Measuring Customer Satisfaction

In the last few years, as product manufacturers have coped with the challenges of material shortages against a background of rising prices, the focus on customer satisfaction may have slipped as they strive to make sure product is available to their key customers. Unfortunately, balancing supply against demand can involve deciding which customers not to supply. And as a result, many customers are just grateful to get the product they want when they need it.

But that is no excuse for ignoring customer satisfaction. People have long memories and if they feel they have been badly treated now, they will switch to a different supplier when the opportunity presents itself in the future. The wise organisation will conduct customer satisfaction surveys on a regular basis. This will bring the following benefits:

  1. Your customers appreciate being asked for their opinions and are often happy to provide useful feedback
  2. Engaging with your customers will provide a better understanding of their needs and expectations.
  3. Benchmarking your performance against competitors and other key suppliers to your customers puts your performance in context.
  4. Identifying disruptors and unnecessary costs to target for elimination.
  5. Finding opportunities to improve or expand your product or service offering.

All of which can improve your company’s image and hence brand reputation and leads to customer retention.

Here is the process to follow when preparing to conduct a customer satisfaction survey:

  1. Decide which customer groups you wish to survey. Will it be just your stockists who trade with you, or will you expand it to cover those other users of your products and services – installers specifiers and even building owners?
  2. Having decided which groups you wish to survey you must then decide the sample size. That will be determined by the total number of organisations you deal with plus their diversity. Setting the sample quota is very important and it is advisable to get advice from a research organisation like Competitive Advantage.
  3. Then decide what the key issues are that you want feedback on. Such issues as handling technical enquiries, processing orders, keeping delivery promises, the condition goods arrive in, standards of packaging and your sustainable credentials. This will inform the questionnaire design. The questionnaire needs to be written in a way that flows but also so that it does not lead or influence respondents. Getting this right is where you need to involve the experts.
  4. Then there is the matter of timescales. It can take quite a few weeks to survey a large group of customers. And when you conduct the survey can influence the responses. For example, if you conduct it just after announcing a price rise you can be sure that there will be resoundent feedback that your prices are too high.
  5. Then there is the method to gather feedback. While an online survey is low cost, it does not guarantee a representative sample and may not even deliver a meaningful number of responses. We recommend telephone interviews as we can work to achieve the quota ensuring representative feedback. It also provides the opportunity to probe attitudes with open-ended questions.
  6. Don’t be tempted to undertake the survey with your own team. People are often not as honest when dealing with the contacts they deal with regularly as they do not want to offend. And if it is an extra job that has to be fitted around the ‘day job’ it is likely that timescales will slip.
  7. Finally, there is the matter of budget. We are happy to discuss a requirement and provide an indicative price which can then be included in next year’s budget.

Conducting a customer satisfaction survey is an important part of the business process which should not be ignored. It will provide evidence for your management team and allow fact-based decision making.

For more information see:

Customer Satisfaction Measurement

Market research template

Toolkit datasheet – using market research

Maximising the benefits of construction market research – Webinar

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