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Feedback is an experience too: How to make your surveys engaging!

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23rd Apr 2014
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How many times this week have you been invited to provide feedback by a company you’ve recently bought from?

As Voice of the Customer programmes become more sophisticated and focused on key touchpoints, consumers are increasingly bombarded with requests for feedback. The intent behind these surveys is admirable, and as customer experience professionals, we should be pleased that it’s becoming standard to ask these questions. But the sheer volume of these requests, coupled with the fact that many of the feedback mechanisms themselves are poorly executed, means that recipients are less and less likely to respond – at least in a meaningful manner.

Failing to engage customers at the feedback stage will skew your results and prevent you from truly understanding the customer experience. If you’re aiming to incorporate the Voice of the Customer in business decisions, you need to know that voice is accurate and robust, not just getting through the survey as fast as possible. It also needs to be representative of your market as a whole.

Keeping surveys short and relevant goes a long way to encouraging customers to respond, but be aware, the survey is an experience in itself and will leave your customers with a perception of your brand. Here are some key considerations for moving beyond rating questions and towards new levels of insight.

Right channel, right survey, right time

Customers are sophisticated creatures and a one-size-fits-all approach to requesting feedback just isn’t good enough. Web surveys are great, but what if they’re opened on a mobile and lead to a frustrating experience with tiny buttons and hard-to-read scales? Or you’re catching people at the wrong time for them to respond to an email? Consider looking at data which shows you what devices your customers use to open your emails and surveys, and linking this with demographic, purchase and other data.

Identify if different customer groups respond to different channels, and schedule your surveys to go out at times when customers are available. Many people use surveys to fill “cracks in the day” – commuting, for example, so send your feedback requests during likely travelling times, for example. It may take some trial and error, but it may make a world of difference to your response rates and to the insight you gather.

Beyond the rating question

We’ve all been there. “Please rate element x of your experience on a scale of 0-10”. Followed by “Please tell us why”. Using questions like this for a key metric, such as OSAT or NPS is great (and necessary to get a clear view of your long-term progress), but don’t get carried away and end up delivering a survey with 10 similar questions in a row. Customers will soon switch off and either abandon your survey or provide answers that deliver no insight into the experience at all.

The range of ways in which you can ask for information now - particularly in online surveys - is vast. While you can go for a full “gamification” approach to really engage particular customer groups, chances are you won’t have to go this far. Simple use of images, audio, and other interactive elements can make the survey process much more compelling. Just make sure you’re adapting for different media or you’ll have exactly the opposite effect. No one wants to see a gaping hole in a survey saying “Install Flash player” on a device that isn’t compatible with Flash!

Personalise the survey experience

Don’t ask for information you should know. How frustrated are you when you are asked “What product did you buy”! Wouldn’t it be better to be able to open a survey with “Thanks for buying Product XYZ today”? Integrate your VoC programme with data from your internal systems, so all information that you hold about your customers can be used to enrich their feedback rather than make them feel like you really don’t who they are or care about their time. 

Capture more – multimedia and imagination

Technologies like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have taught people to expect that they can make their views known in very short space of time. The ability to share a photo of something that’s caught their eye, or express a quick “wow” moment within seconds of it taking place, mean that providing detailed comments in surveys isn’t suitable for everyone. Again, it’ll depend on capturing the right audience, but consider using multimedia in your VoC programme. Photos, audio clips and videos can provide an untold wealth of insight into what’s taking place on the front line of your organisation – particularly in the retail world. These technologies are increasingly open to analysis as well, making them more useful than ever to CX professionals in uncovering new insights from customers.

Elements like these are also incredibly helpful in maintaining buy-in from your key stakeholders. A pie chart shows only so much, whereas a photo of a huge queue at checkout, or employees gathered around for a chat instead of working with customers, might provide a much more compelling call to action to your executive team.

Follow up!

Yes, we’ve all read this many times before, and it’s not strictly part of the VoC survey itself, but the most engaging thing you can do to encourage customers to respond to surveys is to take action. And more importantly, tell them you listened and you’ve taken action. If you’re operating multiple short transactional surveys at key touchpoints, you can’t expect customers to continuously provide feedback if you’ve not given them a sense that you’ve listened to them so far. Not every response requires follow up, but build action management processes that ensure customers who’ve flagged issues or who have requested follow-up are contacted before they receive another survey. You should also plan to communicate to your entire customer-base about strategic or structural improvements you’ve implemented in response to their feedback. This way, you’ll encourage customers who have given their feedback to continue to do so, and those who haven’t will feel more confident about sharing their views, knowing they matter to you.

The basic rules are simple and not new – keep it short, timely, relevant and attractive. But don’t assume that the process you set up three years ago is still up to the job. The market, technology and your customers have all moved on, and you need to keep up to ensure that the feedback you now rely on continues to flow in the future.

Claire Sporton is VP of customer experience management at Confirmit.
 

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