Feedback. It is everywhere. We crave it, and possibly despise it. Every morning I look forward to reading the customer satisfaction results from the previous day’s closed cases.
This is the kind of feedback that makes my day:
“Your company has the best service of any company. They are knowledgeable and helpful - even when the mistake is mine. I appreciate their service very much.”
Receiving positive feedback reinforces that we are on the right track and doing a great job serving our customers. It is what fills our bucket.
On the flip side, this is the kind of feedback that makes us better:
“While I understand that not every problem can be solved quickly, or predictably so, some estimate of the time before a response/reply/solution is expected. Service was fine, and fast enough. Yet, it would have been helpful to be able to advise others when we might have an update on next steps.”
When a customer takes the time to provide constructive criticism, it is a chance for reflection to find out if there is a breakdown in process or execution.
I have been using a customer satisfaction tool for more than 10 years. I can’t imagine managing a support operation without it. It has helped me to better understand the needs of our customers, improve processes, and continuously improve the service provided by our team.
Gina spoke on this topic at a recent HDI Conference & Expo.
Setting Up the Customer Satisfaction Survey
There is much differentiation and opinion about surveying customers for input. Once you make the leap to solicit input, it matters less which method you chose (net promoter, customer-effort, customer satisfaction, or another popular metric of the day) and is more about what you do with the data. No one metric is best for all businesses. Once you find the best tool for your business and decide on your key performance indicators (KPIs), consider these tips:
- The survey should consume almost zero of your customer’s time. Make it easy for them to give feedback. Keep the survey quick and simple, with a focus on collecting the data points that you are willing and able to change.
- Communicate the importance of your survey to new customers so they understand their feedback is heard and taken into consideration. Customers that know that their opinion is reviewed are more likely to complete the survey.
- Are you proud of your survey? If not, then why should your customer bother to take it?
- If your survey response rate is below 10%, it could indicate that your survey is too cumbersome. For the most statistically sound data you want at least a 10% response rate.
- Send the survey to the customer at the optimum time. A survey that is sent once a year will provide you with different data than a survey that is sent immediately following a ticket being closed.
- Do you allow your customers to opt-out of receiving future surveys? Some customers will never complete a survey and will appreciate an opt-out option. Keep an eye on how many customers are opting out. If more than 5% of your customers are opting out of your survey you may want to review your survey and the execution of your survey.
- Define when your customer should get a survey? Every closed case? Are there some cases that shouldn’t trigger a case? If you do exclude certain cases, keep an eye on improper case designation (e.g., is an agent trying to divert a customer survey).
What to Do with the Survey Data
Collecting customer satisfaction data is the first step; just don’t fall into the trap of measuring and not managing. As we all know, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. For the best statistically sound results to evaluate your customer satisfaction data, you will want at least a 10% response rate.
- Once a survey is submitted by the customer, review the feedback and then promptly share the feedback with staff for coaching and kudos. Keep in mind, scores are great, but survey feedback is most meaningful.
- Respond promptly to negative customer feedback. Determine what your threshold is to follow up with the customer. The individuals that contact the customer to discuss the survey feedback should feel comfortable dealing with difficult situations and have a knack for focusing on positive outcomes rather than placing blame.
- Discuss and incorporate lessons learned in a timely fashion.
- During onboarding training, talk about how customer satisfaction surveys are used and how they will be measured.
- For reporting, determine what is needed. Who needs to see it? How often? Be sure your reporting is tied to your methodology so you can easily identify if a problem is a process, leadership, or training issue.
- Use your data for continuous improvement. Look for trends based on:
Time of year. Does your satisfaction dip during a certain time of the year?
Customer base. Watch for trends based on your customer’s profile. Are they a new customer, VIP, large customer, etc.
Type of cases. If you have a service catalog, consider monitoring customer satisfaction for offerings such as a service request, incident, or enhancement suggestion. Also consider breaking it down by the module or product offering.
Geography. Watch for trends based on where your customers are located. Are they supported by a different team? Is there a different product or process based on location?
Severity of issue. Critical priority issues can be stressful for your customer and your team. Keep an eye on customer satisfaction by your priority levels to ensure you’re hitting your goal across all severity levels.
Support agent. Are they new to your team? Do they need extra training? Do they support a different set of customers (VIP, challenging, etc.)
How to Use the Survey Data for Recognition
While basing incentives and salary increases on customer satisfaction may encourage some employees to provide better service, training staff and modifying practices based on the assessment of customer satisfaction is the key. Measurement alone will not improve customer satisfaction.
Set a goal and reward achievements. Create team and individual rewards. Consider team recognition for meeting the established goal and individual recognition for surpassing the goal.
Our customer satisfaction goal is 95%. When the team achieves 95% for the previous month, we get bagels on the first Friday. Our team favorite is bagels. I asked if there is anything else that they would like for the team treat to add some variety. Bacon! They wanted bacon. A bit odd of a request, but I love a creative idea so I made about five pounds of different flavored bacon to mix things up. The bacon was a hit!
Service Delivery and Service Sense Are Key
Surveys are a great tool for letting you know where you stand with your customers. But remember that customer satisfaction begins with service delivery. By implementing a customer satisfaction survey, you will have the ability to capture the impact of your services on your customer.
Customer satisfaction begins with service delivery.
I have found that when a team’s service sense and engagement is strong, so is their customer satisfaction. Everyone has an impact (directly or indirectly) on customer satisfaction. We all know what excellent customer service is, and for the most part, it is common sense. Common sense is, well...common. But not everyone has service sense. Service sense is more important than knowledge, though knowledge enhances it. Service sense is a quality that cannot be defined, yet is invaluable when present and noticeable when absent. People with a service sense love to help, they know just what to say to make a situation better, and they will go out of their way to do the right thing.
Ask yourself and your team, “What impact will you have on your customers?” Does it match the feedback in your customer satisfaction surveys?
One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is that customer satisfaction should be part of your culture, not just something you do.
Gina Montague has more than 25 years of leadership and customer service experience and has been part of the support industry for almost 20 years. Gina is passionate about staff development, process improvement, and creating positive customer experiences. She is the Support Services Manager for Infinite Campus, a student information system (SIS) for K-12 education. In April 2013, under Gina’s leadership, the Campus Support team was awarded HDI’s Team Excellence Award for external support. Gina presents at national conferences and other industry events on a variety of topics related to world-class support.