Many companies use Customer Satisfaction surveys as a means to gather feedback on various aspects of their business, whether it be employee performance, the customer’s viewpoint of the processes employed, pricing, product quality or loyalty. Understanding the Voice-of-Customer (VoC) has very self-evident benefits and can be used effectively as a learning and continuous improvement tool.
Having worked with the Customer Satisfaction Survey as both an external and internal tool for the best part of a decade, the following considerations I believe are key to maximizing their potential:
Don’t just focus on the bottom line!
Knowing that the needle has moved for the overall metric will likely still tell you little about HOW this has happened? Understanding the drivers of the metric is crucial. Several statistical techniques can be employed to this end and a good starting point is a correlation matrix, multi-linear (or binary logistic) regression of the data. In this way, you will be able to have a handle on what drives the variability in your overall metric and allow you to focus efforts on identifying and managing the drivers of performance.
Use the Verbatim!
If you decide to leave the opportunity for free text, it is only right that a process is in place to utilise the information therein. It does take longer to analyse, but reading and/or coding the Verbatim is ultimately very worthwhile. The customer has taken the time to complete this and therefore you have a responsibility to understand what is being said – this can prove a very rich seam of information to be mined and often gives a clearer insight into what the customers are passionate about or more information on the nature of their complaint or compliment. There is also a corporate responsibility to feedback internally on this, and where possible, address any unmet customer needs that have arisen.
Don’t knee jerk if performance fluctuates…
Again, some understanding of statistics helps here, but it is important to understand the Confidence Levels and the Margin of Errors with your sample data. Understanding what constitutes a statistically significant performance improvement (or degradation) helps –that way there is no euphoria or full-scale enquiry when the numbers shift but are likely simply explained by the vagaries of the sampling process.
Align internally (where possible)…
Customer Satisfaction surveys can become the heartbeat of your company if you align the goals accordingly. Being able to report on individual, team or departmental performance ensures greater accountability and manageability and there is a great opportunity for goal alignment. Using performance indices can also add value, being able to explain the contribution of individuals or departments towards the overall mean score. In this way, you are able to manage performance in bite-size chunks as opposed to mobilizing full-scale improvement initiatives when the numbers move. Should you have internal Quality Assurance processes for your employees, it is a pretty good idea to ensure that these are calibrated with your VoC where possible. Ultimately, there is some work to be done if your internal and external metrics are divergent..