This week we feature an article by Jaime Bailey who explains why your company is best served by considering every possible source of insight about customer behavior, goals, and expectations, and implementing the tools that most effectively serve your needs. – Shep Hyken
As has been widely noted in today’s marketplace, your customers’ opinions and expectations – for good or bad, reasonable or not – are your company’s new benchmark. The reasons we accept these ideas are simple: It’s been proven that keeping a good customer is usually many times cheaper than acquiring a new customer; that your loyal customers help your business grow through their referrals; and finally, in the world where airing grievances is only a few seconds and clicks away, every satisfied customer is one less complaint you have to address publicly.
These reasons are reflected by the CCW Executive Report on Contact Center Priorities for 2018, where increasing the “voice of the customer” strategy is the #3 contact center priority this year. Your company is best served by considering every possible source of insight about customer behavior, goals, and expectations, and implementing the tools that most effectively serve your needs.
Before Soliciting Feedback
It’s important to achieve clarity on your organizational goals from the information gathered. For example, is the goal to improve your customers’ experience, and if so, which facet? Is there a specific product or service that needs an update? Are you wondering which channels should receive the majority of your resources? And finally, once the data is gathered, who’s going to have access to it, and what will they be encouraged to do with it?
CCW’s report confirms that the customer feedback survey remains a centerpiece of the “voice of the customer” strategy: 63 percent of respondents call it a priority. The reasons are obvious: surveys help your business understand the emotional and psychological factors that drive customer behavior and affect your metrics.
At its most basic, a survey is any set of questions you ask your customers and invite them to respond. The digital transformation has provided plenty of channels through which to survey: email, IVR, text, outbound voice, and even IM. For best results, tailor the structure and purpose of your surveys to each channel you use, such as:
- Short chat surveys can provide feedback on whether the chat experience was helpful, and if not, why not; this information can help refine the data that defines your chatbots.
- IVR can quickly and automatically survey your callers who fit a certain profile, ideally using a just few carefully worded questions that can collect effective data through the standard numeric keypad in two minutes or less.
- Email is good for soliciting candid feedback from new customers with one or two open-ended questions; however, an individual email is also more personal, so it’s important to respond to these emails and let respondents know they’ve been heard.
- Proactive voice outreach is best saved for delving into customer’s thought processes, attitudes, goals, and habits. Hearing their voices also helps make judgments about their satisfaction and emotional state. Since this type of survey is effort-intensive, reserve it for high-potential customers or those with whom the business relationship is well established, and assign outbound survey calls to your agents with the best interpersonal and customer service
Polls ask one or two questions in a quick format and then provide the response breakdowns to each respondent, making the act of replying a sort of communal game. These are handy for identifying overall trends that can influence business decisions. Polls can be implemented on your website, through social media, and even by text.
CCW’s report lists “indirect social commentary” as an important source of intelligence, and 50 percent of respondents plan to make social media monitoring a priority in 2018. As well as active listening and responding to customers on your business pages on sites like Yelp and Facebook, it’s important to proactively use a tool like Google Alerts, which helps monitor your reviews and even provides information on competitors’ feedback.
If the goal is to find out what’s on the minds of your customers, it makes sense to ask those who deal directly with your customers all day, every day. Your agents’ anecdotal evidence can provide insights to drive other feedback tools, so develop an in-house reporting tool they can use at will. Here again, encourage them by demonstrating how their input is affecting their company’s goals.
Incredibly useful feedback can be gathered by watching your customers interact with your brand — hence, the popularity of customer journey mapping, which was rated #4 on CCW’s priority list for 2018, and predictive analytics, which uses past patterns to predict future actions and needs. Customer journey mapping observes how your customers and prospects flow through your channels, what their goals are, and perhaps most importantly, where their efforts are inadvertently thwarted or bottle-necked. This is actionable feedback that your customers may not be able to articulate.
After feedback comes in, don’t rush to judgment. Carefully consider the information gathered and take advantage of opportunities for improvement. Remember that regularly taking positive action after negative feedback is one of the most meaningful ways to guarantee your business’ future success.
Jaime Bailey is the Vice President of Marketing at VHT. With more than 16 years of experience, she stewards a team focused on understanding the customer experience, applying new marketing techniques, and maximizing ROI.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Independents: Who’s Disrupting Whom?