Expert tips for tracking customer satisfaction
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Expert tips for tracking customer satisfaction

In the age of social media, a dissatisfied customer is more dangerous than ever. Here are five ways to track customer satisfaction – and five tips to help you go about it.

Monitoring customer satisfaction isn’t just about having a number to present in your next brand meeting. It’s about being able to respond swiftly, fix problems and tweak your strategy to keep your customers’ loyalty.

Five tracking methods

  1. Call or email after a purchase. If a customer rings your call centre, drop them a text afterwards to ask how it was or call back with a quick, automated survey (you’ll need permission, so this is one for existing customers). If it’s an online purchase, use email. Put the most important question in the subject line and link to a longer web-based survey.
  1. Put survey invites on till receipts. In bricks-and-mortar retail, you don’t usually have the customer’s contact details, so you need to invite them to a survey. Till receipts are an obvious way to prompt people, and can be coded to link a customer to a particular store or date.
  1. Monitor social media. These days you don’t need to ask customers how their experiences were – they’re already talking about it online. In fact, a study last year found that one in four social media users had made a complaint via social channels in the last three months. Even if they don’t approach you directly, when customers mention your brand in a public forum such as Twitter, you can learn from them – and even intervene where appropriate. Tools for tracking social media chatter range from free apps such as Hootsuite, which include analytics features, to enterprise-level services such as Brandwatch.
  1. Use feedback machines. Airports including Heathrow use Happy Or Not survey machines to gather feedback at security and immigration points. It’s simple: a screen shows a simple question – like “How was your arrivals experience today?” – to which customers respond by pressing one of four buttons, ranging from smiley face to sad face.
  1. Get to know your customers. Regular surveys can help you keep on top of customer satisfaction and make sure it feeds into your strategy, but they don’t tell you everything. To understand more about your key audiences, spend some time with them. Market research agencies can organise focus groups in person or online, or even set up a short-term online community. Maybe even invite some lapsed customers – they’re arguably the most important ones to understand.

Five tips on doing it right

  1. Get the answers to the right people. Much research is wasted because no one sees the results. Integrate your customer satisfaction activity with your CRM, and make sure the findings reach the people who can make a difference – whether that’s shop floor staff or the CEO. Put the customer’s voice at the heart of your organisation and they’ll reward you with their loyalty.
  1. Close the loop. When you’re surveying people for a general picture of an audience’s views, you need to treat feedback anonymously in line with market research guidelines. But if someone reports a bad experience, they’ll be even more frustrated if you don’t fix it. Include an option in your survey for participants to request a follow-up and turn a negative into a positive
  1. Find out what customers care about. A good or bad customer experience often comes down to one thing: maybe the staff member who chased you down the street to give you your wallet back; or the broken toilet that ruined the five-hour train journey. Don’t bore survey participants with endless irrelevant tick-box questions – design the survey so they can tell you what’s important.
  1. Focus on the discontents. Survey results often focus on the average. Sometimes that’s useful, but a lot of the time it’s not the people in the middle who matter – it’s the ones at the bottom. Unhappy customers whose issues are properly resolved can end up even more loyal than customers for whom nothing went wrong in the first place. Prioritise the discontents, and worry about the rest later.
  1. Be careful with staff rewards. We’ve all had the experience of being asked (or guilt tripped) by charming shop staff to give them top satisfaction scores. Linking survey scores to staff rewards seems obvious, but it’s asking for trouble.

Looking to learn more on this topic? Sign up to our one-day Introduction to Customer Experience course and discover tools to monitor the voice of the customer. 

Robert Bain Freelance Writer and Editor CPL
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