How can you measure the value of your customer relationships? This is something we have been exploring at Haines Watts Hereford and have recently conducted our first series of customer satisfaction surveys.
I think these surveys are a hugely underestimated and misunderstood tool, and one that every business should be utilising – especially in a people-focused industry like ours.
Yes, they can strike fear into the hearts of employees and business owners alike. But when done well, they can also reveal a wealth of insight into how your customers see you, what they like about your products, services, processes and people – and where you can improve.
This customer feedback is valuable to your business, no matter which way it goes. If you get a positive response, you can proceed with confidence – and the customer feels heard and valued. If you receive not-so-positive customer feedback, your proactive approach demonstrates a willingness to address any issues.
Customer survey – Let go of the ego
Importantly, customer surveys are not about boosting internal team morale or the business owner’s ego. Instead, they are about self-evaluation.
While it is tempting to make your customer satisfaction survey call when you know work has landed successfully and you already know the relationship is going well, that is a mistake.
To be truly valuable, all customers should be contacted according to a pre-agreed, regular schedule – no matter what issues have arisen in that period. A regular customer feedback timetable means the information you collect can be benchmarked and you can choose a time that suits them, not you.
At Haines Watts Hereford, we now conduct our customer satisfaction surveys once a year, as we believe this is enough to strengthen the relationship, but without making the process yet another burden for our time-poor clients.
Be brave enough to be different
We have also discovered that this process differentiates us in the marketplace. It sends a clear message: “we are brave enough to tackle problems face-on so we can provide you with better products and services”.
It also builds a culture of communication with clients, so they are more likely to pick up the phone when a problem arises, rather than simply taking their business to a competitor.
Finally, it encourages better internal communication between the business owner and their team.
To get maximum value from your customer survey, you need to embrace the process and be proactive with your response – a blame culture will get you nowhere.
So here are my top five tips for getting the most from your customer satisfaction survey:
- Make them measurable: do them on a regular basis and score answers so you can benchmark against them in follow-up surveys.
- Ask the hard questions: prompt for both negative and positive feedback. If you avoid asking difficult questions about what you are getting wrong, you’ll have no opportunity to improve your business.
- Time to act: proactively follow up the results in your customer survey and communicate this strategy to your customers so they know you have listened to them and respect their views.
- Share the news: talk to your employees about what has gone well, and what hasn’t, over the period captured in the survey, and your strategy for change.
- Indicator of excellence: don’t forget to reward where a customer survey highlights a strong performance.
How have customer satisfaction surveys helped to strengthen your business?
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