One of the challenges, when we want to survey our customers (to find out their needs, and/or how well we are servicing their needs), is to look for lead indicators, rather than lag indicators. Ultimately we could measure the profit we make, but that is clearly seen to be a lag indicator (as well as not being very useful in determining what we need to do to increase our profitability).
Even asking how we have done servicing their needs over the last few months is a lag indicator. They normally have difficulty remembering exactly what you did for them, even if you prompt them with some service outcomes such as, “cooperation”, “value for money”, or “communication”. These service outcomes are a good start, but add some enabling outcomes such as, “pro-activity”, “self-confidence”, or “product knowledge”.
When it comes to measuring the response, we suggest using a Likert type scale, say -5 to +5, as that encourages the respondent to not select the mid-point (in this case 0). We also suggest getting your team to self-assess on exactly the same outcomes, that way you can test if there is a correlation between what your team thinks and what the customer thinks.
Why not get the respondents to do their ratings over three time frames, the past (say six months ago), now, and the future (say in six months’ time)? Have a look at the example below and think what it tells you.
Notice I have added an additional column, Importance To You. What this rating tells me is that, the cooperation is important to the customer, it is getting worse, and it needs to be much better. I wonder how the employees would rate cooperation? If you can get a reasonable sample size, say 20 people or more, we suggest plotting the responses into a histogram, and overlaying the four histograms for each outcome.
The key outcome of such a survey is to conduct a gap analysis, and then pareto the outcomes to find the 20% of the items that provide 80% of the performance improvement opportunity. Adding the future column enables you to pro-actively plan to improve the perceptions of the customers, as well as providing your team with feedback, and a plan, to improve the key outcomes.
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