Customer-centric businesses use customer satisfaction surveys to assess overall levels of performance and to identify critical areas for improvement. While effective survey systems and questions may lead to useful results, customer feedback processes also have some drawbacks that you must address to maximize their usefulness in your small business.
Opportunities for Improvement
Gathering customer satisfaction feedback gives you the chance to correct specific problems. If customers identify a particular aspect of your service that is slow or ineffective, for instance, revamp it or retrain employees for better performance. Trend monitoring is also important. If you notice over a series of samples that your customer satisfaction score has fallen steadily from 98, to 96, to 94, and then to 92, you have an obvious downward trend in customer sentiment. You may need to complete a more thorough review of product or service concerns and then create a strategic plan to fix them.
A major intangible benefit of customer feedback surveys is the perception customers have. Some customers feel valued when a business takes the time to ask for input. The value is even greater if your company has shown ongoing willingness to adapt to meet customer expectations. Just engaging in customer satisfaction surveys tells your customers that meeting their needs and providing what they want are top priorities for your company.
The potential for sampling errors in surveys means you may take actions that are unnecessary and may go against the overriding sentiment in the marketplace. Customers tend to take the time to complete surveys after experiencing extreme highs and extreme lows in service. Therefore, your sampling may include only extreme perspectives. You could also get an uneven distribution of responses from customers in a particular community or territory. Thus your problems may center on a single location rather than the full company. Investing money without taking a large, representative sample is risky and expensive.
A Catch-22 to getting a sizable sample is that your customers develop "survey fatigue" or burnout when you bombard them with requests. Some companies send survey letters and emails or ask questions after each visit. Your extensive survey process could ironically contribute to a negative experience for the customer. You have to pace surveys and avoid pushy tactics to protect against offending the customers you want to please.
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