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Measuring customer experience, expectations and loyalty: What questions should you ask?

21st Mar 2019
Measuring customer emotion
istock

If you ask the wrong questions, you won't get the information you require to make the right decisions and improve customer experience and loyalty. So what should you be asking? In this extract from his new book, Creating Customer Loyalty, Chris Daffy shares his tips. 

Customer satisfaction studies abound. They are one of the biggest-selling products for market research organisations. But I believe that most customer satisfaction studies don’t reveal much worth knowing.

I am drawn to this conclusion because both research studies and my experience of working with organisations that have spent many thousands on them have led me to believe that customer satisfaction research does not provide the information needed to make changes within an organisation that will produce worthwhile outcomes.

But that, of course, prompts the question: what does?

If you ask the wrong questions, even if you get good answers, they will not contain the information you need to make the right decisions. The key therefore is to ask the right questions.

Here again there is lots of research around, and results from those who practice what it tells us lead to those right questions: the ones that will elicit the answers we need – the right answers from which we can make the right decisions.

The right questions to ask

There are many questions that can be used for this, but my experience suggests that there are five key subject areas that are the most useful:

  1. Delivery against expectations
  2. Feelings/emotions experienced
  3. Ease of doing business with you
  4. Memories/stories that you created
  5. Likelihood of future loyalty

Delivery against expectations

In a previous chapter, I explained how customer expectations influence loyalty. It therefore makes sense to learn about the expectations customers have and how well they consider we deliver against them.

Some typical questions that will help reveal this are:

  • Was what you experienced in any way different from what you expected?
  • Were any of your expectations not met?
  • Were you treated the way you expected to be?
  • Were any of your expectations exceeded?

Feelings/emotions experienced

It has been proved that there is a direct link between the feelings or emotions we create for customers and the loyalty and value that will result. Asking questions about this area is therefore important.

The typical questions that will help reveal this are:

  • What did you feel about…?
  • How valued as a customer did you feel when…?
  • What feelings did you have when…?
  • What words would you use to best describe how you felt about…?

Another way of doing this is to take the 20 feelings described in the book The DNA of Customer Experience and list them, randomly or alphabetically, and then ask customers to circle the ones they felt. You can then easily link their answers to the findings in the research. I have done this on many occasions and found it interesting that the results almost always correlate directly with answers to the Net Promoter Score, mentioned below, if that has also been asked.

Ease of doing business with you

An article in the July/August 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review, reporting on a study done by the research firm CEB, indicated that the Customer Effort Score is a more accurate predictor of a customer’s future spend and value to you than the Net Promoter Score. This makes it important to discover how easy or difficult it is for customers to get what they want from you.

The typical questions that will help reveal this are:

  • How easy did you find us to do business with?
  • How easy is our website/order process/etc to use?
  • How easy was it to get any information you needed?
  • How easily did you achieve any goals or objectives you had?

Memories/stories that you created

I have previously explained the importance of memory in creating customer loyalty. Also, that for strong lasting memories to be formed, there needs to be a story that links to them. We therefore need to know what stories and memories customers are taking from the experiences they have.

The typical questions that will help reveal this are:

  • What do you remember most about your experience?
  • Was there anything that you will never forget?
  • Did you later tell any family/friends/colleagues about anything you experienced?
  • If asked, how would you describe what you experienced to family/friends/ colleagues?

Likelihood of future loyalty

The Net Promoter Score, created by Fred Reichheld of Bain and Co, is now the most-used research question to assess the likelihood of future loyalty. I shall explain in detail how it works later in this chapter, but the basic question to ask is:

  • Based on your experience, how likely are you to recommend us to your family/friends/colleagues?

Customers are asked to answer by giving a score from 0, meaning ‘there is no way I would recommend you’, to 10, meaning ‘I am highly likely to recommend you’. I will explain later how these scores are used to calculate the Net Promoter Score.

I know of organisations that have even taken this one step further. They were used to getting a high Net Promoter Score, so they asked a different question:

  • Have you ever recommended us to family/friends/colleagues?

This then provided a measure of actual past recommendations rather than possible future recommendations.

If you ask questions like these, you will get immensely valuable insights into the way your customers think and feel about the products or services you provide. If you act on what you learn, and make whatever changes you decide are necessary, you will find you have unearthed a sure route to ever increasing customer loyalty and the business value that results from it.

This abridged extract from Creating Customer Loyalty by Chris Daffy is ©2019 and reproduced with permission from Kogan Page Ltd.

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