So, you’ve understood the merits of conducting a client satisfaction survey. You know the benefits of identifying your latent grumblers and happy advocates. The next step is to put it into action. Here are our top eight tips of things to think about before starting out:

1. What are you trying to achieve?

First of all, you need to think about what you want to achieve from the survey. What is it you are trying to find out? Where are your information gaps? What is your gut telling you about how your clients are feeling? Knowing what you need to get out of the survey will help you to maximise the output and make it as useful as possible to turn into real business results.

2. Get buy-in

Before undertaking a client satisfaction survey, you need to involve the whole team and let them know what you are doing and the reasons why you are doing it. It goes without saying that you should get the buy-in from the leadership team. However, client teams might need reassuring that you’re not trying to play Big Brother. You are not doing this to check up on them, but to build better and deeper relationships with clients, to ultimately reduce attrition and increase retention and growth.

3. Timing is everything

Before you start, you need to look at the rhythm of your business. Ask yourself what time of year have you best got to commit to following up on the data that you will gather? December and August are not good months for anyone. We tend to advise clients that February through May are good months to conduct a client satisfaction survey. You can set yourself up for the year and then Pulse Check them again from September to November. Consider a six monthly cycle to give you ample time to address the findings from the survey and move the dial.

4. Structure your questions

Less is more. We advise including a maximum of six to eight questions, structured in the right way to elicit constructive feedback. It may be that a one or two question Pulse at six monthly intervals will suit you better.  The key is to only ask for the quantity of data that you can actually use to take action and demonstrate to clients that you have listened.

5. Go out to many

Prior to conducting a client satisfaction Pulse Check, make sure that you pull together your contact information and have it all in one place. It is always better to include a number of different contacts at the same client and go to as wide as possible a pool of people. Not only will this give you richer data, but you never know when a junior is going to become a budget holder. Every view counts: cast your net wide.

6. Be inclusive

Go out to all of your clients. Although it can be tempting to do so, don’t filter out the ones that you know might be more critical. Bill Gates said “your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Often, those who have the negative feedback are the ones you can glean the most from.  

7. Build trust

Prior to sending the survey questions, send a note to your clients letting them know that you will be undertaking the survey and introducing your approach. We highly recommend one-to-one telephone interviews for top tier clients, conducted by an external supplier, preferably someone who knows your sector.

8. Follow up immediately

Monitor responses that come in. If you spot a ‘red alert’ – an unhappy response, then be sure to take immediate action to demonstrate to that client that you are listening and paying attention. Huddle with your team to go through the granular detail.  See every comment a client makes as a golden nugget. Thank everyone and share the top line results along with actions you will be taking.

Summing up, preparing well, listening non-defensively and then acting on the data are the key components to a successful client satisfaction process.  Feel the fear and do it anyway!