We know customers still love to provide feedback. Now the question becomes, how often should you ask for it? As you might expect, it depends on the type of survey you’re conducting.
Whether it’s customer satisfaction, onboarding, or project completion surveys – asking for feedback too often can lead to fatigue, while surveying too infrequently may result in leaving valuable information on the table.
Recommendations Based on Survey Type
Here are three types of customer surveys and best practices aimed at avoiding survey burn out and optimizing relevance:
1. Customer Satisfaction Surveys:
These surveys, sometimes referred to as “relationship surveys,” are best used with customers that maintain consistent interactions with your company, such as a retainer arrangement or SaaS model. In terms of frequency, we generally recommend semi-annual surveys for our clients.
When customers recognize your company’s commitment to listening and acting on their feedback, most will happily set aside a few minutes every six months to provide input. In rare cases, once a year may be appropriate – but only for companies with modest changes to the business or competitive landscape.
One caveat: new customers are usually not informed enough to provide meaningful feedback. Therefore we often recommend customers not be invited to participate until they have enough experience to share valuable insights – maybe 3 or 6 months into the engagement.
Following this protocol ensures that you gather robust data at regular intervals, the information is relevant, and survey fatigue is minimized. An added bonus? Higher response rates!
2. Onboarding or Implementation Surveys:
The first ‘moments of truth’ for new customers are often the most telling. Were customers sufficiently trained and supported? Do any opportunities exist for a smoother onboarding / implementation experience?
To adequately assess this critical touchpoint, it’s recommended that new customers (less than three months tenure, for example) receive an onboarding or implementation survey from your company shortly after the onboarding process is complete. Depending on volume, onboarding or implementation surveys can be collected and analyzed weekly, monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually.
3. Project Completion Surveys:
Many companies work with their customers on a per project basis. The goal is to keep winning their business for future projects.
To help determine if the project was successful from the customer’s perspective, we suggest project completion surveys. This survey is often tailored to the individual project and assesses overall satisfaction as well as improvement opportunities.
As the name implies, these surveys are fielded at the completion of a project. Caution – waiting too long to send project completion surveys diminishes data quality, as many respondents will begin to forget the details of the experience.
In addition to one or several of the surveys above, many companies engage in a variety of other surveys, including post-event surveys (for example, after a Customer Advisory Board or Customer Event), training surveys (to assess how helpful product training sessions were), market research surveys, or competitive benchmarking surveys.
Overall Survey Timing Strategy
All of the surveys listed above will – when designed properly – elicit very valuable and actionable feedback. However, it is highly recommended you consider a well thought out survey strategy for your company, particularly when different stakeholders are involved.
Proper planning can reduce the risk of customers getting frustrating by receiving too many survey invitations. A good general rule of thumb – if you invite a customer to participate in a survey, wait two months before you invite them again.
It’s also important to note that for any type of survey to be effective, it’s vital that you communicate regularly with customers after the survey has been completed. This shows that you (a) are listening, (b) are focused on their perceptions and experiences, and (c) are committed to taking actions specifically designed to improve their satisfaction.
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