Grow your business – Part 12 – SURVEY YOUR CUSTOMERS

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Undertaking a survey of your customers should go beyond the issue of customer satisfaction. You want to enhance your understanding of your customers’ needs and wants, recognise your weaknesses and identify new opportunities to expand your business. Some customers may be reluctant to give you their real, unbiased opinions if you conduct your own survey, so consider using a neutral party to conduct the survey for you.

Decide exactly what you want to find out before you launch the study and pre-test your questions, as there are always some that are misunderstood or misinterpreted. You can also expect to receive responses or comments that you had not anticipated. Keep your survey brief and focused. To increase your response rate, think about rewarding respondents with a discount voucher (that can be used immediately) or a free gift.

There are many ways to conduct your survey, including:

1. By post (be sure to include a postage paid reply envelope)
2. Over the web
3. By telephone
4. In person

Here’s a sample covering letter:

Dear Customer,

We are here to provide high quality products and services to all of our customers. To help us achieve this, we would greatly appreciate your opinion of our performance. Please take a few minutes to complete the enclosed survey. Responses will help us identify the areas in which we are doing well, as well as those which we need to improve.

Please return your completed survey in the enclosed self-addressed stamped envelope.

Thank you in advance for your assistance. Please call me if you have any questions.

Yours sincerely

If you are planning a telephone survey, hire someone to do this that has business experience, as much of the benefit comes from the answers to follow-on questions.

To achieve a high response rate, send the actual survey document in advance with a covering letter asking for the recipient’s assistance. Here’s an example:

Dear Customer


We’re anxious to find out! We have selected some of our favourite customers to participate in a survey.

We would really appreciate it if you could talk to John Smith when he calls. He is conducting the survey for us and will be calling you within the next ten days. The survey should take no more than 8 – 10 minutes to complete.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Yours sincerely


P.S. I’ve attached a copy of the survey document John will be using.

Here are 4 sample survey documents, from simple to complex:

Satisfaction Survey – Sample A

On a scale of 1 – 10, how willing would you be to recommend us to your friends, family and business associates? (10 = very willing, 1 = not willing)

Satisfaction Survey – Sample B

What do you like about our service?
What do you not like?
What can we do to improve our service?

Satisfaction Survey – Sample C

We would like to know how satisfied you are with the services and products we provide. Please rate each of the ten items listed below using the following scale:

Extremely dissatisfied — 1
Slightly dissatisfied — 2
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied — 3
Slightly satisfied — 4
Extremely satisfied — 5

How satisfied are you with:

1. The location of our business?
2. The parking around our office / shop?
3. Our opening hours?
4. Our office / shop atmosphere and decor?
5. The professionalism of our team members?
6. The responsiveness and timeliness of our team?
7. How your questions are answered?
8. How you are treated on the phone?
9. Our services and products?
10. The prices of our services and products?

If you’re doing a survey over the internet, there are a number of popular systems available. An online survey will be your least expensive option and will allow you to survey your customers more frequently (a good idea!).

Satisfaction Survey – Sample D

Listed below are the services and products we provide. For each one, please tick the appropriate box 1 to 4.

Service or ProductWe currently purchase this from youWe purchase this from another vendorWe do not use or need thisWe do not currently use this
but may need it

Ticks in columns 2 and 4 should spur you into action! Once your survey has been completed, it is important to do something with the information, as a survey creates expectations among your respondents.

As a minimum, thank all participants with a letter such as this:

Dear Customer

Thank you for participating in our recent customer survey. We received an overwhelming response with lots of helpful comments and many, many excellent suggestions.

We will be working hard over the coming months to implement as many of these suggestions as we can.

Yours sincerely