Directwest makes good use of customer feedback on an ongoing basis. We use both positive and negative feedback to make sure our products and services are addressing real business needs, and to find ways of smoothing out our customers’ journeys. We obtain this feedback in several ways; through online surveys, phone surveys, and customer facing staff.

This feedback has become so critical to our success that I would like to share what it can do for your business, and how an online survey could work for your customers. It’s easier than you may think!

How Can Customer Feedback Help Your Business?

  1. Understand customer needs and preferences. By monitoring customer satisfaction, businesses can gain insights into what customers like or dislike, and use that information to improve their offerings.
  2. Understand what’s most important to your customers. You might assume, for example, that price is the determining factor. But it may be response time, or their return on investment, or their relationship with your staff.
  3. Retain customers. Satisfied customers are more likely to continue doing business with a company and recommend it to others. In fact, Forbes reports that “loyal customers are five times more likely to purchase again and four times more likely to refer a friend to a company”.
  4. Identify areas for improvement. Monitoring customer satisfaction can help businesses identify where they need to improve and make the necessary changes.
  5. Stay competitive. Monitoring customer satisfaction can help businesses ensure that they are meeting or exceeding customer expectations. Delighting customers is the surest way to build customer loyalty.

How Can You Measure Customer Satisfaction?

One particularly effective tool for Directwest is our online survey. This online survey can be completed when a customer has the time to reflect and answer. This means that the survey can continue to work even after you are finally finished for the day. And online surveys provide a forum where customers can be candid. Negative feedback isn’t fun to read, but it provides great opportunities to improve your business and increase loyalty.

Timing of the survey can be important, survey invitations should be sent out close to the time of the transaction or customer experience. Plan to email survey invitations to customers who have recently interacted with you in a batch, once every week or two.

And while you are running your survey, make sure to also stay tuned to your social media platforms – they provide another effective way of monitoring customer sentiment.

What Should You Ask Customers?

Here are some great customer service questions that can be used to gather feedback and measure customer satisfaction:

  1. How would you rate your overall experience with our product/service?
  2. Did our product/service meet your expectations? If not, how can we improve?
  3. Were you satisfied with the level of customer service you received? If not, what could we have done differently?
  4. Was there anything that stood out to you as particularly positive or negative about your experience with us?
  5. How likely are you to recommend our product/service to a friend or colleague? (For many organizations, this question is used as their key customer service metric)
  6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience with us?
  7. Did you encounter any issues while using our product/service? If so, were they resolved to your satisfaction?
  8. Was it easy to find the information you needed to use our product/service effectively?
  9. What additional features or services would you like to see us offer in the future?
  10. On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to do business with us again in the future?

Open ended questions provide customers with the opportunity to add valuable detail, but the answers to those questions can be time consuming to theme and quantify. Survey software can much more easily track and quantify closed-ended questions. So, use a mix of both, but choose closed-ended questions as your default.

How Can You Ask Those Questions?

There are many free survey software options available, which allow you to send out email invitations and track the results. If inviting, tracking and analyzing results seems impossible with your workload, Saskatchewan has several good, local research firms who can do it for you.

Getting back to the free options, here are some of the most popular ones:

  1. Google Forms: A free and easy-to-use survey tool offered by Google. It allows users to create surveys, questionnaires, and feedback forms with a variety of question types and customizable themes.
  2. SurveyMonkey: A popular survey software that offers a free basic plan that allows users to create and send surveys with up to 10 questions and 40 responses.
  3. Zoho Survey: A free survey software that allows users to create and send surveys with up to 10 questions and 100 responses.
  4. Qualtrics: A survey software that offers a free plan with basic features, including the ability to create surveys with up to 100 responses per survey.

It is important to note that while these tools are free, they may have limitations on the number of questions and responses, as well as features and functionality, and may offer more advanced features through paid plans.

The question of how many responses is enough is dependent on the size of your customer base. My personal rule of thumb is to get at least 50 responses before changing your business because of the data. If responses are coming in slowly, consider providing an incentive, such as a discount or draw, in your invitation.

In conclusion, it is important for all businesses – large and small – to gather and use customer feedback. Knowing how satisfied or dissatisfied your customers are with your business, products, services, staff, etc. allows you to make the necessary adjustments and ensure continued success for your business.

-Allan Millham is the Research Manager on the Brand and Digital Platforms Team.