So, you want to improve your customer service?

I bet you’ve sat around your fancy shmancy boardroom table and had a good ol’ yarn about where you’re going wrong and what you’re doing right. And I bet you’ve walked out of that meeting feeling pretty productive and proud. And, here’s my last bet, I bet it hasn’t made one iota of a difference.

Why? Because you’re asking the wrong people! If you want to know how to improve your customer service, ask your customers!

Feedback surveys are a fantastic way of getting accurate information straight from the horse’s mouth. (Not that we’d ever, ever call our customers horses. After all, nothing is a customer service provider’s worst nightmare than a customer with a long face!)

As a customer, it’s easy to spot the difference between a good and bad survey in seconds. Trust me, I’ve done my fair share of feedback surveys – I’m a martyr, what can I say?

And if the customer service survey is rotten – the customer service itself isn’t gonna smell too hot either! If you’re preparing your very own feedback survey, make sure you don’t fall into the traps that catch so many others.

filling out a survey

(1) Offer an incentive

Only the gushingly happy and crushingly unhappy customers are likely to actively seek out a feedback survey. And to be honest, neither extreme is going to accurately reflect your business’s standing.

Entice your customers to participate in your survey by offering an incentive — a free coffee, a discount, entry into a prize draw…

It’ll show just how much you actually value their feedback and draw people into participating who otherwise would have stayed far away.

(2) Find your focus

Your focus is clearly on improving customer service. But remember that your focus is on the customer. Always on the customer. Repeat after me: always on the customer.

What was the customer service like?

How did you find the customer service?

Same question. Different focus. Huge difference. Always frame the question from the point of view of the customer and centre it on their experience.

(3) Sharpen the Questions

Compare and contrast your most recent customer service experience with your favourite and least favourite experiences of the past three years…

Sure that preposterously satirical example reads more like an English literature essay topic but the sentiment sticks.

Customers want the survey to be easy. So make the questions simple, short and to the point.

Don’t waste questions. And don’t convolute them either. Every question should cover one aspect thoroughly and one aspect only. Otherwise your customers are going to cut their losses and cut you loose.

(4) Maintain Consistency

Ok, your questions are good. But are your answers?

There are lots of ways you can structure the way your customers can answer your questions.

Good   Average   Bad

1      2      3      4      5      6      7      8      9      10

Always   Often   Sometimes   Rarely  Never

Strongly Agree   Agree   Neither agree nor disagree   Disagree   Strongly Disagree

However you set up your answers, make sure all of your questions are consistent. You can change styles, such as those above, from question to question but don’t start off with 1 being the highest only to change to 10 being the highest a few questions later.

Similarly don’t phrase all your questions in the positive only to switch to the negative a little while later.

How likely is it that you would recommend our store to family and/or friends?

How unlikely would you be to return to our store in the future?

It’s unnecessarily confusing. This isn’t an end-of-semester exam. It’s in your best interests to ensure the customer is positioned to answer as easily as possible.

NOTE: For genuine customer service improvement, you should be focusing on any answer that’s less than 9-10, “Always” and “Strongly Agree”!

(5) Cover the essentials

You only get one go at surveying each customer, so make sure that you cover all of the customer service essentials.

Here’s a handy guide: speed of service, quality of service, helpfulness of staff, overall satisfaction and likelihood of a recommendation.

Of course the exact nature of each question will vary from business to business and depend on the goal of the survey. The important thing to remember is to not spend too much time/space asking how the Wonton soup tasted when the customer really wants to let you know that it took an hour to arrive!

(6) Provide Opportunity for More

Some people want to go tick tick tick and hand/send the customer service survey in. But others might want to give a little more detail, and if they are willing to share it – be willing to hear it!

Always include a space at the end for customers to make any additional comments they’d like. Encourage them to share specific feedback relating to their experience and elaborate as much as they’d like.

Not every customer wants to express themselves in multiple-choice options and your survey must provide an avenue for them to do so.

Canity character sitting at a desk

Well, that’s it! Thank you for reading this Canity blog. If you have a moment, we’d love to hear your feedback so we can continually improve our blogs in the future. Please comment below with your answers and any other feedback you may have…

1) How interesting did you find this article?
2) Were your questions about customer service surveys adequately answered?
3) On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest, how practical did you find our advice?
4) Were you satisfied with the tips it provided?
5) Would you recommend this article to a colleague?