Reporting - Audit Satisfaction Survey

If you want to know how well you have truly done on an audit, its best just to ask those you have audited. Enter, the audit satisfaction survey.

Internal Audit satisfaction survey's are often overlooked, or seen as a tick box exercise, however if done well, can provide real value to any internal audit team. Additionally, it is quite common for business area's or clients to not respond to feedback requests, and internal audit don't necessarily follow up on this, further demonstrating how much we actually value feedback.

For me, there are a few components to an effective internal audit survey, such as:

  • Length and form of the survey

  • Quality and relevance of the survey

  • Timeliness of the survey

  • After the survey - KPI's, performance monitoring and embedding feedback

Length and form of the survey

Ain't nobody got time to be completing survey's, let alone one about audit. Further, unless they have something to complain about, why would they want to provide feedback? Given this, we need to give reason for the survey, without boring them before they have even made it to the first question.

  • There are a couple of ways in which a survey can be distributed:

  • Survey Monkey

  • Poll within Microsoft Teams

  • Word Document form

  • Form embedded into an email

  • Face to face feedback session

With all of these options, the request for feedback can either be sent via the report transmission email, via a separate email, or in the case of face to face feedback, via a phone call. With each of these options, the intro to the survey needs to be exciting, engaging and show that we desire and use their feedback. A great example of this is a picture directing people to the survey being included in the email. It pop's out more, and once clicked, will take people directly to a site such as Survey Monkey. Another option I have seen work quite well, is a form embedded into an email. It lands directly into the recipients inbox and when they see it's only five questions, its likely to get a quick response.

Quality and relevance of the survey

I recently completed a survey from Sainsbury's. It was introduced as a survey about new products and what my opinions are, as this would help them with their marketing. Frustratingly, the survey ended up taking 10 minutes and talked about a new yogurt they had introduced; a product which I have never bought from Sainsbury's. In fact, I have not bought any yogurt from any of their stories. The point here is, although I completed the entire survey, recipients of an internal audit report and satisfaction survey probably don't have 10 minutes to answer a survey.

A simple check box exercise over key audit areas, or a text box survey questioning what was done well, what can be improved, and what we should start and stop doing, are probably all you really need to know.

Ultimately, focus on what your KPI's are (whether or not these are quality KPI's is another question), what your end goal is (is this for reporting to the Exec or audit committee, or generally improving the audit function), and what you are going to use this information for (i.e. process / methodology improvements or staff performance reviews). Understanding what you want to achieve from your survey will help you ensure you are asking the right questions and not overburdening the respondent.

Our example survey has been prepared in Microsoft Word and includes an abundance of questions. This has been done intentionally, allowing you to move it to a format which suits you and also cut out the questions which you don't think are necessary. The whole survey can be used if desired, but this goes against our concise / to the point approach we have just spoken about.

Timeliness of the survey

The sooner the better. Once issuing the report, if you're not already including the survey link / document / invite in the transmission email, your next email immediately after should be the survey email. A lag between when the report is issued and when the survey is issued can result in a lower response rate.

It should be the responsibility of the lead auditor to ensure all responses have been received, with a follow up sent one week after the initial email. After two follow up's without success, it would be reasonable to not expect a reply. By actively following up, or offering a phone chat / face to face discussion, it shows that we do want to know their thoughts. It also gives us the opportunity to show why we want their feedback and where previous feedback has actually been incorporated into our ways of working.

After the survey

As mentioned earlier, the design of our survey should take into consideration what we actually want from it, and what it is going to be used for. The first, and most obvious answer, is satisfaction / audit quality KPI's. Often, survey results will align to internal audit KPI's, and therefore, our questions will often be geared to answer our KPI's rather than our audits. This is a personal bug bear of mine as simply saying X% of a survey responded saying our audit exceeded their expectation, is hardly insightful. Additionally, is someone who receives a critical or failed report, really going to say that your audit exceed their expectations? Audit KPI's are a whole other issue I might write about another at another time, however its a great example of making sure our survey's have a purpose.

Additionally, if we are required to include in our quarterly updates to the audit committee the results of any survey's, we should ensure that the questions give us good insights, but also something which can be easily summarised and presented.

Finally, the last real big component is implementing change. Where a survey does give good feedback, what do we do with it? Sure, we might not action the feedback if its only one person recommending the change, but we should still investigate it nonetheless. Personally, I believe the lead auditor should be bringing audit feedback to the audit team meetings. The feedback can then be discussed, then if necessary, action taken for it to be implemented. Whilst not entirely necessary, an email back to the business stating that you have addressed their feedback and undertaken a range of actions, shows that their feedback has't gone straight to the recycle bin and can help build audit / business relations.

Although an older article, the team at That Audit Guy have also provided some comments on good internal audit survey's. You can check out their article here.

Be sure to check out our survey template and steal some of the questions for inclusion in your own survey.

Simply CLICK HERE to download your free template.

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