The basic idea of business-to-business CRM is frequently described as allowing the larger business to be as responsive to the needs of its customer as a small business. In the past of CRM this became translated from “responsive” to “reactive”. Effective larger businesses acknowledge that they need to be pro-active to find [listening to] the views, concerns, needs and levels of satisfaction from their customers. Paper-based surveys, including those left in hotel bedrooms, tend to have a low response rate and are usually completed by customers that have a complaint. Telephone-based interviews are frequently influenced by the Cassandra phenomenon. Face-to-face interviews are costly and can be led by the interviewer.

A big, international hotel chain wished to get more business travellers. They made a decision to conduct a consumer satisfaction survey to learn whatever they needed to enhance their services for this sort of guest. A written survey was placed in each room and guests were motivated to fill it out. However, if the survey period was complete, the resort discovered that the sole those who had filled in the surveys were children as well as their grandparents!

A sizable manufacturing company conducted the very first year of what was designed to be Experience survey. The very first year, the satisfaction score was 94%. The 2nd year, with the same basic survey topics, but using another survey vendor, the satisfaction score dropped to 64%. Ironically, at the same time, their overall revenues doubled!

The questions were simpler and phrased differently. The order in the questions was different. The format from the survey was different. The targeted respondents were with a different management level. The Overall Satisfaction question was placed after the survey.

Although all client satisfaction surveys can be used as gathering peoples’ opinions, survey designs vary dramatically in size, content and format. Analysis techniques may utilize numerous charts, graphs and narrative interpretations. Companies often make use of a survey to check their business strategies, and lots of base their whole business strategy upon their survey’s results. BUT…troubling questions often emerge.

Would be the results always accurate? …Sometimes accurate? …At all accurate? Are there “hidden pockets of customer discontent” that the survey overlooks? Can the survey information be trusted enough to take major action with confidence?

Since the examples above show, different survey designs, methodologies and population characteristics will dramatically modify the outcomes of a survey. Therefore, it behoves an organization to help make absolutely sure that their survey process is accurate enough to produce a real representation of the customers’ opinions. Failing to accomplish this, there is absolutely no way the organization may use the final results for precise action planning.

The characteristics of the survey’s design, and the data collection methodologies employed to conduct the survey, require careful forethought to make certain comprehensive, accurate, and correct results. The discussion on the next page summarizes several key “rules of thumb” that must be followed if a survey is to become company’s most valued strategic business tool.

Survey questions needs to be categorized into three types: Overall Satisfaction question – “How satisfied are you currently overall with XYZ Company?” Key Attributes – satisfaction with key regions of business, e.g. Sales, Marketing, Operations, etc. Drill Down – satisfaction with problems that are unique to each and every attribute, and upon which action might be delivered to directly remedy that Key Attribute’s issues.

The General Satisfaction question for you is placed at the conclusion of the survey in order that its answer is going to be impacted by a much more in depth thinking, allowing respondents to possess first considered solutions to other questions. A survey, if constructed properly, will yield an abundance of information. These elements of design should be taken into account: First, the survey has to be kept to your reasonable length. Over 60 questions in a written survey will become tiring. Anything over 8-12 questions begins taxing mdycyz patience of participants in a phone survey.

Second, the questions should utilize simple sentences with short words. Third, questions should request an opinion on only one topic at a time. As an example, the question, “how satisfied have you been with the services and products?” should not be effectively answered because a respondent may have conflicting opinions on products versus services.

Fourth, superlatives including “excellent” or “very” should not be used in questions. Such words have a tendency to lead a respondent toward an opinion.

Fifth, “feel happy” questions yield subjective answers where little specific action can be taken. For example, the question “how will you feel about XYZ company’s industry position?” produces responses which are of no practical value in terms of improving an operation.

Even though the fill-in-the-dots format is among the most frequent varieties of survey, you can find significant flaws, which may discredit the outcomes. For instance, all prior answers are visible, which leads to comparisons with current questions, undermining candour. Second, some respondents subconsciously tend to look for symmetry within their responses and become guided through the pattern of the responses, not their true feelings. Third, because paper surveys are generally categorized into topic sections, a respondent is more likely to fill down a column of dots within a category while giving little consideration to every question. Some INTERNET surveys, constructed inside the same “dots” format, often lead to the same tendencies, especially if inconvenient sideways scrolling is important to reply to an issue.

In a survey conducted by Xerox Corporation, over 1 / 3rd of all responses were discarded because the participants had clearly run along the columns in each category instead of carefully considering each question.

TELEPHONE SURVEYS Though a telephone survey yields a far more accurate response when compared to a paper survey, they may also have inherent flaws that impede quality results, such as:

First, each time a respondent’s identity is clearly known, concern over the possibility of being challenged or confronted with negative responses later on creates a strong positive bias in their replies (the so-called “Cassandra Phenomenon”.)

Second, studies have shown that people become friendlier as a conversation grows longer, thus influencing question responses.

Third, human nature states that people enjoy being liked. Therefore, gender biases, accents, perceived intelligence, or compassion all influence responses. Similarly, senior management egos often emerge when trying to convey their wisdom.

Fourth, telephone surveys are intrusive on a senior manager’s time. An unannounced telephone call may create an initial negative impression from the survey. Many respondents may be partially focused on the clock rather than the questions. Optimum responses are dependent upon a respondents’ clear mind and leisure time, a couple of things that senior management often lacks. In a recent multi-national survey where targeted respondents were offered the option of a mobile phone or some other methods, ALL select the other methods.

Taking precautionary steps, like keeping the survey brief and ultizing only highly-trained callers who minimize idle conversation, may help minimize the previously mentioned issues, and can not eliminate them.

The objective of the survey would be to capture a representative cross-part of opinions throughout a team of people. Unfortunately, unless a majority of the people participate, two factors will influence the final results:

First, negative people have a tendency to answer market research more frequently than positive because human nature encourages “venting” negative emotions. A low response rate will normally produce more negative results (see drawing).

Second, a lesser portion of a population is less representative of the entire. For instance, if 12 folks are motivated to take a survey and 25% respond, then this opinions in the other nine individuals are unknown and may be entirely different. However, if 75% respond, then only three opinions are unknown. The other nine could be more likely to represent the opinions from the whole group. Anybody can assume that the higher the response rate, the more accurate the snap-shot of opinions.

Totally Satisfied vs. Very Satisfied ……Debates have raged on the scales employed to depict degrees of client satisfaction. Lately, however, studies have definitively proven that the “totally satisfied” customer is between 3 and 10 times more likely to initiate a repurchase, which measuring this “top-box” category is significantly more precise than any other means. Moreover, surveys which measure percentages of “totally satisfied” customers instead of the traditional sum of “very satisfied” and “somewhat satisfied,” provide an infinitely more accurate indicator of economic growth.

Other Scale issues…..There are more rules of thumb that could be used to ensure more valuable results:

Many surveys give you a “neutral” choice on a five-point scale for those who may not wish to answer a question, or if you are unable to create a decision. This “bail-out” option decreases the amount of opinions, thus diminishing the survey’s validity. Surveys designed to use “insufficient information,” as being a more definitive middle-box choice persuade a respondent to produce a decision, unless they merely have too little knowledge to reply to the question.

Scales of 1-10 (or 1-100%) are perceived differently between age ranges. Those who were schooled employing a percentage grading system often look at a 59% to be “flunking.” These deep-rooted tendencies often skew different peoples’ perceptions of survey results.

There are a few additional details that may improve the overall polish of the survey. While market research needs to be an exercise in communications excellence, the experience of having a survey also need to be positive for that respondent, as well as valuable for your survey sponsor.

First, People – Those in charge of acting upon issues revealed inside the survey should be fully involved in the survey development process. A “team leader” should be accountable for making certain all pertinent business categories are included (as much as 10 is perfect), which designated individuals assume responsibilty for responding to the final results for each Key Attribute.

Second, Respondent Validation – After the names of potential survey respondents have already been selected, these are individually called and “invited” to sign up. This task ensures anyone is willing to accept survey, and elicits an agreement to do this, thus enhancing the response rate. In addition, it ensures the person’s name, title, and address are correct, a place where inaccuracies are commonplace.

Third, Questions – Open-ended questions are usually best avoided in favour of simple, concise, one subject questions. The questions ought to be randomised, mixing up the topics, forcing the respondent to get continually considering an alternative subject, rather than building upon a solution through the previous question. Finally, questions should be presented in positive tones, which not only helps maintain an objective and uniform attitude while answering the survey questions, but enables uniform interpretation in the results.

Fourth, Results – Each respondent gets a synopsis in the survey results, in a choice of writing or – preferably – face-to-face. By providing on the outset to talk about the final results of the survey with every respondent, interest is generated in the process, the response rate increases, as well as the company is left having a standing invitation to come back for the customer later and close the communication loop. Besides which provide a method of dealing and exploring identified issues on a personal level, however it often increases an individual’s willingness to participate in later surveys.

A highly structured customer satisfaction survey provides a great deal of invaluable market intelligence that human nature will not otherwise allow usage of. Properly done, it can be a method of establishing performance benchmarks, measuring improvement as time passes, building individual customer relationships, identifying customers at risk of loss, and improving overall client satisfaction, loyalty and revenues. If a company is not careful, however, it could become a way to obtain misguided direction, wrong decisions and wasted money.