Monday, July 28, 2008

Customer Service Surveys: Were Your Customer's Expectations Met

A happy client is synonymous with repeat business and business referrals. So my first goal, is to give the customer what is needed in an easy to read format. Most of my customers are amateur genealogist, retirees, or researchers needing assistance. They don’t want the ins and outs of genealogy, they want answers to their questions, verifications of kinship, documentation to support the research, all presented in any easy to understand report without a lot of jargon.

So with every completed report, whether by pony express or email, I send out a Customer Satisfaction Survey. It only contains questions that directly reflect the purpose, goals, and mission statement of my business as a Professional Genealogist: satisfaction, costs, response time. Since the survey should be short, concise, and easy for the customer to respond to, I created a five question survey (one printed page). If I send the report by mail, I send the customer survey in a self-stamped folded format, so they can open, answer, and drop in the mail. If I send the report by email, I attach a second file for the customer to complete online.

The Customer Satisfaction Survey allows the customer to provide immediate feedback that serves my main purpose: How can I improve my service? It doesn’t matter how well you research if the customer does not understand the report. It is equivalent to the best mathematician in the world teaching you math and not being able to explain how to solve a problem so you can follow the logic on the whiteboard. In the role of professional genealogist you must know your audience and write to their level of comprehension.

While one hand is on the pulse of communicating, educating and informing the customer, the other hand is checking the delicate balance of cost for the service and reasonable/ acceptable response time for the customer. This is another topic for a blog…coming soon. Of course, you must cover your costs and charge for your services, but being noted for “she’s good, but expensive” or “he’s good but slow” is not necessarily going to assist your workflow (unless of course, you want to limit your customer base). These values measured by the customer using the survey gives you a hint of your “genealogy reputation.”

The survey can also provide kudos for referrals. I merely ask “How could I have served you better? (Or any other comments)?” I receive answers that not only gives me feedback for bettering my service, it also generates wonderful comments like “I can’t imagine a more thorough approach to the topic requested.”

Suggestions for marketing and new services needed are also frequently given on surveys. One customer from Maryland wrote “Local knowledge of resources by an experienced researcher is a great help in efficient record discovery.” This rises the question of how can I market my genealogical expertise of the Kansas, Missouri (Kansas City area) migration to those searching but not willing to make the trip to this area. It would give me more excuses to stroll the aisles of the Mid-Continent Library’s new Genealogy Center along with other valuable resources at my fingertips here in the Midwest.

The saying “customer service affects your bottom line,” is true to genealogists also.

Happy Researching!
Accurate, Accessible Answers

1 comment:

  1. Kimberly
    I agree to this blog. It is true that you should provide your customer an immediate feedback. So that you'll know if you should improve your service.