Customer Satisfaction data gathering rules of thumb

Customer satisfaction is a key indicator of the health of your business. Both an early warning system and a validation of your efforts. It can be a key guidepost all along the customer journey and demonstrate the impact that your marketing efforts are having on your business objectives.

If Customer Satisfaction is a key metric across the full customer journey, then why are we sometimes so bad at collecting it?

In the Salesforce State of Marketing Report for 2020, they include a matrix on Page 8 that shows the survey results of what were the top 5 metrics Marketer’s track as business KPIs by Customer Journey Stage. Not surprisingly, customer satisfaction is included in each stage, except lead generation. (Though I would argue it creeps into lead generation in the form of the satisfactions of referrers, advocates, or influencers.)

Yet, marketers tend to struggle with collecting it and making sense of it. Possibly because it can be largely qualitative. A lot of the other metrics we collect are hard data. And then there is a question of when to ask and how to ask — so that your asking isn’t a pain that leads to dissatisfaction. As well, there is always a concern that we hear from squeaky wheels. We sometimes hear negative feedback more often than positive. So is the data really a true reflection.

How people gather the data today

Customer Satisfaction comes out of asking the customer if they are satisfied, at a given touchpoint. Either through a survey or interview. This can be done with forms integrated into our web sites or apps, chatbots, email campaigns, integrated into a sale or service transaction flow. Every touchpoint we have with the customer can be an opportunity to ask them what they are thinking, As well, suggestions or ideas for improvement from customer-facing employees and partners can also be very useful feedback.

It’s a known truism that it’s easier to continue selling to an existing customer than acquiring a new one. And as an unhappy customer is usually louder and more vocal than a delighted customer, they can be a negative influencer.

It’s in our interest to satisfy our customers. Not just to fulfill the why of why we are in business in the first place. (Wowing our customers is often at the heart of our purpose.) It makes sound business sense to use customer satisfaction results as a key driver to improve business performance. Where we truly listen to feedback and then act on what we hear.

No matter the maturity of your business, you benefit from putting in place a a plan for gathering information from customers and prospects as to how you are doing.

Some secret sauce to gather better customer satisfaction data

Here are a few rules of thumb to consider when developing your customer satisfaction measurement plans:

Identify upfront your objectives are around customer satisfaction. Then design an experiment that will gather information for that objective. Are you looking to improve the satisfaction of a specific customer journey stage? Are you wanting to identify flaws in your engagements? To make it easier for customers to enage with you and improve the experience flow?

Are you seeking advocates or testimonials? Knowing what you want to achieve as a goal can drive what the type of questions you will ask, when you will ask it, as well as how.

Surprise people. When most people decide on the touchpoint and method, they do it all the time. If you have repeat customers, this can be come tedious for them. Then the quality of their answers become as rote as the ask. If your customer or transaction numbers are a reasonable size, then consider sampling. Make it seem a little more precious. A little more invitational.

While it is important to incentivise your sales and services teams based on delighting customers, create incentive plans that don’t rely on overall satisfaction then direct collection activities. Every time I take my car in for service, my dealer hangs on my rear-view mirror a request to participate in a 1–10 rating survey. Then the service staff whisper to me, that anything other than a 10 is considered a failure, so please give them a 10. I’m sure you have seen this too. I tend to then not bother doing it.

Consider what kinds of questions your customer would be open to answer. Make it interesting and invitational. Try to stay away from the typical and trite. Though lots of people use NPS for a satisfaction indicator, since my customers are marketers and understand what the results means, I question if its meaningful for my business. Or like the car dealer survey, they already know what I am considering as a good score and that influences the answer.

Considering rewarding them with a coupon or discount, or some form of appreciation and gratitude for the gift of feedback. Find a way to let them know that you have listened and value their input.

The point is to start.

Customer satisfaction can be a key indication of the health of your business. Measuring it can be both an early warning system and/or a validation of your efforts. It can be a key guidepost all along the customer journey. As well as helpful in demonstrating the impacts that your marketing efforts are having on your business objectives.

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Originally published at on August 12, 2020.