How Often Should You Conduct a Customer Satisfaction Survey?
Best practice for obtaining feedback from your customers requires two parallel systems.
The first is a regular, event-based telephone call from your own people to your customers, at an appropriate time following the delivery of your products and services. This is to make sure that all went well and, if it didn’t, allows knowledgeable people to sort out any issues as quickly as possible. This is aimed at the recipients of your products and services who, by the way, are not necessarily the decision-makers.
The second is an occasional (every 12 – 24 months) in-depth survey of the decision-makers to review your systems, disciplines and procedures, and looking for any “people” issues.
Best practice requires you to take action and close the loop following all forms of feedback.
The “starting point” on the time-line below, after you have selected your questions, chosen your most important customers (those who will be invited to help in this task) and sent out the cover letter, is when InfoQuest begins its validation process – telephoning the customers to make sure they are willing to help in this exercise – and sending out the survey boxes.
Several weeks later we will have had, on average, over 70% of the survey boxes back. Translation work will have been completed, including the verbal statements and written comments, and we will have produced the report in whichever languages you need. We will then hold a full-day’s post-survey workshop with your senior team; looking at the feedback and creating a prioritised action plan.
It is then down to you and your team to work through your own action plan.
Some of the ideas will be quick-wins – easy to do high-impact actions that the customer(s) will see and appreciate quickly.
For most companies the vast majority of actions on the To Do List will require changes to their systems, disciplines and procedures. These will need to be thought out carefully. And the new, improved way of doing things will need to have a dry run, followed by a wet run, and then, if all is well, this new way needs to be implemented as a standard operating procedure.
This all takes time.
Looking at it from the customer’s point of view, the customer needs to experience this new, better way of working at least three times before they can be confident that things have improved.
Before repeating your survey you need to be very aware of what changes are still being implemented based on last-time’s feedback – and have not yet been experienced or appreciated by the customers.
Experience tells us that it is highly unlikely that a repeat survey is going to be helpful to a business any sooner than 12 months since the last one. Feedback is probably going to be confusing, with some improvements going unnoticed. Best practice depends on the individual business, but in most cases you should conduct an in-depth business-to-business customer satisfaction survey every 18 to 24 months.
Test InfoQuest. Call on the number at the top of this page. Ask for John Coldwell. See how InfoQuest can provide you with valuable ideas that will help you increase your company’s profitability. Today.