Most often, comment cards are viewed as customer complaint cards, and while they can be helpful in highlighting customer service failures, they do very little to capture what is working well or what the company is successful at.
Questionnaires have some distinct advantages since they ask explicit questions which can be analyzed and trended over time. This allows the business owner to measure the extent to which business or policy changes have impacted customer satisfaction. The best of all worlds is a customer satisfaction questionnaire that also includes an open-ended question which allows customers to comment freely.
How can you analyze customer feedback that arrive in the open-ended question (or the comment card for that matter) and truly get a handle on customer comments? Evaluating each comment as it is returned will be helpful in understanding the needs of individual customers. However, you'll gain even more information if you review the comments in batches and attempt to uncover patterns in the responses by categorizing them.
• Once you’ve read through the comments once or twice, you will start to notice that the comments fall into categories. Sample categories could include factors such as speed, accuracy, courtesy, price, product choice, availability, hours, location, etc.
• After you have developed the categories, review the comments again, but this time record a "tick mark" in the appropriate category for each comment.
• If customers comment about more than one thing, you can break each comment into parts and enter a tick mark for each portion of a comment.
• You will also notice some comments are positive and some are negative. It’s possible to have both positive and negative comments in some categories, If you’re starting with a blank page, you can divide the page in half and put positive tick marks on the right and negative tick marks on the left. You can do the same thing in Excel by simply breaking out positive and negative sections, or even just ticking a "Negative" box when the comment is negative.
• If you see a lot of references to particular employees, you may want to include a category for each employee. If you do this, be sure to also place a tick mark in the appropriate issue category as well.
Once all of the comments are categorized, look for patterns. During your customer analysis, the patterns will usually correlate to the themes you’re seeing in the quantitative portion of your questionnaire. Your customer satisfaction survey analysis will add significant value to your quantitative research questionnaire by providing customer insight into what went wrong and, if you’re lucky, what would make it right.
It’s also possible that you could uncover completely new issues that are not reflected in your quantitative survey research. If this occurs, you might want to include questions on these issues in future customer satisfaction questionnaires to get a better handle on how to address and measure. Carefully analyzing customer feedback and taking action based on customer comments will help you turn the knob and open a new door for your organization's success.