When It Comes to Customer Surveys, Keep It Simple

We spend a lot of time talking to our clients year-round to make sure we are meeting their needs in terms of strategy, service and performance. But once a year, we apply a number to the service we provide so we can see if we moved the needle. After all, what’s the point of a survey if you don’t act on the results?
The akhia service index, or asi, is our homegrown survey method that allows us to measure satisfaction in the core areas that are important to us: overall quality of service, estimating/invoicing, understanding our clients’ businesses and industries, quality of visual and written content, understanding of business objectives and impact on our clients’ businesses. We do this with a mixture of qualitative and quantitative questions that allow our clients to personalize their responses, while providing us with apples-to-apples comparisons of scores year-over-year.
When working with clients, we often recommend annual (if not more) customer surveys to keep a pulse on their needs. If you are considering your own, here are just a few tips we’ve uncovered over the last five years of conducting our asi survey:
1. Decide which metrics matter most to your business. Many companies are tempted to “throw in the kitchen sink,” making surveys both too long and overwhelming to interpret, much less act upon. Our survey is a mere 10 questions but gives us the insights we need to make sure we’re delivering on core value propositions to questions. As I said, we also feel it’s important to include a couple of open-ended questions that allow customers to personalize responses.

2. Make it personal. Consider deploying your survey via your leadership team or customer-facing employees. That personal touch can go a long way. We do this at akhia, which I believe plays a large role in our 48 percent completion rate that crushes the 10 percent average most customer surveys produce.

3. Follow up! I cannot express enough the importance of timely follow-up. When someone takes their valuable time to tell you how you are doing, reciprocate with a thank you and acknowledgement of improvement areas. And once you’ve had a chance to look at all your data, send another follow-up or make a call to let them know what specific actions you are taking to improve—and continue that throughout the year.

4. Pick up the phone or go to lunch. Yes, a lost art to some. But when you know you need to improve, nothing beats having a real, one-on-one conversations. Some problems are easier to solve than you think—and picking up the phone is the best way to uncover that.

5. Commit to improvement. As I said, there’s no real sense in conducting a customer survey if you don’t do anything with the information you collect. It’s critical for not only leadership to review and understand the responses, but for employees in all areas to be aware and understand their roles in making improvements. It takes commitment and transparency across the board to make real change happen.
The bottom line is to keep it simple. Keep it actionable. And to keep talking throughout the year. Because if you aren’t doing everything possible to create positive experiences for your customers, someone else will.