How to prepare a good customer satisfaction survey?

Creating a good customer satisfaction survey is a challenge in of its very own. What exactly do you want to know and what do you want to achieve with your survey? Up front, a statement list that explains respondents’ experiences 100% is practically unfeasible. This is because there are numerous factors that play into the respondent’s experience of your company. To illustrate, the respondent may have found out this morning that there is a scratch on his car. This small event could affect how this respondent fills out your survey. And now you’re thinking, are these really things I should consider? For a valid list of statements you cannot escape this, but there are steps to create the best possible list of statements to ask the aspects that really make a difference.

Who is actually going to complete that customer satisfaction survey?

Is it B2B or B2C, did the person participate in something or just purchase a product? Is it a guest, customer, visitor, user or participant? Should the survey be formal or informal? After answering these questions, you will have a clear understanding of what conditions the questionnaire should meet. So it is important to know who your target audience is.

Prepare and create context around the customer satisfaction survey

A good start is to experience for yourself what a respondent’s experience is with your company. This creates a huge amount of context, but with this you are not done yet! Interview stakeholders, both internal and external. For instance, interview four colleagues who deal with customer contact. You also interview four customers who are open to a conversation. This way, you find out what a customer considers important in the relationship the customer has with your company. Although this is time-consuming, this often provides valuable insights.

Turning knowledge into concrete statements

Now that you know what is important to the respondent, you can formulate statements about it. This is a tricky job. People often tend to ask about several aspects in one statement, or ask the statement in a vague or negative way. An example of multiple aspects is: ‘The food was tasty and looked good’. This is not a good statement because when someone gives a 5/10 it could be that the food scored high and it looked bad, but it could also be the other way around. Therefore, you should split this example statement into two statements. In this step, you need to ask yourself carefully what you want to know so that you make sure you measure what you want to measure. In doing so, try to be as specific as possible in your question formulation.

Shaping the structure of the customer satisfaction survey

Now that you have correct and relevant statements, you need to ask yourself what kind of structure the survey should have. After all, the list of statements is only one part. Besides that, do you want to know a rating, or the NPS score, or both? Should we use open-ended questions, and if so, how many? Are there any characteristics you don’t know but would like to know from respondents? Once you have answered these questions, you can start drafting the survey. Our tip when structuring your survey is to use as few text fields as possible, this costs the respondent a lot of effort and time and that negates the quality of the answer.

Gaining additional customer insights

When you measure satisfaction through your set-up survey, you get back results that you can use to improve your service or product. Besides these areas for improvement, results also raise questions. For instance, when most of the improvement potential is in the restaurant’s atmosphere, you need to know how to improve it. Sometimes the information from the open questions is not enough to set up an improvement plan. For this, you can ask a specific open question, e.g. “What do you think of the atmosphere in the restaurant?”. By asking this question, you gain additional insight into a specific topic.

Committing to the continuous customer satisfaction improvement cycle

Setting up an improvement cycle ensures survey perfection. We do this by performing statistical analyses. This allows us to actually show which aspects matter. From such an analysis, it may become clear that you do not need to ask a statement because it is labelled as not important. This gives room for other propositions. Of course, it may also emerge that one aspect is very important, in which case you can split the proposition into several variables on which you can take very concrete action. You do this by going back to the famous drawing board, conducting interviews and really understanding what that aspect means.

The different steps in short:

  • Creating clarity about the respondent including the relationship with this respondent;
  • Collecting facts, finding out what is important;
  • Setting up the statements;
  • Setting up the structure of the entire survey;
  • Creating an improvement cycle.

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Merel Eijkelkamp

Junior Project Manager