Benchmarking Survey Results

Success is a little like art: Sometimes, you just know it when you see it. And just like your artistic endeavors, even if you feel like you’re doing well, your success can still be up for debate. Why? The things you might claim as a victory could be labeled a failure by others, including your boss, your stakeholders, and your competitors.

Because when it comes down to it, success is also a science (if you’re paying attention to the numbers). But there’s only so much one dataset can do to help you measure your success. That’s where benchmarking survey results comes in.

Benchmarking definition

What is benchmarking? When you set benchmarks, you’re essentially setting a baseline or standard that you can use to find where you need to improve, set goals, and measure your performance over time. And a great way to benchmark your performance metrics is by using surveys.

How to use benchmarking surveys

Whether you’re measuring customer satisfaction, employee engagement, customer loyalty, website feedback, or just about anything else, the first thing you have to do is send out a survey to get your initial results.

Here are a few of our most popular sample survey templates, created by our own survey experts, to help you get started.

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Imagine you want to send out an online questionnaire to your customers to see how well your customer service team is meeting their needs—so you ask the following example customer service feedback survey question to find out if your customers are happy with you:

How well did our customer service representative answer your question or solve your problem?

Once you’ve collected your survey results, you see that 72% of people said that your customer service representative answered their question or solved their problem moderately well. But what do you do with that number? How do you know if it’s good or bad?

Internal benchmarking

Although a 72% is better than a neutral rating, it’s not 100%. And getting a once-off measurement of whether or not your customer service reps properly addressed a customer issue won’t help you in the long run. So it’s a good idea to set internal baselines or benchmarks.

You can practice internal benchmarking by comparing your current performance metrics to past numbers. This helps you give context to the data you collect, and turn abstract data (like 72%) into quantifiable progress.

How to set benchmarks

When it comes to benchmarking, once you collect the data, you’ve already done most of the work. In this instance, now that you have an initial datapoint, you should consider 72% as the beginning of your journey. Here’s how to benchmark from there:

  • 1. After you note your initial benchmark, set goals. Maybe you want to get to at least 90% within half a year.
  • 2. Send the same survey to customers again. At least twice a year is best, at regular intervals.
  • 3. Once you send out the survey again, compare that measurement with your baseline. Maybe this time, you’ll get 85%.
  • 4. Readjust your expectations and goals every time you collect customer feedback. If you dip below your initial benchmark, you know it’s time to make some serious improvements.

But internal benchmarking only gives you part of the picture—your own progress. It’s time to get to know where you stand against similar organizations in your industry.

External benchmarking

Of course, it’s a great idea to use internal benchmarks to inform your goals—but external benchmarks help you gain perspective.

When you perform external benchmarking, you are comparing the data you’ve collected against the data collected by a peer organization.

For example, if your 72% jumps to 85% within six months, you may feel pleased. But what if similar organizations in your industry had even higher scores to begin with—or they’re improving at a faster rate?

For example, if your 72% jumps to 85% within six months, you may feel pleased. But what if similar organizations in your industry had even higher scores to begin with—or they’re improving at a faster rate?

“90% of Organization X’s customers say their customer service team is resolving their issues moderately well, so 90% is the standard that informs whether or not we’re doing a good job.”

That way, you can target your efforts (and budget) accordingly.

But in order to access external benchmarking data, you’ve got to go through a service that collects the data from organizations across your industry.

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SurveyMonkey Benchmarks makes it easy for you to see where you stand against your biggest competitors. Find out if we have benchmarking data for your industry.

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Ideas for tracking changes over time with internal benchmarks

Boost employee performance metrics. Engaged employees are more likely to give great service, and that could translate to more loyal customers. Uncover the barriers to employee engagement, tweak accordingly, and use a second and third survey sample to make sure you’re on the right track.

Track customer loyalty. Seek and destroy barriers to customer loyalty, including snarky employees, confusing store layouts, and poor product quality. Survey your customers about their interactions with your company, and use benchmarking to measure the efficacy of the changes you make.

Measure the impact of an ad. Planning a big, splashy ad campaign? Take the pulse of your consumers with a survey, released right before that ad. Then, use a second survey to see whether your campaign worked or failed.

Size up the competition with external benchmarks

Determine your brand strategy. Determine how many of your current clients are willing to work as brand advocates, and see if they’re more or less likely to do the same work for your competition. Low customer loyalty scores could prompt you to change your ad strategy, or you could build a loyalty program that really converts the naysayers.

Monitor the customer experience. Spend your money wisely with the results of external benchmarks. Should you boost product quality? Staffing levels? Training? Your web presence? Use data to make smart choices by repeating customer satisfaction questionnaires, website feedback polls, employee engagement surveys and more.

Perform market research. Online stalking can tell you a lot about your competitors, but benchmarking your success against theirs removes the guesswork. Get vital insights on where competitors are succeeding, and apply those lessons in your company.

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