Conducting a Client Satisfaction Survey

When it's time for you to conduct a survey of your clients regarding their satisfaction with your services, make sure you know how to gather and interpret meaningful information! Here are a few pointers on the "how to" of effective client satisfaction surveying:

1. Outline your goals by answering these questions: What is it that we would like to learn from the survey process? What are the questions to which we would like to have answers?

2. Determine the best method(s) for gathering information; again, ask yourself: Is a written survey good, or are some of our clients unable to read? If we do a telephone survey, will those without phone service be left out? Will one-on-one interviews work, or do we want the group interaction provided by a focus group? Do all clients speak/read English? Are there other special considerations based on our client profile?

3. Determine how "confident" you want to be in your data. This will help to decide whether you need to survey ALL clients or just a sampling. To check out the size of sample required for various confidence levels and intervals, use the nifty tool at (Note: Effective use of this tool requires some knowledge of basic statistical significance and the techniques for determining significance.)

4. If you choose to survey only a sample of your total client population, make sure that those chosen to participate in the process are chosen at random. If they are not, this will skew the results of your data.

5. Frame the questions to be asked of your clients. Make sure that all questions and/or statements are presented neutrally - i.e. not in a manner that "leads" the participant to a specific response. Also, make sure that you don't ask too many questions; the survey should be short enough for people to gladly participate.

6. Be sure to allow survey participants to provide you with additional information via open-ended questions or by inviting general comments.

7. Set a specific timeframe for distribution of the survey tool(s) and for gathering the data. If participants are required to fill out a form or otherwise self-motivate to participate in the survey, be sure to provide a deadline by which feedback must be received.

8. Provide clients with the ability to participate anonymously. They should feel comfortable giving honest opinions, and this may not be possible without a built-in guarantee of confidentiality. For this reason alone, you may choose to have a neutral third party conduct the survey on behalf of your organization.

9. Provide participant access to the survey results. Also, if a client would like to be contacted regarding concerns voiced through the survey process, and is willing to provide his/her name, it will be important for a high-ranking board or staff member to follow-up with the client.

10. Compile the data and all comments, then review the compiled information for themes and trends. Again, a neutral third party will be in a better position to analyze the data without any personal or emotional stake in the results, thus providing for better interpretation.

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