You’ve collected, analyzed, and derived insights from customer data - now what?
The customer will be waiting for acknowledgement or an update from your company, so creating an efficient, organized, and candid system to close the loop with your clients and make the required changes you need is vital.
Since your customers’ needs and wants are always evolving, the process of staying on track with the innovation needed to maintain relevance can be daunting. The sheer amount of data alone that comes in from surveys can cause delays in responding to customer feedback and hinder efficient growth.
Customers need to feel heard and understood. To have answered a bevy of surveys but not see any significant change is discouraging.
To help both your company and clients feel successful after customer feedback has been delivered, you need to have an efficient process for taking action and closing the loop. Keeping some best practices in mind, let’s dive into how to interpret customer feedback and channel those insights to the right teams for execution.
Driving change with data
Insights are just numbers and words without action. Taking the next step to delve into the customer experience with your products or services is about interpreting this data in a functional way, and not solely reporting it in graphs and charts.
To apply your newfound data insights, create an efficient process to get back to your clients quickly and enact change. Once these appropriate changes have been put in place, measure the results of your actions to make sure you’re making the right decisions.
In this post, we’ll show you how to apply these survey results to drive meaningful change in your organization.
Taking action on customer feedback
Collecting user feedback is just the tip of the iceberg. Once that is completed, it’s time to focus your energy on making meaningful improvements.
As you take action on user feedback, keep these four factors in mind:
Inform decisions: Staying in tune with your clients means collecting and reporting back on customer feedback, interpreting the data, and routing the insights to the people who can make the biggest impact with the information.
Close the loop: When dealing with negative feedback, identify the detractors and set up ways to connect them directly with your help desk. Develop long-term solutions to safeguard against future negative experiences while turning existing unhappy customers into your biggest fans.
Engage with promoters: Using your feedback, identify the promoters, create a post-survey follow up process to maintain that positive relationship, and encourage brand advocacy and engagement from loyal users.
Follow up with passive customers: There will always be some customers who are passive or neutral. People in this group could shift into promoters (or detractors), so keeping an eye on them and following up when necessary is key.
Let’s take a closer look at these factors below, with each broken down into key steps.
How can you leverage different types of surveys to inform decisions? This is an all-important question when thinking about your bottom line and how to better meet your clients’ needs.
Step 1: Collecting and reporting customer feedback
Surveying customers in an intentional way leads to accurate data for understanding your customers’ expectations. Knowing what aspect of the customer experience you want to improve upon, asking the right questions, and following survey design best practices is a great way to start.
Step 2: Interpreting the Data
Being familiar with the different kinds of surveys and knowing which to apply for your intended goals will make all the difference when interpreting the data. Here are some of the most popular customer survey types:
Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a popular survey type that measures customer loyalty. The feedback collected from NPS surveys is great for informing business strategy and identifying what needs to be improved at a high level.
NPS surveys are a great way to identify both brand promoters and detractors among your existing customers, and also measure satisfaction.
By simply asking the question, “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?” a company can discover critical information for stimulating growth.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) surveys are popular for getting feedback from a recent, specific experience. CSAT surveys are great for gaining insight into customer support interactions and product experience.
When thinking about these interactions and experiences, some common ways businesses can interpret this data is by looking at different departments’ scores to see how successful they were.
From here, competitive loss surveys can be run through marketing to inform future campaigns and measure how well customer support practices are working. You can also use post-purchase feedback to refine and increase success in the sales process.
Customer Effort Score (CES) surveys promote loyalty by helping you understand where you can reduce the amount of effort customers need to exert when doing business with you.
Strong CES ratings have been correlated to increased brand loyalty and higher repurchase rates. Plus, since it’s applicable to any customer-facing process, you can use CES to take corrective action at any relevant step of the customer lifecycle.
It’s a helpful tool to measure the effectiveness of self-service transactions and customer support interactions.
Graphic surveys are a quick and easy way for customers to give immediate feedback in place of a long, drawn-out survey.
They can come in the form of smiley/frowny faces, 5-star rating systems, and thumbs up/down surveys. When using graphic surveys, it’s important to keep the questions short, to the point, and relevant to the answer scale.
Step 3: Routing data to the people who can make a difference
Once you have the insights and data from your specific survey method, you can start solving problems and improving on customer satisfaction.
Whether that means starting a dialogue with your customer success department and marketing, or taking a closer look at how a specific product feature has affected customers, being able to route feedback to the team who owns that step in the customer experience is what will drive change.
Let’s take a look at an example from the company, Bonobos, who successfully used real-time customer feedback to improve the customer experience.
Bonobos used NPS surveys to track feedback about big operational changes. At the beginning of 2014, the company experimented with adding an extra step to the shipping process. They suspected the change would cause a handful of inbound customer questions and perhaps a few grumbles, but the data told a different story: customers couldn’t stand the change. “We were able to literally just watch the scores decline,” Dunn says. “That enabled us to have the confidence to roll back the change.”
When using customer feedback to improve your business, understanding the types of surveys to use, how to draw conclusions from them, and who the information should go to all need to come together to have the greatest possible impact on your company’s future.
While customer surveys can help you understand your strengths and predict brand loyalty, they can also help you address negative feedback. In the next section, we’ll look more into how to improve a negative customer experience.
Close the loop
How do you close the loop on negative feedback? To quote Fred Reichheld from Bain and Company, “It’s not the score that matters; it’s what you do with it to make promoters that really counts.”
Closing the loop requires listening to what the customer has to say, and figuring out how to solve the problem.
In the steps below, we’ll walk through how to make customers feel you are committed to listening to their feedback and how to develop the necessary changes to shift them from detractors to promoters.
Step 1: Identifying detractors
As mentioned in an earlier section, the NPS framework is a great way to identify who your detractors are. Common examples of detractors are customers who answer anywhere from 0-6 on a 10-point scale, or customers who share negative feedback by word-of-mouth on social review sites.
According to SMBCEO, detractors are two times as likely to spread their negative opinion than promoters are to spread positive feedback, and that “it takes nearly 12 good experiences to make up for one unresolved poor experience,” so you can see why it’s vitally important to identify detractors as soon as possible.
Step 2: Connecting to your help desk
When it becomes clear who the people are that need your attention, the personal touch can be key. When facing detractors, it is important to make them feel appreciated and heard, so a more direct line to you and your company via a connection to your help desk can send a clear signal you’re available and want to help.
Plus, “If they should encounter any new issues, they’ll feel comfortable knowing they can reach out to a real person on your team who cares. This is incredibly valuable. It gives you the opportunity to head off any future problems before they have a chance to sour the relationship.”
Step 3: Turning unhappy customers into your biggest fans
It can be discouraging for a business to see that there are unhappy customers out there. However, these negative clients can become future promoters if you figure out a solution to their problems.
They can be re-engaged.
As many of us have experienced, a common complaint in the world of technology is that people don’t get enough personalized human interaction. With this in mind, a personal phone call to hear someone out and find a solution can help make a customer literally and figuratively feel heard.
Personal emails asking open-ended questions can help clients open up and feel connected to you, as well. You can also offer proactive solutions to the problems they’re having so it doesn’t feel like a dead end to them.
Once you are able to identify any detractors, offering help or access to you in a proactive and open way shows the client you’re willing to create change for them. By responding to detractors in a timely manner, you have every chance to turn a formerly negative situation around.
How do you make the most of promoters?
When considering how to best leverage promoters you’ve already gained, don’t fall into the trap of assuming they’ll spread the word on their own or that they don’t need special attention. Remember, promoters “…can amplify your strengths, drive referrals, coach new users, and even help guide the product roadmap.”
Step 1: Identify promoters
As with detractors, the NPS program is a helpful way to identify who your promoters are. When you combine NPS, CSAT, and CES programs, you can paint a more helpful picture of exactly why some customers may be more loyal versus likely to churn.
Studies indicate it costs two to four times more to acquire a new customer than the annual cost of keeping an existing customer, so by identifying who your promoters are, you can save your company a lot of time and money.
Additionally, if a customer is happy with your services and feels appreciated by you, there’s a much higher chance they’ll refer your services. As referrals from loyal customers have a 92% retention rate versus 68% for a customer acquired from advertising (source: Bill Bleuel, PhD, Graziadio Business Report), you can see why working with your promoters is so important.
Step 2: Post-survey follow up
One option to create strong, effective change and to show your loyal customers you’re listening is to establish a survey action committee that leads the customer listening effort. Members of the committee should represent different key areas of the business. Showing this level of care can promote goodwill, higher levels of engagement, and increase survey participation rates in general.
Through a committee like this, you can also reach out and communicate any results you gather and what your plan of attack will be in addressing them.
Step 3: Encourage brand advocacy and engagement from loyal users
In many cases, new clients will want to hear from current or former clients about their experiences. Your promoters can be a great resource to tap into for this. If you reach out to a few loyal customers, they may be willing to speak with potential clients occasionally. From their personal experience, they have a unique perspective to offer.
This sentiment can be extended by simply asking a promoter to write a review for your company on a highly trafficked site like Yelp or Trustpilot, as well.
To give promoters further personalized attention, you could invite them to participate in round table discussions, giving them a platform to discuss how they solve problems, maximize value, and what else they would love to see from you.
For example, once you’ve gathered your information from the round table discussion, you can then utilize this engagement to generate great content for guides, FAQs, blog posts, and more. They can take the shape of a simple video conference, a visit to your office, or even a nice dinner in a nearby city.
It’s easy to focus all your energy on detractors, but when you are able to identify and leverage promoters fully, the benefits are exponential.
Follow up with passive customers
The actions you can take with promoters and detractors tend to be more straightforward. But what about passive or neutral customers?
Even though a neutral assessment doesn’t hurt as much as an outright negative review, you still feel a twinge when you see a passive rating roll in. These ratings essentially translate to “Meh, it was okay. It got the job done.” You still think to yourself, “What could we have done to make this customer rave about us?”
Passive and neutral customers should not be ignored. As we’ve said before, good is not good enough. The appetite for a better experience is bottomless, and next to detractors, passive customers are the ones who are most likely to go looking for a different solution.
However, since the action you can take to close the loop with these customers is not always clear, it is important to be thoughtful when following up.
Step 1: Identifying passive customers for outreach
When you have a CSAT, CES, or NPS program in place, you can identify passive customers by how they rate you. Passive or neutral customers are the ones who give you a score of 3 on a 1-5 CSAT or CES scale, or a 7-8 on the 10-point NPS scale.
However, because passive customers by definition may not have a problem that requires “solving,” reaching out to every single neutral customer may not be time-efficient or useful. What you can do is some further analysis to put their rating into context so that you can have a fruitful conversation.
The passive customers you want to prioritize for follow-up are:
Those who provided an open-ended comment following their rating. These customers are likely to be open to further discussion, since they went to the trouble of providing context for their feedback in the first place.
Those whose scores have shifted. The beauty of having an ongoing voice of the customer program is that you will have multiple feedback points for your customers. If ratings are on a downward or upward trend, bring that up during follow-up for a more meaningful conversation.
If your passive customers have not provided any open-ended feedback, check to see if passive scores all tend to occur for a particular location, product, or point in the customer journey. That way, you can ask for details about that specific part of the experience and increase your chances of gaining actionable feedback.
Step 2: Digging deeper with follow-up conversation
All of the customers you survey need to know they are heard. Similar to promoters and detractors, follow up on the survey response with an email or a call. Speaking in person may garner more nuanced insights into the interaction in question.
Another way to automatically ask for more information would be to append the additional question, “What could we have done to make your experience better?” to your templated NPS, CSAT, or CES survey. You can use conditional logic so that anyone who responds with a passive score is shown the question.
Step 3: Consider the feedback in your business strategy
If the follow-up yields tactical actions that your team can take, such as making amends for a service issue, or better demonstrating a feature that could solve a pain point, follow the previously mentioned steps that you would take for a customer who is a detractor.
More often than not, though, the feedback you receive from the passive customer will be overarching in nature, and speak to a deeper issue that requires more planning to resolve. In that case, be sure to take the feedback as context for the expectations that customers have of your industry, and incorporate it accordingly in your plans for future growth.
Using surveys to gather not just data, but true insights into a customer’s experiences and evolving needs can drastically alter the success and satisfaction of your clients, and even attract new ones.
According to an article published by The Harvard Business Review, clients who are given surveys are more likely to be retained and were more profitable than customers who were not.
This sentiment applies to all of your customers, and as long as you are diligent in following up and engaging with them, your company’s bottom line will inevitably grow.
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