Guest Post by Nancy Jamison, President and Principal Analyst of Jamison Consulting
I recently called a financial services contact center and received a survey the next day about my experience with the company. The problem was that the post-call survey wasn’t tied to the specifics of my interaction. So how could my answers be relevant?
This got me thinking about customer feedback surveys in general: what are the pitfalls and what can companies do to get them right?
To answer these questions, I conducted an interview with Gina Clarkin, the product manager responsible for customer feedback management applications at Interactive Intelligence.
What follows are a number of useful tips and tricks I collected during our interview that can help any business successfully deploy automated customer feedback surveys.
NJ: How can a business decide if an automated customer survey application is right for them?
GC: The fact is, many businesses already engage in some form of customer feedback solicitation. Typically, however, these methods are manual and involve human resources, which are expensive and potentially unreliable. With customer survey applications a business can collect customer feedback, but in a way that is more cost-effective, more flexible, and more reliable. For businesses that only measure customer satisfaction through agent performance, they are missing the other critical component: the customer! Indirect measures, such as through a supervisor’s interpretation of agent performance, simply can’t fully assess customer satisfaction. The bottom line is, the better a business understands its customers, the more effective it will be at impacting things like referrals, recommendations and repeat business – in other words, things that increase revenue.
NJ: What should a business look for in an automated customer survey application?
GC: Going back to your experience with the financial services follow-up call, it’s vital that an application enables a business to tie the survey to the call and agent with which it was associated. Otherwise, it will get unreliable data — you can’t tell why a survey score was high or low if you can’t look at the score within the context of everything else that may have influenced it. For instance, how long did the call sit in queue? Was it transferred? Was the customer a new or VIP customer? Surveys should also be easy to customize (watch out for hidden third-party programming costs!), should allow for real-time alerts and proactive intervention, and provide the option to remove agents from the process to guard against survey bias, thus affecting reliability.
NJ: Are there any specific industries that automated customer surveys are more appropriate for than others?
GC: Yes, automated surveys are especially useful in industries whose customers still prefer voice as their primary communications channel. Utilities are a good example of this. Also, highly regulated industries, such as health care and financial services, are prime candidates for automated surveys.
NJ: What is the most common mistake associated with deploying automated customer surveys?
GC: Bar none, the most common mistake is not employing survey design best practices. Survey applications that give businesses maximum flexibility are key, but without knowing how to apply those options, deployments are likely to fail. I strongly urge businesses to look for applications that include question libraries and survey templates designed to meet industry standards, such as those set by the American Customer Satisfaction Index™ (ACSI).
NJ: Some customers just want to get on the phone, get their business done, and get off the phone. At what stage in the customer interaction should a business introduce the survey and how long should it be?
GC: The best time to introduce a survey is up-front with an automated greeting explaining to customers that they can participate in an automated survey at the end of the call. It’s very important to allow customers to opt in or out of these. This also ensures that agents are taken out of the equation — if an agent doesn’t know whether or not a customer is participating in a survey, they can’t sway the outcome. It’s also important to keep surveys short and give customers an idea of how long they will take in the up-front greeting stage. And don’t ask questions to which you can find answers via other avenues, such as how long the caller was in queue. I also recommend adding at the end of the call, “If you opted into the post-call survey, please stay on the line.”
NJ: Any great examples of how companies have benefitted from using customer surveys?
GC: Sure. A telecom company had a strategic initiative to bring customer service jobs back onshore, and to differentiate with truly outstanding customer service. The telco used satisfaction surveys to drive a change in culture and support its strategic initiative to help it grow, which is tremendously tough in this particular industry. The company found that not only did customers value superior service, but they were willing to pay a premium for it. This feedback enabled the telco to increase profit guidance by over 20 percent.
Another great example is a medical association that staffs its call center with doctors. It used surveys to quantitatively validate anecdotal information that members wanted longer call center hours. Given that these “agents” were highly specialized and highly paid, this feedback provided the solid business case needed to justify extending hours.
About Jamison Consulting
Nancy Jamison, President and Principal Analyst of Jamison Consulting, has over 30 years of industry analyst and brand manager experience in the contact center and enterprise communications markets. She applies her broad industry knowledge and expertise in marketing to help clients develop and deliver solutions from a tactical and strategic perspective. Jamison Consulting is an independent industry analyst and consulting firm that provides in-depth market research, analysis, and insight to clients in the areas of unified communications, speech technologies, contact centers, and related emerging areas. Ms. Jamison can be reached at 650-795-0116; on Twitter @NancyJami, via or on the Jamison Consulting web site.