Improving customer experience can be done with customer feedback, by listening to customers, talking to customers, asking & surveying them.

By Peg Ayers

In a recent post, we looked at the cost of providing a poor Customer Experience (CX).  A 2019 survey, which interviewed more than 6,000 consumers in Australia, Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States says 72% of respondents said, “I am loyal to a certain brand, but as soon as I have a bad experience with them, I move on.” (Acquia Survey). Research suggests the cost of providing bad CX is climbing rapidly, from $20 Billion USD annually in 2013 to $62B in 2016 (Forbes-Hyken) to $83B in 2017 (Customer Think-Jaiswal).   We looked at how you can improve it by listening to your employees and acting on their suggestions (TRG Blog March 2020).  Here we’ll look at how direct feedback from customers can be gathered with little expense and lead to significant process improvements.

Customers are the best source for understanding the Customer Experience, and there are a number of sophisticated methods for gathering their feedback.  Some companies have large departments dedicated to Customer Experience and analysis of customer opinion.  But what if you’re a Customer Experience leader with no extra budget to spend?  Are you left to guess how happy customers are with their experience with your organization?  Not at all.  There are several low-cost methods of gathering feedback from your customers.

Call Customers

Set aside a few hours each week to call customers who reached out to your Customer Service group within the prior week.  Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system may make that easy for you, offering you a report of recent interactions from which to choose.  You may need a query to your phone system, looking for incoming calls and matching them to customer profiles.

You could look at customer spend to determine whom to call, but don’t ignore the small customers—maybe they’re just getting started and could turn into your best customers over time.  If your customers are part of a particular Sales Rep’s book of business, you may want to check with Sales before making calls.  You don’t want to inadvertently step into the middle of a sensitive negotiation.

Once you’ve identified customers to call, reach out for their feedback.  You’ll want to make it clear that you’re the head of the department, so they understand this isn’t a standard survey.  You’re interested in any advice they might have on how to improve your operation.  This is a conversation of peers, and the only goal is to learn what you can do better.  Follow up with a handwritten note of thanks for their time and opinion, and you may create a customer for life.

Each call will take time, and you may get a lot of feedback to work on, so don’t try to do too many at one time.  Involve your team in turning the feedback into action items.  Create a system to keep track of the feedback, actions, due dates, responsible people and results.

If your customers contact your company by email or chat, you should reach out to them on the channel they used originally, but try to move the conversation to the phone if you can, for better give and take.

Listen to Customers

If your business is conducted mostly on the phone, you probably have a system for supervisors or quality analysts to listen to calls and assess the quality of the calls.  You can use that same system to listen to calls, but you’re listening for something different.  You want to know how you can improve the experience of that customer and all your customers.  You’re totally putting yourself in the shoes of the customer during the call.  Pretend you don’t know the correct procedures, just approach it as if you know nothing about your business.  Focus on the experience:  how easy is it for the customer to deal with you?

This needs to be done regularly, and you can use the same follow-up system as you created for the phone call feedback.  While the phone call feedback can’t be delegated, this listening for experience can be, as long as the person who’s doing it understands the difference between this and quality monitoring and has a true process-improvement mindset.

Talk to Customers

There may be nothing more educational for a Customer Experience executive than taking customer calls or handling customer chats.  Aside from the amazing credibility it will earn you with your staff, you’ll gain insight into the experience of both the customer and the employee.  You’ll need enough basic training to handle the systems and converse with the customers.  Keep an experienced person by your side, because you’re likely to run into unfamiliar situations.  Taking a few calls during a 15-minute period once a week (free break pass for someone?) will give you plenty of material for your process-improvement action planning group.

Survey Customers

Survey providers like Survey Monkey create another opportunity for customer feedback.  You can write a short survey and send it out weekly to a percentage of customers who contacted you the prior week.  Make your survey invitation personal and avoid sending more than one to the same customer.  One open ended question like, “What can we do to make it easier for you to work with us?” is better than a bunch of yes/no answers.  You can even change the question each week to see what gets the best response.  If you have resources to devote, you can create a more sophisticated survey or even a post-call Customer Satisfaction (CSat) measurement like the Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Getting involved with your customers pays dividends in terms of improving Customer Experience and costs only your time.  As an extra bonus, the more engaged you are, the more engaged your employees will become. We can help you with all of this and much more.  Just CLICK HERE to schedule a free consultation.

Please Contact ApexCX for all your customer experience needs.

(May 1, 2020)