The importance of customer surveys


IMAGE COURTESY OF STOCK.XCHNG/DOMINIK GWAREK.

Do you really know what your customers are thinking about their landscape services? Most of us take our relationship with our customers for granted. We all know customer satisfaction is essential to the survival of our businesses, yet we don’t ask the customer what he is thinking. How do we find out whether our customers are satisfied? The best way is to ask them.

When you conduct a customer satisfaction survey, the questions you ask are important. How, when and how often you ask is also important. However, the most important thing is what you do with the responses once you have them.

How you ask

There are many ways to ask your customers for feedback. Some of the more popular methods include:

  • face-to-face;
  • by phone;
  • mail a questionnaire;
  • e-mail a customer satisfaction survey; or
  • e-mail an invitation to take a customer satisfaction survey from a third-party website.

When

The best time to conduct a customer satisfaction survey is when the experience is fresh in their minds, possibly after a large project has been completed. If you wait to conduct a survey, the customer’s response may be less accurate. Your customer may have forgotten some of the details, and they might answer about a later event. This might color the customer’s answers because of confusion with other visits. You do not want to be confused with another service provider do you?

What to ask

There is a school of thought that you only need to ask a single question in a customer satisfaction survey: “Will you buy from me again?” While it is tempting to reduce your customer satisfaction survey to this supposed “essence,” you miss a lot of valuable information, and you can be easily misled.

It is too easy for a customer to answer “yes” to the question, whether they mean it or not. You want to ask other questions in a customer satisfaction survey to get closer to the expected behavior and to collect information about what to change and what to keep doing. Today, more than ever, you want to know what the customer is looking for from a service provider, so ask the basic customer satisfaction questions:

  • How satisfied are you with the purchase you made (of a product or service)?
  • How satisfied are you with the service you received?
  • How satisfied are you with our company overall?
  • Also ask customer loyalty questions:
  • How likely are you to buy from us again?
  • How likely are you to recommend our product/service to others?
  • How likely are you to recommend our company to others?

You should also ask what the customer liked and didn’t like about the product, your service and your company. Really key in on customer loyalty questions. What better way to build your business than through the recommendations of existing customers.

How often

The best answer is: Often enough to get the most information, but not so often as to upset the customer. In real terms, how often you conduct a customer satisfaction survey depends on how often you interact with your customers. If you wait too long between surveys, you will miss important changes in their attitudes that may be driven by seasonal or one-time events.

What to do with the answers

Regardless of how you ask your customers for feedback, what you ask and when you survey them, the most important part of the customer satisfaction survey is what you do with their answers.

You will need to compile the answers and look for trends. You should look for differences by service line. However, you need to act on the information you get from your customers. Fix the things they complained about, investigate their suggestions, and improve your company and services in the areas that mean the most to your customers. Reinforce the things the customers like. Most importantly, you need to give them feedback so they know that their answers were appreciated and their suggestions are being acted upon.

What’s next?

Now it’s time to go and see the customer. Thank them for completing the survey. Discuss the action steps necessary from the survey, and plan for repeating the process. Every day is another challenge in maintaining customer satisfaction.

When you talk with your customer, you have a better chance of meeting the expectations of customer satisfaction and keeping your customer for a long time.

With more than 30 years of experience in franchising, sales and business operations, Paul Wolbert knows franchising like the back of his hand. He helps potential new franchisees make their decision to come into the market, and his in-depth knowledge of the green industry allows him to keep the U.S. Lawns marketing plan on target for franchisees’ growth and for all divisions of U.S. Lawn’s business to thrive in any economy. He has helped build the U.S. Lawn business to where it is today.