Customer Satisfaction Surveys - Response Rate, Analysis, Customer Feedback

S

Sardokar

#1
Hello to All

We ( as an IT Company) send every year an online customer satisfaction survey to the customers that bought from us during the last year as to get a grasp on their satisfaction on our solutions and/or services


1 ) Since we started sending surveys we have noticed a Low response rate (around 20%):

we have tried to improve this by:

- making the survey online (instead of emailed)
- giving the possibility to save/resume filling the survey
- Sending weekly reminder emails ( starting 2 weeks after the first sending )
- Making the survey relatively short ( 10-15 minutes ,depending on how many types of solutions/services you have acquired)


However we still are having a response rate that is pretty low (around 30%) ...

any suggestion to increase that rate (target is around 50% replies at which point we could deem that answers are significant and give us a good idea of customer opinions) ? We are willing to try anything at this point :frust:

2 ) Once we get answers ...who's in charge of determining root causes of problems ?

I mean if a key customer gives a grade of 3 (out of 7) on implementation ... who's in charge of understanding what exactly this customer isnt happy about when it comes to implementation ?

is it the Process owner (Technical Manager) ? Is it the Quality team role ?

Im asking this question because it happened several times that a process owner contact the customer about a grade of 4(out of 7) ...and then he tells us the customer has no problem about this topic ...or the customer misunderstood the question ...

Im afraid the process owner may not want the errors and mistakes to be known and he is covering up and not saying the whole truth ...

what would be the solution then ? Sales to contact the customer ? Quality team to contact the customer ? Problem being quality team has basically NO direct contact with customer the rest of the year (unless complaints)

Opinions please :)


3) Once we determine root causes and we take corrective actions about problems ( example we performed training to an engineer ) ... should we inform the customer(s) that we analysed the survey , took corrective actions (without going into details) ?

In my opinion yes ...but some managers dont agree and see it as admiting a "weakness" ...

Any thoughts?


That's about it ...

Thank you all for your help :)
 
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P

pldey42

#2
Re: Customer Satisfaction surveys - Response Rate, Analysis,Customer Feedback

(The response rate appears to have risen from 20% to 30% even as you were writing the post, so you must be doing something right ;-)

Some questions that might help:

Is the survey the only means for gathering information on customer satisfaction? Does the organization also, e.g. have account managers meet with customers regularly specifically to understand satisfaction? Do senior managers maintain relationships with key or strategic customers? Are there field engineers or maintenance people who could get feedback and maintain relationships? Do you hold open days or conferences for clients?

Does the organization pay attention to other measures of customer satisfaction, e.g. repeat business volumes, complaint rates, number of avoidable calls to the help desk, bills unpaid due to disputes, etc?

Why wait to send the survey? Why not ask survey questions after each transaction, while the experience is fresh in the customer's mind? (I've noticed from unscientific personal experience as a customer that IT companies that ask how well they did after every transaction seem to be better than those that do not.)

Also, what do you want opinions about? Sometimes, developing a strong relationship of mutual trust with one or a few customers can be better than trying to understand them all. For this you might consider identifying the customers who will talk to you, who are representative of your main customer base, who think ahead themselves, who have good ideas, who like experimenting with you on new technologies, who execute well and understand your products, and who might be willing and useful beta testers.

In my experience it's common for the quality manager to lead investigations where customers are unhappy, for all the reasons you've identified: unlike operations, sales and everyone else, Quality should have an independence and be able to look at the situation objectively, without feeling a need to cover up issues created, e.g. by an over-optimistic sales person, an engineering or service delivery error, poor management, weak requirements capture, supplier management problems, etc. In practice Quality does not always have the required technical skills, but nevertheless should IMHO take a leading role in the investigation, supported by subject matter experts as necessary. For me this is an important aspect of the management representative's role.

On informing customers about CAs: sometimes that's exactly what they want and will ask for such, in which case there's no choice. Otherwise, while it's perhaps valuable to show them that the survey was not a waste of their time, sharing all the dirty laundry might not be wise. Rather, how about working with Marketing to craft a “look what we did for you in response to the survey” piece? That said, I suspect that most clients don't much care except about their specific complaints, so I doubt it matters as much as understanding customer satisfaction.

Hope this helps,
Pat
 
N

NumberCruncher

#3
Re: Customer Satisfaction surveys - Response Rate, Analysis,Customer Feedback

Hi Sardokar

The answer to question 1 is simple. Stop doing everything wrong.

Don't keep hassling people if they don't respond. They haven't responded because they don't want to respond and your constant e-mails will just p*** them off. Did you give them the option of opting out of this harassment, or do you actually want to loose customers?

Most people regard surveys with the same kind of anticipation as they regard root canal work. You have made "the survey relatively short ( 10-15 minutes...":lmao:.
Rhetorical question, how long was the survey before you shortened it?

With surveys, a good rule is "you have 2 minutes".

Don't use electronic, use personal. Phone someone you know personally in the company and ask their opinion.

Now, if you want the sneaky stuff...

1) Personal obligation.

Don't phone a random person in the company. Do phone someone you have spoken to (preferably someone who has direct experience of your services)

Don't phone and say "We are carrying out a customer satisfaction survey and we would like you to answer some questions." Do phone and say "I am calling you because I want to find out what you think of the service we provided" [Notice the personal "I" and "you"]

2) Public commitment.

Don't ask "Would you be willing to answer some questions? Do ask "When would be a good time for me you to talk with you?" [Notice, a conversation, not an interrogation]

Then wait.
Don't say anything.
Keep waiting.
Really, just keep waiting...

It's now their job to fill in the space in the conversation.

Very few people, will reply with a refusal. Most people will be psychologically arm-twisted into giving you a time ("Now", "11 AM tomorrow" etc).

If they say "Now", ask them your questions.
If they give any date and time other than "Now" repeat it back to them and ask them to confirm.

eg

"Well, now is not a good time..."

Don't say anything, just keep track of the time. You should get a positive date/time in 5-10 seconds. If not ask them "When is a good time for you?"

"I might have some time this afternoon..."

"That's fine, when shall I call you"
"Erm." "Two o'clock?"
"Great! I'll make a note of that in my diary. [pause, mumble "two-p-m"]. Ok, that's in the book. I'll see you at two then?"

[Wait for a response].

"Yes, ok, two o'clock"

"Thanks a lot, see you then!"

Having now bounced your unwilling victim into making a public commitment that they really didn't want to make, and left them feeling a little resentful at the psychological bullying you have just subjected them to, you need only do one more thing.

CALL THEM AT EXACTLY 2 PM!!!

Time it to the second and factor in the time it takes the phone line to connect. Yes, it really is that important.

By definition, reciprocity works both ways. They have made a commitment to you, you now have the obligation to keep your side of the deal. Remember, you have just tricked someone. They may not be too sure why or how, but deep down, they know they have been tricked.

You really do have to keep your side of the bargain, both from the personal point of view, and from the business point of view.

Finally, the questions.

Keep it short. A few closed questions. "How do you rate...?"
A few open ended questions "What could we do better next time?"

Finish with a "Thank you very much".

If you really want the icing on the cake, the next day send a simple personal postcard with the message "Thanks for all your help" or some other suitable line. Just one line.

The postcard will go straight in the bin, but the thought will not.

NC
 

Big Jim

Super Moderator
#4
The main thing I would like to stress is about the length of the survey.

As long as your survey is, I'm surprised that your response rate is as high as it is.

Short surveys work MUCH better. My rule of thumb is to keep it under 5 questions. I prefer 3. Always provide a comment section to cover the stuff they may want to talk about that wasn't included with the questions.

A high response rate with less information is MUCH more valuable than a low response rate with loads of information.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#5
Surveys are, I have noticed, an attractive means to try to avoid the critical interface of an empowered sales or support person.

My husband is a partner in a fire sprinkler company. They buy their materials from the company that is most sensitive to their needs, which may or may not include the kinds of things a survey would ask.

1) Accuracy in the order
2) On-time delivery
3) Price

Notice how price is last on the list? That's because problems in #1 and #2 can easily outpace a price discount. My husband recently described to me his frustrating encounters with inept contact representatives, in enough detail that I decided not only could these people solve this paying customer's problems, they could take that intelligence and use it to make their company more intelligent. That is something that a survey arguably can't accomplish.
:2cents:

So, to sum it up I say rely less on surveys and more on a crack team of empowered customer support personnel. Their cost is just slightly higher than not making the mistakes in the first place.
 

Big Jim

Super Moderator
#6
Surveys are, I have noticed, an attractive means to try to avoid the critical interface of an empowered sales or support person.

My husband is a partner in a fire sprinkler company. They buy their materials from the company that is most sensitive to their needs, which may or may not include the kinds of things a survey would ask.

1) Accuracy in the order
2) On-time delivery
3) Price

Notice how price is last on the list? That's because problems in #1 and #2 can easily outpace a price discount. My husband recently described to me his frustrating encounters with inept contact representatives, in enough detail that I decided not only could these people solve this paying customer's problems, they could take that intelligence and use it to make their company more intelligent. That is something that a survey arguably can't accomplish.
:2cents:

So, to sum it up I say rely less on surveys and more on a crack team of empowered customer support personnel. Their cost is just slightly higher than not making the mistakes in the first place.
The one topic on your list that I would suggest thinking long and hard about is price. There are entire sales classes taught on staying off price. Not with all, but with a few customers, all you have accomplished is to provide them another hammer to negotiate a lower price. At the least, this will lower your satisfaction rating. At worst, it can erode profit margins.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#7
The one topic on your list that I would suggest thinking long and hard about is price. There are entire sales classes taught on staying off price. Not with all, but with a few customers, all you have accomplished is to provide them another hammer to negotiate a lower price. At the least, this will lower your satisfaction rating. At worst, it can erode profit margins.
I'm with you Big Jim, I think the issue of price is overblown.

Nonetheless it is "blown" and I brought it up, in part because it was among the things my husband (the partner in the sprinkler system company) listed. Indeed, he described being able to say "You're $200 too high" and cite the company's response ("Okay, we will lower it to $X") as the occasional deal breaker. The question of whose profit margin gets eroded seems moot at that point, as the supplier wants the contract over the long haul. Of course, the success of the arrangement is decided by fair treatment among all sides...
 

BradM

Staff member
Admin
#8
A couple of thoughts....

1. The typically response rate for surveys is in the 20% range. So, it sounds like the results you have are typical.

2. Have you assessed the validity and reliability of your survey? On average, you will probably end up with 5-7 questions to measure one construct. So, to measure five things adequately, you will have about 30 questions on the test. More constructs will make the survey longer. So if you want to make it shorter, then focus on 3-4 constructs of interest.

3. Before moving too much to crunching the numbers and such, refer to #2. :D Unless it's reliable and valid, you may not be measuring what you want to measure.

4. Consider alternative methods of measuring customer satisfaction. Maybe develop benchmarks, have salespeople ask questions, visit some of the customers, etc. Saying, three structured interviews done well with three customers, may yield you more valuable information that 3000 surveys.

5. Depending on how you gather your information, you may end up with a handful of issues. Perform a Pareto Analysis, and pick the top three to five. From those, I might do a Fishbone diagram to start the brainstorming process on fixing the problems.

6. Everyone should be involved, as the particular issue(s) will probably run through the entire organization.

As to your question of contacting the customer, if you had some one-on-one time with a customer, I think you should definitely contact them. If nothing else, common courtesy. You can let them know that based on their feedback, you did the following XXXXX to improve.

That way, they feel their time was not wasted, and will grant you as much (maybe more) time in the future.:)
 

qusys

Trusted Information Resource
#9
Hello to All

We ( as an IT Company) send every year an online customer satisfaction survey to the customers that bought from us during the last year as to get a grasp on their satisfaction on our solutions and/or services


1 ) Since we started sending surveys we have noticed a Low response rate (around 20%):

we have tried to improve this by:

- making the survey online (instead of emailed)
- giving the possibility to save/resume filling the survey
- Sending weekly reminder emails ( starting 2 weeks after the first sending )
- Making the survey relatively short ( 10-15 minutes ,depending on how many types of solutions/services you have acquired)


However we still are having a response rate that is pretty low (around 30%) ...

any suggestion to increase that rate (target is around 50% replies at which point we could deem that answers are significant and give us a good idea of customer opinions) ? We are willing to try anything at this point :frust:

2 ) Once we get answers ...who's in charge of determining root causes of problems ?

I mean if a key customer gives a grade of 3 (out of 7) on implementation ... who's in charge of understanding what exactly this customer isnt happy about when it comes to implementation ?

is it the Process owner (Technical Manager) ? Is it the Quality team role ?

Im asking this question because it happened several times that a process owner contact the customer about a grade of 4(out of 7) ...and then he tells us the customer has no problem about this topic ...or the customer misunderstood the question ...

Im afraid the process owner may not want the errors and mistakes to be known and he is covering up and not saying the whole truth ...

what would be the solution then ? Sales to contact the customer ? Quality team to contact the customer ? Problem being quality team has basically NO direct contact with customer the rest of the year (unless complaints)

Opinions please :)


3) Once we determine root causes and we take corrective actions about problems ( example we performed training to an engineer ) ... should we inform the customer(s) that we analysed the survey , took corrective actions (without going into details) ?

In my opinion yes ...but some managers dont agree and see it as admiting a "weakness" ...

Any thoughts?


That's about it ...

Thank you all for your help :)
My thoughts on the questions:
1) I think that customer survey is one of the tools that you can use. So, you can analyze data coming from other sources . The redemption of 20% is very high, taking into account is 8-10% on average. You shall be clever to analyze the data independently of the percentage. You could better take care of the questions of the survey: not so many questions, well centered with a certain range to response from 1 to 5. Take the chance to leave open space for additional notes and remark from the customers.

2. You should analyze the response in multidisciplinary approach, so a team with different skills and competence and responsibility should be formed. The result and the analysis of the customer survey result should go in management review to start project and allocate resource to eventually imporve the processes with low marks. Howver, take into account that the mark is a perception of you from your customer.

3. You should use the result to improve your processes, so , if there are imporvement, the customer will see them when you propose the next survey or directly when you operate the business with it.
I do not see value in communicating action in details. It could be better to thank the customers after a certain time they responsed the survey, telling them in general that the response will be analyzed and imporvement will be tabken to improve the service in the light of mutual beneficial relantionship between customer and supplier.:bigwave:
 
S

Sardokar

#10
Re: Customer Satisfaction surveys - Response Rate, Analysis,Customer Feedback

First off

Thank you all for your feedback and ideas, we will take them into conideration :)

just a few precisions on our survey ,just so you understand why i say it could take 10-15 minutes depending on what customer bought:

we ask what type of solutions/services the customer bought from us in the past year :

- Hardware solutions
- Software solutions
- Educational solutions ( trainings services (courses) )
- Support services

According to the choices of the customer (he can chose several choices together) he is then presented for Each category with a individual satisfaction questionaire .( grading system ranges from from 1 to 7 )

There is one specific questionaire for educational services (around 8 questions)

The questions on Hardware/software/support are the same (But we ask them in different questionaires ) :

- Relationship with current account manager
- Response of sales team to your needs
- Quality of presales activities ( demos, presentations ...)
- On-time delivery of solutions
- Implementation at your premises of provided solutions
- Hands-on training provided along with your solution
- Diversity of (company) solutions
- Quality of Project Management approach
- Adapatability of the Solutions to your needs
- Price Competitiveness
- Quality of technical support provided by (company)
- Timeliness of technical support provided by (company)


Once we finish asking satisfaction on those topics we then ask the customer to rate how important or unimportant these topics are (by giving a grade from 1 to 7 )

While analyzing answers, we then compare satisfaction and importance for each topic and if importance > satisfaction we consider its a PFI (priority for improvement)


finally to answer the following:


( Is the survey the only means for gathering information on customer satisfaction? Does the organization also, e.g. have account managers meet with customers regularly specifically to understand satisfaction? Do senior managers maintain relationships with key or strategic customers? Are there field engineers or maintenance people who could get feedback and maintain relationships? Do you hold open days or conferences for clients?

Does the organization pay attention to other measures of customer satisfaction, e.g. repeat business volumes, complaint rates, number of avoidable calls to the help desk, bills unpaid due to disputes, etc?

No survey is not the only mean of gathering customer satisfaction we have a complaint system (email)) that is up and running in the company , we also have account managers that are in relation with customers and meet with them. We also have support/implementation engineers who perform work at customer premises and could potentially relay dissatisfaction ... although it comes to whether these people actually would ... would an engineer tell me that the customer is not happy of his support work if he hears dissatisfaction from a customer on his work ? most likely not and unless the customer calls us or the technical manager we probably wont hear about it

Repeat business is globally measured but not measured seriously enough .. (how do you judge if a business is a "repeat" in the IT industry ? after 1 year ? two ?)

we do track the rate of valid complaints though through quality objectives

what's an avoidable call to the helpdesk ??

Thanks all for your help :)
 
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