In my many conversations with small- to medium-sized business owners this seems especially true. SMBs often have smaller marketing departments or lack a reasonably well-developed research and analytics function. It shouldn’t be that complicated, but the huge global management and research consultancies make it that way. They offer various customer satisfaction benchmarking or scoring systems that are complex or based on simulation and modeling. But customer satisfaction research should be a basic function.
I have conducted many customer satisfaction studies for some of the nation’s biggest companies. I’ve concluded that most companies (or, for that matter, business units or divisions) only need a core set of key measures to help them understand what customers think and feel about their business.
Again, the five questions above form a “core set”: there is nothing preventing you from asking other questions, such as brand awareness, usage, behavior, or attribute ratings on the product or service you provide. But companies often fall into a trap of asking exhaustive questions that produce flat results with little variability over time. Our advice here is simple: less is more. If the questions that you want to add are not actionable, trust your instincts and exclude them.
Asking fewer, simpler questions engages the customer in a conversation with you, rather than subjecting them to a relentless barrage of questions.
This core set of questions is especially useful because it forces business owners and managers to review and listen to the comments that customers provide – and offers huge opportunities to gain real insight and make continuous mid-flight improvements. And there are many software platforms that can let you ask your questions for little, if any, cost.
The challenge for you is to read their responses: it is in the nuance of their answers that real improvements in customer satisfaction often hide.