Saturday, June 21, 2014

Customer Feedback System - Satisfaction and Importance

Before proceeding to discuss the satisfaction and importance metrics, let’s spend some time summarizing where we’ve been to date in your new job as the customer experience manager at Widget Inc.  You’ve been onboard for about 3 months now, and you knew when you took the job that this company’s recent customer satisfaction and retention performance left a lot to be desired.  Your mandate from senior management is to right the ship by establishing a first-class customer experience initiative.  So, here’s a summary of our progress over the first 3 months...

We started with an initial assessment of the customer landscape guided by the question... “what is the state of key CX performance?”.  In this case, some basic assessment items include any recent customer research, with a particular eye on satisfaction and loyalty metrics that might be available.  Coming across a recent industry satisfaction report, we learned that our company trailed most competitors on a variety of service and product metrics, and that the underperformance was especially apparent in specific sales territories as well as in some key service channels.  As a result, we now had a reasonably good high-level understanding of some customer (and company) pain-points. 

We then determined whether the company as whole, or any individual department or business unit maintained some type of issue resolution method focused on identifying and responding to sources of dissatisfaction at the individual customer level.  As suspected, this key CX component, “the foundation”  as we call it, is not in place.  Barring a more urgent finding, we had a pretty good idea at this point that developing the company’s CX foundation would be our first major undertaking.

Our next step in the assessment was to arrange personal discussions with a few selected staff.  Our interviews included customer-facing employees, as well as back-office staff who have a supporting connection with the front-line.  We also talked to a few vendors who are involved in some way with contributing to the company’s customer offerings. 

Finally, we synthesized our initial findings using a one page summary capturing the most salient customer facing issues.  From this, we used Forrester’s Customer Experience Maturity Assessment (1) to determine where our company stands on the customer centricity continuum. 

As we initially thought, the design and implementation of a robust customer feedback system would serve as our starting point.  Indeed, customer feedback, and the objective interpretation of this information is the lifeblood of a strong customer experience undertaking.  
Together with the introduction of a transaction survey, we also implemented the problem solving process...these two items serve as the foundation of our CX initiative.  We’ll dive into the problem solving process in more detail in an upcoming post.

Now, a few words about the Importance and Satisfaction report developed from our transaction questionnaire.  A previous post presented a summary of an MIT Sloan Quarterly article on some of the shortcomings of associated with the measurement of customer satisfaction.  Indeed, as with any metric or metrics that purport to reveal what customers “really” think about a product or service, one should be judicious in interpreting the results.  In almost every business context, any number, in and of itself, is rarely insightful.  Only when that number is evaluated in the context of other similar metrics, as well as over some period of time (trends), can we be more confident in what “it’s really like out there.”  So, whether it’s the Net Promoter Score, CSI, the Customer Experience Index, or any other metric, your approach should...

  • Look at multiple metric types (e.g. NPS and satisfaction)
  • Analyze these metrics over a given time frame...look for trends
  • Very importantly, look at any satisfaction, loyalty or advocate data in the context of your customer’s not uncommon for a segments purchasing the same product to have often very different views about how pleased they are with the experience.

All of this said, from a customer experience perspective, I like the satisfaction and importance survey because, if executed correctly, it provides an acceptable representation of what your customers value, and how you’re delivering on that expectation.  A report such as the hypothetical version produced for this post serves as a good starting point for further investigation (usually using a qualitative research approach) into why particular aspects of your product or service are relatively more or less important to your customers.

(1) From Outside In by Kerry Bodine and Harley Manning

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