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What do customer satisfaction surveys do?

Customer satisfaction surveys are used by businesses in every industry and have been for decades. Whether conducted over the phone, completed online or posted to customers they are an easily identifiable part of ‘customer service’. 

But are they more than a tokenistic box-ticking exercise? Does their use benefit a business in any measurable way? In this article, we’ll explore the purpose of the customer satisfaction survey and the role they play in growing a business. 

The ugly side of customer satisfaction surveys 

Customer satisfaction surveys suffer from an image problem in modern business. Thrust upon the customer and a drain on resources within the business they seem to create a lose-lose interaction. And the best part about them? The completed surveys only serve to increase a score few outside of senior management care about. 

If the shortcomings of customer satisfaction surveys are evident to those involved then why are they so prevalent? 

In some businesses, it’s a case of doing what’s always been done. A KPI may have been set on sending them out in a corporate fishing expedition, hoping to land a points increase on an NPS dashboard. 

For others it’s so positive feedback can boost morale and give the marketing team something to use. Whether it be a new testimonial on the website or a social post to prove that customers are generally happy with the business it’s an easy asset to promote the company. So if these are common, yet slightly misguided uses for the customer satisfaction survey, what should they actually do?

The real benefit of the customer satisfaction survey

Customer satisfaction surveys are best defined as a formal way of collating customer impressions. The purpose of which is to gain insight into what the business does well, and where it can improve. Everything else is redundant. 

The insights that are gathered provide a real-world view of whether your business is doing its job right. This includes whether it’s managing expectations and delivering on its promises. Customer satisfaction surveys collate perspectives so the business can identify patterns and trends. They are a customer’s opportunity to share, in their own words, how they view their experience with you. 

Arguably there’s no input more valuable to a business than that of an existing customer. After all, the perspective of the people that have parted with money for your product or service is the essence of business. Unhappy customers won’t return and, what’s worse, they may discourage others from buying from you. Happy customers, however, can become your most valuable sales tool. No Super Bowl commercial, celebrity endorsement or stadium sponsorship will sway an individual’s opinion more than a peer recommending a business at no gain to themselves. 

So how do customer satisfaction surveys tap into this valuable sales asset?

Using customer satisfaction surveys to increase sales 

The first way customer satisfaction surveys help a business to increase sales is by identifying potential detractors. These people have had a bad experience and will likely share that experience with many people. When you receive a survey response that indicates unhappiness, the business needs to take action. Within the business someone, anyone, needs to contact that individual and try to put things right. Sometimes a detractor just wants to be seen and heard - that can often be enough to change their perception of the company. 

Secondly, customer satisfaction surveys highlight the experiences that other people would have had, but may not have shared. Chances are only a percentage of the satisfaction surveys a business sends out are returned. And while the responses directly represent the views of a small group of customers the findings can be extrapolated and/or averaged to represent the sentiment of all customers. Therefore, if one survey mentions dissatisfaction with your business’s communication, the likelihood is that they’re not the only customer to experience this frustration. 

Both of the above examples help a business to grow by reducing the number of customers actively working against the marketing and sales efforts. But the final reason why customer satisfaction surveys are important is to accelerate the number of volunteer sales reps your business creates. Word of mouth marketing is incredibly powerful but it only comes from happy customers. If a business understands what makes its customers happy, and amplifies these reasons, then it can increase the promoter base. This is also a compounding growth strategy because the more happy customers you have the more new people they’ll recommend to you. In terms of a long-term sustainable growth avenue, there are few strategies that are as affordable or as effective as prioritising customer satisfaction.

This article hasn’t mentioned scores or metrics and for good reason. By focusing on a single statistic, businesses fail to tap into the real potential of customer satisfaction surveys. They monitor the NPS needle, the CES rating or the CSAT score but not the common trends the surveys uncover and therefore nothing of any practical value. 

Customer satisfaction surveys can empower you to grow your business, but only when you harness their full potential. But unfortunately what happens all too often is they sit in a folder forgotten and wasted.

If you’re looking to unlock the true power of the customer satisfaction survey then start by getting a free Review Tui account by clicking here. Or, if you want to learn more, why not download our free guide on implementing a customer feedback strategy. 

Download our free customer feedback strategy guide