If you work in marketing management or marketing research you are no doubt familiar with customer satisfaction (CS) programs. Some CS programs, created in the hope of helping businesses become more customer-centric, fail to deliver against this noble objective.
As a result, “customer satisfaction” reporting systems have reached an inflection point. We must move away from rote “report card” thinking to much more nimble feedback systems that support real-time response and intervention. We need a rapid, feedback-driven interaction model based on a “customer response system”, or CRS. This approach is NOT equivalent to assessing a customer's "experience" or "journey": this is a problem-solution model based on continuous improvement principles. Refer to W. Edwards Deming for a deeper understanding.
Below are 10 areas to consider before building a customer response system (CRS). If you have a customer satisfaction program already in place, consider these ideas to improve the effectiveness of your company’s program. Or, you also can call us to help you build one.
#1 Management Buy-In
CRS programs that have the endorsement of senior management have the greatest chance of success. A company must be invested in a never-ending journey to improve its products and services to the benefit of the end-customer.
#2 Key Touch Points
A comprehensive assessment of all possible customer touch points needs to be made across the organization. As the number of discrete touch points increases, fewer questions should be asked per point.
#3 Link Measures To Processes
Broad measures are unusable for decision-making because they fail to provide the linkage between a problem and the process that created it. Your CRS program’s goal should be to provide granular feedback to help improve the overall system.
#4 Minimize Feedback Time Lag
Strive for immediate feedback whenever possible after every transaction or consumer touch point. In psychological experiments, memory decay occurs in a matter of minutes.
#5 Strike A Balance
Every company must find the optimal balance between respondent burden and actionability. Broad measures are insufficient to provide precise guidance. A person’s “willingness to recommend” is an abstraction and usually inappropriate in most categories.
#6 Link Touchpoint Measures
Think longitudinally and link data points together using a unique ID. Feedback must be obtained at multiple touch points, yet by minimizing the number of questions per interaction, we have a higher probability of obtaining high-quality data across the feedback chain.
#7 Append Transactional Data
Do not ask customers questions that you already have on file. CRS programs should append descriptive data to the customer record. Consider reverse populating your data warehouse or CRM system with CRS variables to determine improvement longitudinally.
#8 Issue Immediate Alerts & Promote Recontact
Whether using a DIY survey tool or an enterprise-wide platform, use alerts and triggers to rectify problems. Alerts give you an opportunity to pick up the phone and call the customer – and in so doing, forge stronger bonds with customers.
#9 Emphasize Light Users & New Customers
Break out light buyers and new customers when analyzing CRS data. Measures are affected more by changes in new or lighter buyers than by loyal customers because there are more of them.
Since you are interviewing your own customers, you are only seeing a single slice of your market. Aggregate-level reporting can lull a company into a false sense of security by masking outliers. Always report the number of alerts by discrete category for validity and impact.
Programs that assess “customer satisfaction” are giving way to much more nimble “customer response” systems (CRS) that go beyond high-level report cards and abstract measures. These systems capture feedback on specific characteristics linked to discrete processes. They generate immediate alerts to appropriate team members to foster near-instant intervention.
A more exhaustive version of this post will appear in the January 2018 issue of Quirks Marketing Research review. (c) 2018 by Robert Walker.