If you want to serve your customers as effectively as possible, you have to keep a pulse on what they think, how they feel, and where you might be losing them. It's a tall order — one that can be equal parts confusing and exhausting.
Getting a picture of customers' collective perspective on your product or service hinges upon your ability to gather and analyze customer feedback — the lifeblood of your customer service operations.
It's a tricky process that has massive implications on every aspect of your business. And there's one method to achieving it that's more viable and effective than any other: conducting surveys.
Let's take a look at why surveys are so important in the context of sales, marketing, and customer service.
Why are surveys important?
They help you identify opportunities to improve specific points in the customer journey.
They tell you how your business compares to your competitors.
They help you develop brand loyalty.
They can prevent customers from sharing negative experiences.
They help you keep up with changing consumer tastes.
1. They help you identify opportunities to improve specific points in the customer journey.
Your sales, marketing, and service processes are all carried out to facilitate customers' journeys — to attract, engage, and delight them. Every step of those efforts serves a purpose and, in many cases, has room for improvement. Customer feedback surveys let you identify the aspects of your efforts that are holding you back, so you can begin to hash out how to do better.
For instance, say your company sells a B2B speech-to-text platform for recording sales calls. You issue a customer feedback survey to all your customers who purchased in the last year to ask about their experience with your sales team.
After conducting the survey, you notice that respondents consistently single out your team's delayed responses to demo scheduling requests as being detrimental to the fluidity of their experience with your sales process.
That feedback would allow you to take a more informed, objective look at your sales pipeline to see if you're losing prospects at that stage in your sales process.
That new perspective, coupled with the actionable insight the survey provides, will give you a firmer basis to find solutions to improve that specific point in your customer journey.
2. They tell you how your business compares to your competitors.
A customer feedback survey is, at its core, a resource for measuring customer happiness. And there's a host of survey software that allows you to put that abstract concept of "happiness" into quantifiable terms. Metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) track customer loyalty and satisfaction over time.
Similar metrics include Customer Effort Score (CES) — a standard that demonstrates how easy it is for customers to get the support they need. There's also Consumer Satisfaction (CSAT) — a figure for measuring how satisfied customers are at different points in their customer journey.
You can use these scores as reference points to see how you stack up against other companies in your space. Some types of feedback software maintain records of industry averages for these kinds of measures, allowing you to easily compare your customer satisfaction with your competitors'.
3. They help you develop brand loyalty.
Brand loyalty isn't easy to cultivate. It takes effort, compassion, accommodation, and excellent service. Loyal customers have to have some personal stake in your company, and being heard can contribute to that. That's always something to bear in mind.
A survey is one of the better, more straightforward ways to let customers know you value their input and business. Let them praise and criticize you as they see fit. Give them the opportunity to contribute to your company's direction. Doing so lets them know you care about them, and if you can convey that effectively, they'll care about you back.
That being said, there's a caveat to this point. Gathering customer feedback in the interest of building brand loyalty doesn't mean much if you don't do anything with it.
You don't have to move mountains or entirely revamp your business strategy for each individual respondent. But if you notice pervasive trends across a significant portion of your customer base, take a thorough look at the problem they're referencing.
In terms of personal accommodation, see if you can reach out to negative respondents and remedy their individual issues with excellent customer service.
One way or another, let them know their issues and concerns matter to you. If you can get that message across, your customers will be more likely to stay on board with and potentially promote your brand.
4. They can prevent customers from sharing negative experiences.
One of the best ways to avoid negative reviews is to get ahead of them — to preemptively understand the problems customers might air out online. Customer surveys afford you the necessary insight to identify those issues and reach out to the customers that might be having them.
In doing so, you're both demonstrating a commitment to excellent customer service and offering those customers the assistance necessary to figure out their issues on their own. Both of those actions make for positive experiences with your product or service and, in turn, less fodder for negative reviews.
5. They help you keep up with changing consumer tastes.
Your business can't be stagnant. You need to consistently evolve to keep pace with industry trends and customer expectations. But that process isn't always self-explanatory. How can you know what consumers want out of businesses like yours?
Well, customer surveys provide one of the better starting points. You can hear it directly from the people you're looking to appeal to. They'll provide some of the most valuable insight you'll be able to find.
If they're particularly receptive to practices and processes your competitors are employing, you might want to look into incorporating those tactics into your business model.
Consumers don't have definitive preferences that never budge. They change with the times, and as a salesperson, you probably understand that. It's a given that your practices will have to shift as new technologies, strategies, economic conditions, and social circumstances emerge.
The key isn't determining that you have to change — it's determining how you have to change. Sourcing consumer insight through surveys gives you that kind of perspective.
Originally published Jul 6, 2020 8:00:00 AM, updated June 15 2021