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Rate Client Satisfaction Using Questionnaires

written by: Mike Sweeney•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 5/26/2011

The overall goal of a client satisfaction questionnaires is to gather useful and measurable information from the client. Well-designed questions will allow the client an opportunity to provide their input quickly and accurately, ensuring that the information is useful to the vendor.

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    Questionnaire Format

    Questionnaires are most effective when they are simple to complete and the number of questions and the investment in time to complete the questionnaire is reasonably short, ideally in one sitting. Think of the questionnaire as an interview whether it's on paper or completed online. With the right amount of questions, the questionnaire can collect useful information that can be used by the organization to measure products, services, employees and client perceptions. Without this information, organizations will be relying on internal departments and employees to provide client perceptions.

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    Primary Purpose

    questionnaire 

    Before embarking on creating the questionnaire, determine what it is you would like to measure from the client. What is their overall satisfaction toward your products and services in general, the perception of overall quality, satisfaction for the first 30 days, six months, or one year, satisfaction with the support staff including the sales department, satisfaction with how customer service responds, or is it some other area?

    Clarifying the purpose will help in developing the questions so the client provides the feedback you are looking for. Trying to accomplish too much in the questionnaire may lead to frustration by the client trying to complete it which could lead to a lower response rate. You may also get information that is not as relevant since the client may complete questions they have little or no knowledge of, but felt they needed to complete the questionnaire anyway. Keep the questionnaire focused and easy to follow for the client.

    Once you have the purpose clarified, develop the introduction to the questionnaire. In this section, include the overall purpose of the questionnaire and provide detailed instructions about how to complete it. Include any deadlines, and if you think it’s appropriate, have an example of a completed questionnaire. Also let the respondents know in this section whether they can remain anonymous and if the results are confidential.

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    Open-Ended Questions

    question mark 

    Open-ended questions allow the respondent to provide in their own words exactly how they feel. The answers many times will provide insights not anticipated since the responses are more personal. The downside is the answers may be lengthy or the question may have been misinterpreted. Plus, they are a little harder to rank or code if you are doing any kind of computer analysis. Avoid open-ended questions that are so general that the respondent could write almost anything, and in any length. This is especially true if you are sending questionnaires to a large group of clients. The responses may become overwhelming to decipher due to the amount of content to review. On the other hand, with this style of questionnaire, satisfied clients can provide some great insights into what will keep them as repeat customers.

    A few examples of open-ended questions are:

    ♦ What do you like about your purchase of our product? Please explain why.

    ♦ How would you describe your experience with our company?

    ♦ What do we do well when you interact with our employees? Please provide a few examples.

    ♦ What areas would you suggest we improve? Please provide a few examples.

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    Multiple-Choice Questions

    Orange question mark Multiple-choice questions are easy to complete since most people are familiar with this type of question. Some variations allow for more than one right answer. This can give a broader view of situations when posed properly and help stack-rank the answers from most answered to least answered. This percentage often provides valuable information as long as the multiple-choice questions were easy to understand and the response selections were equally as clear.

    You could also include true/false and yes/no responses in this section. Sometimes adding a space for the respondent to expand on their selection provides additional information. A few simple examples:

    ♦ Was the phone answered within 3 rings? A. Yes B. No

    ♦ Was our customer service department responsive in dealing with your questions? A. Yes B. No

    ♦ Our customer service department solved your problem? A. True B. False

    A few examples of multiple-choice questions.

    ♦ How would you rate our customer service?

    A. Outstanding B. Non-Existent C. Average D. Above Average

    ♦ Which skills have you experienced from our customer service department? Check all that apply.

    • a. listened to my concern
    • b. provided a detailed email response
    • c. presented the solution over the phone
    • d. asked several questions to clarify my concerns
    • e. provided an immediate response
    • f. couldn’t solve the concern
    • g. passed my concern to a supervisor
    • h. placed a follow-up phone call
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    Interval-Scale Questions

    Interval scale questions usually will include three to ten responses rated on a sliding scale. They are fairly common and can provide information in a client satisfaction questionnaire that is pretty easy to measure. Using this type of questionnaire, satisfied clients can quickly rank their perceptions in a few minutes. Some common rankings include:

    ♦ Not at all - Great extent

    ♦ Least like - Most like

    ♦ Poor quality - Excellent quality

    ♦ Worst choice - Best choice

    ♦ Poor - Outstanding

    ♦ Strongly disagree - Strongly agree

    A few sample questions that could be used in an interval-scale are:

    ♦ To what extent did you like (product or service)? 1 being not at all; 5 being great extent: 1 2 3 4 5

    ♦ How would you rate our customer service department? 1 being poor; 5 being outstanding: 1 2 3 4 5

    Avoid including more than one question in any of your questionnaire questions. For example, asking if the respondent likes both products and services in the same question only provides a vague answer, since you don’t know whether the answer is for products or services, or both.

    Here’s a slight variation of the interval-scale. It’s taking one general question and then breaking it down into more specific areas with individual questions.

    ♦ What kind of impact has our (product or service) had on you 14 days later? 1 being not at all; 5 being great extent:

    • a. It is something I am able to use weekly. 1 2 3 4 5
    • b. Lived up to the promises made by the sales department. 1 2 3 4 5
    • c. I will purchase the complimentary (products or services). 1 2 3 4 5
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    Create the Questions

    The most common mistake in developing a client satisfaction questionnaire is creating too many questions. Audit each question and determine whether it really needs to be part of the questionnaire. Most people don’t want to spend more than five to ten minutes on a questionnaire of any type, so keep the number of questions to a minimum.

    Use everyday language and avoid too much industry phrases or jargon. Stick with questions or statements that don’t need any clarification. It’s also probably a good idea to pilot test the questions before launching the final questionnaire.

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    Sources

    UNLV - http://www.unlv.edu/centers/achievement/Client%20Satisfaction%20Questionnaire%20%28CSQ-8%29.htm

    Cal State - http://www.calstate.edu/audit/forms/client_satisfaction.doc

    Standord - http://www.stanford.edu/dept/helpcenter/docs/pdf/client_questionnaire.pdf

    Image credits:

    Jeroen van Oostrom / FreeDigitalPhotos

    Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos

    graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos