Are your customers telling you the whole truth?
The ROI benefits of customer feedback surveys for contractorsJune 1st, 2021 by
Your customers are the most important element of your business. More important, in fact, than your products or services. Even if you’re the best contractor in your area, without customers, your business won’t survive.
So, your relationship with your customers is critical.
These relationships matter because they’re tied directly to profitability. The happier your customers are, the more likely they are to give you more business—both directly, through repeat business, and indirectly, through referrals.
There are several different ways to manage, improve and maintain positive customer relationships. In this article, we’re going to explore one specific strategy for boosting customer satisfaction—customer feedback surveys.
We’ll explore how happy customers promote business growth, how customer surveys help create happy customers, and practical tips for making the most of your customer surveys.
Satisfied customers promote business growth
The internet has completely changed how we spend our money. Word-of-mouth marketing has always been important, but never more so than it is today. Think about it. Solid online reviews can make or break a business.
Keeping customers happy matters.
We touched on two ways happy customers help with business growth in the intro to this article. Let’s dive a little deeper into both.
Happy customers are more likely to become repeat customers
Do you see your customer relationships as ongoing? You should. After all, a homeowner who partners with a contractor for one project could easily want to partner for additional projects in the future.
Think of every customer relationship as an ongoing relationship. In professional contractor work, they often are.
Happy customers are more likely to recommend your business
Not only is it possible that a previous customer could come back for more services, but it’s also possible they’ll recommend you to family and friends.
Homeowners take recommendations from friends and family seriously. One successful relationship could easily turn into many successful (and profitable) relationships. You just have to make sure you keep customer satisfaction high on your list of priorities.
And customer feedback surveys can help.
Using customer feedback surveys
A lot of companies think of surveys only as a tool to use to get feedback after the customer experience is over. In a way, that makes sense. What better time to find out how a customer feels about the work you did than once it’s complete?
But we recommend a more strategic approach. Why not use surveys throughout the customer process?
A single survey at the end of a project tells you what happened. A couple of brief surveys throughout the project tell you how it’s going in real time—when you can correct things, if needed.
Short, simple surveys throughout the process keep the customer involved and communicating. They also give you a chance to adjust your services before a customer has a chance to develop a negative impression.
7 tips for making the most of customer feedback surveys
Let’s assume you’re sold on the benefits of customer feedback surveys. What next?
You’ll need some tips to point you in the right direction. And you’re in luck. We’ve compiled some of our top tips for making the most of your surveys.
1. Focus on the customer experience
Effective customer surveys are short. This is important because there are a lot of things you could ask about—everything from the quality of the work to customer service. But if you ask about everything, your surveys will be far too long.
We strongly encourage you to focus on things that directly affect the customer experience.
Ask about how the customer feels about the finished job. But also ask about communication, how they feel they were treated, and how pleased they are, overall, with the entire experience.
2. Ask questions the right way
Since your surveys need to remain short, it’s important to get as much mileage out of each question as possible. You’ll want to ask about what really matters … in ways that allow for the best possible response.
Open-ended questions are better than yes or no questions because they give customers the opportunity to freely add their opinions. You can also use questions based on a scale (strongly agree, agree, no opinion, disagree, strongly disagree) if you want to keep things a little simpler. Or use a combination of the two.
Keep in mind, the goal is to get insightful information. Ask questions that allow for full answers.
3. Subtly include your company’s goals
Effective customer feedback surveys should align with your company’s goals. But you can’t be too obvious about this. Instead, you need a strategic approach.
Here’s how to get the information that matters for your business growth.
Determine your business goals
Before you start crafting questions, you need to figure out what you want out to achieve in the next year and beyond.
Are you focused on general growth? Is there a specific element of your business you want to grow? Is there a specific customer base you want to win?
Decide where your goals and customer experience meet
Once you know your goals, think about them from your customers’ perspective. What will enable you to (a) meet your goals in a way that (b) delights your customers?
Ask about what you want to know … focused on the customer
When customers fill out feedback surveys, they probably won’t be too invested in your business goals. They will, however, care about their own experiences.
Ask questions that give you the information you need to grow according to your goals. But make sure those questions always focus first and foremost on the customer. That will give you the best possible information.
4. Think about the timing of your surveys
The timing of your surveys can make a big difference.
As we covered above, far too many companies only survey customers at the end of a job. To get a complete picture of the customer experience, you may want to include 2-3 short surveys throughout the process.
Consider surveying customers …
At the beginning of the project
Find out about the sales experience, their expectations, and their attitude before the work even starts.
In the middle of the project
Touch bases to see how the job is going from the customer’s perspective. Use the information you gather to course correct when needed.
At the end of the project
When all the work is done, find out how satisfied the customer is with everything from the communication they received to the quality of the craftsmanship.
5. Offer incentives—for ALL customer feedback
Getting customers to give you even a few minutes of their time to complete a survey can be tough. To get as many completed surveys as possible, some business leaders incentivize customers with a small reward for completing surveys.
Something like a discount on future services, a gift card for a cup of coffee, or even something branded with your business info, like a t-shirt.
We’d love to be able to recommend this approach across the board, but we need to be very clear about a potential pitfall. We do not recommend incentivizing customers only for positive survey results. Not only will this skew the data, but it also looks shady to potential customers. After all, you don’t want folks to think you’re paying for positive survey results.
If you choose to offer a small incentive, offer it to everyone—even those who disliked your services.
6. Use the results
Once you start sending out surveys, you need to use the feedback you receive. Here’s what that looks like.
Review the feedback with an open mind
It’s no fun to receive negative feedback. But any feedback—good or bad—is an opportunity to make your business better.
Try to enter into the process ready to listen to what your customers have to say … even if you don’t like all of it.
Make appropriate business process changes
When you discover an opportunity for change, don’t just take note of it. Actually make the change!
This may seem obvious, but there are plenty of well-established businesses that know what will enable growth … but don’t find the time to make changes. Don’t be one of them.
Update your surveys regularly
Surveys are not “one and done.” As you review answers and make business changes, you’ll likely want to update your surveys, too.
As you make updates, remember the basics we’ve covered above. Continue to focus on the customer experience, giving folks the chance to share what they honestly think.
7. Follow up with customers
In some cases, you may want to follow up with specific customers after getting a feedback survey. For example, if a customer simply isn’t happy, it could be worth your time to reach out to them.
As you do, keep the following in mind.
Start any conversation with a dissatisfied customer by listening. It’s possible that your customer’s feelings will change if you just give them a chance to share their experience.
Don’t get defensive
While you’ll naturally want to defend your team, your business, and the quality of your work, try to avoid giving in to the temptation.
What matters most is changing the customer’s experience. Your best shot at pulling that off does not include an argument with your customer.
Solve the problem
Instead of getting defensive, focus on solving the problem.
Do they feel like part of the job was incomplete? Were they upset about the timeline? Was communication off somewhere?
Whatever the issue, solve it for this customer if possible. If not, let the customer know you’ll adjust your business processes to avoid the same issue in the future.
Thank them for their time
Finally, end the conversation by thanking them for their time—even if they’re still upset!
This is critical. You want the conversation to conclude on the most positive note possible.
Customer feedback surveys are a great way to help your business grow. In this article, we’ve explored the essentials of effective surveys.
If you’re ready to take your customer surveys to the next level, we encourage you to consider partnering with a professional for the most strategic approach.