Know Your Clients: How To Build Loyalty With Customer Surveys

building-client-loyaltyDo you know what do your clients think about you?

Many clients won’t even tell you if they are unhappy, instead they’ll simply stop using your services. You may never find out that anything was wrong.

Loyal customers are important to your success as a freelancer. Even if a particular client no longer needs your services, you want him or her to to speak favorably about your business.

One way to keep your clients loyal is to keep them happy — but how do you find out whether your clients are happy? The only real way to find out what a customer is thinking is to ask. That’s why customer surveys can be so important.

In this post we’ll show you how customer surveys can help build loyalty, and we’ll offer a sample.

Why Customer Surveys Are Important

Surveys, if done properly, can be sort of “magic bullet” for developing good customer service. Not only can they help you identify those clients who are happy, they can also make you aware of problems and potential problems, as well as give you an idea of what new products or services would be well received.

It’s important to know the strengths and weaknesses of your freelancing business. While you may think that you have a pretty good idea of what your strengths and weaknesses are, do you have the client’s perspective? Without it, you can’t really be sure that you are providing good service.

Conducting a client survey also shows the clients that you care about them. Many clients will appreciate the fact that you’ve gone to the extra trouble to ask for their opinions.

Now that we’ve established the importance of using surveys, let’s look at some ways to conduct a customer survey.

Three Ways to Conduct Customer Surveys

There are at least three ways that you can conduct a good survey:

  • Orally — An oral survey involves calling clients and asking specific questions. An oral survey can be used to contact all clients (particularly if you have a small client base), or just a sampling. (Make sure that you have permission to call.) With this technique, you may get answers from clients who would never otherwise take the time to fill out a survey.
  • Email — A survey can also be sent to your clients through email. (Make sure that you comply with laws pertaining to email spam.) An email survey may be one of the most convenient methods of conducting a survey. However, many clients will not take the time to return an email survey.
  • Anonymously — You can also conduct a survey anonymously. An anonymous survey could be mailed out to your clients or accessed through a weblink. The beauty of an anonymous survey is that clients might be more honest in their answers.

Now that we’ve discussed how to conduct a customer survey, it’s time to look at a few questions that should be included.

Fifteen Questions to Include on Your Next Customer Survey

The questions that you ask on your survey will vary depending on your specific business and your particular needs. Some sample questions include:

  1. How did you learn about us?
  2. Were you able to contact us easily?
  3. Have you used our services before?
  4. Was the work done professionally?
  5. Was the work turned in on time?
  6. Was the work done according to project specifications?
  7. Was the work priced according to industry standards?
  8. Did project communication between our company and yourself meet or exceed your expectations?
  9. What did you enjoy most about working with us?
  10. Do you have any suggestions to improve our services?
  11. Would you use our services again?
  12. Can we use you as a testimonial on our web page? (Not for anonymous surveys)
  13. Would you like to stay on our newsletter and/or email list?
  14. What additional products or services would you like for us to provide?
  15. Do you know of any other organizations that could use our services?

Using Results From a Customer Survey

Now that you’ve created your survey and gathered your data, it’s important to make use of that information.

The biggest mistake that some companies and organizations make is to conduct a client survey and then ignore the results.

The next biggest mistake that companies make is to panic because they have received some negative responses.

Here are four simple steps to get the most from your client survey:

  1. Compile the answers and study the results.
  2. Look at what you are doing right in your business and ensure that these good practices continue.
  3. Look at any problem areas that the survey identifies and take steps to correct them.
  4. Consider any suggestions that your clients have made.

What Do You Think?

We’ve discussed the importance of client surveys and building loyalty, and we’ve also explained how to create, conduct, and use a customer survey. Now, we’d like to hear about your experiences with surveys.

Do you use client surveys in your freelancing business? What techniques do you use? What results have you found?

Share your answers in the comments.

Comments

  1. says

    Part of customer service is continually offering clients a place in which they can be heard and advertising it directly and early in the relationship. I think that consistently being open about fallibility and mistakes can increase client return especially when combined with the stuff above; it demonstrates not only a desire to find an answer but that the client’s professional happiness is worth our time. Great article!

  2. says

    As a growing business we can use all the tips out there. This is right up our alley and agree with Spencer that customer surveys are more of a customer service.

    Great ideas. Thank you again

  3. says

    A lot has been written on the need to get a feel for your customers and clients opinions of you. Our organization has done a lot of work in the customer satisfaction arena and believe that it is a key factor to any business success. Customer satisfaction surveys are pretty easy to implement and they bring a lot of insight to companies that are invested in the process and willing to act on the information they uncover. This is an awesome write up on the need and has some great information on how to approach the process.

    The one thing I’d add is that you repeat. It’s like Brush – Rinse – Repeat. If you don’t repeat, you don’t have a good idea of how the changes you’ve implemented have impacted your customers view of you. This link might be helpful for folks that are interested in the process:

    http://www.discoveryresearchgroup.com/compass-vision/

  4. says

    Laura, thank you so much for this. I never realized the importance of a customer survey and do see a void that can be filled by using one. Hopefully I will soon get enough clients to start using one :-)

  5. says

    another great article Lauren. I do this with every single one of my customers. I always email them and ask them to summarize their experience. I think that asking the questions is a better way to get the answers that will help you improve on yourself and your work ethic. I will be creating a form now. thank you so much for this.

  6. says

    This seems very corporate oriented, with “contact US”, “OUR company” etc. As a freelancer I have one-to-one relationships with all my clients, so I know if the work was “turned in on time” and it would seem odd to be asking that.
    Getting recorded customer feedback is something I am not doing and probably should be. As an indexer a typical contract is under $1000, so asking for this level feedback may be seen as an unreasonable burden on the client.
    I would like to know more on how this could be made to work in a Freelance context.

    And, “Q7 Was the work priced according to industry standards?” – How does that work? Which industry has “standard pricing”? Isn’t that called price-fixing, and globally illegal? It probably is of interest to have a question about price, but how to phrase it? Surely any customer will say they would prefer the price to be lower (I always do in surveys).

  7. says

    A great post! I believe giving the customer a way to voice their opinions and experiences will only strengthen how we do business. Give them an outlet and they will let you know all about it.

    I have found email and anonymous surveys work the best with most clients. If a client wants to communicate with me through social networks, I also put together a survey through one of those networks such as Facebook. It’s still a work in progress, but so far, so good.

    Thanks for another great post.

  8. says

    surveymonkey.com looks like a good tool for creating surveys, I still haven’t used it yet though, but I’m planning on using it for my next client, it’s free too!

    I build loyalty by offering referral discounts, if a client can refer a friend that results in a sale I give them a 15% discount next time we do business.

    nice article

  9. says

    Hi Laura

    Thanks for the interesting post. I’d like to add a couple of my own best practices and common pitfalls based on our experience and feedback from users of Checkbox:

    – Most companies are intuitive enough to realize that when they receive negative feedback from a customer, they need to follow up with that respondent to rectify the situation. Where I think a lot of companies fall down, however, is in sharing results and subsequent action plans with their customer base as a whole. While it’s important to respond to customers who give you either really great or really awful feedback, it’s even more important to make sure you are reaching those customers who fall into the middle bucket or those that don’t respond at all. The customers who are “lukewarm” about your products or services are often the ones who are most easily snatched up by competitors. So make sure you send a follow-up communication every time you do a larger scale feedback survey – share the results of your survey and, most importantly, tell them how you plan to do better.

    – Another key mistake we see many companies make is putting too much emphasis on customer feedback and not enough emphasis on feedback from non-customers or lost leads. Sure, you want to retain the customers you have, but what about the other 95% who didn’t buy from you. Their feedback, while harder to get, is even more valuable because it often represents a huge amount of untapped revenue. And once you have that feedback, the real work begins – striking a balance between keeping current customers happy and offering features that attract new customers.

    – While your list of question ‘must-haves’ is great, I think it’s also important to note that survey administrators should be really careful to avoid questions they already know the answer to or that don’t pertain to their respondents. For instance (assuming the survey is not anonymous), if you already have data in your CRM about how a customer found your company or what they’ve purchased from you, try to avoid asking those questions again. If you can, use a survey software tool that has web services and can integrate with your CRM to avoid duplicate info. Also make use of your survey tool’s conditional logic features to avoid asking questions that don’t pertain to them. For example, if a customer rates your product really poorly, it’s probably best not to ask them for a testimonial. Keeping questions relevant and to a minimum is the best way to increase response rates and data quality.

    Happy surveying!

  10. says

    Hi Laura, Thanks for this article. Thanks a lot for this gr8 article. I am just a newbie in the field of freelance and your posts have been a gr8 help for me.
    Thanks a lot once again.

  11. says

    Customer surveys are something we do regularly. I think it is a great idea to not only see what my customers like, but also the things they do not. I’ve utilized them for many years and will keep on doing it. All feedback is good feedback when you’re a business owner.

    Christine

  12. says

    Great article. Never underestimate the importance of working out what type of data you are looking to collect (specifically, data on which you can place actions) before putting your survey together.

  13. says

    Wow, marvelous blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is excellent, as well as the content!. Thanks For Your article about Know Your Clients: How To Build Loyalty With Customer Surveys | FreelanceFolder .

  14. says

    Wow, wonderful blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is wonderful, as well as the content!. Thanks For Your article about Know Your Clients: How To Build Loyalty With Customer Surveys | FreelanceFolder .

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Create your own measurement. The one client result measurement that is 100% under your control is your own clients’ customer service satisfaction. A short, annual “How am I doing?” survey of your clients will give you a nice chunk of data that you can provide prospective buyers of your freelance services—in addition to building loyalty and offering guidance on where you can improve your business practices. Some good thoughts from FreelanceFolder.com here. [...]

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