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Editorial

Lights, Camera, Action: The Final Step in Your Customer Survey Program

5 minute read
Eddie Accomando avatar
The best customer experience advice that I have to give is to commit to surveying your customers as you would converse with a colleague.

A wide chasm often exists between companies' perception of the customer experience (CX) and the reality of that experience. This experience gap is growing, despite increased attention from the C-Suite and efforts from customer experience professionals. Customer survey programs are often static, and success is measured by numbers of respondents, yielding low but acceptable response rates. Experience data is often only examined when numbers drop precipitously or when a customer-facing issue has been identified through other channels. Employees and customers reach a state of détente where employees are encouraged to do the same things and the customers are encouraged to accept a “good enough” product or service. 

If you’ve been following this seven-part series, you’ve hopefully taken the necessary steps to create a world-class CX program. Your customers responded to fun projects that provided some benefit. The questions were clear and easy to answer. The right people were invited, and you anticipated various results. You are out of the field, and your customers have a positive impression of your company because you showed them you were listening by asking new questions and responding to their feedback. 

The best CX advice that I have to give is to commit to surveying your customers as you would converse with a colleague. In a great conversation, each participant is listening, considering and acting. 

So, to conclude this series, I encourage every experience management professional to take three CX program actions that will differentiate your company and drive goodwill, loyalty and revenue: Analyze, Socialize and Summarize.

Action 1: Analyze: Fulfill the Objectives of Your CX Analysis Plan

Your first action should be reporting data according to your plan. Data-driven decisions are easy for organizations to make. Reporting in stages as you go can reveal insight and inspire action.

Describe Each Variable

Looking at each question independently will tell you much about its utility. Ask questions about each row of data. Is this data what you expected? Is it normally distributed? Why or why not? Nothing is better than the “box and whiskers” work done upfront that unlocks a deeper understanding of the data.

Examine Bivariate Relationships

Analyzing variables two at a time using a simple correlation matrix will help you understand the relationship of individual attributes to your dependent variable. Highly correlated variables could indicate a relationship that is insightful but could also mean that they measure the same thing. For example, “Food Quality” and “Food Freshness” may be highly correlated, so ask yourself, do the terms mean what you think they mean? Will your customers conflate the two concepts? 

A goal of this series is to help you identify variables that affect the success or performance of your company, commonly referred to as key drivers. But remember, correlation is not causation, so always speak about potential relationships rather than defined causes as latent variables abound. That key driver you discover may not drive anything at all!

Multivariate Modeling   

Understanding the effects of many variables at one time is complex, and the conditions need to be just right to yield models that actually help drive material change. It’s part of the reason you should always phone a friend and check with your data analyst during the design phase.

Embedded operational data or other economic indicators can help explain or predict overall satisfaction in tandem with your new CX opinion data. Carefully consider weighting or removing variables with strong effects to prioritize a weaker set. When one variable overshadows other measurements, you may not have the resources to make improvements immediately. However, you certainly shouldn’t exclude it from analysis or reports. After all, the 400-pound gorilla in the room is just as noticeable when down the hallway!

Leverage A/B Tests

Comparing treatment groups to control groups will help you support global actions. Segment and test your hypotheses (e.g., Customers who call are happier than those who self-service). This kind of test is easy to run, and easy for others to understand. Remember to keep scales consistent.

Learning Opportunities

Related Article: 7 Voice of the Customer Metrics You Shouldn't Ignore

Action 2: Socialize CX Data Internally

The goal of your program should be to inspire action. Make it easy for employees to deliver a superlative experience. Nobody goes to work wanting to do a poor job.

How do you do that? 

  • Involve frontline employees who can help you design an easy to scale program. Be clear about the potential outcomes of collecting this feedback and address important issues for them, such as resources or process changes. A change to policy that adds new processes that take attention from customer service is unlikely to have a positive impact, and your frontline employees will be the first to let you know.
  • Communicate internally in much the same way as you communicate intent to the broad customer audience, broadcasting the reason for the change and providing a timeline for completion.
  • Display customer feedback in a real-time dashboard. The organization can watch the new process, product, or service drive goodwill, retention, or revenue. Even if the new process needs tweaks, you are proving to everyone that your customers are the most important part of your business. 

Related Article: A Deep Dive on a Customer Experience Priority: Customer Understanding

Action 3: Summarize What You Learned From the CX Survey and Thank Each Respondent

Consistently remind customers that your changes are based on their behavior and feedback. Most CX programs take in information, but the customer never experiences a follow-up or response. This widens the experience gap. You can keep a running list of your “Top 3 CX Improvements” using the following structure:

  1. We asked this ____.
  2. We learned this _____.
  3. We instituted this change _____.
  4. We thanked each respondent, and explained how they benefited _____.

Follow these steps and gain a substantial edge in the experience economy. Analyze, socialize and summarize your program in a regular cadence. Then start over. At the end of the day, continuous improvement and iteration are all that get anyone anywhere.

About the author

Eddie Accomando

Eddie Accomando, XM Scientist at Qualtrics, is an applied anthropologist who has 25 years of experience in the design, deployment, and maintenance of enterprise-wide CX programs.A strong methodological focus can be brought to bear on real-world programs, and he applies qualitative and quantitative research techniques to reveal insights that drive action within organizations.