Previously on the Bright Ideas series presented by Acuity Brands®, David Kinsella with the Electrical Division of Affiliated Distributors (AD) shared how much of a positive impact the act of listening to their customers had on their success in 2020. This week, Acuity Brands’ Senior Manager of Customer Experience, Heather Drust, joins Catherine to share just how valuable customer feedback can be.
USING, NOT JUST COLLECTING, CUSTOMER FEEDBACK
At the end of the day, listening to the customer means looking at everything from their point of view, and hearing what they have to say without inserting one’s own assumptions. One of the best ways to do this is to ask them questions–– the right questions, at the right time.
For Heather, a sign of success in this process is once those customer responses are no longer just collected as anecdotal information, but rather become qualitative data points that start driving clear changes within a company.
When most people think of customer feedback, they think of surveys or five-star rating systems. Those tools can certainly be applied, but another type of score could also be used to measure the amount of effort a customer may have had to exert in a purchase. Was the product easy to purchase? Perhaps buying was easy, but installation was not.
MEASURING CUSTOMER SATISFACTION AND BRAND LOYALTY
The most common measurements for customer feedback are the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS).
CSAT is tied to a unique or timely interaction, such as a user’s website experience when ordering online or making a specific purchase. Gathering this type of feedback is more time-sensitive and relies on checking in at particular pulse points to see how things are going and if the provider can improve. NPS, on the other hand, measures more long-term brand loyalty (“How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?” is a common question used to gauge NPS). One low CSAT score might not impact NPS, but the moment a pattern emerges in CSAT is the moment to take action before it could impact NPS.
When it comes to feedback like this, particularly CSAT feedback, timing is everything. It’s important to ask relevant questions as close to a particular point of interaction as possible before the memory of the experience fades or mingles with another one.
Online vendors, for example, may ask about your search experience before checkout; your checkout experience after purchasing; your shipping experience after delivery; and then, after you’ve had some time to use the product, how you like what you bought.
DO ANY CUSTOMERS REALLY CLICK ON SURVEYS?
Many people often ask Heather whether anyone actually bothers to click on surveys from their various vendors–– as they themselves don’t always do so. However, surveys remain a frequent part of the purchase and customer service process because a lot of them do in fact get answered.
One major airline sends out a post-flight survey to customers–– not to all customers, and not always after every flight… and yet they receive over 2 million responses per year. Large corporations aren’t the only companies to see this kind of return, either. Before joining Acuity Brands, Heather worked for a start-up with an annual survey response rate of over 75%.
In short, people want their opinions and experiences to be heard–– whether they booked a flight, bought a t-shirt, or worked with a B2B company.
And while a high quantity of survey responses might be nice, quality can also be just as helpful. Actionable feedback from key or major customers can help a business pivot more accurately. Obtaining a decent response rate as well as the practice of paying special attention to relevant users will position a business to be in a healthy place moving forward.
DON’T OVER-SURVEY, BUT ALSO DON’T WRITE OFF SURVEYS COMPLETELY
Another common concern Heather knows well is the frustration of the over-surveyed. Most if not all email users can think of at least one company that overloaded their inbox with messages, surveys, pop-ups online, and beyond.
While it’s important for corporations to avoid over-surveying or over-pinging a customer during various touch points, it’s also important not to live in fear of client interaction entirely. Inaction could mean missed opportunities during key steps of the buyer’s journey.
If you only survey post-purchase, you may miss the chance to ask why somebody didn’t follow through and buy. If you only ask about product quality, you might miss out learning something key about your service teams that could help you to differentiate yourself even further.
There are strategic ways to reduce your triggers if people tell you that they’re surveying them too much–– and there are also ways to increase survey frequency or improve design to gain more responses if user-friendliness has been a deterrent in the past.
In other words, if you already have plenty of surveys then keep an eye on their quantity and frequency; and if you don’t have any, it would be a good idea to get started. However, you don’t have to try to boil the ocean in the beginning.
Pick a singular product or a single customer that has the most impact on your business, and then select a passionate group of people from different areas in your company –– finance, marketing, operations, etc. –– to sit down and track three to five key touch points together in the customer journey. As feedback starts to come in, celebrate wins if they happen. Reward employees that get mentioned. Own up to mistakes. Fix what you can, as quickly as you can.
THE VALUE OF RESPONDING TO CUSTOMER FEEDBACK
While a company may never be able to directly link their NPS or CSAT with their percentage of ROI directly, that doesn’t mean the data is not worth measuring. It’s worth knowing whether your customers are satisfied, because happy customers come back to spend more money, and they evangelize to their friends about their positive experience. So there will likely still be a correlation between that qualitative data and the painpoints that customers are sharing.
National brands can measure their problem-solving abilities just by whether or not buyers stop bringing up what used to be a frequent problem. One cell phone company, for example, was trying to be customer-centric and noticed that they had a large number of calls coming into their help centers. To make sure those clients were taken care of, they decided to build an additional call center. However, further down the road as they started asking for more feedback, they realized that if they had just made some marketing materials a bit clearer, they would have received less calls in the first place. They could have saved a lot of money by generating new marketing materials instead of an entirely new office space.
When companies listen not just to a product’s star ratings but also to buyer comments about what could be improved or what the product lacks, they can solve those problems and create better products that go on to be more successful in the marketplace.
And not only does listening to customer feedback improve customer experience–– it also improves employee experience as well. Buyers don’t view your business as the sales department or the operation department or the marketing department: they view every single employee as part of the same brand and service. By improving their experience with your product or with just one department of your company, you’ll improve any other touches along the way as well.
To learn more about Acuity Brands’ customer feedback options or to ask them questions of your own, visit acuitybrands.com/contact. To submit a request for a new episode topic from IndustrialSage or Acuity Brands, visit industrialsage.com/contact today!
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