How to Survey Your Customers to Boost Satisfaction


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A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%, say Emmet Murphy and Mark Murphy in Leading on the Edge of Chaos. And we’ve all heard it said that most unhappy customers don’t complain; they just don’t bother to come back.

Do you survey your customers to gauge customer satisfaction in your organization? And how open are you to a candid and measurable evaluation?

Like many small businesses, customer care is one of our company cornerstones. Consequently, we routinely ask our clients for their honest feedback. High satisfaction ratings are a result of knowing which of our processes are working really well . . . and which ones might need our prompt attention.

Recently we talked with Michael Casey, president of Survey Advantage, a Rhode Island-based market research firm. We asked him to share some quick survey planning tips:

  1. Keep it brief. Ask questions that are logical to help better serve the customer. Be careful not to ask too many that are open-ended; it drives up abandon rates. Many B2B surveys yield over 30% response rates if done right and are “other centered,” he says.
  2. Weigh the added benefits of online surveys. Businesses that deliver an electronic survey right after the service get high response rates because they make it easy. Bonus: You may be able to push those “very likely” to recommend you to a social media site to leave a positive review. Or, ask for permission to use their comments in your marketing.
  3. Take the bad with the good. Surveying and asking for feedback shows you care. Companies are always fearful of the bad news, but you should look at it as a gift. A disgruntled customer now can go to dozens of social sites and post all of the details about their dissatisfaction. Why not catch this early and put it to rest before this happens?
  4. Share the results with your team. Your employees will react better to objective feedback from customers rather than a manager or owner saying, “Customers want us to answer the phone faster.” Have a plan. Identify who is going to get back to customers who need attention, who will follow up on sales leads generated and who decides which areas to invest in.

Find out something you didn’t know via a customer survey? Share the most important lesson you learned as a result of asking for feedback.

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