be applied to promotional material. In saying that, there are several mistakes that can make surveys unengaging and unreliable. To make sure yours is as effective as possible, lookout for the below four common mistakes.
1. Unbalanced question formats.
Generally speaking, feedback comes in two forms: qualitative (literacy-based) and quantitative (numeracy-based) — it’s important to avoid leaning too heavily either way. If you’re pushing 20 open-ended style questions at people, there’s a chance your customers will look the other way due to the time it would take. Plus, you could be caught reading an essay at the end. On the other hand, 10 scale-based questions don’t leave scope for people who may want to highlight a specific experience, or write a complaint. The solution is a good balance, which varies across industries and from business-to-business. A good rule of thumb is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes — ask yourself: “would I be happy to fill this out?”. If the answer is, “probably not”, you’ve got some editing to do.
Don’t: Stick to a single style of question.
Do: Find the right mix of question formats — usually a combination of open-ended questions, scale-ratings, number-ranking systems, and so on.
2. Vague questions.
Vague questions are excellent at drawing out vague answers — which are a waste of your time and your customers’ time. Each question you put forward should be intentional in gaining a specific, detailed response. When you design your feedback survey, be strategic about creating questions that will direct respondents in the way you want them to go. A practical step here is to write down the objectives you’re seeking, and tailor questions that will help reach those objectives.
For example, let’s say you’re a telecommunications business. You know your customer service team is lacking, and want some insights into why:
Don’t: How was your experience with us?
Do: What five words would you use to describe our customer service team?
3. Biased questions.
You want your customers to gush over your services or products, but it’s poor practice to use leading questions to get them there. Predisposed questioning is the biggest slip-up by companies, in that many business owners don’t even realise they’re doing it. Swaying peoples’ answers one way or another (whether intentional or not) leads to inaccurate data and dishonest testimonials. The customer must determine their response based on their genuine opinion and experience.
In this scenario, you’re following up a customer who has returned a garment to your store after buying it online:
Don’t: How would you rate our awesome FREE returns policy?
Do: Is a returns policy something you consider before making an online purchase? Why or why not?
4. Pressuring customers to provide feedback.
Post your customer satisfaction survey out via email, social media, or house it on your website, just don’t bombard your client-base with it. Repeatedly telling people to fill out your survey will make them feel uncomfortable. And, even if they have had a good experience, the pressure to say so might deter them from becoming a repeat customer. Fact is, a lot of people don’t give feedback, but you’ll have more success by being genuine in your initial request — tell people how this will help you improve your services, or that you’d like to use their words as a testimonial. You’ll have customers who speak honestly, rather than answering questions just to avoid another email.
Don’t: Flood your customers with requests for feedback.
Do: Be relational in your request and follow up once, if needed.
The point of conducting customer surveys is to uncover what people enjoy about your company, and what could be improved. Customer feedback is a powerful tool that can genuinely help you respond to certain areas of your business. The worst thing you can do is ignore the feedback you’re given. Make the most of the data you’ve acquired, and take action!
One way we glean feedback on an ongoing basis is by integrating a simple software into each internal team member’s email signatures. It’s a no-pressure channel which gives clients the option to choose from a three-point rating based on their experience with Helium. Ask us how we do it!