In our book Finding the Right Strategy: How to Grow Sales in a Title Insurance Company, we examine strategies and tactics to market and sell title insurance products and services. The following are excerpts from Chapter Eight on Customer Satisfaction.
We said in Chapter Seven the best way to find out what a customer needs, expects or values is to simply ask them. The same is true when it comes to determining customer satisfaction. For example, using a survey we could ask: How did we do? How was our service? How satisfied are you? Feedback from customers about your products and services must be part of the formula that guides your future strategic and sales efforts and for that reason satisfaction surveying is worth considering.
In our experience, when we suggest conducting a satisfaction survey, a successful owner will say, “I already know customers like us because revenue and orders are up.”
Indirect Measures. Customer revenue, orders, and closings are all important metrics, but they are indirect measures of customer satisfaction. Customers can become dissatisfied over time. Loyal customers will take some time before they leave a vendor they used to like. But, once they leave, they are gone. The best way to find out about customer satisfaction is to ask customers and a very good way to ask customers is to conduct a customer survey process that follows professional standards.
There is an old saying, “Garbage in garbage out.” Designing a survey process to accurately assess customer satisfaction is a little more complicated than it might seem. We have all at one time or another ignored, discarded, or dismissed a survey from a company that we actually like. Consider, for a moment why you failed to take the survey. Most likely the designers failed in one of the fundamental steps.
Process. The first step is to determine your goals for administering the survey. Why are you asking customers questions? What do you hope to learn? Second, what is the period of time the survey will cover, the last transaction, a month, or a quarter? Next, how will you communicate the survey to the customer the rationale and instructions, and how often? Will you survey the same customer more than once a quarter or year?
The questions used in the survey need to be structured correctly. Who and how many customers you survey should be carefully considered. The rating scale and categories of questions on the survey require careful planning. Interpreting the results can be difficult. Perhaps the most important factor is convincing customers to complete the survey in the first place.
Because the design and implementation of a survey process requires careful planning and expertise, we often recommend getting professional help or using one of several national on-line vendors like Survey Monkey. Here is a brief list of design and implementation features you should consider when planning a satisfaction survey process for your business:
Demand Characteristics: Make sure the customer is under no pressure (demand) to give you a favorable evaluation. On-line surveys are free of most demand characteristics and they can be administered using procedures that protect user identity.
The Types of Customers You Survey (Your Audience): We recommend surveying each of your different customer segments (buyers, sellers, Realtors, attorneys, lenders, builders, etc.) and designing survey questions that match up with the different needs these customers groups have.
Survey Content: Different customer segments have different needs or issues and survey content should be designed accordingly. A lender may be more concerned about specific escrow processing services and communication regarding the lending package. An attorney may have specific needs concerning the production of a title commitment. A Realtor will likely be interested in the locations of your offices and the appearance of your reception and closing areas. A buyer or seller will be interested in how the title company helped them understand the closing process and what the title policy insures.
For a buyer or seller, we might we ask the following questions:
Our building has convenient parking.
The building common areas and restrooms were attractive and clean.
Our Receptionist was welcoming (polite, friendly, and courteous)
The waiting area was comfortable and inviting.
The waiting area had the types of amenities you would expect.
Your closing was on time and length of time was as promised.
Your closer was prepared.
All your questions were answered.
You were satisfied with your experience at our company.
You would highly recommend our company to others.
The Rating Scale You Use: We recommend using a five-point Likert Scale. For example, if you wanted to ask a customer about their satisfaction with one of your escrow closing offices you could use the following:
Please rate your disagreement or agreement with each statement below using the following five-point rating scale:
1 = Strongly Disagree
2 = Disagree
3 = Neutral
4 = Agree
5 = Strongly Agree
Sample Size: If you will be using your survey results as a representative indicator of satisfaction levels for a group of customers you serve, sample size is important to consider. Sample size percentages (the size of your sample divided by the total size of the customer group you serve) between 15 and 20 percent are considered adequate. For example, if you call on 50 Realtor customers and receive completed surveys from 10 of them, you will have a 20 percent sample, which is more than adequate.
Customer Motivation: Customers need a reason to complete a survey. Angry customers are more likely to answer a survey, therefore we need to give satisfied customers a reason too. The timing and convenience of the survey are important factors. If the survey is sent by e-mail, what day and what time of day, the survey is sent will determine how many customers complete and return the survey. Offering money for completing a survey is not a good idea. However contributing to a charity or giving out redeemable coupons might be an acceptable alternative.
If you would like CBA to help you design and implement a customer survey process for your company, please contact us at www.cbaltd.biz.
To purchase Finding the Right Strategy or our first book, Finding The Right Path: A Guide To Leading and Managing A Title Insurance Company, go to www.iiwiipress.com. Our books can also be purchased through Amazon.