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How do you measure/monitor customer satisfaction?

Discussion in 'ISO 9001:2015 - Quality Management Systems' started by WCHorn, Mar 17, 2016.

  1. WCHorn

    WCHorn Member

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    We have tried survey forms and online surveys. It's difficult to get folks to participate. Now we're doing telephone surveys, in hopes of getting a greater response rate. That is a frustrating and time consuming process. Often, the responses from customers are less than helpful. For example, when we ask customers to cite opportunities for improvement, we just get some suggestions for lower prices and little other actionable responses; for example, "I can't think of anything, you guys are doing great!"

    We ask for a rating on a scale of 1-10 to rate us for quality, service and delivery. Then we ask the customer what they think we do well and what we can improve. Finally, we ask the customer to rate us overall as a supplier on a scale of 1-10.

    I want to get into some other methodology for measuring/monitoring customer satisfaction, something outside the box. Any ideas/experience from my colleagues would be appreciated.
     
  2. Jennifer Kirley

    Jennifer Kirley Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi WCHorn,

    I have also read it is very hard to get good returns on surveys. The responses tend to be affected by satisfaction (unhappy people have been decidedly more likely to speak up than happy people, and unhappy people have been decidedly more likely to just buy from someone else than to complain. This was from, I think, a 1980s Coca Cola study - I wish I could find it now...)

    Human tendencies tend to invite better information gathering from direct sources than indirect sources. That means sales personnel may be better positioned to inquire about satisfactory outcomes than documents sent to people later who may or may not have realistic information with which to provide meaningful feedback.

    If we feel we must send out a standard survey the default advice seems to be
    1) Make sure it is sent to the right person
    2) Keep it short and realistic
    3) Make it valuable to the sender if you can.

    #3 is the trick, isn't it? I once had a thick book on the survey subject; suggestions included sticking a dollar bill in the envelope. That seems outlandish but it was about a psychological response. I instead suggest building relationships with customers so as to be better positioned to flawlessly provide their needs and stay in touch so as to know how those needs evolve over time.

    I hope this makes sense!
     
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  3. MarkMeer

    MarkMeer Well-Known Member

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    I'd suggest that (1) is also a good consideration the OP's case. If you're not getting any useful or actionable data from the general population of customers, perhaps consider targeting specific cases.
    For example:
    - Someone cancelling an account? Good opportunity to gather info as to why...
    - Someone is a repeat and regular customer? Good opportunity to gauge their exposure to competition, and why they continually choose you over the competition...

    Gee, I sure hope the book this suggestion was from wasn't written by a scientist. This seems like a sure-fire way to inject bias into your results...
    Don't get me wrong, I'm totally for building customer relationships...but if your data is being gathered from customers that are psychologically primed towards a positive perception, then its value will be questionable...

    ----

    All in all, its about the actionable data, and the resources you have available - no point wasting resources gathering useless data.
    It could be that it's just not worth the time and resource investment for the value that you get out of it.
    Depending on the industry, the complaint-handling process alone may generate more than enough actionable feedback, and metrics like sales rates, return rates, or sales vs. complaints, can be adequate to gauge customer satisfaction...
     
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  4. Jennifer Kirley

    Jennifer Kirley Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm afraid I can't vouch that the dollar bill incentive idea was offered by a scientist. My recollection was that the idea was purely behavior based.
     
  5. Nikki

    Nikki Well-Known Member

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    We gave up on relying on surveys - although we still send them out.

    We base our customer satisfaction on the level of customer complaints.

    Less customer complaints = happier customers :)
     
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  6. hogheavenfarm

    hogheavenfarm Well-Known Member

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    I use a technique similar to what Jennifer quoted - but I do not use a dollar, instead I rely on the same 'obligation factor' in a positive way. Like today, I send a note to a supplier to recently provided us with product or parts, thanking them for the quality of the job(assuming there are no issues!). Too often, suppliers come to fear getting a note from the QM, as it usually means a problem. I try to negate that by sending some encouragement occasionally, and to show that we do appreciate a job well done, not just take it for granted. In tracking this I find I almost always get survey responses back from these companies, while those that hear mostly negative things from us are the ones who ignore them as 'just another problem'.
     
  7. Nikki

    Nikki Well-Known Member

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    FWIW - Also we use SurveyMonkey :) It's free - it makes the survey process SO much easier for customers. The easier it is - the more likely they will fill it out :)
     
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  8. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

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    We have used survey monkey. Yes you get more feedback because it is easy to fill out (as long as it is not too long). It is also easier to send it to more than one person in the same company.
     
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  9. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    Customer Satisfaction is a tricky subject and is, in my opinion, skewed from what we're really trying to investigate. At this point, I think many of us believe that complaints are more likely to come in than compliments - i.e., the adage "no news is good news"; if we hear nothing from our customers, then they're satisfied. Of course, we know, deep down and from our own personal experiences, that this is incorrect; sometimes we just don't complain because we don't want the hassle.

    I suggest rethinking WHY your organization is reaching out to the Customers. Is it truly to see how satisfied they are or is more about the overall experience with your organization? The product is perfect. The delivery timing was perfect. But maybe the process to place an order could use some work. Are your questions open-ended towards the overall experience of interacting with your organization? Or maybe you want to find out more about how the product is actually meeting your Customer's needs. Again, this goes back to WHY...why are you asking these questions...what do you wish to learn...and then you can create something meaningful.

    As much as I try to avoid physical incentives, if the budget allows for it, why not create a little competition? The first 10 respondents with complete surveys will receive XXX (e.g., iPod, FitBit, iPad, Starbucks gift card, etc.). It is up to them to follow their corporate ethical policy (if they have one) in determining if they keep the XXX for themselves or raffle it off within their own organization.

    Offer to share the results with those that complete the surveys...or even the action plans that come out of the results (if possible).

    Host an annual open house - invite your customers (or top 10% or whatever % works for your budget) to your location where they can watch the process of making their product and meet those who are actually involved in its creation. Not only is this an amazing opportunity for them, but think of wonderful possibilities regarding employee engagement. Surveys can be done during this open house, as well, but results could be skewed from emotional highs.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
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  10. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    At first glance, many would agree with this concept. But (you knew that was coming, right, Nikki? :cool: ), let's consider a few things:

    • People don't complain if they don't feel it's worth the hassle. So, the burger place put pickles on your hamburger and you hate pickles. You pick them off. No point in complaining. There is no gain/value in complaining. However, if the burger place served you a burger still frozen or uncooked? This type of nonconformance probably warrants a complaint. In both situations, we have nonconforming product, but a complain will probably occur in only one of situations.
    • Has your customer base changed? Let's say you love going to McDonald's...sure, they mess up your order from time to time and occasionally you'll complain. Then you discover a new burger joint. They're awesome...phenomenal...and serve the best burger every single time. You stop going to McDonald's and become a regular at the new place. Technically speaking, McDonald's complaint numbers just went down because you left. Fewer complaints, yes...but you have also lost a customer.
    • Have your shipping volumes (per customer and in total) changed? Doing a straight #-of-complaints comparison month over month or year over year doesn't tell you much...especially if your volumes have changed. Doing a (# of complaints)/(units delivered) type of comparison will allow for a more realistic and meaningful analysis.
     
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  11. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    Do you run the risk of skewing your results? What if a company sends in multiple responses saying your product is extremely poor or extremely awesome.
     
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  12. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

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    So here is the thing. Nobody at our customers has total "knowledge" of what we provide. The scheduling/expediting people look at our delivery performance. The quality people look at rejects and such. The engineers look at our ability to react to their revision changes. The purchasing people, well price rules. :) We want to see them generally in alignment.
     
  13. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    Does this mean you send a survey with different questions to these individuals? Or is one common survey and you hope that they put their process on it so that the responses have some context?
     
  14. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

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    It's the same survey. But I know who I am sending it to and can track who sends it back. Because we work closely with our customer representatives, for all intents and purposes I can guess what they will say. Bottom line, I am looking for a snapshot or a feel on what my customers think, not a perfect statistical analysis.
     
  15. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    If you can guess what they'll say, the purpose of the survey does seem somewhat non-value add. This goes back to the idea of WHY...why send out surveys as a means to assess satisfaction if you already "know" what the response will be (or not be). I recommend kicking it up a notch to assessing client experience and building/fortifying those relationships. When people feel that their input is valued, they'll be a lot more engaged in the relationship.
     
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  16. QMSmaster

    QMSmaster Active Member

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    When I worked at a F500 technology company we had a very elaborate customer survey process. I would go as far as claiming it was ahead of its time and a world class example of excellence in this area. The program had all the bells and whistles....external consultant, on-line software, metrics up the rear, customer logins, etc,e tc. It was truly integrated throughout the culture and provided value. After about 10-15 years the program was reduced to a very simple approach. Key customers were identified and every month someone (neutral internal party) called up the contacts and asked 1 simple question..."how are we doing? and Why?" Their repose then drove a deeper dive if needed. We still did the long survey, but this seemed to be much more effective at driving change since it provided more frequent feedback to the organization.
     
  17. Chris Glover

    Chris Glover Active Member

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    We quit doing surveys for this years ago...it was found to be a waste of time

    ..and we we got one from our suppliers it was passed down the line to someone who had no one left to pass it to ... and sometimes it was done; most times it was not.
     
  18. tony s

    tony s Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to read this. But why did you consider it a waste of time?
     
  19. Chris Glover

    Chris Glover Active Member

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    We considered it a waste of time for two reason...
    1. We would send out 50//get back 2 or 3. If our customers didn't think they were important, why should we?
    2. As I said above, when e got them, we didn't place any importance on them.
     
  20. Jamie Lill

    Jamie Lill Member

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    We use to send out 200 surveys get back 14. Customer don't think they are useful listen to your customer. Look at new orders. Look at new customer. Look at repete orders
    to measure customer satisfaction. Listen to what they are telling sales. Listen to your customers what they are telling you.
     

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