The customer feedback experience – an experience not to be taken for granted!


taking customer feedback for granted

Last week I made a telephone call to my bank. A routine query, I chose to pick up the phone and call with my question, rather than use any other channel open to me. Having gone through the usual number selection process (or IVR as it is known technically), I was connected to a human. The chap I spoke to was very nice – he answered my question in less than thirty seconds. The entire experience lasted no more than 90 seconds ‘end to end’. All pretty simple. I disconnected the call without another thought.

Now you may be wondering what this rather banal story has to do with the subject of customer feedback. Let me explain. Approximately five minutes after I had concluded the telephone call with my bank my telephone rang. I was greeted by an automated message from the very bank I had just been conversing with. The message asked if I would be happy to participate in a short survey regarding my ‘recent’ experience. I was slightly taken aback. I had not given anyone permission to call my home telephone number to ask for my feedback on the call I had just made. The nice man I had spoken to did not say anything about it either. Rather than providing feedback, I disconnected the call with a sense of annoyance at what had just occurred – and that is why I am writing about the customer feedback experience.

For many years I have been troubled by one of the key pieces of the Customer Experience jigsaw puzzle – VOC (Voice of the Customer). I have not been troubled by the need for it – quite the contrary. VOC is one of three essential, obligatory elements of any Customer Experience measurement programme (VOP – voice of the process and VOE – voice of the employee being the other two).What has troubled me is the way organisations go about getting it – or in other words, the suitability and appropriateness of the very experience we put our customers through in order for us to find out what they think.

When was the last time you provided feedback to an organisation? Whilst we are able to deliver feedback without any prompting from the companies we interact with, the same companies are constantly trying to get us to tell them what we think via a variety of surveying methods. The same channels we use to conduct our transactions are also used to solicit our thoughts – both in words and numbers. Most of the methodologies used are the same today as they were many years ago – not a great deal seems to have changed. Doing what I do for a living, I often provide feedback when asked – I feel it is critical to allow companies to understand how I feel about my experience with them whilst I am always interested to understand what they want to know.

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So let me ask again – when did you last provide feedback to an organisation that asked you for it? What did you think of the experience of actually doing it? Did you even consider the act of giving feedback to be an experience in itself? Too often the experience of giving feedback is not a great one. Regularly faced with lengthy online surveys, many consumers become disengaged very quickly. That is why methodologies such as NPS (Net Promoter Score) and Customer Effort have been so successful – radically simplifying the capturing of information can make it a better experience for the customer in providing it.

The challenge for customer focused organisations today is that they need to be able to design the customer feedback experience in the same way they design their customer journeys. As with the customer journey, capturing customer feedback should have a clear business need as well as defining some form of clear purpose for the customer to align to. It is very common for me to come across customer feedback mechanisms that have defined neither. I therefore urge all those responsible for customer feedback in their organisations to consider the following:

Business Need

  • Do you have a ‘customer feedback strategy’ in place?
  • Have you mapped/designed the customer feedback experience?
  • Is your customer feedback mechanism(s) actionable?
  • Is your customer feedback mechanism linked to employee performance and incentives?

Customer Purpose

  • Do you know how your customers want to provide feedback?
  • Do you know what customers think about the experience of giving feedback?
  • Do you have any defined way of keeping customers informed of actions you take as a result of their feedback?
  • Do you have a defined strategy to maintain customer engagement in continuously providing feedback?

Businesses will always need measurable and actionable customer feedback to continuously improve the experience they have with their organisation. Unless companies get better at designing the experience of providing feedback, there is a risk that too many customers will just not bother to give it any more. The extremes of customer perception will always make their voice heard – the unsolicited voice of the very happy or very angry – via a variety of social media channels. However, if we want the silent majority to keep helping us make our businesses better at giving them what they want and need, we must ensure that we make the experience of giving feedback one that the silent majority can more comfortably engage with.

Businesses will always need measurable and actionable customer feedback – without it, sustaining a focus on customer experience in an organisation is made very difficult We must therefore NEVER take for granted that customers will carry on giving us the feedback that we so urgently need. Go and review your customer feedback mechanism today – walk the experience for yourself and ensure that you are able to maintain your approach to customer feedback in the future.

The Net Promoter Score No No – Do not use NPS if it makes no sense to do so


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Net Promoter Score (or NPS as it is also known) has been written and spoken about thousands of times over the last few years. Whilst some see it as the simplest (and cheapest) way to capture customer feedback, others dismiss it as far too simplistic with an inability to allow the organisation using it to understand what issues need to addressed.

Using the NPS scoring system as an analogy, I am neither a promoter nor a detractor of the methodology – although I would say the same thing for any customer feedback mechanism. As I will tell any business that asks me – every organisation is different – different customers; employees; business structure; issues; environment etc.. What each individual organisation needs to do to improve the customer experience will de dependent on its situation. This includes the adoption of a customer feedback programme.

NPS is a very effective tool to help a business understand customer loyalty – but it does not apply to every business. I have very successfully encouraged organisations to adopt it.  These tend to be businesses looking to grow – the more likely one customer is to recommend the business to someone else, the greater the likelihood is that they will achieve the growth they are looking for.

NPS is obviously not the only customer feedback mechanism available. Customer Satisfaction is very commonly deployed, whilst ‘Customer Effort Score’ has become more prominent in the last couple of years. None is right, none is wrong – what is important is that an organisation deploys what is right for them. More often than not, I will recommend using two methods – one to galvanise support in the organisation, and one to provide a granular understanding of the priorities for improvement.

Sadly, NPS is often abused and misused – I would like to share with you a very current example. Yesterday, Mrs Golding unfortunately had to pay a visit to the Accident & Emergency department of our local hospital in Chester. Naomi’s injury was a long way from life threatening, but she was sent there by our General Practitioner. To cut a long story short, Naomi had a piece of ceramic tile stuck in her foot – a little like a splinter – and it needed to be removed as quickly as possible.

I dropped Naomi off at the hospital at 11:30am, and collected her at 15:45. We did not expect her visit to be swift!! In the hours Naomi was at the hospital, she observed and experienced a number of things – from the packed, not particularly clean waiting room, to friendly nurses and helpful doctors. By the time she hobbled out of the hospital, her objective had been met – her foot was sore, but the problem was solved.

Of all of the experiences we have today – especially in the UK – the one that we might least expect to be asked about is our experience at an NHS hospital. When Naomi looked at her phone later that day and saw a text message from an unknown number – she was intrigued. The unknown number turned out to be from the Countess of Chester Hospital – the image below is of the text message:

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Instantly Naomi knew I would be interested in seeing it – she was right. My immediate thought was No No No!! Why on earth is an Accident and Emergency department of the only NHS hospital with an A&E department in Chester asking the NPS question??? What better example can be provided of an inappropriate use of the NPS methodology? Why on earth would anyone NOT recommend the A&E department in a city where there is only one??? Would anyone ask a paramedic to drive on to the hospital in the next city as they were told by a friend not to use the local one??

I think that the intent of the text message is correct – the method is completely wrong. I once attended a meeting where the now defunct NHS Direct shared with the group that their NPS score was close to 100% – this was yet another example of an organisation using the wrong method – NHS Direct was unique – you would never have NOT recommended it!!

I can tell you right now that the Countess of Chester Hospital will learn nothing from this survey – they will not have any idea that the waiting room was not clean, that certain members of staff were kind and polite, that the waiting times were satisfactory or not. The NPS score they receive will be extremely high. They may perceive as a result that the A&E department is doing a great job.

There is NO POINT capturing customer feedback unless that feedback enables your organisation to understand what the priorities for improvement are. If you want to get a great customer feedback score for the purposes of vanity, put your business in a monopoly situation and then ask the NPS question. The A&E department at the Countess of Chester Hospital would be much better served asking patients how satisfied they were with a small number of touchpoints during their visit – from waiting room, to triage assessment, to staff engagement etc.. If they carry on asking patients if they would recommend the unrecommendable, the result will be quite simple – a complete waste of money!

 

Why would you recommend Virgin Trains? Why NPS should not be the default question to measure all customer experiences


Virgin Trains - why would you recommend them to anyone when there is no other option?
Virgin Trains – why would you recommend them to anyone when there is no other option?

I am very fortunate to work with and alongside some exceptional Customer Experience Professionals. As a specialist in the profession myself, the ability to continually learn from my peers enables my own development. Whilst I love writing about all things to do with Customer Experience (as I hope you know), some of my colleagues are not as keen as I am to rant on a regular basis. That being said, I often try to ‘twist the arm’ of the experts I know others will be keen to learn from.

I am absolutely delighted that my friend and fellow Customer Experience Professional, Maria McCann has finally caved in and written about an experience of her own. If you do not know Maria, you should. Maria is one of the most accomplished leaders I know in the Customer Experience field, having held senior roles at Red Letter Days, ASOS, Spotify and Aurora Fashions. Her story (which I am hoping you have guessed involves Virgin Trains) is one that I am sure we can all relate to – I know you will enjoy reading it:

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We’ve all been on the receiving end of a train delay. It’s often a no-win situation for the train company focused on getting everyone to their destination safely, while passengers are left feeling impotent and frustrated.  I feel protective of the customer facing teams dealing with confused, sometimes angry customers and the social teams whose twitter handles get put under immense pressure to respond with lightening speed.

However a first time trip using Virgin Trains left me with more steam coming out of my ears than one of their Super Voyagers! Let me set the scene. My train was cancelled. The next one was delayed. Updates from the concourse and on twitter citing reasons outside of the train Operators control. A blameless situation and a communicative company.  All ok so far. Expect in the middle of my chaos, I received a survey asking me how my recent travel experience was and how likely I was to recommend Virgin Trains to a family or friend. The good old NPS question.

When I told them there was zero chance of me recommending them, I was asked why.  This is what I told them.

  1. Why would I need to recommend the only operator that runs this route?
  2. My train is delayed. I wouldn’t recommend anyone right now

I’m going to pivot here for a moment and talk about Net Promoter Score; the methodology that Virgin Trains, and countless other businesses use to measure their customer experience.

I was an early UK adopter of NPS, first implementing it at Red Letter Days in 2007. The reason I used it was a purists’ one. I wanted something we could use to measure organic growth. As a company coming out of Administration, it was crucial we had a sustainable customer growth underpinning our strategy and NPS was a great way to measure this.

Since then I have seen the use of NPS evolve into a benchmark measure for customer satisfaction or experience reaching out beyond commercial markets into sectors with consumer monopolies such as train travel, and even NHS Direct in health.I’m all for having a measure that provides insight which organisations can act upon. However, I would challenge NPS as the default question to measure customer experience in all cases. It was certainly the wrong question to ask about my train experience.

Anyway, back to my frustrated self, standing on the platform. NPS question asked and answered. Check. Algorithm picked up key word, prompting more detail from me. Check. Detail given in form of mini-rant. Check.

‘We’re sorry you experienced a delay’ was the answer to my response ‘If you have been delayed by more than 30 minutes, please click here to download a form to claim for compensation.

WOW! I thought; this business is so sorry that I have to do all the work to pick up the pieces.

My train finally arrived and it was elbows at dusk as two trains worth of passengers attempted what looked like a line of rugby scrums as they boarded. Deciding that standard class was going to be more like cattle class, I decided to seek out a member of staff to see if I could upgrade to 1st, (which took up a third of the train and was practically empty). ‘Upgrades are only available at weekends’ was the flat response.  I had no idea what this meant and was losing my calm. And so I turned to Twitter to see if I could get what I wanted. #Epicfail

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I got no response from Virgin Trains after my final tweet and I spent the rest of my journey calming myself over a gin and reflecting on what I could learn from my experience.

Data gives us opportunities to see further ahead than the customer. So why do we often act out of kilter with our customers’ reality?

When I headed up Customer Service at ASOS, I obsessed over being one step ahead of our customers. Especially on delayed deliveries. Then we developed the capability to predict delays, communicate the failure and refund the delivery charge. All in one smooth service experience. This presented a culture problem. If we refunded 100% of failures, we might refund some customers who didn’t deserve it and we would definitely spend more in refunds.

However we decided to put the right experience over our fears and became one of the first retailers to tell customers of a problem before they felt the pain of experiencing it.  Customers who had previously complained fell, rapidly.  Refunds ballooned but we were able to reinvest the resources we had saved from reduced customer contact, into finding the root of these delays and fixing them for good.

Virgin Trains could have mashed up mine and the train’s data. They could have emailed me to tell me of the delay. They could have reassured me I didn’t have to do anything because they were sorting the compensation. And they could have avoided sending me a survey at the worst possible moment in my experience.

 We love training our teams to be empowered. So why don’t we support them to be autonomous?

I know some of you will be thinking empowerment and autonomy are the same and I’ve lost the plot.  Admittedly my mind can sometimes make quantum leaps of logic so let me try to explain what’s going on in my head…

Empowerment is a set of pre-defined powers handed from manager to employee, usually to manage a set of processes. Autonomy starts from the other end. It is an individual using their purpose, self-reliance and judgment to handle any situation, with their leaders supporting their needs. Talk to me about autonomy and I get inspired.

My experience could have gone differently in a completely autonomous environment. 1st class seats could have been sold without referring to process limitations to those interested in paying. If a totally customer obsessed train manager had been in charge, free WiFi and coffee might have been given to the flagging passengers! Although it was clear the team were empowered to manage the overall situation of the delay, I felt like I’d been shoved through a linear process.

To be fair to Virgin Trains, my overall experience is no better or worse than most consumer face everyday. Most brands are just not brave enough to push the boundaries in how we can use data and support our teams to act autonomously.

So I’ll leave you with this thought …  if we did use data to manage and measure the hygiene parts of our customers experience and leave the awesome parts to our autonomous colleagues, I believe most brands would have a better relationship with their customers as a result.

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I am sure you will join me in thanking Maria for taking the time to write this excellent post. You can connect with her on Twitter @mariamccann or LinkedIn

Recommend? Tweet? Do customers really do it?


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Have you ever been asked the Net Promoter Score (NPS) question? Do you even know what Net Promoter Score is? Despite the fact that the NPS method has been around for ten years, there are many who have no idea what it is. This is an extract from the ‘font of all knowledge’ – Wikipedia explaining it:

Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures the loyalty that exists between a Provider and a consumer. The provider can be a Company, employer or any other entity. The provider is the entity that is asking the questions on the NPS survey. The Consumer is the customer, employee, or respondent to an NPS survey.

NPS is based on a direct question: How likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to your friends and colleagues? The scoring for this answer is most often based on a 0 to 10 scale. Companies are encouraged to follow this question with an open-ended request for elaboration, soliciting the reasons for a customer’s rating of that company or product. These reasons can then be provided to front-line employees and management teams for follow-up action.

At some stage we have all been asked the question – mostly via a survey or questionnaire, although sometimes in person. I will never forget the time I opened a bank account for my business, only for the business manager to ask me if I would give them a ‘9 or a 10’ on their NPS survey. I kid you not! The purpose of this post is not to discuss the pros and cons of NPS – that has been done many times in the last ten years already! The purpose of this post is to clarify whether or not we, as consumers, actually do recommend organisations we have dealt with to others.

In my recent ‘what do customers want’ research, I asked the question – ‘do you ever recommend organisations you have transacted with to friends, family or acquaintances?’. The question was different to the NPS question itself. NPS looks at ‘likelihood’ – it does not know if the respondent ever actually does. I wanted to know if we actually do. Here is the result:

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82% of respondents in my research have at some stage recommended an organisation to someone else. Not intended – but actually have. A further 17.5% sometimes recommend – but not always. This is perhaps no a surprise to you – and not a surprise to me. Word of mouth has always been a significant part of business development – and will always continue to be. This research does confirm that NPS is a very useful business metric. Only a tiny minority of respondents do not recommend – less than half of one %. So if your organisation does not know if customers are prepared to recommend you – maybe you should find out.

Another question I was intrigued to know the answer to in my research focussed on social media. Those that know me, know that I am a little obsessed with being seen and heard across a variety of social platforms. I use Twitter regularly to communicate with organisations I transact with, and I wanted to know if others do to. I asked the question – ‘Have you ever used social media (Twitter or Facebook) to interact with an organisation (when requiring customer service or help)?’ – I wanted to know if social channels have genuinely become a serious consideration for us as customers to contact companies. Here are the results:

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Almost a 50:50 split. 52% of respondents have contacted organisations using Twitter or Facebook – whilst 48% have not. As this is the first and only time I have done research on this subject, I do not know what that split would have looked like 1 year ago – or 5 years ago. I can only speculate that this number is increasing steadily over time.

The result does show that half of our likely customer base is not yet using social media channels to communicate with us. Those suggesting that traditional channels (telephone and email) are dying had better take heed of this. If 50% of consumers are not using social media to communicate – they are as a result still using traditional methods. Yet the fact that 50% of consumers are, is equally important.

How many times have you ‘tweeted’ an organisation only to be met with complete and utter silence? How often is your voice ignored when using Twitter or Facebook as your chosen method of contact? I could (although I will not) name a dozen organisations I have tweeted in the last twelve months only to receive no response. If 50% of consumers are using social media channels already as a communication tool, these organisations need to sit up and take notice – and quickly!!

The title of this blog post was ‘Recommend? Tweet? Do customers really do it?’ – my independent research confirms that they really do! If you have not yet read previous posts about the rest of the research, you can do so via the following links:

http://ijgolding.com/2013/11/06/what-do-customers-really-want-the-top-five-most-important-things-revealed/

http://ijgolding.com/2013/11/19/what-irritates-customers-most-the-top-five-irritations-revealed/

Let me leave you with a lovely quote from Walt Disney:

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‘Simplicity is divinity’ – is this what is behind the success of First Direct?


I have always been a little mystified by First Direct. Firstly, it is a bank. What is there to get excited about when it comes to banks? I am one of many who unfortunately has become very apathetic towards banks – I just do not care about them. This may surprise many people – but sadly it is true. My apathy means that I cannot even be bothered to leave the bank I have been with since I went to university. I cannot be bothered to leave a bank that has invested absolutely NOTHING in me as a customer in all that time. So why am I not moved do something when I meet friends and colleagues who tell me wonderful things about their own bank – First Direct. Honestly – I find it more difficult to find someone who DOES NOT like First Direct than I do someone who DOES!! It is my apathy towards banking that stops me from moving – maybe once I have finished writing this blog post I will be inspired to do so!! So what is it that makes First Direct so special?

Let’s start with a few First Direct Facts (since its launch in 1989) – I have taken these directly from their website:

  • first direct has 1.16 million customers
  • 950,000 of them use Internet Banking
  • 420,000 customers use SMS message banking. first direct sends around 3.5 million text messages to customers every month
  • first direct employs 3,200 people in 2,700 FTE roles at two sites, in Leeds and Hamilton (near Glasgow)
  • 44% of first direct‘s sales are via e-channels
  • more than 1 in 4 of first direct‘s customers join because of personal recommendation
  • over 89% of customer contact with first direct is electronic
  • first direct handles around 135,000 telephone calls every week
  • first direct takes over 54,000 calls (40%) outside working hours each week (Monday to Friday 08:00 – 18:00)
  • first direct takes over 1,700 calls a day from abroad
  • first direct has been in profit every year since 1995

Compared to their competitors, First Direct have generated a phenomenal level of satisfaction and loyalty with their customer base. In 2011, right in the midst of the financial crisis (caused by banks), First Direct were quoted by Satmetrix as having an NPS (Net Promoter Score) Score of 61% – second only to Apple in the UK !!

Source: Satmetrix industry benchmark reports
Source: Satmetrix industry benchmark reports

This result is no fluke. The UKCSI – an independent customer satisfaction survey produced by The leadership Factor on behalf of the Institute of Customer Service also puts First Direct right at the top of the rankings. The latest results put First Direct third in the overall table behind ASOS and John Lewis. They scored the same as Waitrose and Amazon (http://www.instituteofcustomerservice.com/10560/UK-CustomerSatisfactionIndexUKCSI.html).

At a time when customer perception of the banking industry in the UK was (and still is) at an all time low, nothing has changed as far as the customers of First Direct are concerned. Searching for verbatim comments online, the positive comments from First Direct are amazing – here are a selection:

“I left my high street bank (sponsor of the premier league) when I took a half day off work to go in to the branch and they were closed for staff training. Unbelievable!! This was a long time ago and I went home that night and set up a new account with 1stD at 23:00. Since that time I have had one or two small gripes but the overwhelming experience has been an exemplar of top quality customer service. Some of their products are not brilliantly competitive but so don’t buy them. They don’t spend ages trying to sell me things and calling them is almost always a pleasurable experience. Well done them.”

“They are brilliant – got thoroughly hacked off with HSBC and moved our account to First Direct (on recommendation of a colleague) and they made it as easy as possible for us to do so.”

“First Direct are absolutely fab. I have been with them for around 20 years. It’s so nice to talk to someone friendly on the other end of the phone. They have always helped me if my account has gone overdrawn/got into problems. I have never been kept hanging on or moved from pillar to post. The person who answers the phone generally deals with the problem. Also if you move your account to First Direct you get £100 paid into your account – not a bad incentive!”

“I think First Direct are great. You always get a real person on the phone. And you can say something like “can you move £100 from my joint account to my personal account” and they get what you mean, without having to quote loads of account numbers.”

Yes it is possible to find negative sentiment towards First Direct – no organisation is perfect. However, the overriding feeling is very positive. So just what is it that makes First Direct so special? How have they managed to sustain such positive customer perception when all of their competitors (including their parent bank) have seen customers turn against them? Last week, along with over a hundred other customer experience professionals, I think I found out why.

This is Mark Mullen. Mark is the CEO of First Direct. I was fortunate enough to attend one of the biggest customer experience conferences in Europe – European Customer Experience World (produced by the Focus Group). Mark was the keynote speaker on the first day. If you have not heard him speak, he is pretty cool. Mark delivered his speech without the aid of slides or notes. He had the audience entranced. Mark spoke of many things – from the importance of good customer data, to the significance of the humble telephone for First Direct when it was launched to the current day.

Mark touched on the very reason why First Direct was created, and why it continues to thrive today. He quoted another legendary business leader, Sir Richard Branson’ to highlight the very essence of First Direct:

‘In order to be indispensable, one must first be unique’

When First Direct was launched, it was the only bank of its kind. It was unique. Today, that differentiator is still alive and kicking. Mark said that he is often told that First Direct has lost its ‘innovation mojo’ as so little has changed in its proposition over the years. ‘Why re-invent the light bulb?’ is his response. If you have something that works, and continues to work for your customers, why change it. This is when Mark came up with another very memorable quote:

‘Simplicity is divinity’

There was an audible murmur of agreement in the conference room. Mark believes that it is First Directs commitment to ‘keeping it simple’ that has ensured it remains as successful today as it was at launch. Why try to do things differently when your customers are very happy with the things you do? The challenge for First Direct is to keep doing the things they do as well as possible, continuously improving – if customer satisfaction is at 94% this year, Mark wants them to move it to 94.1% next year. First Direct have not attempted to get greedy – they just want to stay true to their proposition. Keeping things simple and being consistent at doing it certainly makes a lot of sense. It is difficult to do justice to the quality of Mark’s speech. He is the kind of CEO a lot of people would love to work for. Mark recognises the importance of his people, and together, they are committed to keep doing what customers want.

It is almost ironic that the secret to First Directs success appears to be so…..simple. Obviously the execution and leadership required to deliver it is another matter, but at a time when so many big businesses are struggling, re-focussing on the core business and getting it right consistently, would be a very sensible strategy.

Have I convinced myself to switch to First Direct? Not quite…….but many people are making me realise that there is a better way to do banking – so I am getting closer.

Do you bank with First Direct? Have you switched from another bank? What do you think about them – your views would be very gratefully received.

Customer Feedback – Ten Tips to help you get it right


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In May 2012, I was fortunate enough to be able to present at the inaugural Customer Experience Strategy Summit in London. I was asked to speak on the subject of the customer experience (CX) measurement – a subject that is very close to my heart.

On Sunday, Business Reporter produced a special report on the state of CX from the learning’s at that conference. The report was produced for the Sunday Telegraph. Within the report, I highlight my ‘top tips’ for measuring the customer experience. This blog highlights what my tips are.

As the report rightly states, ‘organisations are pumping money into keeping the customer happy, but how do they know if they’ve got it right?’ Here are my top ten tips:

1.       Know what you’re trying to achieve

It sounds obvious but the key thing is to understand exactly what you’re trying to find out from your customers so you can you pick the appropriate method and metric(s). What is it that you are trying to achieve? Different organisations have different objectives and there are different ways of measuring customer experience in order to achieve them. For some it’s Net Promoter Score, for others it’s CSAT surveys. If you don’t know what you want to measure, then gathering feedback from customers is obsolete as you won’t be able to appropriately use the data. It’s a waste of time and resources for you and your customer.

2.       Work out what numbers you want

Once you’ve chosen a metric(s) to be the key driver for change, communicate the magic number to all staff and help put strategies in place to help them improve it. Communication is the key. The score should become a company Talisman of sorts. Everyone needs to know the number – although not necessarily the ins and outs of why it’s that number – and the detail behind that score will help govern and stimulate change across the board.

3.       Get your facts right

Track the CX from start to finish so you can back up what colleagues believe, or assume, with concrete evidence. It’s important to determine what’s driving customer behaviour so you also know where to make changes. NPS alone won’t tell you this. For example, a negative score will only tell you something needs fixing – it doesn’t tell you what or where the “key moments of truth” are for your customer. Be prepared to bring in an additional metrics such as customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys to help you drill down into the data. Also ensure that you are able to link what your customers think, with your own internal view of operational performance. Getting your facts right will ensure that you identify the right priorities for improvement.

4.       Consider outsourcing your research

Think very carefully about the pros and cons of both outsourcing and using in-house services. In-house can be cheap, quick and simple to implement, but the down side is that it’s not independent. Outsourced agencies are more expensive, but will provide you with unbiased figures from experts in the field of customer research. Many are accredited by the Market Research Society, which may also give you more kudos with customers and directors alike.

5.       Think like a customer

From a customer’s perspective, feedback forms can be complex, tedious and irrelevant, especially when they have no idea how you will use the information. But customer feedback is a crucial trigger for product and process improvements – so make this clear to customers and thank them for taking the time to tell you what they think.

6.       Listen to what the customer is saying

Forms can be long and complicated and customers are often not told why they are being asked for their opinion or how the information will subsequently be used. How often do you go back and thank them or tell them how the information was used? Feedback is vital for improvements, and customers won’t realise this if you don’t tell them.

7.       Stick to your guns

Choose the right metric for your organisation and stick to it until you have a body of data to work with. This doesn’t mean you can’t run measurements in parallel with one another – it will soon become clear which measurements are providing you with relevant and useful data that drives performance improvements.

8.       Understand the numbers

Whatever the metric, you need to make certain that you understand the maths behind it, especially if you’ve outsourced to an agency. If you can’t explain it to your bosses, the data (and you) will lose credibility.

9.       Don’t rest on your laurels

Customer expectations are changing all the time, so no matter how high your feedback ratings, be prepared to re-evaluate what you are doing for your customers. Question whether or not you’re making a difference and is that difference the right one for your customer.

10.   Make customer service a priority for the whole company

CX metrics are now sophisticated enough to enable firms to report customer ratings to teams, process owners, and individuals. However, the metrics may not be relevant to everyone – especially support functions such as finance and HR. If you want your customer data to drive tangible improvements in CX, then that data has to be relevant to every single member of staff. If staff do not own or contribute to a process, they can certainly walk in the customers shoes and feel what it is like to be one.

You can access the full report via this link – http://business-reporter.co.uk/2012/07/customer-experience/

You can watch the recording of my presentation via this link – http://business-reporter.co.uk/2012/07/feel-the-pulse-of-your-people/

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