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Customer Satisfaction Surveys -- Boosting Sales and Profit

The more you know about how your customers feel about your company, your products and services, your marketing, your sales and service delivery, and every other aspect of your company's offerings, the more you will know about the changes you need to make to compete successfully going forward.
Customer satisfaction surveys are a very cost-effective way to identify what businesses need to do to execute changes and achieve breakthrough increases in customer satisfaction, customer engagement and loyalty, generating increases in sales and profit. Achieving consistently high levels of customer satisfaction is one of the best ways for any company to compete effectively, grow their customer base and increase profit. This article describes the reasons for conducting annual or more frequent customer satisfaction surveys and how to realize the greatest possible value from customer surveys. The article is based on Quantisoft's extensive experience conducting surveys.

Keeping up With Fast Changing Customer Needs and Competitive Pressure

Customer needs, expectations and desires are continuously changing at an escalating pace. New products and competitors enter the market almost every day. Both business customers and consumers keep raising the bar in terms of what they want and expect when purchasing goods and services. Customers leave for more innovative products and services, lower prices, new product features, better customer service, increased convenience and a myriad of other reasons. Additional information about customer satisfaction survey metrics can be found here.
Customer satisfaction surveys enable companies to identify fast changing customer expectations and needs, and to gather perceptions and opinions about how customers feel about your company, your employees, your face-to-face and online sales and customer service processes, your marketing and pricing, and much more. Customer surveys are an effective way to assess employee engagement from your customers' point of view. Customer satisfaction surveys also enable companies to learn about what it takes to attract new customers and to keep current customers.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys and Customer Opinion Surveys Provide Information and Insight for Making Better Business Decisions

Some companies do not conduct customer satisfaction surveys simply because they do not think to do so. Others avoid doing customer surveys because they fear what they may find out, or because they do not want to risk that customer surveys might help raise customer awareness about any negative aspects relating to their company. This is the "what you don't know won't hurt you" approach to doing business. In fact, it is far more risky to make business decisions without having the best possible information and insight than it is to gather the information, analyze it and take action as needed based on customer opinions and perceptions.
Some companies prefer to rely only on "hard data" to make their decisions, including sales volumes, financials, etc. While "hard data" is important in providing historical information about your customers' purchasing decisions (e.g. how much customers purchased from your company), "hard data" does not include the psychological aspects of customer behavior. "hard data" does not tell you why customers are buying from you or why they prefer to buy from your competitors. "hard data" does not tell you about how your customers feel about your products and services, how they feel about your sales and customer service employees, your prices and every other factor that goes into their purchasing decisions. Only customer satisfaction surveys can provide your company with the important "psychological information and insight" from customers needed to understand what is driving customers' purchasing decisions, and what your company needs to do to achieve consistently high levels of customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and increased sales.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys Provide Information for Strengthening Marketing and Sales

Customer satisfaction surveys often serve as an effective way to reawaken customer awareness and expand relationships with your customers. Customer surveys tell you if you need to make changes and if yes, what you need to change. If customer survey results indicate that your customers are very satisfied, you can include your customer survey findings in sales and marketing. Let's say your company is doing a great job in satisfying your customers and that 95.3% of your customers are very satisfied or satisfied, and that 96.2% of your customers are willing to recommend your company, its products and services. That would be really great news that you should want to know. You can then proudly tell current customers and more importantly, prospective customers that based on a recent customer satisfaction survey, "over 95% of your customers are satisfied and willing to recommend." This is a powerful message for attracting and keeping customers.
Now let's say that your company conducted a customer satisfaction survey and found that only 64% of your customers are very satisfied or satisfied, and that 57.9% of your customers are willing to recommend your company, its products and services. While this would not be good news, wouldn't you want to know that many of your customers are not satisfied or willing to recommend your company, its products and services? This low customer satisfaction level would certainly be impacting sales.
If designed well, the customer satisfaction survey will tell you what you need to do to significantly increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and sales, and customer willingness to recommend your company. Can your company afford not to conduct customer satisfaction surveys and to take action where needed, especially when the cost of customer satisfaction surveys is a very small fraction of the cost of not conducting customer surveys? In small businesses, taking action on the findings from customer satisfaction surveys can generate many thousands of dollars in additional sales from new and retained customers. In large companies, taking action on customer satisfaction survey findings can generate millions of dollars in additional sales and increased effectiveness in running your business.

Getting Value from Customer Satisfaction Surveys

There are several things companies can do to achieve the greatest possible value from customer satisfaction surveys. These include:
  • Customer survey design is very important - Customer surveys should be customized to meet your company's specific customer feedback needs. Off the shelf standard surveys will fall short in getting you the important information you need. Make sure to only ask questions about actionable issues. Surveys should not be used to collect "nice to have" information from customers. Only ask questions that will enable your company to understand how customers feel about important issues that are impacting their buying decisions. Quantisoft has the expertise needed to ensure that the right questions are asked and that they are asked in the right way.
  • Analyze the survey findings in detail in an unbiased manner - Make sure the people in your organization that are charged with analyzing the survey findings are capable of doing so in an open minded, unbiased way. Analysis should be done from the viewpoint of your customers, not from the perspective of one or two managers or departments that may have a defensive attitude regarding what customers said in the survey. Quantisoft's executive summary reports provide a comprehensive unbiased analysis of customer survey findings, along with recommended actions based on survey findings.
  • Always take action based on survey findings - Conducting customer surveys and taking action sends an important message to customers that you are interested in their opinions and that you will take action based on their feedback.
  • Establish improvement priorities - It may not be possible or even desirable to take action based on all of the customer feedback. It is important to carefully analyze the survey findings and set priorities for taking short and long-term action. Tackle the problems and opportunities that are most important to your customers.
  • Communicate survey results with employees - Survey findings should not collect dust on the desks of a few managers in your organization. Customer survey results should be used to let employees know about how well they are satisfying customers and meeting their needs. Survey findings also tell employees what needs to be done to be more focused on customers.
  • Create action teams to act on the survey findings - Conducting customer surveys and taking action on the findings also sends an important message to employees. It focuses managers and employees on customers and customer-related processes rather than on internal issues, and helps to provide customers with a more seamless, customer driven experience.
  • Conduct a customer satisfaction survey annually or more often - In this fast-paced changing competitive marketplace, it is important to have current information and insight from customers. Survey reports provide a current snapshot of customer perceptions and opinions, a report card on progress your company is making, and information about any issues that may have decayed from the perspective of customers. Survey reports should also provide trend data and graphs that track trends in customer opinions and satisfaction levels.

Final Thoughts About Customer Satisfaction Surveys and Customer Opinion Surveys

It is clear that customer surveys can provide your company with important information and insight for increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty, increasing sales and improving company effectiveness and performance. The cost to conduct customer satisfaction surveys is very low compared with the benefits and payback, so why wait? Why risk losing customers to your competitors?
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