Undertaking a survey of your customers should go beyond the issue of customer satisfaction. You want to enhance your understanding of your customers’ needs and wants, recognise your weaknesses and identify new opportunities to expand your business. Some customers may be reluctant to give you their real, unbiased opinions if you conduct your own survey, so consider using a neutral party to conduct the survey for you.
Decide exactly what you want to find out before you launch the study and pre-test your questions, as there are always some that are misunderstood or misinterpreted. You can also expect to receive responses or comments that you had not anticipated. Keep your survey brief and focused. To increase your response rate, think about rewarding respondents with a discount voucher (that can be used immediately) or a free gift.
There are many ways to conduct your survey, including:
1. By post (be sure to include a postage paid reply envelope)
2. Over the web
3. By telephone
4. In person
Here’s a sample covering letter:
We are here to provide high quality products and services to all of our customers. To help us achieve this, we would greatly appreciate your opinion of our performance. Please take a few minutes to complete the enclosed survey. Responses will help us identify the areas in which we are doing well, as well as those which we need to improve.
Please return your completed survey in the enclosed self-addressed stamped envelope.
Thank you in advance for your assistance. Please call me if you have any questions.
If you are planning a telephone survey, hire someone to do this that has business experience, as much of the benefit comes from the answers to follow-on questions.
To achieve a high response rate, send the actual survey document in advance with a covering letter asking for the recipient’s assistance. Here’s an example:
HOW ARE WE DOING?
We’re anxious to find out! We have selected some of our favourite customers to participate in a survey.
We would really appreciate it if you could talk to John Smith when he calls. He is conducting the survey for us and will be calling you within the next ten days. The survey should take no more than 8 – 10 minutes to complete.
Thank you in advance for your assistance.
P.S. I’ve attached a copy of the survey document John will be using.