Designing Effective Customer Satisfaction Surveys

When customers want to feel effective, they can be motivated to take customer research surveys. The easier it is to do this, the more likely they will be to fully comply. The more compelling the invitation to participate, the more likely it is you will get the results you need.

Just as surveys give information that improves results, surveys that follow specific guidelines have more chance for capturing the necessary information. Design template choices can be pivotal for specific results. As with most things, the simpler it is to comply, the more likely it is you will get your needs met.
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Improve Your Customer Surveys

It is vitally important for you to take every aspect of your business seriously. If you don’t, the product you provide will decline, your customers will look for other companies and you’ll eventually fall out of business.

Because of this, it is important to know every inch of the company. Every aspect that is both visible to the customers and visible to only those working for the business. Although there are internal checks you can perform, the best way to understand how outsiders perceive the business is through customer surveys. Continue reading

Aligning Customer Research with Business Objectives

Customers should be should be at the forefront when decisions are made regarding a company’s products and services. Businesses that are customer-centric are shown to have more success than businesses that are purely profit driven. As a market research manager, it is good to be close to your buyers. Continue reading

Customer Experience & Data Analytics Take Center Stage

Improving customer experience has been reported as one of the top priorities for businesses in 2012. Some companies are even adding a new C-level position to their rosters, Chief Customer Officer (CCO).

Data Analytics

A big driver of this focus on customer experience can be attributed to the gold mine of information gleaned from data analytics. There is so much information available about consumers’ likes and dislikes that companies can analyze the data to build a better experience.

While all this information is great, companies must be cautious in how they extract and use the data. If companies extract only the information which validates their decision making, the customer takes a backseat and all the progress from this data analytics will be lost.

Customer Needs

The bottom line is that the customer should always be the top priority for the business. Yes, businesses should be making solid, innovative products. However, if the customer isn’t interested in buying the product, then the product will have no audience. Before you consider launching a new product, you should listen to what your customers are saying and identify their needs.

Brand Experience

In addition to offering solutions to customer needs, it’s important to ensure the customer has a great experience with the brand. If the customer, again and again, has a bad experience in your store, or with your product, or with your sales force, you can bet that your product will have limited reach. The customer experience should be top-of-mind from production to manufacturing, and from distribution to sales & support-it is paramount in cementing a good relationship between the consumer and your brand.

Creating a Customer Engagement Culture (Part 3)

This post, Creating a Customer Engagement Culture, is the last installment in the customer engagement trilogy.  In it, I examine the recommendations of the authors of the article, Creating an Engagement Culture, published in Chief Learning Officer Magazine.

“Improving employee and customer engagement is hard and there are few models to guide leaders on how to achieve it.” – Leimbach, Michael & Roth, Tim, (2011) Creating an Engagement Culture, Chief Learning Officer Magazine.

The primary lesson I took away from the article was that focusing solely on customer engagement strategies ignores your employees who, after all, are the people engaging your customers.  If your employees have not made an emotional choice to be loyal to your company they’re not as effective when engaging your customers.  According to the authors there are 5 areas leadership and their managers must strategically align to create a customer engagement culture: Opportunity, Personal Accountability, Validation, Inclusion and Community.

As the quote above says, creating a customer engagement culture isn’t easy.  It’s also not impossible.

5 Key Components to Creating a Customer Engagement Culture

  1. Opportunity – Focus on potential rather than on loss.  Focus on growth rather than survival.  Create an environment where employees feel they are engaged in a process that recognizes personal contribution as necessary for company success.
  2. Personal Accountability – Set, Communicate and Measure behavioral expectations that support company values.  This task is about aligning what you do (task specific) with how to behave while doing it (action specific). Achieving this objective may require manager communication training to reinforce, support and clarify expectations.
  3. Validation – Acknowledge and encourage everyday performance, not just the top performers.  When leadership validates its employee’s efforts they send a signal that employees matter.  It is the daily affirmation, a note, a kind word, or a gesture that says, “Hey, employee, you matter and we notice.” that makes employees feel personally supported and valued.
  4. Inclusion – Change is difficult but when Leadership engages employees in the change process they achieve buy in when change decisions are made inclusive. Imposing change from above creates resistance but effective dialogue resulting from leadership listening to employees, incorporating the best suggestions into the change process and regular, positive communication creates a sense of community and trust that flows upward from employees to leadership.
  5. Community – A term I often hear regarding business cultures is “silos”. Departmental, informational, operational and other silos of isolation contribute to “not my department” or “not my job” attitudes. Seeking a high engagement culture in your company means tearing down the silos and building community engagement halls where information, goals, success stories and failure challenges are shared and acknowledged; a place where collaboration is encouraged.

Stating the obvious, there is nothing said here about creating systems to encourage customer engagement as a cultural value.  Instead, the authors focus on what your company can do to align executive and management leadership around the values of an engaged culture.

I agree with the author’s that engagement is a choice made by your employees and customers.  It is not something that can be imposed.  They conclude that a culture of engagement is one where the conditions under which engagement can occur have been met, thereby providing your employees – and by extension your customers – an opportunity to choose to be fully engaged with your company.

I think most of us would agree that it’s not easy but it’s also not impossible.

Measuring Customer Engagement (Part 2)

In the first article of this series we discussed common characteristics of an engaged customer. In this article we’ll look at measuring customer engagement.

Measuring customer engagement is a process that begins with a clear objective followed by determining measurement metrics, then data gathering and of course, analysis and reporting.

Defining Engagement Measurement Goals

The goal is simple: Is what we are doing working?” Answering this question requires an examination of internal customer and financial data to profile the engagement characteristics of profitable, repeat (loyal) customers and compare them to customers that are less engaged.

Define the Metrics for Engagement

Examine the channels of customer involvement: POS, Website, Call centers, trials and demos etc. engaged customers utilize.  These channels, when measured, contain the data  points used for measuring customer engagement and present the frame work for establishing a measurement goal.   To minimize the complexity of the measurement and to reduce the cost in dollars and time, less is more.  It is better to closely examine several key metrics than to inundate the analysts with reams of data from every touch point or interaction.

Gather the Data

For many companies data gathering possesses challenges related to data ownership and data reporting channels.  The specialized software and tools used to gather web analytics, marketing campaign management and loyalty club data typically belong to Marketing, while call center, agent analytics, IVR analytics and contact center platforms belong to operations or IT.  Consolidating this data for cross analysis with financial data is a keystone for successfully measuring customer engagement.

Reporting

In the simplest sense, what to do with the information gleaned from a consolidated data analysis is straightforward: get the analysis into the hands of the decision makers.  But that is only half the reporting story.  The data must be fed back into the data pool for action by the various touch point channels in the form of recommended action so that, after implementation, the result of the action is compared with prior data to determine the efficacy of the change.  This process, repeating itself constantly, provides a substantial  customer engagement level and an engagement strategy success picture on an ongoing basis allowing for continuous adjustment to maximize return on the engagement strategy investment.

Whew!

Isn’t There a Single System or Process?

If measuring customer engagement seems a bit convoluted and anything but straight forward it’s because it is convoluted and anything but straightforward.

Some engagement metrics are extremely difficult to obtain and quantify.  On line data is much easier to capture than off line data.  It’s not easy to capture data that isn’t typically recorded; like time in store, number of items reviewed or compared on a shelf before a purchase decision, etc.  It is also difficult to correlate some data types to a specific customer.  Anonymous data such as that obtained from surveys, cash purchases or web site visits do little to enhance the customer engagement profile.

There is no single methodology or formula to plug into your business model to measure customer engagement. The complexity of measurement requires individualized, company wide programs tailored to fit the needs of your business.

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Knowing the profile of an engaged customer in your organization and having the ability to measure customer engagement are but two of the three legs required to successfully create fully engaged, loyal and repeat customers. The third leg is creating a customer engagement culture, bottom-to-top, top-to-bottom, so that your customers are effectively engaged at every stage of interaction with your company, before, during and after the sale, and the next sale and the next….

The final post in this discussion explores some prevalent methods for creating a culture well suited to customer engagement.

Establishing Deeper Connections with Customer Engagement

This article is the first in a three part series exploring the twin concepts of customer engagement and the engaged customer.  Some CEOs, especially in the SaaS arena describe an engaged customer and a non-engaged customer like describing the difference between a Van Gogh and overstock office art , “I don’t know much about art, but I do know what I like.”

What is an Engaged Customer?

An engaged customer is engaged by your company on two fronts: (i) before, up to, and including the point of sale and (ii) during the life cycle (use) of the product or service.  Recent research has shown that an engaged customer exhibits three specific traits that, if identified, promoted and supported within your organization, translates directly to a better bottom line.

Common Attributes of an Engaged Customer

Customer Loyalty

A hallmark of an engaged customer, loyalty is an essential trait for survivability in the current slower paced and more costly market place.  It costs less to maintain (for repeat business) a current customer than to identify, attract and convert a new one.  The slower pace refers to the lower rate of business transactions rather than the frenzied pace of product development.

Customer Interaction

Customer interaction refers to the customer’s relationship with your company.  Interactions occur on line and off line, before and after the sale.The type, quality and frequency of these interactions have a huge impact on maintaining an engaged customer.

Customer Feedback/Input

Providing a means for customers to provide feedback and input about your product or service creates a sense of involvement in the process of determining what the consumer wants.  If your average customer’s input has an identifiable impact on your product offering, they are more likely to buy the product or update once it is available.

The Point Is…

The methods of engagement vary but most commonly involve an interaction before there is a problem or complaint.  On line; product reviews, product ratings, surveys and live chat are recent customer engagement examples.  Check-in calls to customers, special events at retail outlets, unique purchasing opportunities and loyalty point programs are examples of off line engagement.

Regardless of the method, the goal of engagement is to create a deep connection with customers. Your customer’s involved relationship and emotional brand attachment are competitive advantages that are difficult for competitors to overcome.  This leads to the question, “How do you measure customer engagement?”  That is the topic of the 2nd article in this series.