David Naylor highlights the top six ways to harness the ‘voice of the customer’.
1. Front-line advisor feedback
The people speaking to your customers day after day know exactly what is causing recurring frustration and issues.
It’s great motivation for the front line if you’re seen to act on it too!
Advisors should be providing feedback on what customers are saying at least daily. So you need to action that feedback fast to show you’re listening and keep the ideas coming. Tell them what you’re doing about it the next day in the morning briefing or provide visibility of ownership and next actions on the intranet.
Use advisors for proactive data collection too, in order to diagnose problems. This will help you to quantify the scale of problems as well as get to root cause faster. For example, when a customer calls to make a payment, get the advisor to ask a few probing questions that will help you understand why the automated service wasn’t used or didn’t work for them. A handful of responses like this from advisors can get you to the root cause much faster and can provide solutions you hadn’t thought of.
2. IVR/email post-contact surveys
Post-contact surveys can be a good measure of resolution and quality, as long as you ask the right questions! They are also good from the customer’s perspective because of their immediacy – it has been shown that ability to recall the detail of an event falls exponentially within 2-3 days.
While structured questions are commonly used, they have a big downside. The customer is forced to rate aspects of the interaction which may not be important to them. The most critical aspect for them is sometimes not even covered! Far better to offer a ‘free speech/text’ option to capture verbatim comments. These do require more analysis, of course, but the content is much richer and more valuable.
3. Periodic surveys and survey waves
Surveys are the primary source of customer data for many businesses but are often not used to their full potential. Surveys often ask about customer intentions rather than customer actions – customers don’t always do what they say they will do. Think whether a change of tense in your questioning will make the results more meaningful. For example, ask “have you recommended us?” rather than “would you recommend us?”
Data is often collected too late. Aim to collect the data within the week, not a month later.
4. Speech analytics
Speech analytics is becoming more common now for automatically analysing, classifying and rating customer calls. Speech analytics tools are being applied to quality management processes, compliance and understanding root causes for contact. The recorded speech is analysed, indexed and stored in a database. Just like a normal database you run queries on the indexed data. These queries tend to be written like advanced Google searches.
The tools are extremely powerful in the hands of a skilled analyst but need careful tuning to achieve high levels of accuracy and prove their effectiveness to the wider business.
Queries can be written to look for specific events that are considered to impact the customer experience, such as raised tone of voice or ‘over talking’. These are ‘build once’ static queries. Or you can build ad hoc queries to find calls that might relate to a particular problem you are investigating. The software will give you a probability that each call matches your query. What you need to consider in the results is how many ‘false positives’ and how many ‘misses’ occur. The better the tuning, the fewer of each you’ll have.
5. CRM system notes
The CRM system is a great source in principle, but in reality it’s hard to see trends or common issues. Notes on the system tend to record what happened rather than why. Abbreviations and short-hand notation also make it hard to search the notes with automated text mining tools.
On the positive side, you can use other techniques to identify customers who may have been affected by a problem that resulted in several unnecessary contacts.
6. Web watching
The ‘customer help customer’ interaction model that is developing on the web is quickly becoming a critical source of feedback and information.
You can use specialist tools to search the forums, news sites and blogs for customer comments and frustrations. There are tools like Brandwatch which will trawl all websites to gather, rank and sort this feedback. The built-in ‘sentiment monitor’ shows trends in customer feeling and guides you to the most critical and positive comments.
David Naylor is a director with Budd, the customer experience management consulting and services business (www.budd.uk.com). David has 15 years experience of delivering customer focused process, people and IT transformation projects in Europe and Asia. Budd helps you to deliver the “The Best Service Is No Service” model developed at Amazon.com – the lowest cost business model for fantastic customer experiences and increased revenues.