Just as Turner Classic Movies’ program “The Essentials” focuses on iconic films over time, there are also essential questions for measuring customer satisfaction. But we call our essentials KISS: Keep It Short and Simple.
There are two key reasons researchers are minimizing the number of questions included in a survey. First, respondents hate long surveys, become bored and tend to give low-quality answers. Second, more and more surveys are being completed on smartphones, requiring us to simplify our questions and shorten the surveys to better fit the small screen interface.
Surveys are not like Christmas trees, where more decorations are better. Best practice for surveys is to include only those question that are needed to address the topic. “Nice to know” does not mean “essential to know”! Reducing surveys to the fewest questions that will address your overarching objectives and provide actionable information is a skill we all need to practice.
Here are five questions that you need to include to deliver key customer satisfaction insights:
First, Overall Satisfaction. Using a five-point response scale, simply get a measure of your customers’ overall satisfaction with their experience with your organization, your product or with their most recent transaction (assuming your business has fairly frequent transactions with the customer.) Track this over time. Are you getting better, staying the same, or getting worse?
Next, Likelihood to Recommend. It has been well documented that a satisfied customer is not necessarily a loyal customer. Their willingness to recommend you to their friends, colleagues, or families is a much stronger indicator that they are loyal to you. Think of it this way: they are willing to go to bat for you, to put their reputation or social standing at risk. They must have confidence in your products or services to do that.
Finally, Key Performance Factors. These are the questions that you tailor to your specific business and industry challenges. If your company is built around a specific product, drill down on a few critical aspects product such as ease of use, value provided, how well it works, etc. If you’re in a service industry, maybe you drill down on aspects of the service provided: for example, was the customer service rep professional, knowledgeable, responsive. (One of our favorite questions about customer service reps is: If you were a business owner, would you want this person talking to your customers?) When you consistently receive satisfaction scores in the 80% or better range (and these improvements are well ingrained in your processes), it’s time to look at other factors and continuously improve your delivery.
Another way to decide which performance factors to monitor is to conduct a key driver analysis. For this, you have to forego the “five-question limit” and conduct a longer, more thorough survey. If you don’t know what performance factor questions need to be asked, conducting a key driver analysis considers all the questions on the survey and determines which ones are most closely related to driving satisfaction, or Net Promoter, or whatever overall metric you use. Those become the priorities to either improve upon or maintain in order to keep customers happy, and therefore those are the questions you want to include in a KISS customer satisfaction survey going forward.
While it may not be possible to measure everything that you need to know about customer satisfaction with only five questions, the key is to Keep It Short and Simple. So whether you have four, five, or ten questions, make sure they are the most important questions for driving improvement. Measuring customer satisfaction with shorter surveys means you can survey customers more frequently, without annoying them or creating survey fatigue. Over time, the trends will tell you whether you are moving in the right direction, whether you need corrective actions, and where to allocate your resources. And this approach has the added benefit of creating focus and being very easy to communicate.
So, KISS! Embrace the discipline to minimize survey length – for customer satisfaction measurement and all your surveys. The result will benefit you, your business, and most importantly, your customers.