How do I Best Utilize Customer Surveys?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Customer surveys are one of the tools businesses can use to find out exactly what clients think of the products and services they offer. When properly crafted, the survey will also provide the opportunity for customers to weigh in on issues like shipping methods, the quality of customer service before and after the sale, and what type of changes the client would like to see. Getting the most from customer surveys requires looking at the data from more than one angle, and applying the results to more than on area of the operation.

Quality of customer service can be measured through customer surveys.
Quality of customer service can be measured through customer surveys.

When comparing a cumulative report detailing the results of customer surveys sent out to current customers, it is important to make sure the reporting is balanced. Often, companies are more concerned with creating a nice neat report that indicates a high percentage of clients are happy with the way things are done. While it is important to recognize everything that customers find appealing about the business, it is equally important to mine those customer perceptions about those areas where clients would like to see some improvement. Even if only a small percentage of customers cite a particular area of the operation as lacking, that should be considered closely.

Some companies hire third party market research firms to administer customer surveys.
Some companies hire third party market research firms to administer customer surveys.

For example, if the results from the collected customer surveys indicate that clients are happy overall with the way the customer call center responds to questions and concerns, but would like to see the telephone hold times minimized, this provides the company with the change to make something that is good into something that is great. Typically, if even a small percentage of customers take the time to identify one area that needs improvement, chances are a significant number of other clients feel the same way, but did not take the time to say so. By implementing a means of decreasing hold times during peak periods of call activity, the business may find that the customer service ratings on the next survey increase significantly.

Customer surveys can also provide a wealth of ideas for new products, or changes to existing products. For example, if a client indicates that he or she is very happy with a cleaning product, but would like it even more if it was available in a range or scents, this idea can lead to market studies that indicate that adding different scents will increase the market share of the product considerably. As a result, the company profits from taking the time to listen to one simple suggestion from one if its loyal clients.

There is also the potential for customer surveys to provide inspiration for new ways to think about marketing in general. Should a client note on a returned survey that it would be great to be able to purchase company products online directly, rather than through online vendors, this provides the business with the chance to determine if direct sales would be effective in increasing sales among existing customers as well as broaden access to new consumers. If research indicates the idea is viable, the company may implement an online store, and publicize it via their customers and various media outlets. Assuming the store attracts attention, the business has a new means of generating sales that is likely to require a minimum of maintenance, and returns a significant amount of profit.

Digesting all the information returned on customer surveys is the only way to utilize the resource to best advantage. Choosing to consider each suggestion or concern, no matter how small or unusual, can yield the kernel of an idea that ultimately benefits the company in a number of ways. While this approach to digesting the data from customer surveys is more labor intensive, even one profitable idea can make the entire effort worthwhile.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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