Customer satisfaction is a complicated issue. Many factors contribute to it, from the quality of your website and products or services to customer service to the look of emails you send. Why should you even care about customer satisfaction? It’s simple: it will help you increase sales. How is that so? After all, you did close those deals. Take a look at the infographic below that explains how inbound methodology looks:
As you can see, finalizing a transaction is not the last step of the sales process. There is another one – delighting customers. Delighted customers will recommend your company to their friends or coworkers and return to you. There’s plenty you can do to delight your customers – use email marketing wisely, provide excellent customer care, engage them on social media etc. (more on delighting customers here). But how do you know if your strategy works and customers are really as satisfied as you think? Companies have even up to 10 times higher opinion about their customer service than their customers do. Use customer satisfaction surveys to collect solid data. And this is what this guide will be about – how you can run and benefit from customer satisfaction surveys and what are best practices.
How to run customer satisfaction surveys
You can employ a variety of methods to research customer satisfaction because you know a lot about your customers – their telephone numbers, addresses, email addresses etc. It gives you the possibility of distributing surveys in a manner the most suitable to your audience. In this article, I’ll focus on online surveys – they are easy to conduct and analyze and they won’t ruin your budget. That said, remember that for certain industries, an old-fashioned quick telephone interview can work better than online surveys. Example: products for elderly people who are not heavy internet users.
Targeted website surveys
Your website is one of the most important touch points between your company and customers. How to use it to research customer satisfaction? Use targeted website surveys. They appear in a form of small box which you can use to ask visitors questions, like in the image below:
For researching customer satisfaction, I recommend running a post-purchase survey. Show a survey on a ‘Thank you page’ to ask new customers how satisfied they are with the buying process, etc. It’s an effective method of capturing customer feedback because people are still engaged and their experience is fresh. You can also use targeted website survey to collect feedback from customers upon their following visits.
Surveys distributed via email
Sending emails with links to a survey is one of the oldest methods of collecting feedback online. Companies like SurveyMonkey built their empires on that. It can still bring good results but you can use a more engaging method of collecting feedback – in-message surveys. What’s the difference between them and traditional surveys distributed via email? The first question is embedded in an email, like here:
When a customer clicks one of the answers, a new tab opens in the browser. You can ask further questions there or simply show a ‘Thank you’ message.
Learn more about using targeted website surveys and email surveys for measuring customer satisfaction in this guide to measuring customers satisfaction.
Benefits of customer satisfaction surveys
There’s one the core benefit or running all surveys targeted at customers – understand them better. Analyzing answers shows you what are common obstacles your customers meet, how you can improve certain areas etc. This, in turn, leads to higher sales. But let’s divide a few specific benefits.
Hint: if you need to convince your boss to get a subscription of a survey tool, show them exact benefits instead of a bit vague ‘understanding customers better’ or ‘increasing sales’.
Improving customer service
The quality of customer service can make or break a company of any size. Your website might be perfect and product flawless but if your customer service team is not helpful, you’ll lose customers and they will spread negative word of mouth. It’s likely that your view on the customer support is more positive than your customers’. And this is why you must ask your customers, not trust your gut feeling.
Hint: to research customer service, send an email survey after all interactions with the customer service team.
Improving product or services
While customer service is incredibly important, no one will buy from you if you offer products services of low quality. So find out how customers assess them and what you can improve. Offering exactly what customers need places you one step ahead of your competition.
Hint: send an email survey after some time since the purchase to collect the most valuable insights.
Turning customers into brand ambassadors
People love it when they see that their feedback matters to the company. Carefully listening to your customers and implementing their ideas is an easy way to truly delight them and show that you care. How to do it? Listen to ideas and reach out to customers whose problems has been solved or suggested an idea you later implemented. They’re likely to appreciate it more than you can imagine.
Discovering competitive advantages
Find out what features are the most important in making decision. It might be low price, excellent opinion, tempting ads, or even high positions in search results. If you know what are the main factors leading to buying from you, you can capitalize on them. Example: your customers don’t perceive low prices as an important factor but love the fact that they easily find you in search results. What does it mean for you? Probably investing in SEO or SEM will provide higher ROI than offering discounts.
Hint: use a post-purchase targeted website survey to research this area, later people might forget what influenced their buying decision.
Best practices of running customer satisfaction surveys
Before you dive into researching your customers’ satisfaction, familiarize yourself with best practices – they will help you make the most of any survey.
Run and analyze surveys on a regular basis
Running any kind of survey provides the most valuable results if you analyze results on a regular basis – be it once a week or even once a month. If you just start a survey and analyze results after 3 months or never, you’re missing chances for improvements. What can help you with it is setting automated reports delivered to your email address with chosen frequency. Not all providers offer it so carefully read their features lists.
Focus on trends
After getting results, you can calculate how satisfied customers are, what are their most common problems etc. But what really counts for you and what you should focus on are trends. Your goal is to improve customer satisfaction over time. Fix common problems and see how it affects results. Don’t focus on meeting or overpassing industry benchmarks, focus on trends and try to beat your results from the previous survey.
A customer satisfaction survey is a part of the experience with your company and brand. The worst you can do is to ruin this experience by conducting a survey that is not relevant to people who receive it. Example: you sell durable goods and send a survey once a month. It doesn’t make sense and you will only annoy customers. Make sure you ask relevant questions and the survey itself match an image of your company – add your logo, use the same colors as on your website etc.
The key to success of all surveys is experimenting. Try different questions, different segmentations of customers, even different design of surveys or order of questions. Experimenting will lead to higher response rates and more reliable results. Just remember to keep track of experiments to know for sure which variant produces which results.
Show customers what’s in it for them
People won’t give you feedback if they don’t see value in it for themselves. Some companies make a mistake and send emails with copy like ‘Last chance to fill out our survey!’. People don’t care that your artificial deadline is approaching. Instead, explain that their feedback matters and will help you tailor services to their needs. Now, they might take a few minutes of their precious time and take the survey.
To run customer satisfaction surveys online, you can use techniques such as website surveys and email surveys. Benefits of running customer satisfaction surveys and analyzing their results include improving customer service and increasing the number of brand ambassadors, which leads to higher sales. Customer satisfaction surveys will be the most useful when you analyze their results on a regular basis and experiment.