I am not a big fan of the typical annual or semi-annual customer satisfaction survey. These are dinosaurs that typically deliver little value and create enormous amount of internal work, churn and consternation. Worse, the process is often not customer-centric at all. These surveys are typically long and arduous for customers. And when customers complete long and arduous surveys, they develop expectations. Nothing is worse than asking your customers what will help, having them take their valuable time and effort to provide you with relevant and actionable ideas, and then take a ridiculous amount of time to act on that valuable feedback - if at all.
Hey, we must have solved the problem
From my experience, it is not uncommon for organizations to ask customers what they can do to improve, and then not take any action on the results. Then, ask again, and again not take action. Then, ask again. Eventually customers stop telling them about their issues and the company can actually start to think that either an issue isn’t important anymore, or that they have somehow miraculously solved it. This, even though the company hasn’t done anything about the problem at hand.
There are frustrations with internal customers of the annual customer satisfaction survey as well. Managers can be frustrated that the market research department doesn't deliver relevant or valuable data or intelligence. Colleagues in market research can do a great job of delivering intelligence, but can become frustrated when their intelligence isn't acted on, especially at the touchpoint level. When an action plan actually does surface, those employees that "catch" the action plan can be frustrated with the extra work - they already have full-time jobs.
Kill the dinosaur - build a process that delivers value to all customers
These types of survey experiences aren't customer-centric. And for the time, cost and churn, stop these experiences immediately and allocate the resources to a much more customer-centric and actionable process. Focus on short and productive surveys at important touchpoints along customer journeys. This type of "listening post" feedback process can do a much better job of delivering the right information to the right people at the right time. The test: resultant intelligence drives immediate action, or is used in planning, or both. The results of listening posts can be integrated into ongoing job responsibilities and not become a large project added on top of an employee's full schedule.
Best Practice: The first response to any customer feedback should always be, “thank you.” And let customers know what changes are made as a result of the collective feedback. This demonstrates that they will realize value from their investment of time to provide feedback.
Remember, to your customers, you are your touchpoints.
This post an excerpt from my book, TOUCHPOiNT POWER! Get & Keep More Customers, Touchpoint by Touchpoint (William Henry Publishing, 2013). Now available! For information and to order, visit TouchpointPower.com or view the TOUCHPOiNT POWER! listing on Amazon.
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