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How to Create Effective Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Jun 29, 2008
Your business depends upon your customers' willingness to continue their patronage. If customers are happy with your product, service and support, they're likely to show it with their continued loyalty. But, customers are often disappointed with their experiences. When they're frustrated or otherwise dissatisfied, they rarely communicate their frustration. Instead, they simply look for alternatives. That means lost business.

You can find out how happy your customers are with your business by creating a customer satisfaction survey. Properly designed, they can help you determine the areas in which your business needs to improve. Below, you'll learn how to create a customer satisfaction survey that encourages a useful response. We'll also give you a few tips to help you maximize their effectiveness.

Knowing The Proper Time To Survey

Timing is everything. The best time to survey your customers is right after you've conducted business with them. At that moment, the experience they've had is fresh. Ideally, they'll be ecstatic with your product, presentation and support. The act of completing the survey right after the transaction cements the experience in their mind. If you ask your customer to complete a satisfaction survey later, there's a good chance he won't remember the details. He may even mistakenly confuse your business with another with which he was dissatisfied.

Design Tips For Your Survey

The design of your survey is critical. It can make the difference between receiving clear feedback or none at all. First, your survey questions should be simple. Customers don't want to spend their limited time filling out long answers. Keep them short and clear. Second, make sure the questions you use on the survey don't influence your customers' bias during future questions. Each question should be exclusive of the others.

Third, if the survey is long, use page breaks generously. They can make a long survey seem easier to manage. Fourth, write a short introduction to your customer satisfaction survey. You need to communicate the goal of your survey clearly to your customer. They need to understand why you're asking for feedback. Keep it concise, but be thorough. Include how many minutes the survey will require. Last, the survey should be designed from the customers' point of view. They need to know how filling out the answers will ultimately benefit them (better support, more efficient delivery, flexible pricing structure, etc.).

Questions To Include In Your Survey

The questions that you ask on your customer satisfaction survey will depend largely upon the type of business you operate. For example, restaurants need to ask questions that focus primarily on service, responsiveness, ambiance and food. On the other hand, manufacturing companies should ask purchasers about delivery times and flexibility in inventory.

That said, there are a few basic questions that most businesses can incorporate into their surveys. You should ask how satisfied the customer is with their purchase or contract. Ask about their perception of the service they've received. Include questions that address their loyalty. For example, ask them how likely they are to purchase from you in the future. Ask about their willingness to refer others to you. Finally, ask them to provide their thoughts on how you can improve your product or service. These basic questions can provide instant insight into how your customers perceive your business.

Putting It All Together

Creating effective customer satisfaction surveys is a science. Millions of businesses rush into it by shoving surveys in front of their customers that are poorly-planned. As a result, the feedback they receive is typically sparse or insincere. Feedback needs to be coaxed from your customers. That requires a well-designed survey that asks the right questions. They must be presented in a way that doesn't discourage your customers' participation.

Customer satisfaction surveys can be an essential tool for your business. If you use them wisely, the feedback you'll receive can be invaluable.
About the Author
Survey Gizmo is a leading provide of online survey software, check out our website for more great ways to use surveys to enhance your business.
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