Customer satisfaction surveys have become an essential part of marketing. Many online sales, telephone support call, and customer exchange is followed by a customer satisfaction survey, and most of those surveys are absolutely useless. When the customer satisfaction ratings become targets, then the insight from customer feedback disappears. To be effective, customer surveys need to be open, unbiased, and untargeted to get authentic customer views; insights that are actionable. That’s why we are seeing more call center clients adopting voice-driven research™ leveraging voice open ends increasing the quality and quantity of qualitative open end response data.
The value of customer satisfaction research has been demonstrated again and again. According to a recent survey by The Temkin Group, 87 percent of customers surveys indicated that their 2016 investment in customer experience (CX) research has a positive impact on business, as opposed to 79 percent in 2015. As a result, 66 percent of companies are increasing spending on CX studies, including a nine-fold increase in headcount. Most of that spending is going into voice of the customer (VoC) software, predictive analytics, and experience design.
Customer satisfaction surveys can help fuel CX research, but only if they gather unbiased results that reflect the true voice of the customer.
Stacking the Deck with Scored Surveys
What’s wrong with customer satisfaction surveys is they become self-fulfilling prophecy. Too often, a company uses customer surveys as a means to gauge call center or service performance, using a score as a target threshold. Surveys become a “shop, rate, reward” system integrated into customer interaction and designed to generate a score, or target.
This type of metric is flawed when gauging true customer experience. Goodhart’s Law, developed by British economist Charles Goodhart, states that once a measure becomes a target, it can no longer be used for valid measurement. By way of example, Goodhart points to soviet factories producing nails according to a target. If the target is to produce a specific number of nails, the factory produces more tiny nails to meet the target. If the target is based on weight, the same factory retools to producer fewer, heavier nails. In both cases, the target doesn’t reflect true value.
Now consider the same truth as it relates to customer satisfaction surveys. If a survey follows a support call or customer call, the call center representative will ask for a favorable rating which will skew the results:
Rep: “Did I address all of your concerns, Mr Jones?”
Customer: “Yes, thank you.”
Rep: “Great, then can I count on you for a 10 out of 10 score on our customer satisfaction survey?
Customer: “Yeah, okay.”
In general, everyone wants to be helpful so you will consistently get survey results that skew positive. In fact, many companies assess call center performance using post-call surveys and anything less than a 10 out of 10 is considered unsatisfactory.
To get true customer sentiment and honest customer feedback, you have to separate the survey from employee scoring.
The Value of Self Expression
The best approach for accurate, actionable insight is to avoid scoring altogether and opt for open ends, where customers get to share their true opinion.
Open-ended questions offer a number of advantages, especially if you are seeking to gather actionable data. For example:
- You get answers you don’t expect. Open ends allow customers to offer observations, not just responses, so you are likely to uncover hidden problems, such as long wait times, problems with your phone menu, and other annoyances. Removing impediments to better customer service means better returns
- Complete responses to complex questions. Open ends allow customer to explain. This has at least two benefits: 1) it provides a more comprehensive response to the questions and 2) it cements customer relations by giving the caller a chance to be heard.
- It tells you how customers think.
How you administer open end questions also has an impact on the quality of response. You can use written surveys, which will give you genuine feedback that is easy to add to your database for data search. However, given the rising degree of survey fatigue, consumers are losing patience with answering surveys, and written surveys may not generate the response rate you want.
Voice capture adds another layer of authenticity to feedback surveys. Mobile phones in particular have become a popular tool for IVR surveys. Two-thirds of Americans own smartphones and use them for online data access as well as telephone calls, so targeting smartphone users gives them options on how to take the survey. We have found that most consumers prefer voice response surveys because they are faster and easier, which is an advantage for call centers since voice responses capture the true voice of the customer.
With new speech-to-text transcription technologies, companies are seeing an error rate of 7 percent or less for transcriptions. This makes transcribed voice response accurate and incredibly useful for call centers. Transcriptions can be generated in near real-time, making it easy to search algorithms that can flag customer issues that need immediate attention. And the original voice file can be preserved for tone and deeper insight. The result is customer satisfaction response that is easy to capture, more accurate, and most importantly, immediately actionable.
Targeting customer satisfaction provides a false positive that will lead your company in the wrong direction. If you truly want to gauge satisfaction, don’t lead your customers, just ask them what they think. If you provide a forthright and easy way to respond, such as voice response, then you will get more accurate results that will lead to better business decisions.