The fundamental notion of business-to-business CRM is usually described as allowing the larger business to be as responsive to the requirements of its customer as a small business. In the early days of CRM this became translated from “responsive” to “reactive”. Profitable larger businesses acknowledge that they need to be pro-active in finding [hearing] the views, concerns, needs and levels of satisfaction from their customers. Paper-based surveys, including those left in hotel bedrooms, generally have a low response rate and are usually completed by customers that have a grievance. Telephone-based interviews are often affected by the Cassandra phenomenon. Face-to-face interviews are pricey and can be led by the interviewer.
A big, international hotel chain desired to have more business travellers. They chose to conduct a client satisfaction survey to discover the things they required to improve their services for this kind of guest. A written survey was put into each room and guests were asked to fill it out. However, once the survey period was complete, the resort found that the sole those who had completed the surveys were children as well as their grandparents!
A big manufacturing company conducted the initial year of the things was designed to become Guest survey. The very first year, the satisfaction score was 94%. The 2nd year, with the exact same basic survey topics, but using another survey vendor, the satisfaction score dropped to 64%. Ironically, concurrently, their overall revenues doubled!
The questions were simpler and phrased differently. An order from the questions was different. The format of the survey was different. The targeted respondents were at a different management level. The Entire Satisfaction question was placed at the end of the survey.
Although all client satisfaction surveys can be used as gathering peoples’ opinions, survey designs vary dramatically in size, content and format. Analysis techniques may utilize a wide variety of charts, graphs and narrative interpretations. Companies often utilize a survey to test their business strategies, and lots of base their entire business plan upon their survey’s results. BUT…troubling questions often emerge.
Are the results always accurate? …Sometimes accurate? …In any way accurate? Exist “hidden pockets of customer discontent” that a survey overlooks? Can the survey information be trusted enough to adopt major action with assurance?
Because the examples above show, different survey designs, methodologies and population characteristics will dramatically alter the outcomes of a survey. Therefore, it behoves a company to make absolutely confident that their survey process is accurate enough to generate a true representation with their customers’ opinions. Failing to accomplish this, there is absolutely no way the organization are able to use the results for precise action planning.
The characteristics of a survey’s design, as well as the data collection methodologies employed to conduct the survey, require careful forethought to make certain comprehensive, accurate, and correct results. The discussion on the next page summarizes several key “rules of thumb” that really must be followed when a survey is to become company’s most valued strategic business tool.
Survey questions ought to be categorized into three types: Overall Satisfaction question – “How satisfied are you overall with XYZ Company?” Key Attributes – satisfaction with key parts of business, e.g. Sales, Marketing, Operations, etc. Drill Down – satisfaction with concerns that are unique to each attribute, and upon which action might be delivered to directly remedy that Key Attribute’s issues.
The General Satisfaction question is placed at the conclusion of the survey so that its answer will be affected by a far more comprehensive thinking, allowing respondents to possess first considered solutions to other questions. A survey, if constructed properly, will yield a great deal of information. The following design elements ought to be taken into account: First, the survey must be kept to some reasonable length. Over 60 questions in a written survey will end up tiring. Anything over 8-12 questions begins taxing mdycyz patience of participants in a phone survey.
Second, the questions should utilize simple sentences with short words. Third, questions should ask for an opinion on only one topic at any given time. As an example, the question, “how satisfied are you with our products and services?” cannot be effectively answered because a respondent may have conflicting opinions on products versus services.
Fourth, superlatives like “excellent” or “very” should not be found in questions. Such words have a tendency to lead a respondent toward an opinion.
Fifth, “feel happy” questions yield subjective answers where little specific action may be taken. As an example, the question “how do you feel about XYZ company’s industry position?” produces responses that are of no practical value with regards to improving a surgical procedure.
Even though the fill-in-the-dots format is among the most common varieties of survey, there are significant flaws, which could discredit the final results. As an example, all prior answers are visible, which leads to comparisons with current questions, undermining candour. Second, some respondents subconsciously tend to look for symmetry in their responses and turn into guided through the pattern of their responses, not their true feelings. Third, because paper surveys are generally categorized into topic sections, a respondent is more apt to fill down a column of dots in a category while giving little consideration to each question. Some INTERNET surveys, constructed inside the same “dots” format, often lead to the same tendencies, specifically if inconvenient sideways scrolling is important to reply to a matter.
In a survey conducted by Xerox Corporation, over 1 / 3 of responses were discarded because the participants had clearly run on the columns in each category rather than carefully considering each question.
TELEPHONE SURVEYS Though a telephone survey yields a more accurate response when compared to a paper survey, they could also have inherent flaws that impede quality results, such as:
First, each time a respondent’s identity is clearly known, concern over the chance of being challenged or confronted with negative responses at a later date creates a strong positive bias inside their replies (the so-called “Cassandra Phenomenon”.)
Second, studies have shown that individuals become friendlier as being a conversation grows longer, thus influencing question responses.
Third, human nature says that people want to be liked. Therefore, gender biases, accents, perceived intelligence, or compassion all influence responses. Similarly, senior management egos often emerge when attempting to convey their wisdom.
Fourth, telephone surveys are intrusive on a senior manager’s time. An unannounced phone call may create a preliminary negative impression from the survey. Many respondents may be partially focused on the clock rather than the questions. Optimum responses are dependent upon a respondents’ clear mind and leisure time, two things that senior management often lacks. In a recent multi-national survey where targeted respondents were offered the choice of a phone or some other methods, ALL chose the other methods.
Taking precautionary steps, such as keeping the survey brief and using only highly-trained callers who minimize idle conversation, will help minimize the previously mentioned issues, and definitely will not get rid of them.
The goal of any survey is to capture a representative cross-section of opinions throughout a group of people. Unfortunately, unless most of the individuals participate, two factors will influence the final results:
First, negative people have a tendency to answer market research more frequently than positive because human nature encourages “venting” negative emotions. A low response rate will generally produce more negative results (see drawing).
Second, a smaller portion of a population is less representative of the entire. As an example, if 12 folks are motivated to require a survey and 25% respond, then the opinions from the other nine people are unknown and may be entirely different. However, if 75% respond, then only three opinions are unknown. Another nine will be more prone to represent the opinions from the whole group. Anybody can think that the higher the response rate, the more accurate the snap-shot of opinions.
Totally Satisfied vs. Very Satisfied ……Debates have raged within the scales utilized to depict degrees of customer satisfaction. Recently, however, research has definitively proven which a “totally satisfied” customer is between 3 and 10 times very likely to initiate a repurchase, and that measuring this “top-box” category is significantly more precise than some other means. Moreover, surveys which measure percentages of “totally satisfied” customers rather than the traditional amount of “very satisfied” and “somewhat satisfied,” provide an infinitely more accurate indicator of business growth.
Other Scale issues…..There are more rules of thumb that may be used to ensure more valuable results:
Many surveys give you a “neutral” choice on the five-point scale for people who might not desire to answer an issue, or for those who are unable to produce a decision. This “bail-out” option decreases the amount of opinions, thus diminishing the survey’s validity. Surveys that use “insufficient information,” being a more definitive middle-box choice persuade a respondent to make a decision, unless they just have too little knowledge to respond to the question.
Scales of 1-10 (or 1-100%) are perceived differently between age brackets. People who were schooled employing a percentage grading system often think about a 59% to become “flunking.” These deep-rooted tendencies often skew different peoples’ perceptions of survey results.
There are a few additional details that can improve the overall polish of the survey. While a survey needs to be an exercise in communications excellence, the knowledge of taking a survey also need to be positive for the respondent, as well as valuable for the survey sponsor.
First, People – Those responsible for acting upon issues revealed in the survey should be fully involved in the survey development process. A “team leader” should be responsible for making sure all pertinent business categories are included (as much as 10 is perfect), and that designated individuals assume responsibilty for answering the outcomes for each Key Attribute.
Second, Respondent Validation – After the names of potential survey respondents happen to be selected, they are individually called and “invited” to participate. This task ensures the person is willing to accept survey, and elicits a binding agreement to accomplish this, thus improving the response rate. Additionally, it ensures the person’s name, title, and address are correct, an area where inaccuracies are commonplace.
Third, Questions – Open-ended questions are typically best avoided in favour of simple, concise, one subject questions. The questions also need to be randomised, mixing in the topics, forcing the respondent to get continually thinking of another subject, and never building upon an answer from the previous question. Finally, questions should be presented in positive tones, which not merely helps maintain an unbiased and uniform attitude while answering the survey questions, but enables uniform interpretation of the results.
Fourth, Results – Each respondent receives a synopsis from the survey results, in both writing or – preferably – in person. By offering on the outset to share the outcomes of the survey with each respondent, interest is generated during this process, the response rate increases, and also the company is left having a standing invitation to return towards the customer later and close the communication loop. Not only does that provide a means of dealing and exploring identified issues over a personal level, nevertheless it often increases an individual’s willingness to participate in in later surveys.
A properly structured client satisfaction survey provides an abundance of invaluable market intelligence that human nature will never otherwise allow usage of. Properly done, it can be a means of establishing performance benchmarks, measuring improvement over time, building individual customer relationships, identifying customers at risk of loss, and improving overall customer care, loyalty and revenues. When a company is not careful, however, it could turn into a supply of misguided direction, wrong decisions and wasted money.