When it comes to learning about a company’s client base, there is rarely anything more effective than a customer satisfaction survey. For decades, these surveys have given customers a chance to voice their concerns and sing the praises of the industries with which they deal. Very few argue against the efficacy of these mini-quizzes, acknowledging the surveys as a landmark tool toward open communication with the consumer and even the key to predicting consumer behavior and feelings. What has come into question, however, is the best way to get solid responses to the quizzes and questions put forth.
The most commonly used methods of surveying clients involve contacting the customer via letter, phone, or e-mail. Other methods that are used – at a considerably larger expense – include face-to-face interviews and focus groups. Each of these methods has advantages and disadvantages that deserve discussion before embarking on a program of customer evaluation.
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Focus groups and face-to-face interviews can be incredibly cost-prohibitive, not to mention the amount of time necessary to gather the information from those surveyed.
Phone surveys offer the advantages of face-to-face interviews and focus groups without the added cost of sending those doing the surveying out to the premises. It is not, however, the most cost-effective method available, and it doesn’t gather any more responses than face-to-face interviewing.
Mailing surveys out in letter formats, or handing them to customers as they leave the premises, offers a myriad of advantages over the more time-consuming face-to-face and phone surveys. One of the chief benefits to paper surveys is allowing those being surveyed the chance to think about their answers in their own time.
In direct contrast to the earlier methods, paper surveys allow for vast numbers of surveys to be sent out at once, and though the percentage of those surveys coming back may be smaller than in face-to-face interviews, because of the large number going out, the actual responses coming back in can be significantly higher.
In other words, verbal interviews can be completed at a rate of a few dozen per day, which pales in comparison to the thousands of surveys that can be sent out every day in the mail. If only 5% respond out of 10,000 sent out, that’s 500 returned per day! When looking for large numbers, there is no question as to which method mentioned so far works best. However, when looking for a large volume of surveys being sent out with a much higher response rate, e-mail takes the cake.
Sending e-mails to customers is the quickest, most successful method of gaining insight into what the client wants. It’s also the least intrusive, something many people appreciate. A quick scan over the survey, a few typed responses, and a click of a button sends the survey back from whence it came. Viola! No fuss, no mess. The response times and percentages outstrip any other form of surveying available, and customers appreciate the ease and convenience.
Knowing what the customer wants is a necessity of business. Getting that information is required in order to fully anticipate where a business should focus its energy. With so many options available, it makes sense to know which methods will give you the best results.