How to Use Customer Satisfaction Surveys the Right Way

Companies run customer satisfaction surveys to find out how their customers really feel about their products and services, or at least that’s why they should run them.

Some companies, instead of using that survey data to identify areas of improvement, choose to tie their customer service representatives’ pay or bonuses to the results.

When that happens the focus moves from getting good, actionable data to getting perfect scores at all costs. This makes the surveys a source of stress rather than good information, and turns the customer satisfaction survey from a useful tool to an annoying hassle.

Keep your customers and employees both satisfied by using feedback surveys to measure the reality of your business, rather than get inflated positive reviews.

Develop a Culture That Promotes Honesty to Get Good Results

customer satisfaction surveyIf your staff fears your customer satisfaction surveys, or if you attach bonuses or incentives to the results, then many employees will try to manipulate the surveys.

Employees at such an organization might feel the pressure to offer extra service, extra discounts, or even blatantly to pressure the customer for these top marks.

When employees do this, it is generally because they fear for their job or want the compensation that’s tied to the satisfaction scores.

Either way, they got a clear signal from upper management that the score, not their actual level of service, was all that mattered.

Gathering data in these surveys should be a mechanism for the customer to have an honest conversation about their experience. The feedback that you get should be an opportunity for continuous improvement.

If you really want nothing but perfect scores, don’t distribute your surveys. Just take them yourself!

The data collected would be just as valuable in this case. Data gathered from an extremely biased process is useless.

Empower Employees to Give Good Customer Service Without Fear

There are times when a low customer satisfaction score can’t be avoided.

Customers may leave low feedback scores because employees followed a company policy they didn’t agree with, or the customer may be making unreasonable requests that cannot be accommodated.

There are even scenarios where a customer leaves a bad score by accident. Have you ever read a glowing 1 star review on Amazon? I know I have.

If your customer satisfaction surveys take these scenarios into account, your employees should be able to use their results to give better service to customers.

Empower your employees to reach out to customers that leave feedback, and see if their complaint can be addressed. They should also have the opportunity to thank customers who offer positive feedback.

Even if you cannot do what they request or resolve their complaint, sometimes an honest explanation goes a long way with a dissatisfied customer.

No matter the scenario, your employees should not fear reprisal for each incident that arises that may be totally out of their control.

Using the Right Questions for Customer Satisfaction Surveys

If you’re truly interested in getting useful data from your customer satisfaction surveys, and you’ve established a culture that promotes honesty in gathering customer feedback, make sure to construct your surveys properly.

Along with the common, “Please rate your experience on a scale of 1-5” type questions, make sure you include open text questions as well.

Rating questions and NPS (Net Promoter Score) can give you solid quantitative data, but allowing customers to communicate their experience in their own words will give you invaluable qualitative data to go with it.

How to Increase Customer Happiness

A free guide to tracking and improving customer satisfaction.

Get the Ebook

Pressing the Reset Button On Survey Collection

If your company is currently demanding only perfect survey scores, I would suggest that you immediately stop your satisfaction surveys for a period of time.

This will signal to employees a fundamental shift in how survey results are being handled. The skewed data that you would have collected during the downtime would be useless anyway.

As an organization, find out what you want to gain from your satisfaction surveys in the future. (A good place to start would be our best practices video series on Great Survey Design.)

Meet with all stakeholders in the company. Explain the shift in how you want to deal with customer satisfaction surveys. Assure your employees that you want honest feedback from customers to improve and that it will not be used to punish or promote.

Make sure you keep your word after the survey relaunches.

You may also want to consider leaving your front line employees out of the decision making process regarding who gets the survey. Instead select from your customer base randomly.

However, do share the feedback with the employee and assure them that perfection is great, but knowledge and understanding of your customers needs is even better!

Relaunch your survey and learn to act on data collected and look at it as an opportunity for continuous improvement.

How We Do Customer Satisfaction Surveys

At SurveyGizmo we have weekly company meetings where we analyze trends in our NPS scores and comments. We examine the data and work hard at keeping our customers happy.

We reach back out to those that take our NPS surveys and try to resolve their complaint or provide honest explanations. Either way our agents are empowered to provide stellar customer service!

Our customer service manager here at SurveyGizmo, Taylor Morgan, will be doing a question and answer in the followup to this article about how we do things here at SurveyGizmo. Look for that tomorrow!


Join the Conversation