It is important to know what your customers are like, what they need and how they view the products and services they receive in order to be able to adapt your company to their needs, and to optimise their satisfaction and your benefit.
There are different processes that companies use to get to know their customers’ needs at an internal level; direct contact from sales or marketing, market surveys, CRM software, and other approaches.
Openmet has more than 10 years of experience in the sector, carrying out customer satisfaction surveys on more than 200,000 people. This experience has led us to develop 12 key points to bear in mind when evaluating customer satisfaction in any company:
1. Ensure you have the support of company management: If this type of study is to be effective, you will need the backing and support of the company’s management so that it is possible to implement the changes that the results of the study point to.
2. Select the right questions and attributes: It is important to ask customers about the aspects or attributes of the product or service that affect their satisfaction levels.
3. Use a good analytical methodology: There are many methodologies for evaluating customer satisfaction. Some focus on the difference between expectation and real experience (Servqual), while others focus more on asking customers about how important they consider various attributes to be (Kano). However, in our experience it is best to adapt the questions, questionnaire and type of survey used to the individual situation of each company and its customers. We must be sure to obtain specific satisfaction metrics and sub-indicators so that we can then set objectives and know if we have achieved them.
4. Basic statistical knowledge: To be able to create a good customers sample or to know wether a result is significant or not, it is important to have some statistical knowledge and background. If this is not applied we risk of making decisions based on what we think is correct but may turn out to be a chance occurrence, or simply incorrect. If you do not have statistical knowledge, it is important to use external experts and not to make the mistake of underestimating the significance of statistics.
5. Using customer information that the company already has: Before the study begins, we will already have a lot of information on customers that can help us to segment and classify them, such as their location, turnover, type of product or service they purchase, etc. It is important to use this information in the study so that we can analyse clients based on their responses but also based on the internal view we have of them.
6. Selecting the right survey system: There are many systems used to carry out surveys, but at the end, there are 4 main channels: in person, by telephone, electronically or on paper. We can choose one or the other based on customer characteristics, location, accessibility and availability. The expected investment and the type of questions desired also affect this matter (e.g. in-person surveys are more costly than electronic surveys; or it is not possible to show images by telephone).
7. Frequency: How frequently data is collected indicates the response time we have to react to changes in the market, as well as the time we have to calculate the return on the actions that we take. If customers are surveyed annually we will need to wait a year to know if a customer opinion has changed. When monitoring of customer satisfaction is already established in the company, or when there is a large, diverse customer base, ongoing measurement and monitoring (monthly, weekly or daily) is recommended, providing the optimum amount of information needed for rapid action and response.
8. Use of metrics and KPIs for analysing results and setting objectives. There are many advantages to using metrics:
- Quickly understand if the answer to a question is positive or negative, using one number to summarise all responses
- Quickly carry out operations involving comparisons, development and graphs
- Reach conclusions in less time.
- Reduce errors.
- Easy to present results.
- Group questions according to KPIs which will explain the basic factors influencing satisfaction or the overall satisfaction figure
9. Use of weighting to correct data when necessary: This is a common practice when the importance of the answers of certain customers is to be maximised or minimised, or when sample data need to be compensated in order to correctly estimate reality.
10. Business Intelligence software to analyse data: We use software that allows us to easily calculate metrics and KPIs and to weight, compare and filter results, making analysis much easier. While MS Microsoft Excel can help in some of these tasks, Business Intelligence software is much stronger and more versatile.
11. Correct interpretation and contextualisation of data and metrics by a customer satisfaction expert: An expert in customer satisfaction analysis (if the know-how does not exist within the company we can use an external expert) can help to identify key aspects of the results and to draw conclusions without getting lost in a sea of data.
12. Creating an action plan for improvement with objectives based on metrics that allow you to follow your progress and the ongoing improvement: Once the strategy is contextualised, the company must create an action plan based on analysis of the results of the customer satisfaction study, setting out the main objectives to be achieved and the actions to be be carried out in future.