Customer Satisfaction Surveys

How important is this issue to you?

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Why invest the time and resources to do a customer satisfaction survey? At AWISCO, we believe that surveying our gases and welding customers is the best way to measure whether or not we are doing what our customers expect of us. It is this desire to constantly monitor our performance that has led AWISCO to conduct three customer satisfaction surveys in the last seven years.

How easy is it to place an order by phone?
73b_checkbox Worse than expected
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In 1999, AWISCO was in the process of an ownership transition. My father was getting ready to retire, and I was in the process of taking over the business. AWISCO was also growing rapidly. These are just a couple of the reasons that we decided to measure ourselves. We knew that we were fairly good at what we did, but we did not know exactly how good we were. We also did not know what areas needed improvement. It is this constant desire to get feedback from our customers that led us to conduct our first survey.

Survey Set Up

Our first survey was done in conjunction with a grant that a local community college received to help small businesses in our area. The community college had a person on staff who helped AWISCO design the questions. We created a mailing list of approximately 400 customers. The survey was mailed and our response rate was fantastic. Over 40 percent of the surveys were returned. It did not hurt that I enclosed a signed letter from me with the reasons why we were conducting the survey. I also attached a one dollar bill as an extra incentive to have our customers return the survey.

How satisfied are you with the turnaround time of our machine repairs?
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After all of the surveys came back, we tabulated the results with the help of people at the college. They suggested that we split the results into the four categories that we still use today to run our business:

  • High Importance/High Performance
  • Low Importance/High Performance
  • High Importance/Low Performance
  • Low Importance/Low Performance.

There are many ways to tabulate survey results. At AWISCO, these four categories are put into a grid analysis for evaluation. This grid has worked for us and we will continue to use it in our future surveys.

How satisfied are you with the quality of our Machine Rentals?
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High Importance/High Performance

The high importance and high performance category is where the customer believes that we are doing a very good job doing something that is very important to the customer. This is where we excel and our customer appreciates that we excel. In our surveys, our technical knowledge and our deliveries always seem to fall into this category.

Low Importance/High Performance

The low importance and high performance category is where our customers feel that we are doing a very good job, but it is not that important to them. Our timeliness and accuracy of our billing always seem to fall into this category.

How understandable are our bills?
73b_checkbox Worse than expected
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High Importance/Low Performance

The high importance and low performance category is where the customer feels something is very important and we need to improve our performance. It is this category that gives AWISCO its greatest opportunity for improvement. Our customers are begging us to improve in this area and we take this very seriously. Our machine repairs have been in this category and it is an area that we have been investing in heavily and hope to improve quickly.

Low Importance/Low Performance

The low importance and low performance category is where the customer does not think that we are doing a great job, but it is not that important to them. Our packaging has fallen into this category and unless on a future survey it becomes more important to the customer, we will not invest many resources into fixing our packaging.

How easy is it to get information regarding pricing?
73b_checkbox Worse than expected
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Survey Frequency

The frequency of surveys is always a difficult question. While we would like to have constant feedback from our customers, we know that it would be impossible to conduct surveys that often. We have decided that every two-and-a-half to three years works. It gives us time to implement the changes from the previous survey and then see if our customers have noticed the changes. Since AWISCO is a growing company, the frequency of the surveys is very important.

As we add branches and increase our product lines, it is very important that we understand the impact of our decisions on our customers. I firmly believe that the customer knows a lot about us and is always willing to help us improve. If you do not want your customers’ feedback, then doing a survey will not be worthwhile.

How easy is it to place a “Special Item Order”?
73b_checkbox Worse than expected
73b_checkbox As expected
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Response Rate

AWISCO surveys are targeted to specific groups. Some are sent via e-mail; others direct mail. The return rate for these surveys is above average. This past year, 30 percent of the surveys were returned, a rate comparable to previous years. About a third more surveys are returned from those sent via regular mail. One reason for this could be that it is easy to delete an e-mailed survey. We continue to include one dollar bill in the regular mail envelope.

Acting on Survey Results

AWISCO sends a thank you letter to everyone who participates in the survey and gives us their name. We tell them the results of the survey and what we plan to do with the results. If you are not serious about doing the proper follow-up, please do not spend the time and resources doing a customer satisfaction survey. You will only disappoint your staff and your customers.

Done properly, a survey is a wonderful tool to drive change in your organization. If you use this tool wisely, you will have great results; but please be aware that if a survey is not done properly, you and your customers will not benefit. AWISCO has made sure that it is done properly, and we and our gases and welding customers reap the rewards every day

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
73a_robinsonlloyd Meet the Author

Lloyd Robinson is president of AWISCO New York Corp., headquartered in Maspeth, New York, and on the Web at www.awisco.com. Robinson serves on GAWDA’s 2006 Board of Directors as vice president of the Eastern Zone.