15 okt 5 ways of capturing the customer feedback
In the world of Customer Satisfaction and Customer Experience Management there are a thousand ways of getting to know the emotion and opinion of the customer. On the internet there are also a thousand discussions why some questions and methods are good or why they are bad. What wonders me is that some people speak really confident about the arguments and reasons why to use one and not the other. It wonders me, because there is no scientific proof that one method is always better than another. It is funny to see that one reason to promote one method also is a reason to promote another method. The same with declining a method. During my time of reading about capturing the customer opinion, satisfaction or experience, some things are popping up. I would like to share it with you.
1. A customer is always right
Let me make one thing clear: whoever the customer is, how important or how loyal he may be and he says something you don’t like, he is always right. Whatever the customer thinks, says, writes and tweets, the truth is always there. There can be a thousand reasons why it happened to this customer, or that he sees it wrong and the service was meant to be different, in this moment this customer gives his opinion and that has a lot of value and truth. Especially on social media but also on other locations, never discuss with your customer that he is not ‘right’ or he ‘sees it wrong’. That can be the case, but solve it and explain what happened. Help the customer by answering the question or to change his feeling. That helps more than discuss who is wrong or right. “Winning a discussion is losing the customer.”
2. There is not one question to ask everything
In all the books and company websites I read, someone pretends he has the one killer question that solves all the problems. My respond to this: stop dreaming! There is not one question which can answer it all. With the Net Promoter Score you measure loyalty, with the Customer Effort Score you measure level of effort, with customer satisfaction you measure how satisfied a customer is, etc. All these individual questions ask one type of question, and not all of them. Clear to me. And to you? Choosing your question depends what you want to measure. It’s impossible to improve your service by asking the CSAT question only. It’s impossible to get insight in loyalty by only asking the NPS question. If you want to know everything, ask everything. If you want to focus on one subject, ask all the questions necessary about this subject. But keep in mind that one question is not measuring the customer experience and not giving the full insights you want. I am really sorry.A lot of professionals would disagree with me on this one and it takes years for ending this discussing. I know. Answering one question gives indeed a direction, but it can never be on its own to improve customer experience.
3. One channel is not the experience
In a lot of companies I see customer feedback systems implemented in one channel or one department. They measure it in a specific spot and they relay on this outcomes for changing processes, systems and even employees. Dangerous and scary. Sometimes they even have a KPI which has the CSAT score or NPS score and it’s in the performance management sheet of every employee in that channel or in that department. Painful and disgusting. The world has changed and also the customer has changed. When a customer has an experience in a store and you ask him on the spot what he thinks about the service and experience, you can bet this opinion is influenced by so many other aspects. Like e.g. other touchpoints, competition in the same street or personal emotions in that moment. Let’s say that the customer looked for the address or opening hours on the website and then he comes to the store. The quality of the website has impact on the experience in the store. Why? Because if the website says the store can be find easily and in fact, due to a lot of circumstances, it is not, the emotion is negative by the start. Then the store experience needs to fix this first. It can also be the other way around. When the customer had a nice experience on the internet and the store is a mess, there was still a positive feeling before entering the store. There was credit in the first place. And then I am not even talking about the traffic jams, a closed coffee place or the rain that fell down unexpectedly. The influence of indirect actions and happenings is huge, keep that in mind when asking in one channel or in one department what the customer thinks of ‘your’ service in that moment.
4. A questionnaire is hardly asking an opinion
How many questionnaires do you get per week? 2, 4, 10? One thing is clear, answering them is a lot of work. It’s clear that customers don’t want to answer 40 questions which takes them ‘only’ 10 minutes of their time for each questionnaire. And clicking in a form on some buttons has the potential risk that the customer is not telling the truth. Because e.g. he is in a hurry, doesn’t feel that good in that moment because of the a bad lunch or doesn’t like the color of the background of the website. I am saying that a list of questions filled in by the customer behind his computer of on his phone in a complete unknown environment, has the risk of not being true at all. You need to know so much more about this customer, the moment that he fills the questionnaire and what he feels at that moment, that it is impossible to only use this method in your business strategy or process improvement team. It’s not that you shouldn’t do a questionnaire, but be aware of the risks and always analyze it with this in mind. Combine this with other ways of capturing the feedback.
All these warnings are described in one way or another, in the book of Daniel Kahneman; Thinking, fast and slow.
What does work?
1. Do it all
To really capture the opinion of the customer, do it all! All of the described methods, questions, locations and moment, combine them all to capture the real opinion of the customer. Only then you will get a complete view of what the customer thinks, feels, wants and needs. This means a questionnaire, in person, one question only and more questions in a list, different channels, different moments, different customers, etc. Combine it and you have a complete view.
2. Do it often
Once a month or once a year asking a customer what he thinks of your service is not enough. Measuring the customer feedback needs continuous attention and action. Do it real time and do it always. Have your customer feedback system up and running all the time in all the channels. This gives you the opportunity to compare opinions over time and place.
3. Do it personal
The best way of capturing the customers feedback is to do it personal, or at least as personal as possible. On the phone, in the store or in a chat. Asking it personally gives you the chance to ask for reasons and to avoid misinterpretation. To get the truth you need skilled employees andNext to the personal capturing in interviews, you also need an anonymous feedback system. Having both is necessary for comparing, because doing it only personal or only anonymous makes no sense.Asking a customer about his experience in an interview may feel expensive, but there are a lot of proven examples that only 8 customers can give you the same story and insights as 100+ filled questionnaires. So invest in these interviews.
4. Do it everywhere
Asking your customers what they think of you should not be done in one or two channels, like a store and on the phone. Do it in all the possible touchpoints, like the internet site, on social media, after an ad campaign, on the street, at an event, in an e-mail, after sending a letter, etc. Only then you capture the feedback about all the experiences. And then you can determine where in the Customer Journey you can and want to improve.
5. Do it consistent
All the feedback questionnaires and systems you have, you need to ask in all the touchpoints the same questions. Only in that way you can compare and improve. This means that the questions should be exactly the same in all the channels and touchpoints. It’s easy, because you copy the questions you are already asking in one channel to the other. If a question does fit in one channel, but not in another, there is something wrong with the question. Change it or leave it out. Only questions that you can ask in all the channels support your way of capturing feedback across all your organization.
Customer Experience Management is not easy. But three things are important: personal, consistent and everywhere. Good luck.
Danny Peters is Customer Experience consultant at Conexperience, specialized in Customer Journey Mapping and Customer Experience Management. He works mostly for large companies in Customer Experience projects and is exclusive partner of Touchpoint Dashboard for The Netherlands. Touchpoint Dashboard is the online Customer Journey Mapping software.
Photo is from a Customer Arena at Orange Romania, organized by me, hired by Bureau12, a Dutch consultancy company for improving customer service.