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What is the best way to survey customers to improve our on-line ordering?

Our company provides fulfillment services for many other companies and our margin is tight.We want to find out from our phone customers why they choose to use our call center instead of using our on-line resources.  Internally, there are several theories as to why this is the case and how to re-direct our resources to improve technology based purchases. Each one has a significant price tag, so we have to select carefully and can only focus on one or two at a time. We also deal with the fact that our call center is outsourced, so there is no good reason for them to focus on re-directing the calls.

Is there a good method for surveying customers without breaking the bank?

When we approached someone about a survey, the set-up costs for a  five question (answer 1 for bad through 5 for great) survey was $10K. That does not include the 'phone' time for their auto-service to 'ask' the questions and record the answers. I was hoping for a tree questionnaire, allowing us to pursue specifics based on the answer to the prior question, capped at five simple questions total for any call.

Answers

Michael Jameson
Title: VP Finance
Company: Undisclosed
(VP Finance, Undisclosed) |

Hire a temp! For $12/hr you can have an intelligent human being who you control directly asking your questions to people you already know. An ad on Craigslist would net you the person you need and you already know the questions you want asked. And you already have the names and phone numbers of the people you want to call. Easy.

Additional benefit of the DIY approach is that you can make changes as you go based on what you are seeing. Perhaps you want to change/add/remove questions based on early feedback? Great, do it instantly and easily. Going third party with this may seem convenient, but it will cost you far more and you will get worse results.

Edwin McGusty
Title: President
Company: Arnold & Constable
(President, Arnold & Constable) |

1. Password requirements make people have many passwords which they cannot remember, making it easier to call than try to figure out their password. People usually remember their main accounts that they use often but not others.

2. Because it is available and someone answers the phone. Most of corporate America has gone to annoying phone systems, which make it very difficult or impossible to get a person. Most people will give up or try the online resource when this happens. While I do not condone this approach, it is effective for cost reduction.

3. Give your call center a script to read at the end of each call for a week ... something like, 'Just curious, why did you call us rather than use our online resources for this matter?' Have them send you a report of the comments for the week. Simple and inexpensive.

4. Link a call list to the account email addresses and put together a quick survey in one of the online programs like www.SurveyMonkey.com.

Good luck!
Edwin

Sara Voight
Title: Controller
Company: Critical Signal Technologies, Inc
(Controller, Critical Signal Technologies, Inc) |

I appreciate the input from both Michael and Edwin, but a few more details might help you understand the crowd we are dealing with. First off, we do recognize that some of our clients are at mom and pop shops in PoDunk WhereEver, USA and really don't have computers. That said, the majority of our clients have and are required to use a log-on for a Tier One or Tier Two supplier to obtain access to our sites as well as other mandated electronic reporting, so this is not another log-on and password for them to remember. We are tied in directly to their current access. We deal significantly in the auto arena and have clients who are part of 100's and 1000's of dealership networks. These are all computer savvy operations who send and receive material to and from their parent operation daily.

On the part of hiring a part-timer. We use an outsourced call center right now. Somehow our agreement with them does not allow us to bring in our own temp to take calls that are re-directed to us. This will be strictly an incomming call survey, nothing outgoing will be done. Since our current call center gets paid on volume of calls received, they aren't likely to actively engage clients with asking them why they called versus using the online system. We can receive up to 30,000 calls a month. Tracking and forwarding common answers to questions would result in a book of data that cannot be easily consolidated.

Mark Webb
Title: CFO
Company: Mindshare Technologies, Inc.
(CFO, Mindshare Technologies, Inc.) |

Sara, I'm not really trying to sell you something, but my company is in the customer feedback business and we could probably help you for less than the $10k price you got. You can see what we do at mshare.net. After you check out our website, just let me know if you would like to get more info.

Mark

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

You say this is a survey for Phone customers only. You also state a 3rd party call center handles all the inbound calls.

Why can't you have the call center tag on the 5 questions at the end of each order and record the answers as non-billable/non-printing items on the order. (so it's 5 more items they process, with the 1-5 being listed as quantity.

End of time period, you have your answers.. Reports can look at averages or whatever way you want to view the data.

tai aguirre
Title: CFO
Company: taico productions
(CFO, taico productions) |

I think Edwin McGusty hit the nail on the head with this. The long and short of it is recognizing that us humans prefer to speak to a live person and thus are drawn to the place where they can have that experience. And in the long run you will draw more customers and revenue.
Tai Aguirre CFO Taico Productions

Sara Voight
Title: Controller
Company: Critical Signal Technologies, Inc
(Controller, Critical Signal Technologies, Inc) |

I appreciate all the feedback. At this point I am no longer with the company I was working with when I posed the question.

While I agree that personal contact is the best, our/their current contract did not allow us to stick a person in the middle to ask the questions. Making them ask the questions is akin to asking someone to train their replacement. There is little motivation to do it, or do it right. We were stuck in the middle of a bad situation trying to figure out how to correct it.

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