Customer Survey : How to Start and what to do ?

Customer Survey : How to Start and what to do ?

Ensuring customer loyalty or getting new market shares is never the result of chance but hard work and superior understanding and delivery of customer needs. 
Now how to make sure that you undertand what is critical to the customer ? What criteria do they put on top and what are their true expectations ?
The customer survey is a good way to collect their feedback and act to ensure that you improve the products or delivered services.

Where to start ?
Before starting it is important to understand where you want to go.
Do you want to understand the situation as is today ?
What are the areas where you want to collect feedback ?
How do you want to feedback the survey results and take actions against them ?
Are you clear with your expectations ?
Can your customers define clearly their expectations and performance standards ?
Designing a customer survey is nothing but simple and can generate if not well prepared a lot of frustrations from the company or their customers.
Therefore it is worth considering its design and analysis as a project.
Let me put in a few words on what to do to start the job :

1.    Define the problem like : 
I want to know my customers perception of my services and increase their satisfaction by 25% , or
I want to know my customers satisfaction score with my new products range versus the old range, …
2.    Ensure you understand the criteria you want to measure
3.    Ask closed questions that require closed answers
4.    Define the way you want to capture results ?
Rate answers from 1 to 10 (allways odd number to prevent pure average answers)
Yes, No , Not Applicable
Be mindful of the cultural habits (1 out of 10 is sometimes the maximum or minimum grade depending on culture)
5.    Limit the number of questions to the strict necessary
6.    Outside of pure product of services questions you should ensure that you can define and sharpen respondant profiles
7.    …

You have made a great job designing your customer survey and now you are ready to go … wait one more minute.

Deployement strategy
Now you should define the deployment strategy :
1.    Paper type left by your sales or services reps ?
2.    On Line survey with a link ?
3.    Mass email ?
4.    How much time do you consider to collect answers
5.    How much answers do you consider sufficient to understand the picture and take actions ?
6.    What will be the next steps ?

These questions are critical and you better pause until these get clear answers before starting.
Customers are eventally willing to invest time responding your survey if they perceive that they can get a better product or service afterwards.
So there should be a real upfront Survey marketing plan to ensure success.

Collect the answers
Now it is time to deploy on the field the survey and collect answers …
Do not feel frustrated by the low response rate.
10 to 15 % response rate can sometimes be perceived as a very good response rate. You have to define what is necessary for your study.
What is the appropriate good number of response to ensure viable survey analysis ?
This is much depending on the number of questions asked. The more questions, the more responded survey necessary to perform an actionable analysis

Analyse the answers
Here is another big part of the job. What to do with undereads or thousands of answers , sometimes incomplete or biased . Even dully filled up you may end up with tons of data that you need to analyse and understand.
Without getting into deep there are just a few important considerations :
1.    What is the overall data pattern ?
2.    Are you managing a normal distribution of data or non-normal distribution ? Not knowing can lead to mistake or biased reults
3.    Are you able to determine each criteria / question against expected performance ?
4.    …
Statistical analysis is a science and ensure that you have the right support to analyse data.

Analysis and feedback
Once you are done with the analysis you should communicate internally to your organisation and eventually take actions to improve areas that need to.
Last but not least you should now give feedback to your customers with the  survey results.
Thank them for the time they invested to reply your survey. Be careful to reply each one customer that has expressed frustration if any. This is a great chance given to organizations to connect directly with their customers and give answers to their potential room for improvement.
It is now the time to draft and action plan and determine the date for the follow up survey (same format as before so that results can be compared).

As a conclusion : defining and implementing a customer survey is nothing but simple and can lead to a bad experience if not well managed.

Feel free to get in touch in you want to get more advices on how to set up the right customer survey for your project