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How important is it to have an independent company interview your customers?

Companies often ask why they can’t do customer satisfaction surveys themselves. In an ideal world you should be doing this yourself on a continual basis. Unfortunately there are many obstacles to conducting a customer satisfaction survey in-house. Some are: the nature of the salesperson, the ability to conduct an unbiased assessment, lack of resources, and ensuring you are using the best theory base.

The nature of the salesperson

how-important-is-it-to-have-an-independent-company-interview-your-customerssalesperson is someone who loves closing a deal. If they have to go and conduct a survey on their clients they may get distracted when they hear an opportunity and may want to close it there and then. The survey would take second place because a sale is more their comfort zone and they are commission driven. As a result you will not get a clear and accurate picture of your performance.

Our theory follows very sound principles of needs selling. Broadly, needs selling is uncovering a need and putting forward your product’s feature as a benefit to satisfy that need. Only a truly professional sales person could do a proper and thorough assessment on customer satisfaction and ignore the sale opportunity.

Unbiased assessment

One of the goals of a customer survey is to find out where you are going wrong so you can fix it. You need to have a totally unbiased person conducting the survey to get a true picture of how your company is performing. That means you cannot use your sales team as they will not report on issues that make them look bad. Likewise you cannot ask division heads to perform the survey because they could skew the data to not look bad. The only employees who can conduct the survey must be far removed from the customer so they are indifferent, and they are difficult to find.

Your customers may also be unwilling to open up to someone from within your company. Sometimes it is best to get an outside person to do the interview as they have no axe to grind, no hidden agenda, and can report on what the customer is saying, now what the company wants to hear. In that respect we liken ourselves to marriage guidance counsellors between customers and suppliers.

Lack of resources

To conduct a survey on only 50 customers is a full month’s work for someone to do. That is excluding the writing up and analysis of the results. Many companies cannot afford to have someone take a month or so off every year to conduct interviews. You also do not want to have someone too low down in the company do the survey either as they may not be able to connect with your key customers directors the way someone more senior would.

Latest in theory bases

Businesses should stick to their knitting and unless you have a dedicated research division you will not know what the latest in trends are or have the relevant resources to do a good job. By putting your customer satisfaction or customer loyalty survey out to tender you can look at all the different options out there and choose the best process to fit your needs and budget best.

On top of it all, we have found our clients’ customers like being interviewed by a third party. It allows them to open up more and be more honest and less guarded on what they say. It also speaks volumes on how important their business is to you and they are often extremely flattered at being chosen. This alone is a very good means of creating customer loyalty. Have a look at some of the statements customers have to say about being surveyed here. As you can see, quite a lot of the statements revolve around the benefits of a third party conducting the survey.

Douglas MacGregor

Customer Relationship Auditing

“Building superior business relationships through client intelligence”

+27 (11) 805-3588 (direct)

+27 (82) 414-9394 (cell)

douglas@cra.co.za

www.cra.co.za

 

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