Businesses today need to be able to analyse and interpret their customer experience in real-time and then adapt their response to effect positive change. The faster they can do it – the more agile the company is – generally the better their performance.
Remembering that customer experience is how a customer feels about you based on every interaction they have with you, it follows then that customer experience managers need direct customer feedback to measure the effects of their efforts to improve customer perceptions.
Feedback highlights what customers think you’re doing well, what you could be doing better and, in some cases, even how you could be doing better.
I’ve written previously about some of the guidelines to follow when implementing a Voice of the Customer program. This post adds to that original list with five more suggestions to help you get the most out of listening to the Voice of the Customer.
1. Actively Listen
Customers won’t always want to provide feedback at the time you send them a survey. But conversely, there’ll be times they’ll want to let you know their thoughts (for example, after they received great service from one of your customer service representatives) and there won’t be a survey presented to them for them to do it. For this reason it’s important to survey after every interaction. In addition to this, for the situations where there hasn’t been an interaction, you need active listening posts. These could include a discreet feedback tab on your website, a phone number on your company vehicles, or a web link on your user guides. We are all very busy, so make it easy for your customers to share their thoughts with you.
2. Optimise The Survey Experience
With survey response rates generally hovering between 5% and 20%, it’s important companies do what they can to optimise the survey experience. Every extra completed survey you receive provides you with greater customer insight. Customers are much more likely to provide feedback if you survey them via the same channel through which they’ve had an interaction with you. Sometimes that may be difficult, for example in a retail setting. The key is to make it as easy as possible. Many retailers now use a kiosk or iPad asking a single question with graphics-based response buttons similar to those in Figure 1.
3. Determine Drivers
If you are using a metric such as Net Promoter Score or Customer Effort Score, correlate the scores you’re getting with other data to help understand the drivers that affect those scores. An e-business might consider website downtime, a help desk – spending on staff, a technology company – product defection rates. Understanding the reasons why customers rate you as they do allows you to conduct regression analysis to predict what impact a variable will have on your chosen metric. Using the technology company example, regression analysis could uncover that reducing product defection rates by 10% will, with a fair degree of certainty, lead to a 2-point increase in their NPS.
In a business-to-business environment, it makes sense to give your more strategic customers – those that spend more with you and/or have been with you the longest – a louder voice. Segment your customer base by profitability and give priority to fixing the issues that cause your more profitable customers to defect. Losing those customers is going to hurt your business more than losing a customer who only buys once from you.
5. Close the Loop
How many companies currently do this? In my experience it’s very, very few and it’s such a critical part of the process. Once you’ve actioned the insights that were distilled from the feedback your customers provided, go back to them and tell them what you did or did not do with what they told you.
People are much more likely to provide feedback in future if they know their opinion was heard and responded to. This could be in the form of a newsletter, an update on your website, an outbound telemarketing campaign or above the line advertising: “you told us X so here’s what we’ve done…”.
We all know the names: Amazon, Apple, Disney, Ritz-Carlton, Zappos. These are the companies that are consistently recognised as having the best customer experience in the world. They win CX awards virtually every year and dominate their respective markets.
Locally, professional services firm KPMG released a report in September this year that listed Australia’s Top 10 CX Brands in 2020. In order, they were:
First Choice Liquor
What is it that enables these companies to deliver an experience that is consistently superior to that of their competitors?
In my experience of having spoken to the CEO’s and analysed some of Australia’s best-known organisations over the years, the reason these companies are so far ahead is that they possess many (or in some cases all) of the following twelve qualities:
The CEO understands the economic value of CX and actively promotes it both internally and externally.
They understand the customer problems they solve and constantly strive to uncover new unmet needs.
There is a clear organisational purpose that is understood by all staff and easily communicated to customers.
They define their aspirational customer experience and the strategy and principles that will support it.
They evaluate the impact on customers before making any decision.
They have one view of the customer – they collect and record information about customers from a wide variety of systems and store it in one central repository.
Customer journeys are mapped and widely communicated and continuous improvement practices are applied to reduce the difference between the intended and actual customer experience at each touchpoint (and overall).
They understand their customer value proposition and know why customers come, stay and leave.
Staff are rewarded and recognised on the achievement of customer experience goals.
The link between the employee experience and customer experience is recognised and they actively work to improve culture and employee engagement.
New, differentiating experiences are constantly being designed for customers.
A good understanding of customers gained through a robust customer insights program is critical. Customer feedback is a necessity for qualities 2, 6, 8 and 9. And through an effective VOC platform like CentraCX customer feedback can also be used to improve culture and employee engagement (quality 11).
If you find yourself looking at that list and feeling a little daunted at the number of things you’re not currently doing, start with one or two and once you feel like you’ve embedded them, pick one or two more. It will take time but as the Chinese proverb goes, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
If you don’t currently have a Voice of the Customer program in place, start with a small survey and go from there. Collecting customer feedback is always useful even if you don’t yet have all your other processes and evaluations in place. Now more than ever companies need to know what their customers are thinking.
Finally, just remember that becoming more customer centric is a transformation. To improve your chances of success be sure to implement any changes you make to your business using change management principles such as Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model, ADKAR, or Lewin’s Change Management Model.
The companies with the best customer experience in the world are at the top of the CX mountain because they have placed customers at the heart of their organisations. By adopting the 12 qualities above, you too can follow the path they have blazed and join them on the summit.
Customer feedback is essential in every business. By choosing the right time to request feedback, you will boost survey participation rates and make the collected data more meaningful.
Refine your VOC survey timing
Voice of the Customer (VOC) surveys play a critical role in business-customer engagement.
They should be gathered as soon as possible after the customer has interacted with your business. This encourages prompt, honest feedback which is relevant to the service they have just received.
So how frequently should surveys be offered and when is the optimal time to present them?
Little and often
Short, sharp and frequent surveys are recommended for optimal response. Done well, they will build their own momentum over time. Customer expectations of the survey are set by their previous experiences with your VOC surveys. The better your surveys get; the more participation you are likely to see.
Up to three metric-based questions and one or two open-ended questions are all that’s required. Keep them brief, easy to understand and relevant to your target areas. This will ensure you achieve deep insights.
Strike while the iron’s hot
Feedback should always be collected as close to the trigger event as possible. Every minute counts. According to best practice, the survey should be:
An integral part of your business’s standard operational process.
Incorporated in to the interaction itself as much as possible.
Presented on the same channel as the original interaction.
When the customer sees feedback as part of their normal interaction with your business, they are far more likely to give it. This method is proven to increase participation rates. Think of short IVR surveys at the close of a call, or web surveys following a webchat. The customer can give quick, easy responses, then move on.
Get the timing right
Survey timing should be centred on:
Interaction: Prompt the customer to give feedback each and every time they interact with your business.
Episode or Journey: Provide surveys on completion of the interaction point or journey.
Download our eBook – How To Lift Your Customer Survey Participation Rates – to better understand how you can make VOC surveys work in your favour.
Frontline staff are exposed to customers in every kind of mood – happy, frustrated or just plain angry. As such, staff are often get blamed for every business failing, whether it’s their fault or not.
Many organisations worry that feedback from VOC platforms will have a negative impact on these frontline workers. They fear employees will become disengaged, or feel their performance is being unfairly scrutinised.
Yet VOC feedback is the employee’s best friend. Implementing the right VOC platform can give frontline employees a genuine voice within the organisation.
The motivating force of positive feedback
Structuring your survey questions correctly means you can differentiate feedback about your frontline employees from feedback about your products and services, processes and brand.
Across our customers around 98% of customer feedback comes back overwhelmingly positive about the frontline team member, boosting employee confidence and engagement.
Everyone loves being told they are doing a great job, so why hide this powerful source of motivation?
Negative feedback promotes real change
The remaining 2% of feedback contains valuable pointers to help frontline employees and their managers identify opportunities for improved employee performance.
Whilst in some cases this feedback can be confronting, when you give employees a chance to respond to this negative feedback, it defuses any tension. Tribal Analytics enables your employees to enter into meaningful discussion with their managers on specific customer feedback. This gives employees an opportunity to voice their opinion about the interaction or situation in question – and know it is being heard.
Feedback amplifies the employee voice on the wider business
Customer feedback is, essentially, the ‘source of truth’ in every organisation. It’s the true marker of the success or failure of your product or services in the marketplace.
It is also the catalyst for employees to express their real grievances and concerns. After all, customers and frontline employees are often dissatisfied about the same things – product issues, cumbersome processes and website glitches to name just a few.
Tribal Analytics enables frontline teams to leverage customer feedback with non-customer facing parts of the organisation. This exposes the issues underlying customer feedback and enables the business costs to be quantified. It also means frontline staff get the support they need to do their job more productively – and managers can provide solutions for the entrenched problems that come to light.
When you actively engage frontline employees with customer feedback you build recognition of the need for change. As the change is introduced the frontline teams champion the improvements knowing that they are critical for customers and themselves.
Explore how CentraCX Tribal Analytics can help you collect, understand and action customer feedback to support your employees and boost business growth.
The customer experience (CX) is critical in today’s market. As the 2019 KPMG Global Customer Experience Excellence report shows, successful companies tailor the CX to meet specific customer needs:
Personalisation drives loyalty in 18 out of 20 global markets.
New players solve life problems rather than just selling products.
Top companies anticipate customer needs ahead of the curve.
Yet organisations can only redefine CX delivery if they know their customers inside-out. How do you solve customer problems when you don’t understand what they want and the barriers that stop them getting it?
Higher engagement, better CX
When you know exactly what your customers think, you can solve their problems and improve your customer offering in line with their expectations.
Statistically significant data from regular surveys gives you the confidence to make changes that keep customers coming back for more.
This creates a complete feedback loop. Customers will engage more strongly with your company and your surveys if you speak directly to their needs – and the more participation you get from customers, the more precisely you can improve the CX.
Why every survey needs to count
Your customer survey program will only work if enough people complete them. Many organisations battle to achieve more than 1% participation, while rates of at least 15% are desirable for most businesses.
Simply put, you need a high enough response rate to know that the insights and metrics you gather are truly representative of your customer base.
Survey participation rates vary according to industry, customer’s brand perception, demographics and – most importantly – the way surveys are designed and offered to customers.
How to boost survey participation rates
To gain genuine customer buy-in, your CX surveys should be:
Short and sharp. A long survey can lead to fatigue and customers may not respond next time.
The sooner a customer is asked to participate in a survey after an interaction, the more engaged they are and the fresher their opinion.
Easy for the customer to use. The less effort required, the more likely it is the customer will engage.
Conveniently delivered on the channel of choice – email, voice, text, instant message or mobile app. Picking the right channel for the customer is key to driving participation.
Relevant and personalised to individual customers and their experience.
The CentraCX Voice of the Customer (VOC) platform offers multi-channel, personalised surveys that allow you to collect, analyse and action targeted customer feedback to improve your CX.
We’d love to tell you more about VOC power and how it can work for you. Start the conversation today!
Or for more information on participation rates, download our eBook – How To Lift Your Customer Survey Participation Rates.
The purpose of a customer experience survey is multi-faceted. At its core, it is an incredible tool that allows businesses to improve their products and processes, manage complaints and engage employees. Once you have created your survey and delivered it to customers on the appropriate channel, the main hurdle is getting people to participate. Many businesses struggle to get their survey participation rate over 10%, but it is entirely achievable. Here are three tips to help you.
Make Your Customers Feel Appreciated
The customer that feels valued is one who is more likely to be loyal to your brand and will invest in your business by providing feedback. Engaging your customers by asking for their opinion is already an indication that you value their relationship with you; however, often the feedback request feels automated and impersonal. Using personalization and direct communication, you can make each customer feel valued.
When using email send your feedback request from a specific person rather than a group or department. If the customer interacted with a specific person then it’s best to have the feedback request come from that person.
Use language that implies that their personal input is valuable to a specific individual as well as the business. For example:
Your opinion will help me and my team improve
We want to know what you think
Your opinion matters to me and the management at business name
Ensure that the request references the specific reason that the customer was in contact with you in the first place and include details of that original interaction. Don’t include too much unnecessary detail such as extensive product or order details as this removes the personal element from the request.
Show that you respect your customers’ time and keep your surveys short and direct. Letting them know how long it will take to complete also removes a barrier to entry. Research has shown that people are more likely to respond to a survey if they know upfront how long it will take them. In our experience, less than 2 minutes is optimal for higher survey participation rates.
Some examples of how to approach this include:
Please can we have 2 minutes of your time?
We want to hear from you – 2 minutes is all it will take
Can you spare a couple of minutes to help us improve?
Offer Customer Incentives
You will find that some customers are happy to complete your surveys simply to ensure that you work towards providing a better service for them. Others need an additional nudge. Offering incentives is a great way to improve your survey participation rates and gather relevant, insightful feedback at the same time. Incentives don’t need to be financial and some examples of incentives you might want to try include:
Early or exclusive access to products
Recognition through membership of an exclusive customer tier
Exclusive news or information
Entry into a lucky draw for a prize
You want to strike a balance between people who complete a survey simply to add value and those who are completing it for the reward. Generally speaking, feedback provided without an incentive will be more detailed and of higher quality.
Driving higher survey participation rates also comes down to your consistency and effort in letting your customers know that you’re always considering them and their needs.
For a complete guide on participation rates and how to improve them, download our e-book: How To Lift Your Customer Survey Participation Rates.