There are many ways to survey your customers. You may want to consider employing more than one, but you want at least one method that allows the customer to not only rate their experience on a scale, but that allows them to share their comments and opinions as well.

At Van Ausdall & Farrar, we currently use the Net Promoter Score method*, which is used by a long and impressive list of companies, including Apple, Disney and Target. We send survey requests via email to our customers approximately 24 hours after completion of a service call. This Competed-Call Survey asks 6-8 questions and allows the customer to give specific ratings on their experience with our Customer Care Specialists, Field Technicians and the work performed. The customers are also able to enter comments on each issue being rated. These ratings and comments are very valuable and help us make decisions that will improve the customer experience. But one question has a broader focus and is designed to measure customer loyalty, or, put another way, to sum up the customer’s overall feeling about our company. That question is, “How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” I’m very proud to say that our Net Promoter Score has been admirably above average for the entire time we’ve employed this survey method.

What to ask?
Once you’ve decided you want to survey your customers, you will want to put a lot of thought into what you hope to learn from them. In order to get feedback that will be helpful in improving your customer’s perception of your business, you have to ask the right questions; and those questions need to be clear, concise and specific. The good news is, you don’t have to recreate the wheel, as there are many helpful options available to help you build a survey, from templates to software to online survey services, like Survey Monkey.

Don’t send surveys out unless you have a plan for the responses you’ll get and keep in mind that feedback won’t benefit your business if you don’t take action on it. Make sure you have plans on how you will resolve issues that surface through the survey process.  Decide who will receive the responses and how they will be handled. Our Customer Care Department has the responsibility to carefully review all survey responses and route them to management as needed, based on issues that need to be addressed. When we receive a response that indicates the customer was not satisfied in some way, we call the customer as soon as possible to discuss the expressed issue(s). We want them to know without a doubt that they have our attention and that we sincerely care about their opinion. As a second form of follow-up, the Service Manager and I meet weekly to review any negative responses to make sure that we’ve done all we can to address the customer’s issues in a timely manner. I can tell you from experience that an upset customer can be pleasantly surprised and impressed when they get a call from the Service Manager shortly after submitting their survey.

It’s Not All Bad!
Your major focus should be on addressing dissatisfied customers, but don’t discount the benefits that come from positive surveys, especially those where customers specifically compliment your employees. Make it a habit to forward those compliments on to those workers. Compliments and expressions of appreciation, especially when publicized, can be very motivating and a great morale booster and may help you retain your star talent.

*You can read more about the Net Promoter Score method in a book called “The Ultimate Question”, authored by Fred Reichheld, or you can visit the Net Promoter Score website here.