Van Leeuwen
Customer satisfaction research: Could it be a bit more fun?

Customer satisfaction research: Could it be a bit more fun?

Charlotte de Kam,
Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube, Zwijndrecht, the Netherlands

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”. Bill Gates said that, underlining the importance of researching how (un)happy your customers are. Some customers will tell you themselves, but that doesn’t happen often. For that reason, it is essential to ask your customers how they feel about you every now and then. The challenge lies with asking them in a positive way. Even better, a way that takes up little of your customer’s time.

I am the marketing manager at the Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group and mainly focus on our companies located in the Benelux. One of my responsibilities is to find out how satisfied our customers are. Happy customers, after all, are your finest ambassadors. The results of this research are an important input for our company policy.

E-mail surveys

Oh no, another survey! We used to hear that response a lot when we asked customers to fill out a customer satisfaction form. For the past 12 years, we used an online survey to carry out our research. We asked customers through e-mail for their cooperation, sent them a link and thoughtfully gave an estimate how long it would take to fill out the form. Answering 30 questions would take about 10 minutes of their time. Afterwards, we would share with our customers the results of the survey and the points of improvement we had formulated based on those results. We wanted to prove that the data was actually being used and that we regarded their input as very valuable.

Response rate decreased

Nevertheless, the response rate decreased little by little. Customers get buried in emails and face ever increasing work pressure. Filling out customer satisfaction forms is simply not at the top of their list. That is, if it even makes it to the list, seeing as we get asked over and over to write reviews and fill out forms, even during our private time at home. My guess is we are collectively growing weary of researches. I feel it too, even though as a marketing manager I know how valuable this information is to a company.

Measuring customer satisfaction continuously

At Van Leeuwen the decision was made to measure customer satisfaction continuously instead of periodically. Customer visits are an excellent opportunity to carry out this research. Some of our offices already did this, but they would bring a paper questionnaire to fill out, which would then be processed in a spreadsheet. I was convinced that there had to be a better and more efficient way to do this. In my search I quickly came across the company One-2-Ten, which has developed a modern and clever software tool for tablets. The application is often used on fixed screens placed on columns at exhibitions and by the food service industry. Recently, the app was made available for mobile devices. Exactly what I was looking for!

On the road with an iPad

During their visits, our account managers hand the iPad to their customer. We reduced the number of questions from 30 to 10, with one follow-up question if necessary. This means the customer clicks and swipes through the survey within 2 minutes. Besides a rating between 1 and 10 we now also measure our NPS score. This “net promoter score” indicates how many customers would recommend your company to others. Your ambassadors, in other words. This is very important to us.

The results are processed automatically and can be viewed 24/7 on an online dashboard which features useful overviews and infographics. In the end, we don’t just save our customer’s time, but our own as well.

Then it was my turn

When One-2-Ten asked me to write a testimony for them, I didn’t hesitate. The interview they conducted here on location was used in a case study and a video. That’s what you call a great chain reaction!


Measuring customer satisfaction continuously grants us an insight in the customer experience which is always available and allows us to adapt our services very quickly. By looking at the long-term results, we can spot trends and identify which aspects of our service consistently receive lower marks. As a result, we recently changed our company policy to respond to quotations faster, and to communicate more clearly when dealing with complaints.

We also enjoyed finding out that our customers are very happy about our product range. The question concerning satisfaction with the sales department receives the highest NPS score. Here we see the pay off for our company policy: to digitize an increasing number of services, but to keep giving personal attention to our customers.



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