Surveys have always been crucial when it comes to determining the next steps any company must take to improve its customer service experience. By tapping customers for their honest perspectives, brands open themselves to information that would otherwise remain unknown.

Yet while collecting actionable information in real time drives improvements throughout the organization, the processes behind gathering such data have shifted in recent years. Online surveys have gained prominence, as such methods cost less and are easier to deploy.  Online surveys typically are used to measure customer satisfaction with specific service incidents, such as the handling of trouble tickets.  Multiple choice responses allow customers to comment on such things as first-call resolution (yes or no and how many contacts were needed), the agent’s knowledge and helpful attitude, etc.  Transaction surveys are not meant to evaluate customer loyalty, just the degree of satisfaction with the handling of a specific recent service incident experience.

Particularly in B2B markets, telephone surveys offer invaluable insights and significantly increase survey responses to achieve statistically valid sample size.  As we know, valid sample size is the key component in all survey research.  Also, research shows that telephone responses provide a higher quality response in measuring the customer experience and allows capturing detailed information from key customer contacts (e.g., decision maker, recommender) on critical failures.  This invaluable information can trigger action alerts used to initiate the appropriate corrective action to address key customer issues from the key customer contacts.

In addition, telephone surveys allow a company to insert that personal, human touch that online surveys lack.  Such an approach enhances customer loyalty, as respondents feel they’re part of the process and that their input can effect change. Online surveys do tend to offer open-ended opportunities for feedback, but telephone surveys enable customer service representatives to speak directly with customers so they may gain thorough insight into the reasoning behind the responses as well as the loyalty based on the customer’s overall relationship with the company.  While such data may ultimately be difficult to quantify, it’s this qualitative information that’s necessary to get to the heart of what might be plaguing the brand in question.

Companies must identify their market research objectives carefully before they can determine the ideal channel that will help them achieve their goals. For those looking for responses that go beyond the multiple choice styling of the average online survey, phone surveys are likely to deliver those precise results—but only if the company proceeds with caution. While telephone surveys embolden customers to speak up, such methods must be strategic and succinct.

Researchers must develop hard-hitting questions that maximize value in the shortest amount of time. In today’s busy world, few have the time or desire to spend 20 minutes talking to anyone without adequate notice. The questions, therefore, must allow both representative and customer to get down to business relatively quickly. Prioritizing time in any and all customer interactions, survey or not, demonstrates how deeply the company values its customers, for time has become currency in its own right.

Once the brand has chosen its sample, representatives will conduct the interviews to gather data. The information collected will then be analyzed in an effort to assess the primary pain points driving customer frustration and the overall highlights sustaining customer loyalty.

To further increase survey response rates, companies might also benefit from incentivizing customers to complete the initial online survey. For instance, a company might offer discounts upon survey completion to gain basic feedback. This will allow the company to ease customers into the idea of connecting via telephone. Regardless of channel, however, all companies must reward customers with a consistently superior service experience. By demonstrating that they’ve listened to their base, leaders can bolster brand loyalty and advance their bottom line simultaneously so everyone wins.

Always remember, it’s customers, not products and services, that are the source of all revenue and profits.  Follow these recommendations to drive higher and better responses to customer service surveys and you’ll strengthen your efforts in customer acquisition, retention, growth and even win-back.