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How to monitor your customer experience

Running a check on a customer experience program has never been easier. Free tools from the likes of Survey Monkey enable you to quickly design a questionnaire, send it to customers, and the job is done.

But wait; is an online questionnaire the best way of collecting the data? What about the people who deal with you on the telephone or contact you face-to-face – shouldn't you be using a mirrored approach to find out what they think of your customer experience? And how often are you going to run the survey? Is it something that takes place after every customer intervention or should it be just once a year or every two years? What questions should be asked? Is it sufficient to ask “How likely are you to recommend our company as a supplier?” and “Why did you say that?” or do you need to delve deeper? And if you do delve deeper, what questions elicit the most meaningful answers? What does it mean if you have different scores for different aspects of your performance? Oh, and while we're at it, is a survey the best way of measuring experience, especially as there is so much social media out there with reviews and comments that make surveys redundant?

B2B companies face an extra complication. The decision making unit that deals with a supplier involves numerous people whose views may be relevant. Someone orders the products, someone pays for them, someone uses them and quite possibly a different person specifies what is required. Furthermore, a lot depends on the products/services you are selling, the number of customers you have, the way you deal with those customers (directly or through channels). There are lots of things to consider in a customer experience audit and here we limit our comments to the most important considerations.

1. Listening is key. This may seem obvious, but it is critical. If you want to find out what customers think of your customer service you need to be all eyes and ears. This means listening to what customers say to your sales team, what they say to your customer service team, what they say on or on online reviews and what they say in surveys. It is then necessary to soak in these data and figure out what they mean. Listening should be a continuous habit using every possible means to obtain a good cross-section of views.

2. Satisfaction scores are necessary. It can be a bind for customers to have to distil their customer experience views into a numerical score but in so doing, they will provide you with valuable benchmarks. You will be able to compare different aspects of your performance and track these measures over time. There is some truth in the dictum that "what can't be measured can't be improved".

3. Understand the how and why. Measurements are important for tracking trends but they do not tell you what to do. For this you need a deeper understanding and this comes from open ended questions that explore why people gave certain answers. Also watch how people use your products and deal with your company. “Seeing is believing” and will help explain the numerical scores.

4. Segment your customers. We need to know who has said what in order to interpret the measures. This means we need to know as much about our customers as possible. Who is it that has answered the questions? What is their responsibility in the decision-making process? How big are they? Where are they based? What is the nature of their business? How old are they? How long have they been a customer? These classification questions will show if different groups of people have different views. Customers are not all the same and it may be that your customer experience is failing with a particular group.

5. Turn your findings into action. It cannot be assumed that a good survey with clear findings will lead to action. Customer experience improvements may need additional resources, change management, and new approaches; all of which will be more likely to happen if endorsed and overseen by the boss. Leaders of the company must be fully engaged.


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