Compliance Conversations: What is the Best Method of Measuring Customer Satisfaction?

Posted by Craig Thornton

This is part of a series of compliance conversations about how you best manage your QHSE management systems and their associated processes.

In this video QHSE Consultants from around the world, discuss the best ways of measuring customer satisfaction.

Check out the video here:


Video Transcription

What is the Best Method of Measuring Customer Satisfaction?

Andrew, IRM Systems, Australia

Probably the best method is talking to them (customers).

There are different techniques, whether it's online or via paper surveys that you can use to try and survey your customers, typically, we see organisations really struggling to get a response there.

You can up your response rate by perhaps calling them directly, or making it a coffee chat.

Our customers are busy so we always have to remember, we can't expect them to take an hour out and fill out a 10-page form. 

Short and sharp, what's the critical things you want to know?

Little tip there, if you are going to have any kind of discussion about that with your customer, focus your time on what you can do better.

There's not a whole lot of point in getting a customer rating you on what you did well, to be competitive, you want to know what you can do better.

Another tip is one thing that's often overlooked, we see companies put a lot of effort into trying to send out a survey of some sort, and we've got a big missed opportunity. A better way to go is to think - within our business what are all the ways we interact with customers already? Whether we're having regular customer meetings, sales meetings, project meetings, whatever it might be, capture that feedback the customers are giving at those meetings. It's often critical, customers are happy to talk about things face to face.

Another tip too is, if we've got a project management structure, give them an avenue to talk to someone outside the direct area of responsibility that they're dealing with, it can be a good way to solicit some information. People are a little bit coy about criticizing the person they're working with directly, but they might give more open feedback to someone who's a bit independent of that person.

Gary, QSM Group, Australia

Customer surveys are often used to measure customer satisfaction.

These can take the form of:

  • online surveys
  • in-app surveys
  • emails
  • post

However, in my experience, unless the surveys are very well structured, you are likely to get a low response rate, and most importantly, responses received may be of little value.

For organisations that perform project-type work, I've found the best way to measure customer satisfaction is during the various stages of a project, as it's being completed.

Regular communications with the customer throughout the various stages of the project, allow the organisation to identify any issues or potential issues in a timely manner, and most importantly, address them to the satisfaction of the customer.


Chris, FQM, United Kingdom

As humans, we can often get sick of reviews.

We get it when we buy a product from an electrical store, we get it when we book a holiday online, we even get it these days after we have signed up for insurance for our car, or maybe had a call with our bank.

It seems to be everywhere we go, there's this need, to send a review questionnaire out to our customers.

Now of course that does have its place, and it can be very important. But we have to think about the needs of that questionnaire and what is driving it. Are we doing it just because we have to tell an external auditor that we get customer feedback?

Customer feedback and customer satisfaction, more importantly, can be measured in a multitude of ways.

We can think about it in terms of:

  • The number of support requirements we get,
  • How much repeat business we have
  • Lessons learned through projects that we deliver
  • What about warranty returns?

There are a multitude of different things, there is no one way that will work, but customer satisfaction is important.

We want to retain our customers, we want to grow our customer base often, and therefore having a satisfied customer will allow us to achieve that.


Sean, Kaizen Consulting, New Zealand

There are many various ways and tools to measure customer satisfaction.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of customer surveys. I think, identifying the top 5 or 10 or 20, and giving them a casual call and asking them how everything is going and whether they're happy with the quality of products, services, and so on, it probably adds much more value than sending them a templated list of questions which all of us receive in our daily life from all these different platforms and websites that we purchase from.

What really adds value is to have a casual conversation with someone and asking them:

  • What's going well?
  • What's not going well?
  • How can we improve what we do for you guys?

I think that would be the best way of measuring customer satisfaction.


Mark, Business Basics, Australia

It's not surveys!

Everybody sends out surveys. Everybody ignores them.

I've sat in a room and watched someone say,

‘we're going to measure customer satisfaction through the use of a survey. Everyone answers a survey.’

And then watch them delete three survey requests, unopened from their inbox on their computer next to me. I don't know how it sits in their head and has them agree with the same thing, but that's what they did.

Pick up a phone talk to them.

My personal preference, something that was introduced to me a couple of years ago is a traffic light.

Three lights,


      • What do we do great?
      • What do we do good?
      • What do you want us to keep doing?

Yellow light

      • What can we improve on?
      • What did we do that you weren't quite so happy with that we can work on?

Red light

      • What should we stop?
      • What shouldn't we keep doing?
      • What is horrible?
      • What don't you like?

It doesn't mean you’ve got to necessarily stop doing it, but if you get enough people, say ‘stop doing it’, you may want to go back and look at what you're doing.

My personal preference is that most people have got time for three questions.

And that personal touch of actually giving them a call and actually talking to them generally gets a better result.


John, Many Caps, New Zealand

The best method of measuring customer satisfaction is to talk to them lots.

As often and as frequently as you can, whether that's on phone calls or emails, keep track of that.

Yes, you can do customer surveys, and that's going to be great, it's like a Warrant a Fitness, or an MOT. It's a great snapshot but it doesn't get to you anything over time, and they're going to remember the last painful thing that they had.

If you can do it on a regular basis, it's going to be much better.


  • look at your NCR’s,
  • look at customer complaints,
  • look at the customer competency that you get back

and that will give you a really good gauge.


Nicholas, SRM, South Africa

Without a word of a doubt, our experience has been face-to-face meetings and communication.

Surveys, we found you can send out a survey and you're lucky if 10 or 15% actually read it or respond.

So, face-to-face meetings with your customers as regularly as possible, and you'll be able to gauge from verbal and nonverbal cues, how happy your customer is.  Also, it shows a strong commitment to the relationship when customer satisfaction surveys are done face-to-face where possible.


Michael, Momentum Safety and Ergonomics, Australia

It will depend on the customer, but let's start off with the obvious consumer or purchaser of your product or service.

I'm actually going to step out of a management systems role here and look at myself as a customer of other businesses.

I really am likely to give feedback in these situations:

  1. When I have an overwhelmingly negative experience?
  2. An overwhelmingly positive experience?
  3. When they asked me and they make it easy for me?

I think it's that middle one that we need to try and get a little bit better at.

When a business actually goes out and asked the question, “how was your experience with us?” And it's a two or three-question answer, that's what we're trying to achieve here.

It's just phone calls, online surveys, those sorts of things that are set up as being easy and efficient for the customer to achieve.

With regards to some other groups there, we can obviously look at any sort of consultation meetings, again, you can use surveys, those sorts of opportunities just to gain some measure of satisfaction.


  1. The best way of measuring customer satisfaction is by talking to them
  2. You can also look at your NCR's and the customer complaints
  3. If using a survey ensure it's short and to the point - make it quick and easy for the customer to complete
  4. The Importance of Listening to Your Customers
  5. The Importance of Communicating With Your Customers
  6. Why Effective Communication With Your Customers is so Important
  7. Creating an Automated Customer Satisfaction Survey


Tags: Management System, ISO, Compliance, Risk Management, Customer Satisfaction, QMS, integrated qhse manual, ISO45001, ISO Certification, process approach, Compliance Conversations