Neither Sizzler nor Hertz use their surveys to gather any extra information. “We don't want to take advantage of that courtesy on the customer's part to give us information,” explains Dickerson. However, Hertz is able to use its customer database on the back end to identify whether the responding customer is at a certain loyalty level.
Surveys offer competitive edge
Mindshare and other providers of customer surveys give companies a competitive edge in a variety of ways. Survey results provide instantly actionable feedback from individual customers, and managers even have the option to call a customer for a personal apology. Customers who have had a problem solved for them are even more loyal than customers with no problems, Hanks points out.
In addition, the coupons that some companies, like Sizzler, employ to encourage customer responses bring repeat business at a minimal cost.
Hanks says that another bonus is a potential solution to turnover in the service profession. “If I play a positive message about a particular server in front of the whole staff, that server will become more loyal, and others [will] work harder to get some of that praise,” he says.
Companies such as iCongo and SurveyMonkey also allow clients to create customer surveys measurable in real time. Both Mindshare and iCongo assess the same general indicators — friendliness of staff, cleanliness, product satisfaction — to create a picture of an individual store's performance.
“Customers today are more demanding,” says Steven Kramer, EVP and CTO of iCongo. “They're expecting a much higher level of customer service. Gauging satisfaction is all the more important.”
This fiscal year, Sizzler says 78.5% of customers are highly satisfied, with more than 39,000 customers reporting. Sales at Sizzler locations posting 79% highly satisfied or better are flat or up.
“As consumers expect more, we realize that just having a satisfied consumer isn't good enough,” says Collins. “Satisfied guests don't become brand ambassadors, but highly satisfied guests do.