Customer satisfaction surveys can be extremely useful for business management. They give an organization a chance to obtain valuable input from the most important source. After all, customers, through sales, are vital for commercial success. Too often, survey opportunities are not taken and data is lost by managers.
Customer Survey Types
There are several types of information gathering forms that can be made. Each will have its own usefulness. Some may be very helpful, others, not so much. It is important to maintain consistency and to analyze the data, as well as the survey method. Be sure to repeat the gathering methods and to find which works best for your organization.
Initial Contact Customer Survey
This form is used when a person first reaches the organization. Obtaining new customers is extremely important so it is vital to learn how new people first found out about the business. This can directly relate to the marketing campaigns that have been used. Too often, advertising is used with little knowledge of the effectiveness. By asking how customer learned about a business, the effects of marketing expenditures can be measured.
Sales Satisfaction Survey
When a sale is completed, it is a great idea to survey the customer as part of the final delivery process. This can identify information relevant to daily operations. Were there any problems during the process? If you don't know, then you can't work toward fixing them. Did the sale represent good value? If not, repeat business is unlikely. Was this a repeat sale? Re-curring sales are extremely important for most businesses. They indicate that the organization is meeting expectations.
Asking general people on the street about the business is difficult to accomplish, but it can lead to interesting results. This form is a mixture of data gathering and marketing. It may be performed by hired staff in a random location. They can ask such questions as "Have you ever heard of PLATES, Incorporated?", or "Where do you buy your tires?". Respondents may be extremely reluctant to give any information initially. The surveyor is advised to start with a very innocent question, one that can be answered extremely quickly. A yes or no type is best. "Do you have time to talk to me about mortgages?", is likely to receive very little response from crowds of people.
After the initial street questions are asked, the surveyor can follow up with lines of inquiry. Often the respondent will be interested in the nature of the study. If so, the information gathering process will be better. This type of research can be improved, (will gather more responses), if the person asking is able to provide a bonus. Consider using the approach of handing out a discount coupon at the same time as the initial approach to someone is made. Giving a $50 discount coupon, while asking where someone buys tires can be be very successful. Even if they don't respond to the survey, they will have a marketing item which can be tracked back to future sales.
Customer Complaints Survey
Perhaps the most valuable information a company can receive is that which pertains to unhappy customers. As mentioned, if you don't know what the problem is, you can't fix it. As well, unhappy people tend to tell their friends about their experiences rather more than happy people. A bad transaction can therefore lead to a significant hit to the bottom line. Businesses want to keep people happy, but making pleasing someone after af bad experience can be much better. First, they may purchase more in the future. Second, they will not tell their friends about the problem. Third, they might relate how they were unhappy but how your organization really came through and solved the issue.
While not strictly related to the operations, questionning staff can be very helpful. They are on the front line so they can find out information often. While they may be encouraged to report findings to management, they may not always feel comfortable doing so through established channels. They may be more likely to relay valuable knowledge through a survey. Depending on the staff satisfaction, this line of research may prove useful or it may simply become a way for staff to vent. Regardless, the employees often have knowledge that cannot be obtained through any corporate channel.
When an established customer relationship ends, the reason, or reasons, should be gathered, if possible. Whether the relationship is lost due to pricing, service, or other, issues, your organization really needs to know. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding. Perhaps factors happened outside of normal control. Many reasons may have resulted in the termination. Left unresolved, problems might later affect other customer relationships, to the obvious loss of future sales. When you know what was wrong, you may have the possibility to repair the damage. You may be able then to improve the situation for other sales. You may even be able to salvage the terminated client. These are both very worthy outcomes.
Customer satisfaction surveys are tools that managers use to measure the current operational efficiency of an organization. It is said that you cannot alter what you cannot measure. Satisfaction is one parameter that can be measured through various studies. It can then provide one line of knowledge into the management process. Regular measurements can then be used to gage organizational improvements over time. The survey, in any of the many available forms, can be very helpful.
Management performance targets can be related to satisfaction. Efficiency can be related as well. When compared to marketing costs, the combination can be used to establish long range goals. Proper management of any organization is simply not possible without a reliable, and steady, stream of incoming data. Daily operations are often not capable of gathering parameters for bettering the management. It is then the responsibility of upper level staff to start programs that will find knowledge that can improve the sales process.
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