Voice of Customer is a topic many companies discuss, and customer surveys are an intriguing aspect of the customer experience odyssey. Like sailors navigating unknown seas, companies often struggle with surveys—some overuse them, others never bother, and many do it wrong. However, this doesn’t mean surveys are outdated and should be abandoned. Quite the opposite: when done correctly, surveys are a powerful tool to gauge customer satisfaction and improve products and services, ensuring a perfect fit in the market.

Surveys, when paired with other tools like focus groups, customer journaling, and shadowing, become a compass guiding your business decisions. They validate hypotheses, identify issues, and gather valuable insights. Yet, without a well-charted plan from start to finish, surveys can backfire, frustrating customers rather than engaging them.

Why Do You Need a Survey?

The first question to ask before setting sail with a survey is “Why?” If you can’t clearly articulate why you need the survey and what you plan to do with the collected data, it’s best not to proceed. Define your objectives: Are you seeking to understand the overall customer experience with your brand, or are you focusing on a specific touchpointor experience? This will influence the survey’s design and timing.

Then, clarify your purpose: do you have a hypothesis to validate or issues to pinpoint? If validating a hypothesis or understanding a known issue, targeted qualitative surveys will yield excellent results. For identifying issues, quantitative surveys are more effective. Determine the kind of data you need and how it will inform your decisions. Without a clear plan, surveys can create more problems than they solve.

When Will You Send Your Survey?

After defining the survey’s purpose and data usage, consider the timing—not just the “when” but also the “how often.” Survey fatigue, caused by too frequent surveys, is a real issue. Managing frequency is crucial.

Segment your customer base and set limits to ensure customers don’t receive multiple surveys in a short period. Tailor the frequency based on a customer’s likelihood to respond. This respects their time and increases the chances of obtaining meaningful feedback.

How to Create a Survey?

A good marketer’s strength lies in simplifying concepts, making complex ideas accessible with few words. This principle applies to surveys. A quality survey is concise and focused, avoiding unnecessary questions that lead to survey fatigue. According to Customer Thermometer, 70% of customers abandon surveys midway. The shorter, the better.

Resist the urge to add extra questions unless they directly help achieve your initial objective. Use brief, unbiased questions to avoid influencing responses and make the survey experience easy and pleasant.

What to Do with the Collected Data?

Ideally, you’ve already planned what to do with the data before starting the survey. Many customers are hesitant to respond to surveys because they feel their feedback goes unused. According to Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service report, 89% of respondents want to provide feedback, but they need to see action taken.

Analyse the results and implement an action plan based on the insights. Simply reporting positive metrics isn’t enough; you must use the feedback to make tangible improvements to the customer experience.

The Most Important Step

After collecting and acting on feedback, the journey isn’t over. Closing the loop is a crucial step that often gets overlooked but is essential for maintaining a strong relationship with your customers. Think of it as the final leg of an odyssey: you’ve gathered valuable information from your crew (customers), acted on it to improve your voyage (customer experience), but now you must communicate these actions back to your crew.

Closing the loop is akin to acknowledging a colleague’s help with a thank you and an explanation of how their input made a difference. Imagine someone comes to your desk, asks for advice, and after you’ve given your time and insights, they simply walk away without a word. It’s frustrating and demotivating. In the same way, failing to close the loop with customers who took the time to provide feedback can lead to dissatisfaction and disengagement.

How to proceed

First, thank your customers and show gratitude. A simple thank you message can go a long way in making your customers feel appreciated. 

Then, share the Insights. Let your customers know what you’ve learned from their feedback. This could involve sharing aggregated data, key insights, or common themes that emerged from the survey. For example, “We’ve heard from many of you that our checkout process is too lengthy, and we’re addressing this.”

Once you’ve made changes, follow up with your customers to let them know the improvements are live and to gather feedback on the new experience. This reinforces that their input is valued and has a tangible impact.

Closing the loop has two incredible ripple effects your company will benefit from. The first is that it creates a sense of respect and loyalty. In a world where many companies overlook this simple courtesy, closing the loop sets you apart and can significantly enhance the lifetime value of your customers. When customers feel heard and see that their feedback leads to real change, they are more likely to stay loyal to your brand.

The second effect is an increased likelihood of future survey participation. By demonstrating that you care and value their input, customers will be more inclined to take the time to respond to your next survey. This continuous cycle of feedback and improvement not only improves customer satisfaction but also ensures that you are always aligned with your customers’ needs and expectations.

Sharing is Caring

Silos are detrimental to companies, but they can be broken down with effective communication. Inform other departments about the survey project, expectations, and timeframe. Share analyzed data through read-out sessions, enabling marketing, sales, customer service, and other teams to benefit from customer insights.By treating surveys as an integral part of the customer experience odyssey, you can navigate the challenges and reap the rewards of improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.

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