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Net Promoter Score “Itis”
Surveying has gotten out of hand. Anytime people fly, stay at a hotel, shop, bank, call customer service, use a website, visit a hospital, or even go out to eat, they are asked to complete a survey. Asking for feedback is great, but only if the information is going to be used to fix or change something. However, this is not the case for a surprisingly (and disappointingly) large number of organizations. Too many companies seem to think that asking customers or prospects for their input is enough. Well it isn’t. Companies should immediately stop any surveying program where the survey itself is the only associated action item.
Surveying without Change is a Waste of Time
Surveying customers for their opinions about products and services should be a high-value activity for the organization and customer. This can be achieved if there is a surveying or voice of the customer (VoC) strategy supported by processes and systems that convert feedback into action items on a timely basis. Unfortunately, too many companies are surveying in the hope of receiving high rankings to use for marketing purposes, not to identify the underlying issues that are negatively impacting their customers, brand and bottom line.
There is also a misconception about how to perform surveys. There are many who believe that asking one question – such as are you “likely to recommend” a company – is a great indicator of customer satisfaction. This is certainly a useful question, particularly if the people being surveyed are happy with a company’s products and services. However, when dissatisfaction is high, this question does nothing to identify the underlying reasons, which means that a company does not know what to fix.
But it gets worse. Some companies send out short surveys with 2 to 3 questions, and then kick off longer questionnaires to customers/prospects who express dissatisfaction in the initial survey. These companies clearly believe that their customers/prospects have nothing better to do than respond to surveys. In the name of measuring the voice of the customer, too many companies have lost sight of what is important, namely putting the customer first.
It’s essential to survey customers, but rationality must prevail. When a company sends out a short survey and instructs respondents that complaints should not be put it in the survey because they won’t be read, there is something wrong. Any company that uses these surveying practices needs to rethink their approach.
Surveying Best Practices
Surveying is an essential business function. Even with all of the outstanding new analytics applications in the market, the best way to determine if a customer is satisfied with a company’s products and services is still to ask. If you’re going to survey your customers and prospects, please do it right, as every company that does it wrong – and there are way too many – discourage customers from providing needed feedback. Here are a few best practices for building an effective surveying program that generates useful, timely and actionable results that can help enhance customer satisfaction while improving the bottom line:
- Build a company-wide surveying or VoC strategy so that customers are only surveyed on a periodic basis but not more than once every 6 months. (It’s fine to use a variety of survey tools, but make sure that each customer is only receives one every 6 months.)
- Share survey results with all relevant departments within a company.
- Survey customers/prospects as close to an event as possible.
- Allow customers to provide free form responses to a survey.
- Analyze all survey results.
- Apply findings on a timely basis; research all issues identified by customers/prospects, and fix them.
It’s essential to find out how customers and prospects feel about a business, be it a large enterprise, airline, doctor or restaurant. Customers/prospects are generally willing to provide feedback, but only if they think it’s going to be used. Any company that is not planning on applying the findings, and plans to survey only in the hope of earning bragging rights, should definitely rethink their approach.
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Ask the Experts
What are the top social media solutions for contact centers?
The IT landscape for applications designed to help customer service and contact centers handle social media interactions is immature, but is expected to come on strong in the next three years. Three established IT sectors are currently offering solutions to help organizations handle large volumes of customer service-oriented social media interactions:
Contact center infrastructure vendors: The basic definition of contact center infrastructure social media solutions is solutions that have the ability to queue and route social media interactions and deliver them to agents, just as they would any other interaction channel. In most cases contact center infrastructure vendors are modifying their universal queue to enable it to address social media interactions in the same manner as calls, emails, faxes, and SMS. Contact centers equipped with this capability can promote a consistent customer experience regardless of the contact channel used. Example vendors: Avaya, Cisco, Genesys, Interactive Intelligence, and others
Customer relationship management vendors: Service environments, whether contact centers or customer service departments, need an application to track all customer inquiries or complaints, regardless of the channel in which they arrive. When it comes to handling social media, service organizations also need a tool to deliver the interaction/post/comment to the agent or individual who is going to respond to it. (This person will do a much better job if they can see the entire customer journey and everything already done on behalf of the customer.) Agents/employees also need an environment in which they can draft a response for posting. Example vendors: Lithium Technologies, salesforce.com, and others.
Text analytics vendors: Social media is the “killer” application that jump-started this market. Interest in text analytics is being driven by the need to extract relevant and actionable information from the vast unstructured and untapped body of social media posts, conversations and other communications such as blogs, text messages and Web chats. Organizations need text analytics to help them filter out and separate the interactions that require a response from those that are just “noise.” Example vendors: NICE, Verint, and others.
As social media is just another channel, although a very important one with many variations, it should be incorporated into the enterprise’s overall servicing framework. The unique characteristics and demands of social media comments, however, require this channel to have some specialized applications. There are dozens of applications already available in the market, and new ones are being introduced to help organizations handle the social media challenge. To date, most of these applications have been designed to assist marketing organizations, as these departments have traditionally borne the primary responsibility for social media interactions. However, this is starting to change, and more contact center and customer-service-oriented applications are starting to enter the market.
DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.