The Marketing Strategist:
Maximizing the Value of Customer Satisfaction Research
Most companies understand the importance of customer feedback and gather data to help improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Many struggle, however, to take full advantage of the data and drive real change in the business.
Collecting data is easy. The challenge is creating a disciplined approach to work across the organization and make tangible, data-driven improvements in the customer experience that lead to greater customer success, deeper relationships, and effective customer advocacy.
Five Keys to Success
Based on our own long experience working with ITSMA members and clients, here are five things to keep in mind:
- Narrow your objective: A common mistake companies make is not having a clear focus when they begin their research and data collection. Marketers are often tempted to squeeze in as many questions as possible, frequently incorporating areas such as brand perception and awareness of new solutions in addition to the core satisfaction and value questions. This lack of focus can overwhelm participants and undercut the main objective of the research.
- Clarify how the data will be used: The best way to focus the research is to determine up front how the results will be used across the organization. Involve colleagues and other stakeholders to determine the most important issues to include and which clients to target. Efforts to strengthen results with top clients will likely differ from broader-based surveys to uncover issues affecting your whole customer base. Do you have a follow-up plan? Do you have the people, systems, and processes in place to make the best use of the data? Having a clear outline of the desired outcomes and required follow-up processes will help ensure you stay on track.
- Look beyond the numbers: Quantitative results such as Net Promoter Scores (NPS) can be valuable and effective in tracking progress and comparing with industry leaders. More important, though, is understanding why scores improve or decline. Qualitative feedback from customers often reveals critical issues and opportunities that wouldn’t arise from relying just on standardized questions and ratings. Meanwhile, using statistical techniques such as regression analysis can help you move beyond the raw numbers to pinpoint key drivers of customer satisfaction.
- Create advocates by closing the loop: Asking for customer feedback creates an expectation that you will take some sort of action, regardless of the level of client satisfaction. Many companies shortchange themselves by focusing only on responding to the most dissatisfied customers. It’s certainly important to address unhappy customers, but it’s equally important to recognize what’s working well, share best practices, and reinforce customer success. Leveraging satisfied customers by documenting effective processes, creating references and success stories, and promoting advocates can move the needle just as far as resolving problems with ineffective delivery. Read about Unisys’s CSAT program to learn more about closing the loop with all customers.
- Prioritize customer success: Customer-centric companies treat satisfaction research as much more than a quarterly or annual project. They collect feedback continuously and integrate formal and informal feedback from multiple channels. They prioritize customer success and build integrated systems and processes to ensure alignment across the organization to leverage feedback and act quickly both to resolve problems and leverage success.
“It’s not hard to collect feedback these days,” Jeb Dasteel explained in a recent ITSMA interview. “But being disciplined about collecting feedback across multiple channels, doing it in a way that brings you both qualitative and quantitative input in structured and unstructured formats, applying the right analytics, and then presenting it all to the organization as a change agent is really hard to do.”