A quick step onto the bathroom scale can alarmingly alert us that we haven't measured our weight lately. It is easier to live in denial about some things. The reality is that we can't manage what we don't measure. And without measurement, things can easily wield out of control.

Producers, who haven't measured the customer experience they provide, are living in the land of assumptions. They think their customers are pretty happy, but they really don't know.

The goal of measuring the customer experience is to produce actionable insight. Customers can take on a consultative role, telling us what we need to change and in some cases "who" we need to change. Here are some surveying best practices.

    1. Use a well selected customer base. This means not only your top 100 but your project customers as well. An annual survey of your top 100 allows producers to notice and track patterns and pinpoint potential problem areas. However, surveying based on projects, allows producers to gather real time feedback which can be used immediately to make changes for the next project.

    2. Keep the survey short—no more than ten or twelve significant questions. Survey design is critical to obtaining meaningful feedback. Use a mix of both quantitative and qualitative questions. After each question ask yourself, "Who cares?" If the answer is "I do" then go ahead and ask the question.

    3. Design the survey around customer touch points: sales, dispatch, drivers, on-time delivery, billing, etc. These are all interfaces where customers get impressions of our company. The quality of the questions will determine the pertinence of the responses and therefore the impact of the changes.

    4. Assign high value to the survey responses. Often producers labor over the act of surveying and then fail to spend the time on the back end using the data to improve.

    5. Think of your survey as a sales tool. When the results come in, publish them on project bids.

There is power in knowing what your customers think. The good news is that it is "knowable."

Joan Fox is a customer experience consultant to the Ready-Mix industry and a popular conference speaker: 513-793-9582, joan@joanfox.com.

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