Automated survey gets an attitude adjustment, revealing customer satisfaction levels

In any service industry, getting timely input from customers can pave the way for future strategies and long-term goals. Enterprise feedback management (EFM) software offers another way to study, track, and measure customer attitudes. EFM—a growing subcategory of customer relationship management (CRM)—uses reporting and survey tools to solicit input from customers or employees, and ...


In any service industry, getting timely input from customers can pave the way for future strategies and long-term goals. Enterprise feedback management (EFM) software offers another way to study, track, and measure customer attitudes.

EFM—a growing subcategory of customer relationship management (CRM)—uses reporting and survey tools to solicit input from customers or employees, and integrates that data with business plans to improve customer satisfaction. EFM can be completely outsourced, or run in an application service provider model.

Customer surveying and market research make up a large portion of EFM, including both regularly scheduled and event-driven surveys.

“Mapping responses directly following an experience allows companies to track attitudes over time,” says Gary Schwartz, VP of product marketing for Confirmit , an EFM supplier. “This data can provide a forward-looking indicator, and help identify key moments of truth.”

Schwartz defines a “moment of truth” as a significant event or experience where a customer is most reachable, and at a point that can be measured.

According to Schwartz, “[EFM] gives the 'why' behind the 'what.' For example, it could occur when an insurance company closes a claim, or when a call center is contacted.” To get the best results, Schwartz recommends combining this “attitude” information with data from key performance indicators and balanced scorecards.

Confirmit's online surveying system offers real-time alerts on actual responses. “The system can be set up so that when a customer indicates they are dissatisfied with a specific product or service, an alert is sent via email to someone immediately,” says Schwartz “This allows users to contact customers to address the situation. It is a good example of closed-loop feedback.”

Confirmit's Web tracking technology also allows users to set up alerts if customers do not fully complete online forms or applications. “A pop-up window alerts customers that they didn't finish the form and reminds them to complete it,” says Schwartz.

One year ago, Sonneborn , a Mahwah, N.J.-based hydrocarbon manufacturer, set out to find an automated program for conducting surveys. The company, whose primary products include baby oil and petroleum jelly, was hoping to replace its time-intensive manual process with a customer-friendly online version. “We wanted a robust, dependable, and flexible tool that would be easy for both us and our customers to use,” says Roy Seib, marketing manager for Sonneborn.

Confirmit enterprise feedback management tools solicit input from customers, employees, or other stakeholders; and measure customer attitudes in a way that allows for rapid and actionable feedback.

Using Confirmit, Sonneborn customized its annual survey to make the experience more meaningful to respondents' specific job titles. “We thought we would get a higher response rate by making the survey pertinent to the person taking it,” says Seib. “A purchasing agent, for example, would not be given questions regarding research and development.”

Sonneborn initially had ambitious goals of achieving a 50-percent to 60-percent response rate, but soon realized these numbers were unrealistic since the industry average survey response rate is 15 percent. After readjusting its goals, the company took two months to build its questionnaire and send it to 630 customers.

Two weeks after the initial survey launch, the response rate was 15 percent, says Seib. “Using the Confirmit system, we sent an automatic reminder to [nonrespondents], letting them know the survey was still available.” A few weeks later, Sonneborn saw the rate climb to 26 percent.

The system's “reportal” section allows users to view survey status and current response rates in real time.

“We drill down into categories to determine how customers feel about our technical services, or to see our problem/resolution rate,” says Seib. “We could click on specific questions we asked customers, or on the 'dissatisfied' category to view specific answers.”

Although it's always good for companies to find out how they are doing with their customers, numbers sometimes are not enough.

“It is just as important to conduct back-end analysis because it helps to classify customers,” says Brad Bortner, principal analyst for Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research . “Tracking satisfaction alone is not enough because it doesn't tell you what drives satisfaction.”

Bortner advises digging deeper when doing event-driven surveys or using a system that will track what is valuable to each customer.

“One customer might be very easy to please and happy most of the time, whereas another might never be happy despite spending a lot of resources on them,” he says. “This type of information cannot be found by looking at a score on a 10-point scale.”

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