It’s not even 9am and my inbox contains several customer feedback surveys from recent transactions. Understanding what matters most to customers and how well it’s delivered upon is critical to organisations and the feedback survey (known as Voice of the Customer or VoC) is the most effective way to collect this insight.

However, when you realise that alongside your survey are several others, it dawns on you there a chance feedback fatigue will kick in, and your customers wont complete the survey We’ve worked with several clients in this space and have seen response rates between 2% and 65% to surveys. So how do you ensure you keep customers responding?

Will you increase your customer’s confidence in you?

With any customer interaction, the first thing to establish is, ‘will this add to the relationship?’ Too often, surveys are seen as a way of measuring the customer experience, service interaction or product usage. With this mindset, it will lead to a clumsy format which does not reflect the brand visually or tonally. The last thing you want (and we’ve seen this) is for your feedback survey to start to appear in your list of issues collected from your survey!

Design the survey as if it is a new touchpoint. One which will enhance the confidence customers in your brand.

Ask yourself, why are you doing this?

The best way to increase confidence is for the customer to believe the feedback they provide will make a difference. I recall a client explaining to me they switched the verbatim box off because it produced too many issues for them to address, and they only wanted a score to pay bonuses.

feeback quote

The question to ask yourself is what will change, or what are we prepared to change based on customer feedback? If the answer is not much or we can’t change it even if they want us to (often a cited reason in regulated sectors), then why ask in the first place? And if you want to reward based on the customer outcome, be very careful picking measures like satisfaction or recommendation levels. There is much research conducted to prove these do not correlate well to sales. So if it is sales you want to reward staff for, why ask for customer satisfaction scores. Is your purpose of VoC true?

  • Understand what to prioritise for improvement with internal resources
  • Capture real time case issues which can be resolved in the moment
  • Validate delivery of experiences are meeting customer’s expectations
  • Discover the impact on customers of poor experiences (to build into solutions)
  • Identify weak spots in your customer experience to improve
  • Celebrate excellence in your customer experience, and share learnings across the business
  • Measure consistency of satisfaction of key customer drivers, by touchpoint and overall

I’m sure there are more. Keep the focus on the customer and what you can do for them.

Don’t mistake VoC for Facebook ‘likes’

There is a tendency to use feedback as a vanity measure. Just think about how ugly it would be or how intolerable you would be as an individual if every time you spoke with someone or helped them out or went to a party with them, you asked, ‘do you like me? was our conversation what you expected? were you satisfied with the way I helped you cross the road?’ It would be insane, as well as present you as very insecure. So why do companies behave like this? Some websites barely open before they throw up a feedback box, or when you walk out of an airport lavatory there are a line of face buttons asking you how it was.

holidayauto feedback

Remember it’s about what you can do for your customers, not about whether they like.

When is the right time to ask for feedback?

Feedback surveys are typically automatically triggered when a customer passes through a transaction moment, such as completing a quote, purchasing a product or logging in to their account. There are many points, but it’s only those which impact the customers decision making that matter. If the customer is browsing around a store, very much in information gathering mode, to capture their contact details to then ask them how was the experience will feel ‘too much’ from the customers perspective, however useful it is to the company. Or, if you ask for feedback midway through an insurance claims application being assessed, the answer you will get will differ from when the case is settled.

I worked with a client who wanted to understand where challenges occurred in their customer journeys. We discovered through focus groups that for 80% of the time, there were no problems. But 1 in 5 touchpoints caused some pain. We then mapped the VoC feedback surveys over the journey maps to discover that because the system could not serve a feedback survey via email (chosen channel), none of the 20% of pain points were surveyed. So it was only if the customer chose to mention them in other surveys did we find out. Train your customer feedback to focus on the real issues.

And finally, what do you do next?

What you do with your customer feedback is the most important aspect of VoC. Why will customers continue to give you help with what you need to fix if you dont do anything. It’s the equivalent of saying ‘talk to the hand because the face ain’t listening’. It maybe the customer wants a slice of the moon and you can’t deliver that. But whether you can fix what’s broken (and if it’s your world you should be able to fix anything), or it’s a factor beyond your control (e.g. regulation), let them know! It’s amazing the value customers place on a company letting them know that:

  • your feedback is very appreciated
  • we recognise you are helping us
  • we treat is with respect and value your comments
  • we will review your feedback and decide how to act upon it
  • your voice, and others will shape our priorities
  • your voice, and others will improve our experience we provide to you
  • your voice, and others has inspired other improvements
  • even if we cant make a change, we will explain why

In our roles at work we all value feedback. Customers are no different. When they send a survey off into the unknown, they don’t know what happens next. Tell them. It will increase confidence in you and lead to an increased likleihood to complete more surveys in the future.

An App from @Limetropy called I-Together puts customer feedback in to the hands of all employees to collaborate remotely to arrive at new outcomes, and rewards them for their contribution.

In conclusion, if want feedback to improve the experience we provide to customers, to increase their choice of ours over others, we have to ensure the customers benefits from both the experience of the feedback request as well as the resulting experience improvements.

At Clientship we can help you assess the effectiveness of your VoC programme to ensure you and your customers are getting the maximum advantage from it.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, MD Clientship Customer Experience Specialists

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