My Survey Origins
During one of my high school summers, I worked for a surveyor collecting data to support contractors, draftsmen, and builders. Lugging his equipment, through marshes, thickets, and woods, I held a long measuring stick as still as possible as he looked through his transit level.
In addition to donating a quart of blood to the Massachusetts mosquito population, I gained a true appreciation for surveying; I know now that it’s the first step in formulating a plan. In our case, our surveying allowed contractors increased access to complete, unbiased information to make informed decisions.
Since that first summer, I have learned that surveying is to seek information, examine, record and then allow for the construction of a map or plan (both in land, and business). More importantly, I have learned to start the process early.
Of course, in the business of IT Services, we get our “lay of the land” a bit differently: We ask specific questions to understand the service “topography”. While we still need that complete, unbiased data, we also need to understand how the customer views our current level of services, how we are meeting those levels and what areas the customer thinks are most important or most painful.
How do you compare what you think your customer needs to what they think they need? How do you keep your finger on the pulse of your customers’ needs? The only sure way to answer these questions is by conducting regular customer satisfaction surveys.
Creating Your Customer Survey – a New eBook
Our new eBook will guide you through the end to end process of surveying your customers.
- Identify objectives
- Survey design
- How to write effective questions
- How to analyze your results
- Create an improvement agenda based on results
There is an assumption that once a survey has been answered, something will get done with the information offered. Therefore, a survey is a commitment to your customers to follow up with them on their feedback.
A survey, done right, can be a significant amount of work.
Chapter One: Understanding Your Customers’ Needs.
If you asked your customer if your service desk met their needs, what would they say? Is there a difference between your perception and reality?
When I was running a Service Center, my overall objective was to serve and support my customer-base so that they could be productive, efficient and effective at their jobs.
When I asked my Service Desk Manager if he felt we were meeting my objectives, he was emphatic that we were doing a splendid job. He hardly had any escalations, was meeting or beating the SLAs, and our backlog was manageable.
But, as a follow-up, I asked when he had last surveyed clients, to verify these perceptions were in line with the views of our customers. Turns out, he had surveys sent out…but only at the closure of tickets and that was it.
In short: There was a disconnect in the services we thought we were providing and the ones our customers thought we delivering, we just didn’t know it. That miss happened because the only data we had was from the limited people who were so annoyed with us, they decided to call in. Trust me, only tracking escalations limits your overall Service Desk success.
Meeting customer needs will boost both your productivity and your customers’. And guess what, surveys are an effective mechanism for getting your finger on the pulse of your customers, their needs, and perceptions of the services you provide.
They are the very first step in that process, you might say.
Establishing Objectives, Writing Questions, and Analyzing Results
You may already know your customers’ needs, which means it’s time to jump right in and start creating your survey. Skim an overview of the remaining chapters below to get a feel for the following steps, or to get started even sooner, download the entire eBook with examples, advice, and survey best practices.
Chapter Two Overview: Establishing Your Survey Objective
Before writing your questions, ask yourself, what do you want to survey? What are the objectives or purpose?
When I was running the Service Center, we thought we were okay only surveying completed cases. But we weren’t. We needed a targeted survey to understand how much and where we were off.
This chapter will walk through several key guidelines to setting your survey objective, including; responding to SLA’s, measuring perception and technical usability for your organization.
Chapter Three Overview: Designing Your Survey
While you might be tempted to jump right into survey design, the actual first step in creating your survey is to pause, again, and ask yourself a few questions. See what it takes to design an entire survey, from a clear descriptive title to the order of your crafted questions.
Chapter Four Overview: Writing Effective Survey Questions
Just like the surveyor when he was studying the “lay of the land”, my observations would sometimes lead to more questions. Formulating my survey questions appropriately for the audience as to obtain the information needed was a big challenge.
In my time, I’d have to do real “leg-work” and go to the Registry of Deeds, visit with previous owners or get soil samples amongst other things to get my questions answered. Thankfully today you have more resources on hand.
Let’s take a look at the variety of different questions you could be writing in your survey. While it may be tempting to try a little bit of everything, hone in on the questions that best serve your survey objective.
Once you’ve decided what type of questions are going to be best for your survey, how do you actually write the questions?
Some number of decades ago, my first college English professor assigned us to read “The Elements of Style” by Strunk & White. Looking back, I must have strained my eyes with an exaggerated eye-roll when our professor told the class we would use this book for the rest of our lives. She was right. If you don’t recognize this little book, I recommend you become familiar. This helpful guide will become your new best friend by teaching you how to write clearly and concisely, omit needless words and write in an active voice. Of course, I’ve summarized all the key points for your surveys.
Chapter Five Overview: Distributing & Collecting Your Surveys
There are many tools at your disposal for distributing and collecting your survey.
Perfect for post-case closure surveys, user-friendly data analysis, and comprehensive reporting, ServiceNow is our personal favorite, but Survey Monkey, KwikSurveys, SurveyGizmo, and Typeform are other options available. These all offer great features and allow for post-collection data analysis.
Chapter Six Overview: Analyzing the Data & Communicating the Results
Jump into the nuances of analyzing open and close-ended questions, plus get a brush-up on all the terms you tried so hard to forget after your high school statistics class.
To continue learning about creating revenue-driving customer surveys, download our complete eBook here. Each chapter sheds light on the importance of precision and guidance, especially when you want to use the results to take notable action inside your business. But don’t take my word for it, download your copy now!
Tom Sweeney has over 35 years of experience connecting people, process, and technology to increase value and create positive customer experiences. In addition to his decades of management experience, he has transformed many Service Desks from under-achieving dysfunctional groups to high-performing teams with purpose and direction. He is an expert in process enhancement with an ability to effectively translate technical information and procedures to clients.