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Did the Review Economy Kill Surveys?

customer surveys

With the rise of reviews online and social media, many companies have opted out of sending their clients surveys altogether. The thinking is they don’t need them since they are hearing from their customers on a regular basis online. However, is this a good strategy? Do surveys still play an important role?

Let’s start by taking a closer look at the Review Economy. Let’s face it, we have all relied on online reviews when it comes to making a purchase. I would guess that this increased a lot this past year during COVID, with most of us increasing our online shopping. in fact, we wrote about Apple Ratings and what it may do to the Review Economy down the road in a recent blog post. Apple Ratings is something to watch!

The statistics are in favor of online reviews. Northwestern University conducted a study that concluded 95% of shoppers rely on reviews before making a purchase.

Traveling and looking for a good place to eat nearby? You may very well depend on those online reviews before making your dining decision. They are not going away anytime soon.

Google Reviews

Google reviews can really make an impact on brick and mortar companies. So much so that many owners have tried to offer payment in exchange for a good Google review. Something we highly discourage our clients to do, as it is dishonest and can also come back around at some point if you are not careful. Imagine for a moment a customer does leave you a good review in exchange for monetary compensation. Down the road the same person may have an unfavorable experience at your place of business. Can you imagine if they post in social media about it? Even worse, they may cite the favorable review and the compensation. In today’s culture, anything is possible!

Good Google Reviews can make a positive impact on your business, but you had better make sure you have a process in place to monitor the site as well as others. Nothing speaks louder than an unhappy customer with zero reaction from the company. Even if it is an automatic response ( as many are ), it is still better than nothing. Keeping track of your online reputation is a must.

The Case For Surveys

Online reviews have their place, however they can never be a total replacement for conducting your own internal research. Whether you are using mystery shopping or customer surveys, a business in today’s climate can never have too much customer interaction. The Voice of the Customer is still heard the loudest in the form of surveys.

Time is money and money is time. Keep your surveys short and to the point. A short survey that is viewed as easy to take by a customer will garner some excellent results.

We have a B2B client who measures delivery satisfaction. The customer is asked to complete a 4 question Mobile survey right in the moment of experience. Drivers are incentivized to deliver good surveys. This program has run for about a year now and each month the client receives well over a hundred surveys and it is growing. When you factor in word of mouth about the program internally, and good old-fashioned competition, you can create an actionable program for pennies a day!

Question Alternatives

With today’s surveys one has many more options to make an engaging experience for your customers. Here is a great example. Consider how many people took to Tik Tok over the past year! Why? Because they were stuck indoors and found it to be very entertaining. Short, creative and sometimes educational videos by real people on all kinds of topics. In fact, the demographic of users increased because of word of mouth advertising. What started out being a young person’s social site is now used by parents and even some grandparents.

What if we could bring the same level of enthusiasm to a survey?

  • Allow the respondent to take a photo right within the survey. A restaurant customer may love to show a photo of what their entree looked like when they received it! Or how about someone who was asked to upload a photo on how they used the product once it was taken home? It is a more up close and personal kind of question.
  • Try using some humor when crafting your questions or even try using humor in your answers. For example, if fitting for your survey, use words other than excellent, very good , good, etc.. This depends on your customer demographic of course. According to humorthatworks.com, “A survey is only as good as the responses it receives from the responders”. One way to increase the number of survey responses is to use humor to make your surveys fun.” For an excellent rating you could call it “out of the park fantastic”, for example.
  • Change the wording of traditional questions. Anyone who has taken a survey, knows the “standard” questions most ask. They can become so redundant that the respondent doesn’t even think about the answer. Take the question ““How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?” Boring. Instead try ““Has our service been fantastic enough that you’d happily tell you friends about us?”

So don’t disregard the old survey methodologies quite yet. They just need sprucing up a bit and some creative thinking!

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The Year eCommerce Changed Forever

eCommerce

In a very controversial year, from politics to how COVID was handled, one thing we can all agree on and that is that 2020 changed eCommerce forever. Everyone depended on Amazon, Walmart and even Chewy for their day to day, week to week, and even month to month needs. Beginning in March of 2020, these companies had their challenges, but rose to the occasion.

In face, the chart below shows the percentage of online shoppers making at least one online purchase every two months since the outbreak.

They were made for such a challenge. They had their ducks in a row a long time ago. I can remember back 10 years ago when many retailers were still less than optimistic of creating an eCommerce site for their business. “People like to have the in store shopping experience”, many would say. Many retailers felt that eCommerce was a nice to have, but not necessarily a must have.

Late to the Game in eCommerce

Prior to COVID many retailers did try to develop an online presence. Retail stores like Pier1 come to mind. They are a good case study because when they launched online, they semi-launched. I am certain this had to do with many supply chain issues and operation logistics that were out of their control. However, I have to wonder if they jumped on the bandwagon at the very beginning and worked through it over the years, would they have been in a better place in 2020?

Back in 2015, The Wall Street Journal said this about Pier1:

The downward trend coincided with the launch of Pier 1’s e-commerce initiative in July 2012. The company’s heavy investment in that area showed results with 16% of sales coming from e-commerce in the third quarter, up from 12% a year ago. What Pier 1 failed to anticipate was that growth in e-commerce business wouldn’t simply be additive to its overall sales. It also meant less traffic to its bricks-and-mortar stores where costs are fixed. That left Pier 1 with too much inventory. It plans to close 20 to 25 stores this fiscal year.

“Years ago, Pier 1 was a great place to get these unique products, and they would source all this cool stuff, but once Amazon and Etsy came on the scene, you didn’t need them anymore,” said digital marketing consultant Judge Graham, who said he has previously done consulting work for Pier 1. “Target really broke out and reinvented itself years ago, and Walmart did that by becoming more niche.”

What the Consumer Experienced

As a consumer, one always views things retailers do from a different angle. That is why market research so important. You can never learn enough from your customers.

When a consumer would visit the Pier1 website, it was everything you thought it would be. It was colorful, inviting, full of great products and it loaded quickly. All great, until you focused on an item of interest. When attempting to place the items in your cart, you would first have to provide a zip code. At this point, it was hit or miss if the item would be available to ship to your address. To make things even worse, it might not have been available at your nearest retail store either. How many times will a customer return to browse a site knowing ahead of time they may not be able to get their item?

Let’s say that the item was available in your zip code and you purchase it. The next part of the process is important as well. How long did it take? What condition was it in when it arrived?

If you think the above image is an exaggeration, it is not. It is a good representation of several boxes I personally received during the holiday season.

2021 Prediction

I predict the winners in retail down the road, post COVID, will be the ones who are serious about eCommerce. They will be the ones who are listening to their customers in every touchpoint possible. Data will become even more important than it ever was. It will be needed to not only evaluate the customer experience, but to do some predictive analysis on what consumers are looking for in a provider of goods and services.

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Improving NPS for a Better Customer Experience

Net Promoter Score

Quality Assurance in the contact center is being used to improve NPS (Net Promoter Score) and overall customer experience

“How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague? Could you please rate your recommendation on a scale of 0-10?”

These are two questions that can induce anxiety into any business. But the questions are real and have been so since 2003 when Frederick Reicheld of Bain & Company wrote about what he coined the Net Promoter Score (NPS) in an article for the Harvard Business Review.

Reicheld’s premise is simple. Answers to the “likely to recommend” question are rated on a scale of 0-10 and the responses are divided into three groups as follows:

• Promoters (rating of 9-10)• Passives (7-8)• Detractors (0-6)
The Net Promoter Score is determined by subtracting the percentage of detractor responses from the percentage of promoters. The goal is to get as high a Net Promoter Score as possible as an indicator of customer perception of a company’s service and support.

So How Do You Boost Your Net Promoter Score?

1) Truly Listen to the Customer


Perform a deep analysis of your call records. Consider how many calls are subsequently transferred into other departments.  How many result in escalations or complaints?  Do some listening and consider what the main drivers are for these transfers and escalations. A big negative for NPS is when customers feel that they have to deal with many people or departments to get a query resolved. On many occasions, a customer’s issue will have several threads to it, all of which need to be resolved or actioned in some way.
Empower your frontline to handle queries outside their own department’s main scope and provide them with access to whatever systems they need. This greatly enhances their chances of providing the customer with a ‘one-and-done’ resolution to their call.

2) Perfect Your Greetings and Closings


While it might sound obvious, how consistent is your team with their hellos and goodbyes? The greeting is your customer’s first experience with your company, so make sure the call starts out on the right foot – keep it informal, ask them how their day is going, be interested in them as a person and show how you value their business.

Enabling an advisor to see a customer’s history makes for smoother handling of a call without the customer having to repeat themselves. Your employees also need to know what to do when a call is going wrong and how to get it back on track. Having dealt with the call or query, make sure your advisors finish each call on a positive – remember that’s the impression that your customer will leave with.

3) Review Your Scripts


Sometimes an advisor’s strict adherence to a script can bypass common sense and cause more problems than solutions. Giving employees the freedom to act with common sense and not stick rigidly to a script, regardless of the circumstances, can deliver better NPS scores. If a customer has not had their problem resolved and you ask: ‘Is there anything else I can help you with today’, it is likely to be met with a negative response. This lack of common sense is likely to increase dissatisfaction as the customer hasn’t been helped yet.
Frank Sherlock at CallMiner

4) Follow Up Fast


Prompt follow-up with customers can help contact centers drive increases in NPS. This closing works for several reasons:

• demonstrates your commitment to the customer experience
• resolves individual problems
• gives you greater insight into the issues that drag down your customer loyalty


How fast you respond, who follows up and even the means of contacting the customer can depend on the type of feedback received, as well as characteristics of the customer or account. Often, simply hearing that feedback was received improves a customer’s perception of your company. Use follow-up calls to learn more about customer issues. This can help you pinpoint the root causes of recurring problems so you can fix them at the source.
Richard Burns at NICE

5) Boost Morale in the Workplace


Without an emotional investment in their work, most employees are going to have a difficult time maintaining exemplary service, which can cause your NPS to slip. Allow the team to review themselves alongside their superiors. This demonstrates that the individual’s opinion is valued and their development matters, as well as allowing senior employees to build a rapport with their teams. Utilize reward programs like ‘employee of the month’ or competitions that encourage excellent NPS. Pride in good performance is always an incentive to raise or maintain standards of work. These schemes provide continued encouragement for advisors to provide the best service they can, which in turn goes towards raising your NPS.
Enda Kenneally at West Unified Communications

6) Make Exceeding Customer Expectations the Primary Goal


Rather than focus on the NPS itself, make exceeding customer expectations part of your call center’s goal. To do this, you need to look at the NPS as something that measures the difference between the expectations a customer has and the experience they receive.
Prompt advisors to deliver positive surprises and go the extra mile, rather than concentrating on compliance or reducing the call duration. This will exceed customers’ expectations and help you achieve better NPS scores.

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