Some questions like ‘What is the price of conducting customer feedback surveys?’ are hard to answer. Often referred to as CX feedback or Customer Experience Feedback programmes, this article is mostly aimed at those who are new to getting customer feedback and those who feel they are not getting good value from their current customer experience reporting. The article will offer suggestions about how to get the best value and to consider what you really need. And, more importantly, what costs and what doesn’t?

Is customer feedback important to you?

Let’s start though with turning things round and asking the question “How important is getting customer experience feedback to you?’ The response to this question will depend on several things. These will include the competitiveness of the market you are in, the complexity of how you get business and handle customers, the motivation of your customers, the loyalty of your customers, the price sensitivity of your product or service and, not least, whether the results will be used to drive change – or, will they just be put on a shelf in yet another business report?

Customer Satisfaction surveys vs. Customer Experience Feedback programmes

Firstly, let’s differentiate between Customer Satisfaction surveys and Customer Experience Feedback programmes. Customer Satisfaction surveys are usually long questionnaires which ask customers about everything imaginable, covering every detail of your service. Customer Experience Feedback programmes must be short questionnaires (in our view) that capture information from customers soon after a transaction has taken place.

The difference between Customer Satisfaction surveys and CX Feedback

Customer Satisfaction Surveys are conducted periodically, maybe annually or quarterly, and give a snapshot of your customers’ satisfaction levels. They are conducted by face to face interviewing, online, by telephone or by self-completion. They are generally expensive, but will give a comprehensive picture though results often do not vary much from year to year. CX Feedback is conducted online from any device and will give rapid feedback so that problems can be spotted and resolved, possibly within hours or even minutes. Feedback programmes are designed to improve standards and spot problems.

immediacy CX

CX Feedback offers immediacy so that you can react fast

Depth vs Immediacy

Customer Satisfaction surveys may give depth to what your customers are thinking, but sometimes too much depth can conceal the real problem. Asking people to rate more than 20 or more aspects of your service can be tedious for respondents and it doesn’t guarantee that an indication of whether, for example, a dissatisfaction is important or not unless importance is also rated. CX Feedback is designed to give you rapid feedback and an insight as to whether customers are getting the service they want.

Things you can do

Let’s start by looking at how you can spend your Customer Feedback Management budget or, if you don’t have one, how a small budget can be used successfully. Let’s look at the what’s on offer:

  • Conducting your own surveys
  • Having the surveys conducted for you
  • Analysing and reporting the data
  • Interacting with the data
  • Adding Social Media Analytics (Social Listening)
  • Customer Journey Mapping
  • Statistical modelling

Let’s look at each in turn:

Conducting your own surveys

There are several free or low-cost online survey platforms so that you can prepare your own questionnaire, send surveys to your customers and analyse the data. Surveymonkey and SmartSurvey are two popular examples of software that you can use in this way. Conducting your own surveys is a good way to start or learn more about your customers. However, asking the right questions, asking the questions in the right way and getting actionable results should not be underestimated.

Having the surveys conducted for you

There are plenty of market research agencies that can handle a survey for you. Many will be more specialised in handling longer surveys. Customer feedback surveys tend to be (or should be) short surveys of one to six questions – we recommend three to five. Short, simple surveys are not the domain of most research agencies, meaning that costs will tend to be high or you may encouraged to increase the size of the survey, which may not necessarily offer you more. If you work with a research agency, the cost will generally be high, whereas working with a technology company like CX Zebra, the cost will be far more competitive.

Analysing and reporting the data

In my view, one of the most overlooked features of Customer Feedback programmes is the need for good reporting that meets your needs. It’s no good having reports or online dashboards that are difficult for your key personnel to understand. Similarly, it is important the reporting structure gives you the information you need. This may be anything from simple charts, tables of figures in spreadsheets through to dashboards and reports that might include your other business data, such as sales, targets, advertising expenditure etc. Cheap but flexible reporting is something that you should expect.

Interacting with the data

Reporting requirements can vary from some key metrics through to complex reporting systems where different types of users can explore data. It’s important that there is flexibility in how data is made available. You do not want to discover that you have a large unexpected fee just because you want to dig slightly further into the numbers or the key findings.

Adding Social Media Analytics (Social Listening)

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You can use social media analytics alongside CX data

Well run Customer Feedback programmes can give you a good handle on how different parts of your business are performing. They enable you to measure improvements and compare data between different teams. Customer Feedback programmes will not necessarily tell you why things are going well or badly. You could expand the research to a bigger programme, but that is likely to be expensive and may not show you the real factors. Social media analytics offer insight into what is and isn’t working. There are some cheap social media analytics programmes available and they should generally be avoided as they will be highly inaccurate. Professionally handled social media analytics will remove the noise from the data and provide accurate and insightful feedback. Of the 1000 or so companies offering this service, only a handful provide data that is close in quality to what we offer. Social media analytics are not cheap if you want robust data. A budget of £10,000 per year or more is needed for reliable data. If it’s significantly less, I would advise against spending anything on social media analytics.

Customer Journey Mapping

There are many myths about Customer Journey Mapping. Whilst it is important to understand the path that a customer takes to interact with you, it is also easy to oversimplify the process and miss an important weak spot in your customer’s journey. On the reverse side of the coin, it is easy to over-react and imagine a pain point that does not really trouble a customer too much. Many surveys ask for a satisfaction rating but fail to ask whether it is important. Personas are often used to imagine how a customer will interact with your business. Whilst this may good for brainstorming, it can become grounded in fiction rather than fact. This leads me to say that there is either very good customer journey work or bad work with little in between. There are data scientists who can handle work to a high level, but, if it is cheap, you should be suspicious.

Statistical modelling

Statistical modelling works closely with Customer Journey mapping and can give you real insights about your customers. However, you would generally need large data sets to make this both viable and valuable. Again, this comes at a cost with cheap solutions being best avoided. At the end of the day, customers are unpredictable and tend not to work in the same way, which can lead to misinterpreted data if too many assumptions are made.

Overview vs. Detail

Customer Experience Feedback programmes can range from inexpensive to expensive research projects. To get the best value, I would recommend keeping things simple unless more depth can be seen to offer good ROI. Too many Feedback programmes do not give good ROI. Keeping surveys simple and having the reporting in the way you need it will allow you to spot problems quickly and to monitor success.

Don’t ignore price

price mattersMany professionals in the CX field will tell you that price is not important and that once you have built loyalty, price becomes relatively insignificant. I would disagree with that. Whatever we buy, in the back of our minds we know whether this is, to us at least, a high price or a low price. It’s true many people don’t mind paying a premium price for something, but to assume that a good experience will equate to loyalty can be fallacy.

What budget do I need to get started?

Your budget will depend on the number of customers you have and the complexity of the reporting you need as well as whether you want to link in good quality social media analytics. However, one of our programmes priced at, say, £349 per month or £799 per month may give you more insight into your business than a significantly more expensive programme or a customer satisfaction survey. By asking the right questions and providing the right reporting, you will be a stronger position to improve your business. Contact us now to find out more.