You've just been given the task of starting a new customer feedback program.
Where do you start?
Before you ask a single survey question, before you even decide how you're going to ask the questions, here are three questions you should ask your organization:
What is the business goal of this survey? I see a lot of companies where they survey customers just for the sake of surveying customers. Nobody ever asked what the purpose of the survey was other than to collect customer feedback.
To be effective, you should have a clear goal in mind. Are you looking to improve customer service levels? Are you looking to save money through process improvements? Do you just want to track things to make sure they get better not worse? Is there a project or initiative which requires customer input?
There can be more than one goal for a survey, but it's important that there be a goal. Surveys done without a clear purpose tend not to be effective.
How will you use the feedback to effect change? The goal of most customer surveys is, ultimately, to change something--through better training, more informed decisions, etc. So once you're clear on the goals of the program, you need to ask how the feedback will be used to achieve the goals.
A survey can be used in a variety of ways: to inform executive decision-making, as a training and coaching tool for front-line employees, or as part of an incentive program. Just as there can be more than one goal, the same survey can be used in many different ways.
How will the feedback program be managed over time? If you are beginning an ongoing customer feedback program, this program will need to be actively managed to remain effective. It's not good enough to assign someone to compile monthly reports and let it run.
As a company's needs evolve, the customer feedback process will need to evolve with it. That means taking a periodic look at the questions asked, the survey process, the reports generated, whether employees are cheating on the survey. The feedback process is a living thing, not something which can be set up and then neglected.
Answering these three questions will give you a big leg up in developing an effective customer feedback process, and potentially save years of effort going down a path which could never meet your needs.