A few years back, I became responsible for overseeing customer satisfaction surveys in our company. I was excited to jump in and figure out a way to ensure our company strategy was in alignment with our customer’s needs.
Prior to 2012, Signature engaged an outside company to administer the surveys. Since we only sent out surveys once a year, we thought we needed to get as much information as possible from our customers. Sounds good in theory, right?
We spent pain staking amounts of time stewing over questions. Which questions were must haves? We needed specific questions centered on current training delivery, but we also needed standard satisfaction questions. And then there were our other services – shopping and coaching, we needed feedback on those too. And then we needed just some open ended feedback questions.
As you can imagine, with all those questions, we received mounds and mounds of data from our customers. The next step was to interpret the data. We began slicing and dicing the data in a million different ways and each time we came back and said, “wait, we forgot to slice it this way”. Our poor information technology team was ready to strangle each of us involved with the constant requests for a slightly different report.
Once we had the slices completed, we then needed to get the right people together to discuss the data and create action plans to ensure we took action based upon the customer feedback. I am sure you can imagine this did not take just one meeting, but multiple meetings. Invariably, we would ask, “hmmm, are the number of responses large enough to make them statistically valid, to make changes based upon the feedback or change a direction in working with our customers?” There was a scientific answer to that question, but was it the right answer on how to proceed?
Finally, we knew that if we had asked our customers to take the time and tell us what they thought, we surely needed to figure out a way to let them know what we were doing about their suggestions, right?
The net of the above was a very pain staking process, which didn’t really end up helping us improve our customer service the way we had hoped. It was quite disappointing that we were making a customer feedback strategy so difficult.
Fast forward to 2013 and we decided to embrace the K.I.S.S. approach to obtaining customer feedback. You know, K.I.S.S., Keep It Simple Signature (others use another word for the last “S”). Our new strategy was to survey our customers three times a year, but with only two questions. One of the survey questions was simply to ask if a client would recommend Signature Worldwide (using a 10 point scale) and then the second question was to ask why the customer gave the rating. Seems simple enough, right?
Not so much. We started to get feedback from our customers that they were tired of answering the survey multiple times. And, while we got the answer to our “likely to recommend” question, the “why” question was very general in nature; making it difficult to form conclusions on what to do with the feedback.
Now what? We decided we liked getting the overall likelihood to recommend survey responses to be able to use on an ongoing based to gauge loyalty, but it was decided that we would only send out this particular survey once a year.
In order to address the general nature of the responses we received to the “why” question, we chose in 2014 to survey clients at the very specific service or transaction level.
This meant we surveyed our customers at the following touch points –right after a training event, right after they listened to a mystery shop call and right after they used our coaching on demand service. This allowed specific feedback for those services, but still asked the same two questions – likely to recommend and why or why not?
Since moving to the two-pronged approach of having a “high level” evaluation of our services annually, asking how likely a client is to recommend Signature Worldwide and then surveying those customers relative to specific services in 2014, we have a much more directional approach to understanding what our customers like about our services and what they don’t like.
Without a hundred meetings, we have been able to take some actions to directly impact what our customers are telling us we need to improve.
We have one major challenge left – we are still faced with giving our customers feedback on their feedback, which brings me to this blog and trying to make things easy!
In 2015, we are focused on making sure our customers know we not only appreciate their feedback, but we want them to know what we are doing with the feedback. Each quarter, a blog will be written sharing what we are hearing and what we are doing with the feedback received.
The intent of this first blog was to share with you what we learned about the whole customer feedback process. And I think I could summarize those lessons in 3 easy points.
- Ensure the survey is short.
- Gauge frequency of surveys with possible fatigue in mind.
- Utilize a process for sharing results of the survey with the customers taking it.
In essence, strive to take the customer feedback process from a long and winding road to as easy as 1…2…3.
In our next blog, we will begin to share with you what our customers have shared with us about our training, shopping and coaching and how we have been able to make some advances in all three areas.