As web masters we want to ensure that visitors are satisfied when they visit our websites. But measuring customer satisfaction can be a very subjective matter since visitors typically will tell you want they like or don't like about the website, but what they won't tell you is what they actually do on your site. Obtaining an honest assessment of visitor experiences, either good or bad, is another challenge, and ensuring that the feedback visitors report is accurate about their levels of satisfaction can make the difference between useful data and useless information.
Web analytics will tell you the number of hits, page views, the bounce rate, and what the most popular pages are on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. However, how do you know when visitors decide to use your site, how likely is it that they will return to your site, and will they recommend your site to friends and associates?
Measuring visitor satisfaction can be accomplished using several tools including customer satisfaction surveys, focus groups matching a profile, and email feedback forms. Surveys can be developed in-house, contracted out, or purchased from commercial sources that use standard methodologies across multiple industries.
Surveying visitors is probably the most popular way to obtain useful feedback about website visit satisfaction levels. In most cases customers will make contact only when something goes wrong, especially if their login credentials don't verify, so the cards are already stacked against you for getting a positive customer satisfaction report from that route. Being proactive means submitting visitor surveys through the mail, email, online, or via telephone, allowing the participants to answer questions on a weighted scale, such as "Rate your experience on a scale of 0 to 10 with 10 indicating the website exceeded my expectations". Be sure to also survey repeat customers over a period of time to see how their experiences have changed after multiple visits.
If your organization does not have the tools to create in-house online surveys, probably the most popular online service is SurveyMonkey, which offers four plans and pricing schemes starting out with the free basic plan which is limited to 10 questions per survey, and 100 responses per survey.
What questions do I ask in the survey about my website?
Probably the single most effective question to determine visitor satisfaction is actually a rating of their loyalty. In gauging loyalty patterns, you need to ask visitors this single question which offers great insight into levels of faithfulness and devotion to your website: "How likely is it that you will recommend [xyz website] to a friend or associate?" And have them answer on a weighted scale of 0 - 10.
Based on the scoring those who answer with a 9 or 10 are your prized visitors who are giving you that word-of-mouth, free advertising and will always promote your website any chance they get with friends and associates. Those who answer with a 7 - 8 range are passive visitors who are satisfied but not likely to recommend your website to many folks. Anyone who answers with a 0 - 6 are unsatisfied and not likely to promote your website in a positive way, and these detractors are most likely looking at the competition for their next product or service.
Crunching the numbers based on the answers to this question might suggest that you have a happy visitor base if 60 - 70% of the respondents score with a 9 or 10. Respondents in this range are willing to put their reputation on the line for your website when they recommend it to others. Another good analysis of the response rate is determined by what is known as the "Net Growth / Promoter Score" or NPS, in the customer relations realm. The NPS is a factor of the difference between the numbers of "Promoters" minus the number of "Detractors", and will provide a net value of how many visitors are essentially growing your website.
As an action plan, find out where you are failing, pinpoint specific areas that need improvement, and then assess the competition for comparison options; see where visitors are making decisions about other online sources for purchases or website visits. The answers to visitor satisfaction won't always exist when using the "right" research technique; moreover, organizations need to integrate visitor insights with other areas of interest, such as user experience (UX), strategic planning, and change management to ensure that what matters to customers is actually implemented.
Ryan has performed in a broad range of technology support roles for electric-generation utilities, including nuclear power plants, and for the telecommunications industry. He has worked in web development for the restaurant industry and the Federal government.