Pre-internet, conducting customer satisfaction surveys was expensive and time-consuming. Today, customer satisfaction survey distribution can be automated or as quick as sending an email. Some help desk software options—such as Team Support and Desk.com—simplify things even further by offering options such as automatically including surveys in the footer of customer emails.
As customer experience (CX) has become more important to businesses’ bottom lines, there has been a commensurate uptick in a desire to measure it.
Olive Huang, VP of Research at Gartner, wanted to know whether people were discussing CX on social media and—if so—how often. Huang identified more than 163,000 conversations on CX data and analytics. Further research found that 40% of all data analytics projects at businesses of all sizes relate to CX.
So, how do you measure customer satisfaction?
Experience management company Qualtrics suggests the following customer satisfaction survey questions. I’ve expanded on them to explain their utility and offer potential variations that might suit your business better.
All the questions use the Disagree/Agree answer format:
Sample response options for the following questions.
1. Overall, I am very satisfied with the way [Company] performed (is performing) on this project.
You can also frame this question to concern a “product” or “service” instead of a “project.” However you ask it, this question gets to customers’ overall feelings about something, and gives you valuable insight into how product feelings correlate with their customer service feelings, specifically.
2. Overall, I am satisfied with the [Company] service representatives (CSRs).
This is a foundational question. Knowing how satisfied a customer is overall lets you measure how any specific aspect of service impacts satisfaction as a whole. Asking this question up front will help you understand how much customer feelings about, say, agent training, correlate with their feelings about the entire customer service experience.
To maximize the usefulness of your data, pair this question with the next four questions below.
3. [Company] service representatives (CSRs) are well-trained.
Well-trained doesn’t just mean familiarity with policies and procedures. It’s not about a script; it’s about empathy and compassion.
CX author and expert Kate Nasser asked for customer service stories, and received the following tale illustrating this point.
Three hours into being repeatedly put on hold, transferred, and disconnected, Joe S. called customer service back. The new CSR launched into their script, asking for information he’d already given other agents.
“I told the person that I just needed to be connected to XYZ because I had been disconnected after being on the phone with them for over three hours,” Joe S. wrote. “The rep went to a very long speech about how he’d be happy to transfer me. I didn’t need a speech. I just needed him to transfer me. I told him this. He repeated the speech. His scripted, ‘inhuman courteousness’ just made me angry and hate the company.”
You can easily track how well your agents follow a script and hew to your policies and procedures. Unfortunately, these metrics rarely correlate with customer perception. This question gets to the heart of the matter: whether the training you’re providing is improving the way customers feel about your service.
4. [Company] service representatives (CSRs) are well-supervised.
The story Nasser received from Ron B. shows how good supervisors can get a great outcome out of a bad situation.
“I had a problem with a new piece of electronic equipment and called for assistance,” Ron B. wrote. “The first technician I talked with insisted that there was nothing wrong with his company’s equipment, that it must be my fault. When I explained that everything in the network had worked perfectly until I powered the new item up, he laughed at me. When I asked to talk to his supervisor, he responded with the infamous two letter expletive and hung up. I called back and spoke with a different tech who was able to resolve the problem in a matter of minutes and who then asked his supervisor to join us on the line. When I told the supervisor of my earlier experience, she asked me to give her one day so she could resolve the problem. She called back in less than fifteen minutes to tell me that she and the call center manager had reviewed the tape of the call, fired the original technician, and promoted the second one to a customer service training position. It went from being the worst customer service experience ever to one of the best in less than half an hour.”
5. [Company] service representatives (CSRs) adhere to professional standards of conduct.
Stories of CSRs’ unprofessional behavior abound online.
The problem most businesses run into is that they often don’t realize their CSRs are behaving badly until someone posts about it publicly. By then, you’ve lost not only that customer but also everyone they’ve spoken with about it or who has read the post.
Asking customers whether your CSRs come across professionally helps ensure you’re aware of existing problems before you end up the subject of a viral CX complaint story.
6. [Company] service representatives (CSRs) act in my best interest.
“You’re not following our process.” Drew J. told Nasser that one of his CSRs said this phrase to a customer. “This was a wake-up call for sure.”
If you simply train agents on a rigidly scripted customer encounter process, they can over-rely on these procedures and lack the ability to adapt to actual customer situations.
More important than any policy, procedure, or script are the reasons for these resources. Your focus should be on making the customer happy, and your agents and their tools should work for the customer, not the other way around.
Asking whether CSRs act in the best interest of your customer is an elevated version of getting at whether your service is good or bad. Before you can solve a customer’s problem, you need to show them you care about their goals and concerns. If customers don’t believe CSRs are working in their best interest, nothing else will matter.
7. Based on your experience with [PRODUCT], how likely are you to buy [PRODUCT] again?
You can swap out “service” for “product” here, or go with another variation: “Based on your experience with [PRODUCT], how likely are you to buy from [BRAND] again?
Getting brand loyalty right is essential to your success as a business. It’s almost always much cheaper to keep a customer than find and convert a new one. Measuring how customer experiences impact brand loyalty is the first step you should take to keep customers coming back.
Running your customer satisfaction survey
To get the most out of your survey, pair questions one and two with a combination of the remaining suggested questions. Which ones you choose should depend on what you plan or have the resources to do with the data.
If you lack the budget or institutional support to change your agent training or supervision processes, you should save related questions for a later date and distribute a shorter survey.
Asking more generalized questions with specific queries gives you insight into how much unique service aspects impact customers’ overall satisfaction with customer service. For example, pairing question two with questions three and four will tell you whether your customers’ perception of the quality of CSR training has a greater or lesser impact on their overall satisfaction .
These days, conducting a customer service survey is cheaper and simpler than ever before. These seven questions are a great place to get started.
To learn more about measuring CX, check out these posts:
Don’t forget to explore our help desk software directory for more tools to help you measure and improve your customer service.