Monitoring the level of customer satisfaction is critical to any business, organisation or team. But sometimes it can be difficult to know how best to collect data from customers in order to monitor their satisfaction levels.

Customer satisfaction surveys are an obvious option, but rates of return on these surveys are notoriously low. The answers can also be restricted to the particular questions on the survey, or could even be biased by leading questions on the part of the organisation. To get a better overall understanding of the thoughts of our customers, we need to mix a few other options. Here’s 10 ideas to get you started.

Complaint Log

A complaint is defined as an oral or written expression of dissatisfaction or concern customers may have about facilities or services provided by an operation of business, or about actions or lack of actions by organisation or business or its staff.

Monitoring and Review

  • Monitoring of the complaint process can be undertaken by:
  • Maintaining a complete tracking system and record of each complaint
  • Providing an annual report, review and analysis of complaints for the management board
  • Feeding back details of actions and outcomes to relevant schools and units
  • Following up complaints that have been resolved with a questionnaire to complainants about the effectiveness of the system and, where relevant, reporting on action taken
  • Ensuring all staff responsible for co-ordinating complaints undertake staff development in the system
  • Establishing a rigorous and effective system of dealing with proven culpability by one or more parties and feeding back to the complainant the course of action that has been taken on what has been achieved and implemented to prevent the same situation happening again

Staff suggestion scheme

Customers have rising expectations. Companies need new ideas, better processes, more innovative products and services, and more effective ways to build strong futures with those customers.

Companies can no longer survive with staff members who expect management to provide “all the right answers”. Today, companies require a steady flow of ideas and solutions from those who are closest to the processes and the customers, those with their “ears to the ground”.

To maintain an adaptable and responsive organization, you must develop a culture that actively solicits input and recommendations from every level of your staff.

Fortunately, senior managers are more receptive to this approach than ever before. But how can you transform the mindset of staff, who, for years or even generations, were trained to “keep your mouths shut, lay low, just follow orders”? How can you encourage your frontline staff to open their minds, explore new ideas and share their best recommendations?

One technique is the “Staff Suggestion Scheme,” a time honoured process of wooden boxes and pre-printed forms for staff to write out their ideas and submit them for management consideration.

Of course, this is just a starting point. Changing the culture of a company or a team to be inclusive and understanding of staff suggestions is well beyond the scope of this article. There have been entire books written about the subject – have a look at Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek or Permission to Screw Up by Kristen Hadeed.

Interviews

Many will vouch for the fact that dealing with customers is not always easy. Rather, it is more of an art. A business that doesn’t care for its customers can’t be expected to rake in the profits because in today’s world, a disenchanted customer has the option to simply walk away, never to come back.

The goodwill that you gain by providing impeccable service cannot be replicated by any other tactic. In conduction Customer Service Review interviews we are discussing, face to face or by telephone, with the customer their experience and in particular where we may not have delivered impeccable service.

A prepared series of questions will allow coverage in an interview of the key areas which management are requesting feedback. However, notwithstanding the information or data that may be collected, the key benefit is the feeling that the customer gains from having the business take their feedback seriously and give an opportunity to turn what may be a major issue into a minor issue or an explanation of circumstances might change the customers view for the better.

Focus group

A focus group is a form of research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging.

Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members. In the world of marketing, focus groups are seen as an important tool for acquiring feedback regarding new products, as well as various topics. In particular, focus groups allow companies wishing to develop, package, name, or test market a new product, to discuss, view, and/or test the new product before it is made available to the public. This can provide invaluable information about the potential market acceptance of the product.

A Focus Group is an interview, conducted by a trained moderator among a small group of respondents. The interview is conducted in an unstructured and natural way where respondents are free to give views from any aspect. Today, using audience response keypads to collect questionnaire answers is the new industry trend.

Questionnaire

Customer feedback can save a failing business or make a successful business even more profitable by providing information about exactly what products or services customers want and are willing to pay for. The challenge is getting your customers to leave feedback that is both honest and helpful to your business.

Fortunately, there are ways to encourage your customers to provide you with this information.

Customer feedback enables businesses to identify strengths and weaknesses in products and services offered to clients. All employees who have direct contact with customers have the opportunity to receive customer feedback and relay that information to management.

However, perhaps the most reliable tool for measuring customer feedback is a questionnaire or survey that is distributed on a regular basis to customers. Encouraging customers to fill out and return the questionnaire and can be part of client follow-up by sales and customer service staff.

Comment Cards

In-store comments are often left via comment cards, which are usually index-card sized and allow the customer to tell the business about their experience. Often, they are blank, leaving room for the customer to fill out a note with nothing but their imagination. Other times, they include questions for the customer to answer such as “did you enjoy your experience today?”

Businesses like this type of feedback because there is usually a mix of good, neutral and bad comments, since customers have time to fill them out while waiting in line at the register. It also gives management hard-copies to review and to show employees.

Phone Calls/Help Desks

While comment cards offer businesses a mix of comments, phone calls usually offer a limited variation of comments. Because it takes effort for a customer to call a business customer service line and speak to a representative, the comments are usually either very good or very bad. For a customer to call in comments, they usually must be either really thrilled with something they experienced or really disappointed.

This type of feedback is good for management to know about out-ofthe- ordinary experiences the customer may have had. However, the feedback is not typical and, therefore, cannot be used to accurately judge a store’s performance, unless the calls happen frequently.

Online Submissions

It’s common today for customers to make purchases online, and leave feedback online as well. Often, businesses will include a survey or comment section at the end of a purchase. This type of feedback works similarly to comment cards, since the survey is convenient for the customer to fill out.

Online submissions left in a general “contact” form on the business website, however, works more similarly to phone call feedback, since it takes time for customers to seek out the contact page and write an e-mail to the business. This type of feedback allows for the information to be easily forwarded and passed on to all members of management via e-mail.

Spoken Word – Interviews

Customer feedback may also come directly from the mouth of a customer. Often, this can come as an answer to a direct question at the register. A customer service representative may ask “Did you find everything you were looking for?” or “How did you enjoy your experience in the store today?”

This feedback, though, may be easily forgotten in the moment. Often, a customer will volunteer spoken feedback if he’s experienced extraordinary service, good or bad, that he wishes to share. An example would be a customer telling a manager that an employee did a good job and should be rewarded.

Social Media and Blogs

Indirect customer feedback is not new, but being able to track it is. Although it’s still not likely for a business to track comments that a customer has shared with a friend, a business is able to track comments posted on social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and blogs. Sites that mix social media and reviews, also give businesses an insight into the true feelings of a customer.

While customers may give standard “good” responses on comment cards or in-store questions, what they say to friends is usually the truth. Many organisations within the service sector are using this method of feedback now. An example would be TripAdvisor for hotels and two hotel reviews are shown below. This sort of feedback, providing it is acted upon is extremely useful for the organisation to enable them to identify issues and put them right.

IWFM (BIFM) Qualifications

This article relates to the following IWFM (BIFM) Qualification Units:

  • IWFM (BIFM) Level 3 in Facilities Management
    • FM3.03 Customer and Stakeholder Relations in Facilities Management
  • IWFM (BIFM) Level 4 in Facilities Management
    • FM4.15 Managing Customer Service in Facilities Management
Find out more about IWFM (BIFM) Qualifications