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January 2010

Customer Satisfaction Surveys - Searching for Insight Outside

by Clive Hickman, European Insight Manager at SmartWorld

Mystery Shopping is an effective performance measurement and improvement tool to drive the provision of customer service in your outlets because of the detail it can provide on what the staff member did and did not do and can provide focused action plans at store level.

So how does a business measure customer reaction to a new or improved product or service? How can businesses gauge whether customers feel a brand represents value? Whether customers feel the quality of service has improved or declined in the last 6 months? How can businesses analyse customer sentiment long term? More so, how can all of this data be collected, collated and analysed objectively, accurately, efficiently and professionally? Are the resources available? The expertise?

Customer Satisfaction Surveys allow for flexible, pointed questioning outside of the usual sphere of customer experience management. A well-directed Customer Satisfaction Survey can provide the timely feedback necessary to inform business decisions, or provide a snapshot of how your wider customer base feels about the services you provide.

But there is more to gauging customer satisfaction than simply asking questions and having participants give their responses on a scale of 1 to 10. Question choice, language choice and most importantly survey goals, should all be taken into account to maximise the amount of relevant and useful data gleaned from a survey.

Well defined survey goals ensure that a survey produces the data needed to provide relevant insight. The survey goals agreed upon at the beginning of the survey creation process will in turn inform the language, scale and questions choices made and ensure the survey remains on track, delivering the most relevant information on which to base decisions.

Having a clear idea of what you want the survey to achieve in terms of results leads to a clear line of questioning. Surveys without clear goals can be overburdened by a large number of seemingly related questions which end up widening survey scope and diluting the relevance and quality of results. Clear and direct questions improve participation rates and reduces 'question fatigue', in turn improving the quality of responses.

Language is also an important consideration for any form of Customer Satisfaction Survey. The way a question is asked can affect results, also, the wording of question response options can limit or remove value from the data.  Seemingly natural responses, such as 'never', 'occasionally', 'sometimes', 'often' and 'regularly' may not be as effective, or valuable for analysis, as a simple numerical scale.

Best linked with a Mystery Shopping programme, Customer Satisfaction Surveys are an important way to reach both regular and one-off customers who may not be reachable through other means. They allow you to gauge timely results, by surveying directly after an interaction, or an overview, by surveying sometime after an interaction. The feedback and insights provided may shed light on areas that had not been anticipated by Mystery Shopping data, or by the Satisfaction Survey itself. In addition it can provide robust insights into specific target audiences and enable analysis of customer groupings by demographic status, thereby providing a continual pulse on the business to ensure that marketing communications are being received effectively by customers - and the in store experience matches that communication message. 

Customer Satisfaction Surveys provide customers with the feeling that your business cares enough about its customers to open a communication channel directly related to them. In turn, you get direct insight into customer sentiment and a glimpse at what your customers are likely to tell their friends about the service they receive.

SmartWorld works with clients to define survey goals and build structured, meaningful, accurate Customer Satisfaction Surveys to produce structured, meaningful  (done on purpose to suggest that appropriate planning brings an appropriate result) , accurate data which can be used to provide in depth analysis and coverage of topics critical to business strategy, goals and decisions.

We take the unknowns out of survey creation, collection and analysis to provide you with a tailored, targeted solution to help find insight outside of the usual sphere of traditional customer experience management.

With customer retention and attraction now more important than ever, can businesses limit the scope of their customer experience management to just Mystery Shopping? Customer Satisfaction Surveys form part of a solid foundation for building true customer satisfaction and complement the results achieved through Mystery Shopping. This means stronger returns, informed decision-making relating to customer service improvements, increased patronage, improved loyalty and the elusive Word-of-Mouth recommendation amongst your customers that no amount of money can buy.