How to Write & Analyze a Customer Satisfaction Survey

A customer satisfaction survey can allow a fleet to improve problem areas and establish benchmarks for customer service. Do some research before starting.

May 2012, Government Fleet - Feature

by Shelley Mika - Also by this author

Customer service surveys come in a variety of forms and can be placed in different locations: from online, to in-office, to in-vehicle. Match the format with the type the driver will most likely fill out.
Customer service surveys come in a variety of forms and can be placed in different locations: from online, to in-office, to in-vehicle. Match the format with the type the driver will most likely fill out.

At a Glance

When writing a customer service survey, consider the following:

  • Determine the goal and customer recommendations.
  • Don't bombard customers with numerous surveys.
  • Make sure the survey is available to everyone, offering it both via e-mail and a hard copy.
  • Follow up on both low- and high-ranking scores.

Customer satisfaction surveys can do wonders for fleets, allowing them to target problem areas, publicize and reward positive behaviors, and establish benchmarks for customer service. All of that is possible — that is, as long as customers actually fill them out.

That’s where paying close attention to how the survey is written, and taking careful measures when it comes to analyzing the results, becomes very important. Without careful consideration to the approach, fleets may be better off not troubling their customers in the first place. Luckily, a few easy tips can point you down the right customer satisfaction survey path.

Do Your Homework

Before writing the survey, doing a little homework can provide a solid foundation. First, establish the goals. What are you hoping to learn? Identifying ideal outcomes is the first step in knowing what questions to ask.

If you’re not sure of your goals, Dan Berlenbach, fleet maintenance superintendent, City of Phoenix, recommended another pre-writing assignment: become familiar with customer expectations.

“It could be well worth your while to survey your customers’ expectations, and their priorities, before you survey them about your quality of service,” he suggested.

Doing so can be a simple — but vital — first step, Berlenbach said. To start, he recommended making a list of key services, with a numerical scale customers can use to rate the importance of each.

After identifying the services most important to customers, use those as the basis for the survey to gauge how well the fleet is doing.

Rely on Past Experience

Leverage past experience — if surveys have been conducted in the past, use them as a starting place. “We had a special audit conducted on the garage several years before I was hired, and I used that survey as a base for our present survey,” said George Hrichak, fleet manager, City of Chesapeake, Va., Central Fleet Management.

Past surveys (or those of colleagues in other areas) can serve as excellent inspiration — and a welcome shortcut for those short on time.

Target Questions to Areas of Concern

For the most part, pre-planning will help vital survey questions emerge. Even so, it’s also worth tailoring questions to any known areas of concern. “I was hired to address several shortcomings within Fleet,” Hrichak said, “so my questions were based upon tracking our progress to correct those issues.”

Questions that gauge satisfaction in the following areas should be considered as well:

  • Repair quality.
  • Time taken to complete repairs.
  • Assistance offered by fleet employees.
  • Overall satisfaction.

Berlenbach also suggested establishing core questions that various other departments can use, too. This allows disparate functions, such as facilities and fleet services, to compare levels of service. These include:

  • Staff is courteous and professional.
  • Staff provides exceptional customer service.
  • Staff provides quality work products.
  • Work was completed in a timely fashion.
  • Work was completed in a satisfactory manner.

“We then added maintenance-specific questions to allow us to hone in on those processes and concerns unique to vehicle maintenance,” Berlenbach said.

The best advice overall, though, is to keep it simple. “People generally do not want to spend much time filling out surveys, so you must target the questions to gain the most value in the feedback,” Berlenbach noted.

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