By Katie Raymond
Conducting an effective customer survey at the end of a snow season is crucial to any business model. The results will help the team to navigate a plethora of data: areas to improve, traits of strength, opportunities for account growth, and, above all, a net promoter score that will reveal customers that are driving more business and those that have no interest in doing so. The keys to an effective snow services satisfaction survey are completing it while winter is fresh in the client’s mind and having uniform answers for each question - no matter who is taking the survey.
Online or in person?
One debate in the dissemination of a customer survey in today’s digital age is whether they should be done in person or online. Some customers inevitably prefer to take five minutes and use email to complete their survey, regardless of how strong their relationship with an account manager or director of operations may be. Other clients will only complete their surveys over the phone with their preferred contact. The solution is to set a hard deadline for the survey and execute surveys (using phone and email depending on the customer) until you have an entire population or as close to it as you can get. The closer you are to 100% completion, the more accurate and helpful the survey will be to shape decisions for the company’s future.
Define your purpose
Starting out, set a main objective for the survey. Many snow companies choose to use customer survey as a revelation of service weaknesses. Whatever the direction, the questions should have the greatest level of depth for the information that is most coveted. Successful survey questions will endure several editorial reviews before becoming official. Customers that must use a Likert scale while responding will produce the most useful data since the Likert scale reveals quantitative statistics that allow the data to be sliced and diced in any fashion helpful to the company. By stark contrast, only asking open-ended questions may result in more detail but leave a company powerless to get the actual numeric scores needed to effectively use the results.
Consider a third-party surveyor
Another tactic that may help companies achieve the greatest amount of success is to have someone who didn’t manage that company’s property(ies) call to increase objectivity. Sometimes when customers hear from the same person they’ve been working with all winter, they tend to be more gracious and rose-colored in their responses.
Lastly, the best time to launch your customer survey is NOW. If you wait until summer, it will be too late - both because the winter will be a distant memory and it may not give you enough time to review the data and make meaningful changes for the coming winter based on the feedback. Winter will no longer be fresh in their mind, no matter how good or bad it went!
Katie Raymond is a regional account manager for Case Snow Management and a member of the Snow Business Editorial Advisory Committee.