Customer Satisfaction

Why won?, Why lost?, Why missed?-Surveys for Greater Customer Insight

September 29th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell


Customer satisfaction surveys tend to dominate thinking when it comes to surveying customers. Yet, there are plenty of other ways to gain insights into your customer base by asking a few quick questions. ‘Why won?’, ‘Why lost?’ and ‘Why missed?’ surveys are just one example. And if you don’t have any customers they are also quite useful for dating.

‘Why won?’, ‘Why lost?’ and ‘Why missed?’ surveys are a series of customer insight surveys that are practically guaranteed to give you the information and insights that any business requires in order to retain existing customers, win back old customers and win new business.

I first came across ‘Why won?’, ‘Why lost?’ and ‘Why missed?’ surveys in my first job as a market researcher when I was straight out of university. I was immediately stuck by the simplicity of the concept but like most things often it is the simple ideas that are the best (excluding  factor and conjoint analysis).

Why Won?

Gaining a new client may mean the popping of champagne corks and a flurry if high fives all around the office.

Often little thought is put to why you may have been successful in winning the new client. A ‘Why won?’ survey seeks to answer this important question.  The key reason for doing a Why won” survey is that the information gleaned can be valuable in winning other new clients .

The underlying assumption being that if newly won customer liked feature A, then it is likely that other prospects may like feature A too. This could lead to greater promotion and emphasis being made of feature A and consequently more new customers.

The timing of a Why won? survey is important. It is best to leave some time between the customer coming on board and asking the new customer to complete the survey. Off course this depends on the type of interaction you may have with the customer but six weeks is a good rule of thumb.

The Questions
While it is not quite as simple as “Hey Bob, Why won?”, but there isn’t too much more to it than that.

The main objective of the survey is to identify the key factors why your new customer decided to go with you  and not your competition. If you have left it for six weeks you can also use the opportunity to see how your new customers are settling in. This can identify any early teething problems and enable you to stop your new customer becoming a lost customer.

The Methodology
The methodology of your survey deployment depends on a number of factors. The value of the new account comes into play along with how you will continue to communicate with your new customer. For higher value accounts I like the idea of a personalised telephone call. The call can play an integral part in the induction process of the new customer.

The person who makes the call should ideally be a neutral individual who has no role in the management of the account. In most circumstances it is ideal to use a market researcher to undertake the interview. Off course, the researcher can be calling from your organisation. The value in using an independent interviewer is that you are more likely to receive more candid and there fore more valuable information.

Online surveys can also be used instead of telephone interviews. I would be reluctant to use online surveys for high value accounts though. Responce rates are likely to be low and they will do little to strengthen the relationship or make your new customer feel welcome.

Why Lost?

Losing customers or clients is a drain on any business and often the temptation is to simply make excuses on why customers leave without capturing any data on the key reasons why they have decided to cease doing business with your organsation.

This is the purpose of the ‘Why lost?’ survey. Questions tend to focus on the key reasons why the client has made the decision to leave. It can also be useful to ask if there is anything you could do to win there business back. Often there isn’t but if there is you really want to know.

The Methodology
The methodology to use is similar to the why won surveys. The key factor is really the value of the account. Spitting out an online survey to a million dollar client will justify their decision. You just don’t care. A telephone survey would be more suitable.

Often the hardest thing with ‘Why Lost?’ surveys is actually knowing when you have lost a client. It is human nature to avoid conflict so if you client can just slip off in the dark – they will. In some industries it is fairly obvious that your customer is leaving e.g. “Hi, I want to cancel my subscription”.

Why Missed?

Often an enormous  amount of resources and energy can go into pitching for new business and unless your operating in a monopoly it is likely that you will come across business defeat in a competitive pitch.

While it is tempting in these situations to just put it down to a “numbers game” and move on if you want to learn from your defeats it is critical that you take the time to find out why your pitch was unsuccessful.

Methodlogy and process should work the same as the ‘Why won?’ and ‘Why lost” surveys.

Data Collection

With all these surveys it is essential that the data is collected in a useful and meaningful manner. It is of no value if you have various forms floating around the office.

While the data collected is incredibly useful to make quick improvements and gains to your business processes it is the longitudinal data that provides fantastic insights into how your business is tracking over time.

Competitive Intelligence

‘Why won?’, ‘Why lost?’ and ‘Why missed?’ surveys will also provide you with a goldmine of competitive intelligence. This data should be tagged appropriately as it enables a complete profile of your competitors activity to constantly developed. There is no need to engage in covert espionage when you have a wealth of knowledge lurking within your customers.

Posted in Customer Satisfaction, Ideas, survey design, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

When DIY Customer Satisfaction Surveys Go Horribly Wrong

September 23rd, 2009 by Jared Bothwell


Customer satisfaction surveys are a great way to find out how you are performing in the eyes of your customers. With the benefits of customer surveys generally well understood, many organisations have employed market research companies to undertake the work for them while some opt for the DIY option.

I imagine the DIY option is generally chosen because of the associated cost savings. I mean, why pay someone when you can do it yourself? That’s why I mow my own lawns, it’s not because I love lawn-mowing, it’s because I prefer not to pay someone else when I can do it myself (not to mention the degree of discomfort I feel when watching TV while having the lawn-mowing man sweating outside  – dam you lawn-mowing man for making me feel guilty!). Yet, there are sometimes when the professional touch is required, something which my experience below demonstrates.

My daughter has attended swimming lessons at the local swimming pool for a number of years. The instructors at the pool are fantastic and overall we are happy with the lessons she receives. Re-booking lessons is another matter altogether and dealing with the office staff to secure a place in the next terms lessons is never a straight forward process.

My wife was delighted then when she was approached by a pool staff member to fill in a self completed questionnaire form on how she finds the customer experience at the pool. She dutifully completed the form with her feedback which was then collected by the pool staff member. What happened next is where it went all horribly wrong.

The pool staff member read through my wife’s feedback and once you had read through the completed survey started viciously interrogating her on why she was not happy with the service from the office staff when re-booking (it so happens that she is a member of the office staff). As you can imagine my wife felt well and truly put on the spot  and stated that she did not wish to discuss her feedback with the staff member.

So, while the idea was sound – surveying your customers really is a good idea. Where the process fell over in this instance was in the execution of the survey. Enabling your customers to give anonymous feedback is really, really important. Feel free to let customers indicate if they would like to discuss any issues further – this is a good idea.

Staff members that have a direct interest in the results of any survey should not be involved in the data collection from customers. The possibility of emotions running strong is just too great a risk and can turn what should be a positive experience for customers into a a rotten one.

Posted in Customer Satisfaction, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Restaurants and Surveys

August 7th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell


In the article “Online feedback’s a healthy choice” the point is made that online surveys can provide restaurants with a cheap and efficient ways of receiving feedback from patrons.

While comment cards have long been used by restaurants to get feedback they can create an issue when it comes to the collation and analysis of the feedback data. Most survey tools will offer a built in reporting tool which can do this job easily for you. Much better than having a bunch of comment cards lying around gathering dust.

The biggest issue that any restaurant will have in implementing a feedback system using online surveys will be getting patrons to actually login and participate. Incentives can go a long way in motivating respondents to login and complete your survey and promotion of your survey is equally as important.

I would suggest placing the survey URL on the bottom of your till receipts so that every customer receives an invitation after each time you  dine. If you want to get really flash you could issue a unique id number with each receipt and get the respondent to enter this in the survey. This will enable you to track purchase data along with satisfaction data.

If you make the effort to ask your customers what they think of your service make sure you ask for their email addresses and permission to send news updates, special offers or go the whole hog and start a newsletter. Inviting your customers to complete a survey can be a great way to start a conversation and relationship that can go on for years.

While online surveys are a great way to capture customer data they are by no means the only way. When asking your customers for feedback you want to eliminate as many steps as possible and make it as easy as possible. Requiring the customer to login to a website may deter only most keenest.

This is why we also use BigEars. BigEars is able to capture customer feedback via telephone. It is great for both quantitative and qualitative feedback and enables customers to be able to provide feedback by simply phoning a freephone number and answering an automated survey over the phone. How’s that for ease of use?

And if you are keen on online surveys we have some fully supported options, DIY options or we can even point you in the direction of some decent free options.  Talk about choice.

Posted in Customer Satisfaction | 8 Comments »

Customer Satisfaction Surveys – For the love of it

July 6th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

I_love_surveysCompanies need to put their money where their mouth is the message that Greg Adams is sending in his article You call that market research? and not for the love of it.

The bee in Greg’s bonnet is that a large number of online customer satisfaction surveys invitations he has received come with no incentive i.e prize draw, discount coupon etc.

But what bugs me most is what seems like an increasing expectation from many companies that we’ll do it for nowt. Just offer feedback for the love of it. Last time I checked, this was called market research…and business in its own right, and a multi-billion dollar one at that.

Greg asks where is the incentive and this is the response.

A reply duly pinged back from NZ Post’s representatives. “Hi Greg, Thank you for your email. In regards to any incentive, the feedback and comments that New Zealand Post will be utilising should be a direct benefit to you through improved service and products.”

Just think about it for a minute. Surely asking someone to give their time freely is at best cheeky and at worst, well, bloody cheeky. What’s wrong with some measure of reward? There are plenty of companies that put their hands into their pockets for a prize draw for respondents, a discount coupon, or something like that. Those I’ll help.

But to my mind there seems to be a bit too much of this freeloading going on. So, if you’re asked, just ignore it. That’ll teach them.

I have to say that I agree with Greg’s point. Offering an incentive to your customers is important for a number of reasons. They include;

  • Higher response rates.
  • A chance to reward your valued customers and create a feel good factor.
  • A chance to build business – offer a discount coupon for customers who participate.
  • Good PR opportunity – publish the names of prize draw winners.

If you want your customers to help you improve your business, a wee reward for their time and trouble is the least you can do.

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Positive or Negative Customer Feedback – It is all Good

March 20th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

Recent market research undertaken by ING has drawn criticism from customers. In the NBR article, ING research draws suspicion, customers being researched have claimed that some of the questions are quite leading.

While the actual questions remain a mystery the underlying issue is that ING customers are a pretty unhappy bunch at the moment (largely due to frozen funds).

 It is likely that the survey would have received criticism regardless of what questions were asked. The problem here seems to be the timing of the survey.

I wouldn’t recommend delaying the research just because your customers may not be happy with you - positive and negative feedback is all valuable.

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Twitter – An insight into Customer Satisfaction?

March 16th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

twitterJason Lee Miller writes in “Twitter: A Real Time Pulse Of Customer Satisfaction” how Twitter can provide a real time insight into customer satisfaction.

The example given is off using the Twitter network in order to gain insight into how a company may be performing by asking for company recommendations.

The challenge here I think is to be able to cut through the noise and research some sort of definitive consensus on a view. Something that I think would be difficult. What is most likely to prevail are those kind of shoot from the hip responses. Nothing that I would base any serious decisions on.

Posted in Customer Satisfaction | 2 Comments »

Satisfaction survey sent to dead girl

February 5th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

When I read this article I got a chill down my spine, as it really is a nightmare. The Canterbury District Health Board sends out customer satisfaction surveys to patients after they have received treatment, which I think all would agree is a good thing. The exception of course is sending the patient a survey when they have died. This error is compounded by the fact that the patient is a young child.

The hospital acknowledged and apologised for their mistake admitting that it was a clerical error and while they have measures to prevent this from happening this one slipped through.

My thoughts after reading this article were, is this really news?, we send out thousands of survey invites a year and never did I think that making an error would find it’s self newsworthy. But then perhaps I am just a cold hearted researcher, maybe non-researchers (i.e. the general public) somehow view survey invites in a different light. While I am in no way defending the hospitals mistake, it is quite sloppy, it really is a very simple, well meaning error to make.

When I returned to the article I felt reassured in my views by other readers who commented on the story. Comments included the following:

“Clerical error – happens all the time. It’s just very, very unfortunate that it would happen under these circumstances.”

“I agree this survey didn’t arrive at an appropriate time – but any feedback does allow services to better the process. some times changes don’t occur or go noticed straight away – but being honest is best to allow these services to be addressed.”

“this is news?”

Posted in Customer Satisfaction | 2 Comments »

Google out in Front with Customer Satisfaction

August 29th, 2008 by Jared Bothwell

Techcrunch highlights the fact that Google has come out in front based on findings from The University of Michigan’s quarterly customer satisfaction index.

Overall satisfaction has increased since 2007 from 78 to 86. Some selected responses from the survey have been outlined below.

Google:                86 (78)
Yahoo:                 77 (79)        76 (74)     75 (74)
MSN:                   75 (75)      75 (73)
Ask:                    74 (75            73 (73)    73 (72)
AOL:                   69 (67)

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Customer Service : Can’t Get No Satisfaction – Just Ask

August 12th, 2008 by Jared Bothwell

In the the August 2008 editorial titled Customer Service : Can’t Get No Satisfaction published in the the NZ Marketing Magazine analysis undertaken of the disconnect between brand promise and customer experience.

The results of the survey revealed that only 33 percent of respondents were satisfied with the level of customer service they receive. (The remaining 67 percent were either dissatisfied or had neutral feelings.) The survey also highlighted that women were more likely to be satisfied than men (34 percent versus 27 percent) and that the over-30s tended to be less satisfied with levels of customer service.

Customers identifed three key areas where they wanted to see improvements. These were:

  1. A willingness to help
  2. The ability to listen and understand the customers’ needs
  3. Take responsibility and ensure those needs are met

Pretty easy really, the hard part is trying to figure out where to focus your attentions. This is where a customer survey is pretty handy. Survey resulst will enable you to idenitfy your strengtsh and weakness in the deliveri of the customer expereince. We all know that we need to keep our customers satisfied, what we often don’t know is where as an orgaisation we may be letting our customers down. The soultion – seek and you shall find, or more simply put, just ask!

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Love the Customers who Hate You

March 24th, 2008 by Jared Bothwell

Jeff Jarvis in his article Love the Customers who Hate You makes the point that customers who hate your company are in fact offering you a great opportunity for you to improve your customer service and along with it your business strategy.

A similar philosophy can be adopted when carrying out your customer satisfaction surveys. While they can often provide a great opportunity to find out what your customers love about your business and they can be great confidence boost the real value in your survey findings can be in the messages that customers send about what can be improved about your business.

You don’t need to be Dell to to implement a system for customers to get involved when a simple online customer satisfaction survey can do the business.

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