February 28, 2022 | Written by Jennifer Thompson

Why You Should Conduct A Customer Survey

Every year, businesses lose money due to a lack of customer feedback. It’s not that companies don’t care – they just aren’t given a chance to fix any problems a customer might have.

Only one out of every 26 customers is likely to bring up a complaint about a company (Customer Experience Magazine), meaning the other 25 customers just take their business elsewhere. This means it is crucial you take the time to ask your customers for feedback, and show them they have a voice and you will listen. Around 58% of people will never use a company again after just one bad experience (NewVoiceMedia). If you can get in front of that by listening to your customers, you can go above and beyond to meet their expectations. 

One of the best ways to gather customer feedback is through a customer survey. Surveys can be designed for any type of business or organization - big or small, public or private sector - and can be used for both internal and external purposes. A typical customer survey is sent out annually via email to your customers. You can also send it to prospects or people on your email list who may not be customers – they might have great insight about why they haven’t purchased yet. The survey poses questions about their experience with your company, website, staff and products, as well as asks for their feedback and opinions. The questions depend on the information you’re trying to collect, but it could include multiple choice or an open-ended question where customers write a short answer.

Once you’ve collected the feedback, you take these answers back to the appropriate stakeholders (i.e. marketing team, sales team, or maybe even the company president) to either make a change to a process that’s not working, or reinforce that something is going right and the customers are happy. This lets team members know that their work is important and does impact customer satisfaction. It also allows you to get your customers opinions (good or bad) in a way that’s not broadcast publicly, i.e. not on social media.

Happy customers will stay your customers and save you money. Depending on the industry you’re in,  it can cost 5 to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than retaining an existing one (Harvard Business Review). 

Here are the main reasons you should conduct a customer survey, along with a few sample questions:

Find out if your customers are happy

Your customers are buying from you, but are they happy? Did they have a positive shopping experience with you, on your website or in a store? Will they come back and buy again? Do they like the product now that they’ve had time to use it? How many people are not buying? Maybe the website is working well, but there is a breakdown when it comes to customer service. You won’t know the answers to these questions until you ask them. There are a lot of questions that you can ask that will point to your customers happiness and satisfaction – depending on what kind of business you are and what you sell.

  • Was the staff friendly and helpful?
  • Was the purchased shipped on time?
  • Has the product been performing well?

Learn why customers bought (or didn’t buy) your product

This is especially important if you sell something that other companies sell. What is it about your company that made people purchase from you? Was it price? Stock availability? Customer service? Reputation? The same ideas apply to people who didn’t purchase from you. A separate survey to non-purchasers can find out where in the buying process there was a breakdown that stopped them from buying. Maybe no one could answer their questions about the product. Maybe it was too expensive. This can also help you learn the kind of content or information that customers need to make a buying decision. If everyone is asking the same question about your product, maybe you need a video or blog post about it on your website. If the feedback is that your website is too confusing to buy on, that feedback can go to marketing to evaluate any changes needed.

Sample question: what was the main reason you purchased from us? And multiple choice answers could be: Price, Location, Stock Availability

Find out who is likely to buy (again)

With customer feedback, you can score your existing and/or potential customers on their opinions and see who is likely to repeat their purchase. If they have lots of great things to say about your company and products, you can start to see who is going to be loyal. One of the best ways to gauge this is the Promoter Score (NPS). NPS is a customer loyalty and satisfaction measurement that asks one question, using a 0-10 scale: How likely is it that you would recommend [company] to a friend or colleague? Scores are calculated based on what number is selected and customers become promoters, neutral or detractors. You can then send different marketing messages to the different types of customers, such as coupons, referrals, review requests, etc.

Get ideas for new products

Your customers might give you ideas for new products that would go well with the ones you already sell. Or, they might have great feedback on how to improve an existing product with new features.

  • How would you improve or change the (product) that you purchased?
  • Is there a related product you wish we sold that we currently don’t?

Understand who your customers are

Customer surveys can also gather demographics to understand who your customer is, such as age, gender, geography, interests and behaviour. These can help you refine your customer experience and also where to focus your marketing efforts. For example, if you determine your ideal customer is quite young, maybe look at channels like Tik Tok or Snapchat.

Measure marketing effectiveness

Along with asking customers about their feedback on your company or service, ask them about their marketing preferences: Do they listen to the radio? What social media channels are they on? Plus, you can ask about their experience on your website: did they find what they were looking for easily? Did it have enough information about the product or service? If not, what was missing? This can also help you see what kind of content they need to help them make a buying decision. If they do all their product research on YouTube, you may need to consider making marketing videos. It’s also a great idea to ask customers if they liked a sale or promotion that just ran. Did it help them want to buy from you? If not, you may need to look at a pricing strategy.

For companies that sell their products or services to other business, there are some other areas that customer surveys can provide insight on.

Evaluate sales reps or account managers

You can ask customers or clients to evaluate a dedicated sales or account rep if they have one. While they may be happy with the product, there could be issues with staff they interact with. Alternatively, if they’re really happy, this could be a way to recognize reps or managers in terms of compensation or bonuses.

Get ideas for new services

Your customers might have ideas for complementary services they would like to see from you, since they are already doing business with you. Or, they might have ideas for new software features for your platform that they already use. They’re the everyday users and might have insight different than internal teams.

Anticipate customer retention rates

You want to know if your customer is going to buy from you again. When you’re selling a service to a business, there are different questions you can ask to predict their churn rate or if they will renew with you again.

  • Are you receiving value for the services provided?
  • How likely are you to recommend (company) to colleagues?
  • How likely are you to renew your subscription?

Often using a third party to solicit honest feedback from customers can a more effective route, as it ensures your customers can speak openly. We are happy to work with clients on a customer feedback program, which can include interviews and specifically timed surveys, or simply create the best questions for you to get helpful answers for an annual survey. If you are looking for a way to gather customer feedback, please give us a call today.

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