Customer surveys.

Author:Scott, Mike

NTH Consultants Ltd., an infrastructure engineering and environmental services firm in Farmington Hills, conducts formal surveys every two years of its client base to measure quality.

The company attempts to reach not only its existing customers, but its past and prospective customers as well. This is a good way to help NTH Consultants grow its customer relationships and build a new client base, says Kevin Hoppe, the company's technical director.

"We have both a multiple-choice and essay section, and the results from the essay question is very helpful because it really captures what our client is thinking," he says.

Savvy companies like NTH Consultants understand that when it comes to measuring quality, customer feedback is the best yardstick. The question is not if you should survey your customers, but how.

Types of surveys

In general, businesses and consultants use three types of surveys to measure corporate performance. These surveys can also be used for employees.

* Pulsing survey--Includes demographic questions, scale questions (i.e., on a scale of one to five), fill-in-the-blank questions and questions that can be answered with a simple checkmark.

* 360 survey--Primarily includes scale questions with room for respondent essays or explanations.

* Balanced scorecard--Targets the performance measurement in areas critical to the strategy. As a result, it is a performance measurement system, evaluating such company activities as financial, customer, process, learning and innovation.

Surveys: three key steps

According to experts at, these three steps are critical for successful customer surveys:

  1. Plan--Take time to think about what you want to learn from the results and construct questions that will gather these data. Broad questions like "How satisfied are you with our customer service" are of little use since they do not tell you what you might be doing right or wrong. Be as specific as possible when constructing questions. You should also include a few "write-in" questions that allow respondents to provide comments.

  2. Communicate--You must communicate to both your customers and your employees that you are interested in customer satisfaction. Get the message out and make sure both customers and employees know that customer service is a priority in your organization.

  3. Follow up--You must manage the customer satisfaction assessment process through to completion. If you fail to do this, customer frustration can increase...

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