Actions after Surveys

A key requirement in ISO 9001 is to monitor information relating to the customer’s perception as to how well your organization is meeting customer requirements. The standard goes on to say that the methods for obtaining and using this information must be determined.

A new Note in ISO 9001:2008, clause 8.2.1, states that monitoring customer perception can include obtaining input from sources such as customer satisfaction surveys, customer data on delivered product quality, user opinion surveys, lost business analysis, compliments, warranty claims, and dealer reports.

According to an article by Jim Martin in E-Commerce Times, it’s one thing to ask customers for their input, but if you don’t act on it, you’re sending the message that the input doesn’t matter anyway.

Mr. Martin asks, have you ever answered one of those “how was our service?” questionnaires to let somebody know you weren’t happy with the experience you’d had; and then never heard anything back from the business that asked? If you’ve had one of these experiences, then you know what it feels like to be asked your opinion and have it ignored.

Every question sets an expectation of action. When customers feel their voice is being heard, they’re more loyal and engaged. That’s a good thing at any time, but particularly today, when we’re all working within a challenging economy. Customer service can be a key differentiator influencing purchasing decisions.

When customers take time to complete a survey, the data they’re providing the company is invaluable. And if their feedback isn’t at least acknowledged, they’ll feel their time was wasted and will think twice about giving you their business, or their opinion, in the future.

The actions an organization takes, and the way it communicates this back to the survey respondent, is the last step in closing the feedback loop. The speed with which organizations close this loop is essential in building a trusted dialogue. All of us as consumers have come to expect quick turnaround and immediate action when sharing our feedback, and long delays can signal a lack of care and responsiveness.

When your organization decides to become more aware of, and responsive to, customer mindsets, start by asking the right questions. When developing those questions, always think ahead to what your follow-up actions might be given the range of possible responses.

To see the full article by Jim Martin, who is the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Inquisite, a leader in Enterprise Feedback Management, go to E-Commerce Times.