How to Measure Customer Satisfaction

Four Methods:Determining the Goals of Your AnalysisConducting Quantitative Customer Satisfaction ResearchMeasuring Customer Satisfaction QualitativelyEvaluating the Results of Your Research

Customer satisfaction is essential for any thriving business. Measuring customer satisfaction enables you to understand customer expectations and identify the areas in which you need to improve your service. There are many ways to evaluate customer satisfaction, both qualitative and quantitative. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to develop your strategies carefully and analyse the results fully.

Method 1
Determining the Goals of Your Analysis

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    Decide what you want to find out. Measuring customer satisfaction could cover a wide range of different areas, so you should start by thinking carefully about what it is precisely that you want to find out. Write down a list of the most important findings you hope to uncover in your research and then organise them in order of importance. This could include:
    • How satisfied the customer is with the quality of the product they purchased.
    • How satisfied the customer is with the in-store experience.
    • What the customer thinks about the pricing policies of your business.
    • To what extent the customer felt that his needs were fulfilled.
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    Consider qualitative and quantitative approaches. Once you have an idea about the sorts of questions you want to ask, and the kind of information you want to gather, you need to think about what approach to take. You can break down approaches to measuring customer satisfaction into the qualitative and the quantitative.[1]
    • Qualitative data would include personal, emotional and subjective responses of individuals.
    • Quantitative data could include of statistical records of how often a customer revisits your store, or how often goods are returned.
    • You need different surveying techniques to gather these types of data, so think about whether you want to focus on one approach in particular, or perhaps both.[2]
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    Understand the strengths and weakness of qualitative research. Qualitative and quantitative techniques both have specific strengths and weaknesses, so you need to consider what type of data you are hoping to produce. Qualitative information on customer experience and satisfaction gained from interviews or focus groups will help you identify key issues and recurring problems across your customer-base.
    • Qualitative research can give you helpful and insightful information about customer perceptions of your business.
    • You can also get a clearer picture of the expectations customers have and in what way you are or are not meeting these expectations.[3]
    • The information will, however, be fairly loosely structured around a few key questions. It can provide you with answers that are open-ended and lack specificity.
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    Consider the benefits and drawbacks of quantitative research. Quantitative research can give you more discreet information and results. It will provide data that is more easily measurable along an objective scale, but will lack the nuance and contextualisation that you get from qualitative research.
    • A survey that has defined answers, such as "agree", "disagree", "partially agree" will provide you with quantitative data which you can collate easily.
    • Quantitative research is a good way to get a picture of the responses of larger numbers of customers, but the information you gather will be less detailed than qualitative research.[4]
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    Plan your research. Once you have decided what kind of information you are looking for, you need to carefully plan out your customer satisfaction measurement strategy. You will need to think about what questions you are going to ask and what exactly you are trying to measure. You will also need to think about who you are going to ask, and how you are going to ask them.[5]
    • Will you conduct interviews over the phone, face-to-face, or through an online survey?
    • Will you ask specific questions with limited answers, or more open-ended questions?
    • How will you coordinate your customer satisfaction research?

Method 2
Conducting Quantitative Customer Satisfaction Research

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    Begin with a baseline survey. If you are embarking on a comprehensive review of customer satisfaction, it's a good idea to begin by establishing some baseline figures. Having a clear picture of where you are starting from will enable you to effectively track your progress and improvements over time. A baseline survey will also pinpoint the key areas you need to focus on.[6]
    • A baseline survey can establish the expectations of your customers.
    • It can also demonstrate how important your customers consider the service to be in their decision to return to your business.
    • You will obtain a clearer view of the relative importance of service, price, convenience, and various other factors.
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    Survey your customers. The main tool in quantitative analysis of customer satisfaction is the survey. You can do in this online, through the post, or on your business premises.[7] Surveys enable you to gain a broad range of information, but the depth of the answers will be a limited. Have a clear objective in mind when you are preparing a survey.
    • The broadest questions would concern levels of overall satisfaction, how likely the customer is to buy from you again, and whether or not they would recommend your business to others?
    • Other questions can be grouped according to specific parts of your service to focus on individual elements of the customer experience.[8]
    • For example, you might have questions on customer service in store, the quality and price of a product, delivery times, and the ease of completing the transaction.[9]
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    Objectively monitor loyalty. As well as asking people if they will return to your business, you can monitor customer loyalty more objectively by tracking payments and transactions. Metrics from credit card transactions, for example, can be monitored to show who is buying what from your business. This might not be be appropriate for smaller businesses, but larger firms will use this data to develop a clearer view of customer habits and loyalty.[10]
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    Evaluate complaints and unsolicited feedback. As well as analysing the feedback you have generated through your surveys, don't forget to look out for unsolicited feedback. Regularly look online for comments and reviews of your business, and include these in your broader analysis.
    • If a customer has left a bad review, you could contact them and ask some follow-up questions, in order to get a fuller picture of the bad experience they had with your business.
    • Websites and social media are an increasingly important and influential forum for customer satisfaction surveys, so you need to engage with this area.[11]

Method 3
Measuring Customer Satisfaction Qualitatively

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    Conduct interviews. Interviews give you a great opportunity to mine the customer's experience and perception of your business. They enable you go further than answers with fixed, discreet answers. The format used can vary greatly, but the one of the advantages it gives you is the possibility to use follow-up questions in order to clarify any uncertain remarks.[12]
    • Interviews can be conducted over the phone or in person, to a script or more free-form.
    • The kind of data you get will depend on the style and format, as well as actual content of the interviews.
    • A skilled interviewer will most likely be able to gain a lot more useful information than someone who is reading from a script.
    • Interviews produce the most in-depth information, but are the most expensive way to gather data.[13]
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    Run focus-groups. Focus-groups can be a good way to get relatively informal information from a number of your customers. It has the benefits of a face-to-face interview in that you can gauge the reaction of somebody, and there is ample opportunity for follow-up questions. Unlike an individual interview, a focus-group enables a group dynamic to develop, which can have positive and negative consequences.
    • You may discover more about perceptions of your business as the members of the group react to each other's remarks.
    • This can highlight disagreements as well as agreements, and expose how different people can respond to the same thing in different ways.
    • Aim for small groups of 5-10 people, and record what is said.
    • You might consider hiring a specialist to conduct the focus-group, or do it yourself.[14]
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    Use feedback cards. Feedback cards can be a cheap and low-maintenance way to conduct regular research on customer satisfaction. You can leave them out around your business, or hand them out directly to customers. They don't take long to complete and can be analysed quickly. [15]
    • On the down-side, the information you receive will most likely be very limited, and you won't have to opportunity follow-up.
    • Often feedback cards are treated as an afterthought, with generic questions.
    • They will give customers an opportunity to make a complaint anonymously and quietly, which can highlight problems that would not otherwise have come to light.
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    Consider mystery shopping. Mystery shopping is another way to get feedback on the performance of staff, and the service your business is offering to customers. Mystery shopping may be done in person in the store, over the phone, or over the internet. A person unknown to you will be hired to act as a normal customer and then document the experience.
    • Mystery shopping can help you see from a customers-eye-view, and negate the possible biases that managers and supervisors might have about particular teams or employees.
    • The results are, however, somewhat dependant on the professionalism and effectiveness of the mystery shopper.[16]

Method 4
Evaluating the Results of Your Research

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    Pinpoint the key findings. When you review your findings you need to pinpoint which factors have the largest negative impact on the overall customer experience. Identify what problems are most likely to result in them not returning to your business or advising others against going there.[17]
    • Once you have identified the most significant factors, these should be the first things you seek to address in your customer satisfaction improvement plan.
    • Communicate these results to all of your colleagues to ensure that everyone understands the areas that need to be improved upon.
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    Continue to measure customer satisfaction. Once you have identified and acted on the most pressing issues that are holding back your business, you need to continue to evaluate and develop your service. Test the effectiveness of the changes you have made continuously with feedback and analysis.
    • You will be able to tailor your research to focus in on the key changes you have made, and evaluate their impact.
    • If you have used quantitative methods to identify problem areas, you will be able to gain a clearer understanding of these problems with some targeted qualitative research.[18]
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    Consider hiring a customer satisfaction specialist. You may have been able to produce accurate, thorough and helpful information through your own in-house evaluations, but you might consider bringing in a customer satisfaction company to help. If you want to broaden or deepen your research, you may require those with particular skills to conduct more thorough focus groups, or help you analyse large data sets.
    • If you want to develop an ongoing strategy of customer satisfaction measuring, it can be economic and efficient to employ an outside firm to do this work.
    • For example, you are unlikely to have a call centre in-house. There are a large number of firms that specialise in this work.
    • Consider what's appropriate for your business, and if you do go for an outside specialist, be sure to employ somebody with knowledge and experience of your sector.[19]

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Categories: Customer Relations