I used to like that brand – until they kept asking me if I liked their customer experience.” How many times have you thought that recently?
In the space of a week, I reckon I get asked to complete more than 20 surveys from all sorts of companies. “Tell us about your recent customer experience” they ask. All I’m thinking is, “what, again?”
It used to be nice to get the odd survey or comment card and feel you had the opportunity to give feedback on your favourite brands. Now every time you go anywhere or purchase anything, whether it’s your car service, your online sofa order, your hotel stay or even just your cup of coffee, you get asked for your feedback.
Every single transaction seemingly needs to be rated but as a customer, there are just some things you don’t want to bother giving feedback on. The most annoying thing for me is when a customer feedback survey lands within minutes, sometimes seconds of the experience happening – give me some breathing space!
This growth in instant customer surveys appears to have been driven by several factors: the growing demand for customer feedback as part of a process of continuous improvement; the growth of NPS as a key indicator (as well as the associated pressure to achieve the perfect score for those who are bonused on it); the rising focus on data; and accessibility to the ‘connected’ customer. But are surveys as useful as they were as a means to gather customer feedback? Or are we all turning what used to be a useful method of interacting with customers into a headache for both the organisation and the customer?
Anecdotal evidence states that customer survey response rates across all formats has been steadily declining for years. Some say that they still get response rates of 20-25% whilst many achieve less than 2%. I can’t help feeling like the more companies ask their customers for feedback, the less they’ll actually get. More concerning than that is the negative effect this survey fatigue is actually having on the customer experience.
It’s definitely important to reach out to customers, to get to know them better, to listen, to understand them and to solve their problems but there’s a growing art to getting it right in today’s overloaded and digitalised world of feedback.
Here’s ten things to think about to get your customer surveys singing:
1. Less is more
Surveys can be long, with too many questions which leads to lower response rates and high abandonment. It’s proven that the time for surveys needs to be very limited to ensure accurate responses with 13 minutes the maximum threshold. Short and sweet is always best
2. Design your survey carefully
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes (not those of a researcher or techy) and be respectful of your customer’s time in your survey design and implementation. Ask the right questions and make them easy to answer. Make sure your survey is mobile optimised and convenient to complete
3. Be relevant
Customer surveys often include questions that aren’t even applicable or relevant to us. Tailor your surveys to customer segments rather than sending blanket invites to the world and his wife. Use logic to display questions that are relevant to that customer
4. What’s in it for me
Communicate the value of your survey upfront, how long it will take and what you’re going to do with the results. Reach out to customers once they have given their feedback so they know it’s all worth it and what will change as a result. Consider response driven incentives as a way of thanking people for their time too
5. Surveys don’t reflect all customer views
Survey fatigue doesn’t appear to put off those customers with extreme views as they want their voices to be heard, whatever. This can lead to survey bias known as non-response bias. Those who don’t respond may have a different view and the survey data won’t effectively reflect a spread of customer feedback
6. Quality as well as quantity
Survey results are about the narrative or the story that customers are telling you as much as the number or score. It’s often where you get the most insight. Make sure you give customers the opportunity to give unstructured feedback with open questions
7. How am I doing?
Awkward! Seems like an obvious one but you’d be amazing how many companies do it! The person being rated should NEVER be the one asking for customer feedback. Simple.
8. Test your alignment
Aligning the needs and dreams of your customers with the culture and capability of your company is key. The smartest companies are using their customer survey to understand both opportunities and challenges around specific employee deliverables vital to the customer journey
9. Avoid survey fatigue
Don’t fall into the survey fatigue trap and only ask every every 5th or 10th customer for their view – whatever is appropriate for your business. If you have an engagement vehicle of your own e.g. a branded app that customers already use, embed your survey in there for extra exposure without spamming people
10. Act on what you find
While 95% of companies collect feedback, only a third actually use it to improve their customer experience. Even more importantly, less than 5% tell customers about the changes they’ve then made based on their comments. Tell your customers what action you’re taking as a result of their feedback and then make sure you do it!
Surveys are a key part of the big business of Customer Experience Management and Voice of Customer programmes – but they have become a victim of their own success.
There’s a wide range of both structured and unstructured customer feedback sources including complaints data, focus groups, contact centre conversations, social media feeds, online reviews and employee/front line customer dialogues to give a full picture or barometer of how customers are feeling. Your survey should be just one tool, supporting a wider customer experience measurement model.
In 2018 will we see something new in CX or will it be more of the same? If it is more of the same, then the experience gap that has opened will only get bigger. 2018 needn’t be another year of unfulfilled promise. Using the 6 E’s will help your company succeed. Rethinking your CX around my 6 themes will help ensure a Smiling Company and Happy Customers.
2017 promised such a lot. There was the motivation and there were clear opportunities to really begin to make a significant difference for customers and close the recognised experience gap.Success in 2018 will come from a refocus. We have a huge opportunity to close the experience and expectation gap. If nothing else, to be successful in refocusing on the customer
A short-termist approach of ‘fixing’ what may not be working, but isn’t necessarily of value to the customer, of ignoring the customer’s emotional experience and of keeping responsibility for the customer confined to a small number of people within the organisation means we may not see the current disappointing situation change for some time.
There is a real and present risk to this movement towards greater customer centricity and ultimately better experiences for our customers.
Every day we hear more about how technology is changing the world for customers and employees alike. We live in a rapidly developing world where virtual meets reality. Even brands are investing heavily in IT not only to be able to more deliver efficiently their customer experience but also to interact with customers on a more personal (data led) level. The art is to blend digital and real-world together and present one consistent face of the brand.
Building brand value, customer life time value and winning sustainable loyalty need to be uppermost in retailers’ minds. Black Friday customer interactions need to maintain a brand’s story in an authentic way whilst engaging in the customer experience. Think of it as an opportunity to showcase and engage with customers – where the customer’s experience is positive, painless, seamless, and relevant to them.
I would suggest that companies should not focus exclusively on efficiency, simplicity and optimisation of the rational and functional elements of the customer journey; they alone do not make up the whole customer experience.
Sometimes, change and customer experience optimisation is about baby steps. Sometimes, small steps can result in bigger leaps, or compounded marginal gains. For some organisations, this is a more realistic and successful approach than the implementation of a big CX transformation programme with a well-constructed business case, where the results may be similar in the end.
first direct have recognised that what set them apart for many years – their superior customer service, is not enough to stay ahead. first direct are constantly seeking to improve the basics and at the same time invest in innovation centred on the customer. Customer work, at first direct, is never done.