Small Business Customer Service Advice

Tips for Effective Customer Surveys

Written by Charles Mburugu for Gaebler Ventures

The idea of "Don't ask, don't tell" does not work in website hosting, or any other business for that matter. Not when it concerns finding out your customers' opinions about your products or services. Unless you regularly ask customers their opinion of you, they are unlikely to volunteer their thoughts. Only when they really dislike you will you know what they think, but then it might be too late to retain them as customers. So how do you go about finding out what your customers think about you, your products or your services?

The best way to get suggestions and feedback from your customers is to survey them often.

It's an effective way of both knowing how to improve your services or products, and to identify potential problems before they get out of hand. Go ahead and ask the customers what their thoughts are. Be ready to accept your shortcomings and work at improving yourself.

If done effectively, surveying helps you to stay informed of your customers' needs. It also gives you an advantage over the competition. If your last survey produced some requests for a new service, and the current survey has more such requests, you might have identified an addition that will enhance your appeal in the eyes of prospective as well as existing customers.

What does it take to conduct an effective survey? You can't simply ask your customers "What do you think of us?" and call that a survey. The following tips will help you reap maximum benefits from a customer survey.

Know what information you are after

Be sure what you are seeking input on, and how you intend to respond based on the answers from customers. For example, if you want to know how helpful and friendly your customer service reps are, be specific. How long have customers been kept waiting? Do they get the answers they need? Do the reps greet them and end with a 'thank you'?

Ask the correct questions

"What do you think of us?" may produce some responses, but if the predominant answer is "Not much", that information will not be very useful to you. Ask meaningful questions that will lead to meaningful answers.

Allow the customers to speak freely

"Tick 1, 2 or 3" will not always offer the information that you require. If half of your customers say your customer service is "Excellent", but 20 percent choose "Extremely poor", you won't understand why one out of five people think your customer service sucks. Ask customers to elaborate on their ratings with a question like, "If you select 'Extremely poor', why?"

Don't only talk the talk

Customers will cease responding fast to your surveys if they don't see changes resulting from their comments. Act on recommendations when possible and let the customers know what you are doing. Even when you can't carry out a suggested change, it is wise to tell people why. Whether your feedback is negative or positive, always include a sincere and prompt "Thank you" in your surveys.

Charles Mburugu writes for us from his home in Nairobi. He has a graduate degree in Business Management from Kenya Institute of Management. He is interested in writing about branding, CSR and intellectual property.

Share this article

Additional Resources for Entrepreneurs

Lists of Venture Capital and Private Equity Firms

Franchise Opportunities


Business Glossary


Conversation Board

We greatly appreciate any advice you can provide on this topic. Please contribute your insights on this topic so others can benefit.

Leave a Reply

Questions, Comments, Tips, and Advice

Email will not be posted or shared
Code Image - Please contact webmaster if you have problems seeing this image code

Problem Viewing Image? Load New Code