By John Murray, Vice President
Asking the right questions is crucial to the success of any customer satisfaction survey. For studies that combine both structured and open-ended questions, we have found that including the following five topics will help ensure you gain a clear understanding of how your company is performing, and what areas are most in need of improvement.
- The “Ultimate” Question
“How likely would you be to recommend us to a colleague?” Even if you only have a passing knowledge of customer satisfaction studies, you are probably familiar with this question. It is the question asked of respondents to determine the Net Promoter Score®. While the debate over the validity of NPS® has raged since it was first introduced 15 years ago, it still serves (for many researchers) as the single best metric for gauging customer loyalty and satisfaction. NPS is quick to ask, simple to calculate, and easy to understand. And a remarkably accurate predictor of future behavior.
- The “Why” Question
Despite the power of the NPS question to determine customer satisfaction, it does not give you the context or direction you need to drive meaningful change. For that, you will need to ask the follow-up question, “why did you give that rating?”. Asked properly, this may be the single most important question in the entire survey for identifying successes as well as problem areas, both of which are needed to drive improvement. The question must be asked in an open-ended manner and with adequate time given for reflection and response. Listen carefully – the answer may surprise you.
- The “Personnel” Question
Asking a customer to rate your employees, and to provide the reasons for their rating, may feel a little intrusive. Yet it is an important insight that you need to capture. Research has shown a strong correlation between ratings of people and overall NPS rating for the company. In fact, we’ve found if customers rate their primary contacts favorably, they can be up to three times as likely to recommend and continue to do business with the company overall. Intuitively it makes sense: the quality of the service your company provides is largely a function of the people that provide it. Whether it is your sales team, customer service, technical support, or senior management, the impression they leave on your customers will most likely be the single most important determinant if they become repeat buyers. Or if they don’t.
- The “Competition” Question
How your company measures up to competition is a telling indicator of future market success. Customer surveys provide the rare opportunity to benchmark your company against competing suppliers across a range of key attributes, such as: product quality, service and support, order process and delivery, new products and innovation, and pricing. It also provides important inputs for determining the real strength of your NPS score. Why? Because NPS is a relative number. That is, if your competition is judged as good or better than you, improvements need to be made regardless of your NPS.
- The “Why-Us” Question
Understanding why your current customers selected your company not only gives you insights into their selection criteria and process, it also provides you with invaluable information for capturing new business. Insights into which factors were most important in the selection process – and how you performed along those criteria – will allow you to sharpen your message and sales approach when targeting new accounts or making another run at a lost account.
Including these five questions in your next customer survey will help ensure you obtain the insights you need to drive the changes your customers will find most valuable.