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What if it was Easy?

Why Track Customer Satisfaction?

Tracking customer satisfaction is a key first step to increasing customer satisfaction and strengthening a business.  It’s important and easier than ever to do, so why isn’t everyone doing it?

It turns out that managing Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) is a bit like managing our weight.

We all know we should...
We know the risks if we don’t…
We know we’ll get around to it, any day now...

Just as there are risks to ignoring aspects of our physical health, there are real risks to ignoring your customers’ opinions.  One might cry foul and say, “We’d never ignore our customers! The customer is key to our commercial health!”  That may be true, but if you’re not tracking CSAT, you can’t really know where you stand.
Risks of failing to track CSAT include turning customers off and away. It’s well established that people are more likely to tell their friends about a bad experience than a good one.  A recent poll showed that “nearly 70% of U.S. consumers say that they have had an unsatisfactory service interaction in the past 12 months.”  This should raise red flags because customer experience directly correlates to both purchase intent and word of mouth.  

Also risky to businesses is the fact customers feel freer than ever to jump ship and try a new business when they feel they’re not getting great service.  They are quick to turn to social media to broadcast news of their poor experience.  It’s up to businesses to track customer sentiment, and act on customer suggestions and complaints before they walk away, before they pour negative reviews onto the internet via social media.

Businesses that ignore customer service certainly do so at their own peril, and perhaps are doomed anyway, but there are organizations out there that are missing tremendous opportunity. 

Part of the problem is perception, as businesses naturally like to focus on what they are doing, even if in reality, it’s not all they could or should be doing. (Look Ma! I got SIX out of TEN answers right on my test. Where’s my cookie?)

After all, these companies are not IGNORING, customers, they have call centers running 24-7 for Pete’s sake.  Alas, this is not enough.

Customer Expectation vs. Satisfaction

Baseline support is not enough.  If a business can exceed customer expectations, the business begins to create real strategic value in the contact center.

The relationship between expectation and satisfaction is simple enough, and not too many would argue with it at this point; the challenge for businesses is to understand that expectations will continue to rise and the CRM strategy of the organization has to plan on changing with the customer. This can be a pitfall for organizations - what was good enough yesterday is not good enough today, and unfortunately, what’s good enough today is not going to be good enough tomorrow.

So we have a moving target – the Satisfied Customer. The customer is moving your goalpost – no fair!  If we agree that the customer is always moving, a quick and easy way to track them down is to simply ask them. “How are you feeling about us today? What can we do better?”

We’re regained our focus on the customer.  Now that we’re rededicated to top tier customer service, how do we begin?  By measuring satisfaction - by ASKING customers what they think.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys

So how are your customers feeling?

How do you know?

Without measuring, you’re just guessing, and if you’re like most folks, you’re probably kidding yourself. The tricky part may be hitting the sweet spot in designing your survey.

Returncustomer.com suggests that the best way to gather data is to survey your customers. Getting people to spend their valuable time on a survey can be tricky. You don’t want to be a bother, so it’s best to keep surveys brief, definitely under 8 questions.

User opt-in participation is likely to be quite low, so remember that any response is better than none. A survey is an effective tool, for detecting trouble, but when addressing issues, bring your trained staff to bear. 

When customers have problems and complaints, a personal contact goes a long way towards soothing their pain. Their pain is almost always based in frustration, so it’s worthwhile to consider some small giveaway or freebie to make the customer remember they are your one true love and to make them forget they were mad.  Keeping customers is always cheaper than signing new ones.

CSAT Surveys

Gather customer feedback using an automated survey.

What makes a good survey?

  1. A quality customer satisfaction should be short, preferably no more than 5 questions, never more than 10.  You don’t want to hassle your happy customers until they become UNhappy.
  2. Many organizations build their surveys around the core NET PROMOTER SCORE question - would you recommend us to a friend?
  3. This may sound obvious, but make sure your questions are clear, and the choice of answer unambiguous.
  4. Professionally record your prompts.
  5. Give the customer a chance to speak for themselves.  Always give the customer a freeform space to vent their grievances or praise what they like.  Free form questions in an online survey, or the chance to leave a voicemail in a phone survey prevents poor survey design from totally skewing your data. Give the customer a chance to be a real agent on their own behalf.  If you let them, they’ll tell you what they like and what they don’t.
  6. Reward customers whenever possible. Provide discounts, giveaways, and prizes for participation.
  7. Keep track of the results - try to link surveys to the agents the people worked with.
  8. Act on customer suggestions. It is unforgivable to ask customers what they could reasonably want and then fail to deliver.  If you don’t deliver, they’ll find someone who will.

Leveraging Technology

So you’re already nodding your head, “I know, I know…”  So why don’t we do what we know we should?  It’s just like our health. Eating less and exercising more is a very simple idea that can actually be very hard to implement.   Gathering CSAT data can be hard! Create a website, create an IVR. Buy hardware, program a survey, work with IT to plan, design, implement, support and maintain.  It’s a never ending headache! And that’s just getting set up.

Then there’s routing the customers to surveys, and monitoring the results. It’s non-trivial, and it can be a daunting prospect.

Automating a CSAT survey is a quick way to gain an insight into customers’ state of mind.  Automated is the way to go, because conducting live surveys is a waste of valuable human being time. Let a machine do this kind of repetitive work.

So what if it was easy to track CSAT?

IVR and Telephony used to be a real chore. A telephony deployment at a minimum, involved servers, specialized telephony hardware, phone lines and the contracts that go with them.  It was one more maintenance and support headache for IT, or at least another vendor to manage. Making a change required a programmer and/or an engagement with the IVR vendor.

The good news is that things have improved and businesses have a lot of options these days for gathering data.  Tools like Survey Monkey and cloud IVR platforms like Twilio and Tropo make it easy to deploy feature rich IVR without purchasing and maintaining expensive telephony hardware.

With the advent of cloud telephony there’s no need to invest in IVR hardware or the staff to maintain.  There’s no need to pay fees for telephony t runks you may or may not uses.

Cloud solutions generally allow users to pay only transport charges for calls made – so you only pay for what you need. Where in the past a supplemental survey module would need to be integrated with an existing PBX framework, now the application stands on its own.

Advantages of a cloud telephony solution include:

  • No telephony trunks to manage (and no ongoing fees with a telephone carrier)
  • No specialized hardware
  • Disaster recovery is improved in most cases by moving a non-critical application to the cloud
  • Quick development via SDK
  • Pay per use only
  • Free up IT staff and server resources

In a Nutshell...

The best way to find out what customers think is to ASK THEM!

Consider using automated surveys, but please, Keep it short!

Provide rewards, and ACT on the feedback!

Chris Burgoyne is a Quality and Delivery Manager for Vision Point Systems. He holds a Masters degree from Virginia Tech University.