Design of Customer Loyalty Surveys

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Published: 19th January 2012
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Periodic measurement of customer loyalty can be an excellent way to gauge the success or failure of ongoing customer relationship management. Typically, online customer loyalty surveys are administered as part of a program of client satisfaction surveys. This allows for simultaneous measurement of both aspects of the customer relationship, which are in many cases (but not always) interrelated items.

A well-designed client survey will not exceed 10 to 12 minutes in length and ask customers to rate overall satisfaction with the company, provide specific reasons for overall satisfaction or dissatisfaction, inquire as to customer loyalty, and include a number of targeted questions regarding satisfaction with specific products or services and aspect of the customer experience. Developing the final list of customer experience attributes is an important part of the design process and needs to cover the key issues that are potentially related to overall satisfaction and customer loyalty. Most importantly, the attributes should be fine-tuned for the specific product or service offerings of the company and use wording that is easy for the average customer to understand and interpret as intended.

As part of the design process, it is also important to examine where the company offers its products via different channels or has distinct products or service offerings requiring separate sets of questions. In such cases, the use of online customer surveys provide the opportunity to use skip logic so that different customer segments can view different sets of questions based on their specific profiles. These questions should be appear as supplements to the main survey questions, which should be applied across all segments (if possible) to facilitate overall customer satisfaction and loyalty measurement.

In designing customer loyalty surveys, it can also be important to collect information concerning customer demographics, other characteristics, and/or past behavior or usage of the company’s products and services, or the use of similar products and services in the general market place. A key advantage of online customer feedback surveys is that it can often circumvent the need to ask many of these questions on the survey instrument. Instead, the questionnaire can be pre-populated with relevant profiles or the information can be merged with the post-survey data to facilitate reporting analysis. This reduces the length of the survey questionnaire.

At this point, it is important to comment on several key aspects of the survey design process that are often over-looked when conducting a customer loyalty survey. First, correct sample selection is critical. This phase is easy if all customers are invited to participate in the survey. However, if only select customers are invited or the number of available email addresses is limited, sample selection needs to represent the overall customer population or the collected feedback may not correctly represent the overall perspective of the customer population. Furthermore, even if the sample is selected in the correct manner, or all customer sample is used, the mix of respondents may differ from the company’s survey population and distort the results. In the end, statistical techniques might be needed to accurately measure overall customer feedback and provide correct weight to each segment.

A second aspect of customer loyalty and client satisfaction surveys that is often over-looked is the use of existing customer information. This might include specific details on the type of service (such as a special bank transaction), type of product, number of support requests, number of years as a customer, and a long list of other metrics. Not only can this information be used to trigger skip logic on the online survey, but also variable inserts can be used to create respondent-specific questions. For example, “what is your overall rating of the [variable insert] you received on [variable insert] from the Credit Union?”

In summary, effective survey design of online client satisfaction and customer loyalty surveys can be a complex process requiring extensive review of existing customer profiles, identifying key attributes of the customer relationship, scoping channels or segments of product and service offerings, and making sure that both sample selection and the actual respondent pool is representative of the overall customer survey population. Although company budgets can sometimes limit the ability to engage in extensive data analysis of the results, it is not a good idea to move forward with a customer feedback survey without careful questionnaire design and sampling techniques.

Marc Tillman is a member of the professional services staff at Amplitude Research, Inc., headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida. Amplitude Research is a leading online survey company specializing in client satisfaction surveys and customer loyalty surveys.

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