Customer Experience: Use The Right Metrics

by Martha Brooke on August 23, 2016

If you’re not achieving your goals for the customer experience, you’re probably not measuring at the correct level; learn what that level is.

Goals:
Companies want to give and get value through the customer experience—what are your goals? To deliver proactive customer service? Reduce customer support calls? Increase customer loyalty? Sell more through each customer interaction?

To achieve your goals, you’ll need to measure the fine-grained elements of your customer interactions. Only an up-close view—not a high-level view—will show you how to actually improve.

Where most companies get it wrong (really wrong) is they spend copious resources tracking the consequences of their customer experience (dashboards, Net Promoter Scores, etc.). But, they barely consider the factors that cause those experiences.

Outcome Metrics:
Outcome metrics are your results. For example, after a hotel stay, you might get a survey with the Net Promoter question: “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?” Your answer—if you answer at all—will be a result of your experiences at the hotel. Outcome metrics, whether satisfaction or Net Promoter Scores, allow you to track progress over time. They’re indicators of general performance, but they’re limited. They’re limited because they’re not the tools that will help you to improve.

Nuanced Metrics: The tools that show how to improve.
The customer experience consists of broad factors, such as connection and timing, which break down into smaller elements: the smiles, frowns, word choices, thoroughness of answers, and more. It’s these small elements that you can actually change. Nuanced metrics and methods are the tools that delve into these elements, uncovering your gaps, opportunities, and how to improve.

Quick Example:
Imagine you own a coffee shop and want to sell more coffee. A number of factors and elements are involved:
+ Product: Do customers like the coffee? Is it burnt or bitter?
+ Timing: How long do customers wait? And is there music in the background, so it doesn’t seem so long?
+ Connection: Did the cashiers focus on each customer? Or were they busy talking to each other?
+ Competition: Was a coffee shop on the next block offering free pastries?

You’ll increase sales revenue if you improve underlying factors like coffee quality, wait time and cashier attentiveness. But if you only look at your sales numbers, nothing will change.

Think of it like training to run faster.
To get results, you have to improve factors like: flexibility, endurance, and nutrition.

Each factor is comprised of myriad elements. For example, flexibility depends on: muscle groups, activity level and body temperature.

Devise a plan to improve each element and you’ll improve your speed. Simply measuring how fast you run will never tell you what to improve, or how. You can’t run faster overnight—but you can do 20 extra minutes of endurance training, 15 minutes of stretching, and eat healthier foods.

Wow VERSUS Satisfaction: Where Do You Need to Be?
How deeply you examine the factors and elements driving your outcomes depends on whether you need to satisfy or wow.

• Wow: In a competitive market, or when customer experience is one of your differentiators, you’ll have to “wow” your customers. “Wowing” requires you to unpack the customer experience at a granular level.

• Satisfaction: But, if you’re the market leader, achieving satisfaction is probably enough—and while you’ll still need to examine the details, you won’t need to scrutinize the subtleties.

Clarifying the Difference Between Satisfaction and Wow:
Customers are satisfied when their perceptions match their expectations. Customers’ expectations are set by your marketing messages, nearby competitors, and other companies comparable in your marketplace. Customers’ perceptions result from their direct experiences with you. Satisfaction is ok… but it’s NOT memorable.

On, the other hand, to wow is to exceed expectations. This calls for consistency, surprise, and customization. For more about “wow” get our free overview.

Whether You’re Aiming for Satisfaction or Wow, Know Your QCI™ Score.
At Interaction Metrics, we’ve developed the Quality of Customer Interaction™ Score. QCI™ is more actionable than NPS and other single-input metrics. This is because it accounts for multiple aspects of the customer experience, weighted by what matters most for each customer and their situation.Interaction-Metrics-Key-Measure

Customer Experience Metrics & Methods: Align Them.
Your goals, metrics, and methods should fit together like a puzzle, each piece complementing and informing the other. To get the clearest read on the customer experience, use a hybrid approach—because every method has pros and cons. For example, surveys are easy to do, but fall short because customers are rarely conscious of the details affecting their experiences.

Hybrid approaches also deepen insights. For example, to gain competitive edge, service evaluations pinpoint where you’re losing customers, while interviews uncover customers’ innermost thoughts and feelings.

Measure. Grow. Transform.
The best thing about using nuanced customer experience metrics with the right combination of methods is that next steps become abundantly clear. Next steps can be workshops, model answers, optimized interaction maps, director’s cut audio… the sky’s the limit.

Bring It All Together:
For any customer experience goal, whether that’s to increase conversion, inspire customers, win market share or anything else, you’ll need to:
+ Stop relying on outcome metrics
+ Embrace nuanced customer experience metrics
+ Combine metrics with the right methods
+ Apply powerful, engaging next steps

Let’s discuss your goals and the best metrics and methods for you with a free MetricsLAB™. Your takeaways will include: the pros and cons of different metrics plus a few preliminary ideas to advance your measurement. It’s 25 minutes. No strings attached. Improve your customer experience metrics. When’s good for you? Sign up here.

Starbucks: Your Customer is NOT Your Guinea Pig

by Martha Brooke on August 18, 2016

It was the typical noon-time rush at my local Starbucks—certainly not my favorite time to stop, but I was hungry and needed a snack. I ordered a drink and a bagel, and moved out of line to wait. My drink came out quickly, but five minutes later there was still no bagel. I caught the eye of an associate and asked where the bagel had gone. “Oh that’s the new guy, he’s still learning the ropes,” was the response I received. No apology, no attempt to rectify the situation…It got me thinking: Situations just like this occur every minute, all day long, because with customer service comes high turnover—so there’s always the new guy, but customers shouldn’t be their guinea pig.

The lunch rush? Of course that’s not the right time to bring a new employee up to speed. They should be prepared for all situations before they’re assigned a shift. And to prepare associates for providing great customer service, you need to coach them using roleplay and plenty of immersive examples. Don’t just tell them how to interact with customers, have a process that shows them what great customer service entails.

When your employees do make mistakes, and they will, have a procedure in place that uses the situation as an opportunity to build value. If the Starbucks associate had said “Thanks for telling us—we’re a little out of process today and I apologize. Here’s a card you can use for any drink—and next time I hope you’ll find us more in step.” With this, I would have felt appreciated, like a valued customer, not like the forgotten consequence of training gone awry.

All great customer service is built on great process, not great people. Sometimes in customer service, associates come to you with seemingly innate skills for connecting with customers and making things right. But those amazing employees are mostly luck and luck’s not a strategy. You can’t control your associates’ every words and you can’t control that one missing bagel, but you can have processes in place to deal with situations in a way that’s positive for employees and customers alike.

To create processes that drive great customer service, catalog and model each step of your everyday interactions. Next, make sure your customer experience team measures how often—and how well—your associates adhere to those models.

The truth is your new guy is an opportunity. He shows where your processes are failing. That’s exactly what you need to know to stay ahead of your customers’ expectations so they don’t go blogging about missing bagels. Starbucks, you’re good; you could be even better!

Are You Benchmarking OR Innovating?

by Martha Brooke on August 10, 2016

Benchmarking has a history of helping businesses compete in global markets. But these days, many companies are missing out on the opportunity to innovate due to an over-reliance on benchmarked metrics.

The practice of benchmarking was born in the 1950’s with companies like GE and Toyota. Then, what was in vogue was a process called reverse engineering in which companies examined competitor products to find out how to make their own products better.

In the 1970’s, a struggling Xerox took a cue from reverse engineering, but shifted the focus from product features to all the processes (including customer service) that drive success.[i] Since then, benchmarking has spread like wildfire—but so have its critics who call benchmarking a “virus,” and “a recipe for myopia, me-tooism and mediocrity.”[ii]

The problem is that while benchmarking is important—because it helps you keep an eye on the competition—it’s not enough. Benchmarked metrics merely skim the surface, and if you spend too much time watching your peers, you’re probably not allocating the resources you need to fully differentiate or innovate.

Customer service contact centers suffer the most from benchmarking’s shortcomings, using metrics like time-to-answer and first call resolution (FCR) as the golden mean for operational targets. And they often fall back on generic tools like SurveyMonkey to collect outcome metrics such as customer satisfaction (C-SAT) and Net Promoter Scores (NPS).

So what do you do instead?

Recognize that the customer experience is complex—more complex than an FCR rate or NPS score. Experiences consist of multiple factors, such as information, connection and timing, which break down into smaller elements like thoroughness of answers, proactivity of explanations and word choice. While benchmarked metrics can capture parts of this experience, and perhaps alert you when something is going very wrong, they won’t give you the nuanced information you need to demonstrate market leadership.

If you want customer service that differentiates your brand and builds customer loyalty, you must take a deep look at your company and customer interactions, and use metrics that compare your performance against your own brand promise. Every company has its own signature and opportunities to innovate. To make your company stand apart, you’ll need to demonstrate your signature—and this requires granular metrics.

The companies that are succeeding in today’s global marketplace are the innovators, so make sure you are challenging yourself beyond benchmarking. Make sure you are rallying your team to measure the granular details that really matter.

References

i. Canada. Performance Management, Alberta Finance. Other Performance Measurement Documents: Results Oriented Government. Alberta: 28 September 1998.

ii. Brierley, Sean. “Benchmarking Causes a Loss of Focus.” Finance Week. 01 June 2005.

Genius Tips to Improve Your Customer Survey

by Martha Brooke on July 22, 2016

An Analyst Perspective on Customer Surveys:

Customer surveys make up a multi-billion dollar industry, and many of us get at least one per day. But just because surveys are everywhere doesn’t mean they’re always good.

At Interaction Metrics, we often find that companies assume they’re ready to launch their customer survey as soon as they’ve opened a SurveyMonkey account and pieced together a few questions. However, once we show them what their survey could be, they quickly see that a grab-and-go approach is counter to their best interests.

Interaction Metrics Customer Surveys
The problem is that customer surveys are easily plagued with biases and other flaws—resulting in data that’s inaccurate or that fails to uncover the drivers of customer loyalty. So read on to learn tips and tricks for better surveys, and keep in mind these two main themes:

+ Your entire survey approach, from who gets the survey to who analyzes it, must be carefully constructed, vetted, and executed to avoid biases and other flaws.

+ Unless you pay careful attention to your survey wording, you’ll only capture what your customers say, and utterly fail to uncover how they actually feel. As behavioral economists and Gallup researchers have shown, this is significant because feelings—not thoughts—correlate with buying behavior and customer loyalty.[i]

3 Genius Strategies to Improve Your Survey Immediately:

Strategy 1: Ask your team, “How committed are we to capturing truly accurate data about the feelings, needs, and experiences of our customers?” Having a conversation about which touchpoints your survey should address, and how to design an accurate (statistically-valid) methodology, is essential.

Strategy 2: Stand back and take a multi-perspectival view of your survey. Look at your customer survey from many angles:

  • The customer’s perspective—is it easy to take?
  • An operations perspective—does it uncover actionable insights?
  • The marketplace—how does your survey compare with the competition?
  • Your CEO—will your survey engage them with the voice of the customer?

Strategy 3: Brainstorm how to augment your customer survey with other measurement methods. Social media research, customer interviews, and touchpoint questionnaires are all great ways to supplement your survey. Customer interviews are particularly valuable because they capture the true voice of the customer and highlight the nuances of specific customer situations. Using complementary methods vets the validity of your survey and helps expand your customer insights.

Genius Tips: Know the Pros and Cons of Customer Surveys:

The Pros: There are a few simple reasons why customer surveys are so widely used across industries around the world:

  • They’re quick.
  • They’re cheap.
  • They allow customers to vent, which can boost opinions of your company.

When customer surveys are done well, they:

  • Provide digestible, quantitative data.
  • Uncover nuanced qualitative insights.
  • Enable progress to be tracked over time.

But despite the benefits of a great survey, it’s dangerously easy to design a bad one. Popular platforms (like SurveyMonkey and SurveyGizmo) are great for survey deployment—but only after you’ve carefully designed and vetted your questions. Make sure to account for the numerous difficulties and problems that can arise in survey design.

The Cons: Let’s look at some of the most common survey problems:

+ Sampling Issues: There are two main sampling issues—sample size error and sampling bias. Size error occurs when the sample is too small to fully reflect the target population. Sampling bias occurs when the populations surveyed are incorrect or incomplete. Both lead to misrepresentative results.

+ Response Bias: Even if your survey is distributed to a 100% unbiased and representative sample, the actual response population may not represent the target population. The most common response bias is that highly satisfied customers respond to surveys more than dissatisfied and neutral customers.

+ Wording and Execution Bias: One of the biggest problems in survey design is that the questions themselves bias the results. If answers are too limited or lack an “other” option, customers may select an answer that doesn’t reflect their true feelings—and if the question is required, customers will be forced to. In the same vein, subtle positive or negative wording can subconsciously affect a customer’s response.

+ Rigged Process: Employees can skew their own survey results with self-administered survey selection, rigged research design, or outright cheating. This happens for a variety of reasons—fear of demotion, criticism, links between survey results and employee bonuses, or even just a lack of outside perspective. Whatever the reason, a gamed system fails to produce accurate data.

+ Irrelevant Questions: Many surveys ask questions that are important from a management standpoint, but that don’t resonate with or even make sense to customers. In other cases, questions are so general or removed from the lived customer experience that they simply aren’t relevant enough to provide meaningful data.

You’re on your way to becoming a survey genius, but if you need to call in the real experts for a brainstorming session, we’re ready to help! Interaction Metrics is known for designing exceptional customer surveys that deliver actionable, nuanced results. Intrigued? Check out our free, no obligation MetricsLAB™. It’s a great way to learn about the best metrics to accomplish your goals and advance your survey strategies.

References
i. Fleming, John K., Curt Coffman, and James K. Harter. The Gallup Organization. “Manage Your Human Sigma” Harvard Business Review. 83.7 (2005).

What You’ll Never Get from NPS (Or Any Other Outcome Metric)

by Martha Brooke on June 30, 2016

Every company has its own take on customer experience—what are your goals?

Perhaps you’re looking to stage the customer experience to strengthen customer loyalty and retention. Or, maybeNPS is just an Outcome Metric you need more proactive customer service to increase First Call Resolution (FCR). Sometimes, customer surveys paint a rosy picture, but your sales numbers tell a different story—and you need to know what’s slipping under the radar.

Lots of companies use outcome metrics like the Net Promoter Score (i.e. “How likely are you to recommend us?”) to gauge customer satisfaction and overall performance. And in some cases, this is enough—especially if you don’t have anything specific that you’re looking to change or improve. But if you have an area that’s lacking, NPS will never show you what’s going wrong and how to fix it—and neither will any other metric that measures outcomes, and ignores root causes.

Processes Drive Outcomes

Nothing appears out of thin air. Behind every outcome (be it customer satisfaction, NPS, sales, etc.) there are many subtle and not-so-subtle root causes and processes. When an outcome needs improving, you have to get up close and take a hard look at all the dynamics at play. This is how you identify concrete ways to manage your outcomes.

Here’s a quick example. You own a coffee shop; the number of drinks sold per day is the outcome you want to improve. Processes that shape this outcome include: coffee quality, wait time to order, wait time to receive order, cashier engagement, local competitors, and dozens of other variables.

To get a handle on your sales, you’ll need to uncover information such as:

  • What exactly did customers like and not like about your coffee?
  • How long did they wait in line?
  • Did they receive proactive customer service?
  • Did the cashier meet them where they were at and respect their mood?
  • Was the coffee shop a block over offering free pastries?

 
So take a critical look at all the inputs that drive your outcomes. Once you measure those inputs, you’ll know where to focus to efficiently create the greatest improvement—and meet your goals!

Unstructured Data: Mining the Gold

by Martha Brooke on June 16, 2016

Unstructured data presents a goldmine of information, but mining that gold is no easy task—it requires coding with detailed text analysis. To be clear, unstructured data includes customer survey text comments, customer service calls, emails, chats, reviews, Customer Survey Text Analysisand other narrative sources of information.  It’s the data that doesn’t fall into neat, easy categories—so the signal often gets lost in the noise.

Some companies are so stumped by their unstructured data that they just toss it and hope no gold nuggets were lost. This is a grave mistake because customer verbatims are—quite literally—the voice of the customer.

Here’s what’s going on with unstructured data:

  • Companies don’t know the best practices for quantifying their unstructured data, so they rely on out-of-the-box software solutions. Or worse, they simply read the comments, but this doesn’t provide the precise metrics you need for success.
  • In our ROI-driven world, managers are unsure if rigorous text analysis will lead to a profitable payoff—but the fact is, it probably will.

 
Food for Thought: How would your company be more profitable with greater visibility into your unstructured data?

Go beyond simple tone and sentiment analyses. With text analysis you’ll have customer effort metrics, department-specific recommendations, and meta-themes in your customers’ experiences. To find out more, sign up for our complimentary MetricsLAB©. It’s a great way to learn about the metrics you get from unstructured data, and whether they’d be valuable for you.

Want to Fix Your Touchpoints? Lose NPS.

by Martha Brooke on May 31, 2016

Last week I spoke at the Society for Service Executives Symposium in Chicago. As always, when the primary topic is customer satisfaction, there was a lot of talk about NPS (Net Promoter Score). As I have often said, it’s a tired customer survey question—and that’s just one of its shortcomings. Another issue, as Lori Bocklund of Strategic Contact recently wrote about, is that it’s a metric based on a single question—and as she summarized the problem, you need “One Number, NOT One Question.”

Today, I want to reflect on another shortfall of NPS, which is that it lacks actionability. It lacks actionability because it’s unclear which touchpoint it refers to. Here’s an example: A customer gives you a 2/10 NPS rating. You’d want to fix that, right? But unless you know what went wrong, at what touchpoint…well, good luck solving the problem.

Or say a customer gives you an 8/10 NPS rating. That’s better. But it’s only sort of better—because you don’t know what went well, so you don’t know what to replicate.

Actionable customer surveys uncover what’s good and bad—and why. They are touchpoint-specific. As Lori said in her blog, customer experiences are too complex for a single question. The only way to get accurate, actionable data is by asking specific questions relevant to each touchpoint.

Examples of touchpoints include: when the product is delivered, tech support when installing the product, when the product is returned, etc. But customers have different expectations at each touchpoint. That’s why you can’t improve by asking one question about them all.

The fact is that you can GIVE and GET value through each customer interaction—and this is foundational to Interaction Thinking™. However, most companies fail to get value because their survey data isn’t accurate. Or, they fail to give value because their customer surveys are dull and unengaging. So if you want to make the most of your customer survey, you need to zoom in on specific touchpoint details.

Is your customer survey as specific to your touchpoints as it can be? Start for free to find out. There’s a good chance your survey could be giving you more useful value about your touchpoints, while showing customers that you care and are actually listening.

Customer Comments + Intelligent Analysis = Gold

by Martha Brooke on April 12, 2016

The point of a customer survey is to learn what you don’t know, and gain insight into what’s driving customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction. And while billions of customer surveys are issued each year—typically including open-ended comment fields—most survey programs lack research protocols for listening to and understanding what customers are actually saying in those comments. Customer Satisfaction Surveys Need Intelligent Text Analysis

After all, as Seth Godin said in a recent blog: “If you’re not going to read the answers and take action, why are you asking?” In a moment, we’ll get to why reading isn’t enough, but Seth is on the right path.

There are a few reasons behind why companies often ignore their valuable customer comments.

First, many executives don’t know there are research methods for systematically and efficiently unpacking customer comments. Certainly, executives know that they could read comments or apply software-based text analytics—but what’s really needed to unpack meaning is intelligent text analysis. Unfortunately, most research agencies have not been good at educating the marketplace on the advantages of this kind of analysis.

Second, many companies—in spite of their banners and slogans pledging their customer focus—just aren’t that focused on customers and their experiences, because in the short term, it can be difficult to see how customer research is profitable.

But common sense and extensive research proves that “the market works”; customers reward companies that provide superior experiences. Nevertheless, the reality for many companies is that the voice of the customer can seem like something off in the distance, compared to the “right now” importance of shaving costs, boosting margins, etc.

So there are several reasons that customer comments get the short end of the stick, but when intelligent text analysis is applied to comments, that’s when you start to uncover incredibly valuable, actionable insights into specific ways to improve.

Is text analysis similar to just reading customer comments? Not at all. The problem with reading comments is that the brain’s working memory starts cutting off at seven items. So even if you read thousands of comments, there’s really no point, because you simply can’t remember and synthesize all that information.

You may see a few obvious problems you already knew about, but you won’t see the details or possible solutions. Furthermore, you’ll overlook more subtle existing problems, and new problems you’re not prepared to recognize. Even worse, you can’t quantify anything about this data. So if you’re only reading your survey comments, you won’t learn about unknown problems and ways to improve—and you won’t have a compelling report because business audiences demand numbers, not meandering stories.

Software-based text analytics is another way to handle customer comments—and because software can identify some types of customer issues in real time, it’s a step in the right direction. However, software text analytics runs the risk of missing problems you’re not aware of, because it’s limited (even biased) by the words, expressions and facts that you already know to look for.

In the same way that customer experiences are varied and complex, customer comments are messy and unpredictable. They can be brief or lengthy, vague or hyper specific. Some comments stay on-topic; others trail off from the question. And of course, customers refer to similar issues in different ways—and within all this complexity lies valuable, game-changing insights.

Intelligent text analysis requires a team of expert analysts so that comments can be deciphered from multiple perspectives. It also requires protocols for:

• Filtering out non-codeable text
• Building an initial framework of codes
• Establishing a statistically valid sample of codeable comments
• Adding new codes for emergent themes (good text analysis must be performed in an iterative, non-linear way)
• Scoring the coded sample to enable prioritization of themes
• Presenting prioritized themes with clear examples and solutions

Loyal customers who come back and buy again—that’s the end goal. To get there, you need actionable customer surveys with intelligent text analysis. If you spend resources on a customer survey (like most companies do), it makes no sense to ignore the answers. So ask. Then listen. Don’t let your customer survey comments be a sunk cost.

Want to learn more about survey strategies? Start for free.

Your Customer Survey is Biased: Here’s the Fix

by Martha Brooke on April 7, 2016

Most customer satisfaction surveys suffer from uneven customer representation, which leads to inaccurate data. As the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out.”Learn about 2 grave survey sampling errors and how to fix them—because your business decisions should be based on fact, not fiction. And let’s face it, garbage should never be the basis of your business decisions. You deserve facts, not fiction. So here are a few ways to improve your customer survey sampling methods to achieve balanced customer representation and high quality data.

Customer Survey Sampling Error #1:
Non-Response Bias, Some Don’t Respond

Just because you openly invite all customers to take your survey does not mean you have a random sample. The difference between an open invite and randomized responses is critical because satisfied customers with time to spare tend to be the population most apt to take your survey.

Similarly, you are more likely to hear from repeat customers than from one-time customers—yet customers who aren’t coming back may have the most useful feedback. Here are a few ways to get a representative customer survey sample:

  • Start by dividing your customer database into categories, such as: current most-profitable customers, current less-profitable customers, lapsed customers, long-gone customers, prior most-profitable customers, etc.

  • For each customer category, determine how many customers you need to survey to achieve a reasonable confidence interval and error rate. Then randomly select customers from each category you want to test.

  • Proactively ask the selected customers for their feedback. You may need to offer incentives. Test different types of incentives, but make sure they’re not related to the products or services you sell, because this introduces yet another type of bias—those who like your product will be more inclined to take your customer survey.

  • When you invite customers to take your survey, ask if they would prefer to share their thoughts by phone at a convenient time. Creative, busy, and dissatisfied customers may not be receptive to multiple choice questions—yet for accurate, actionable data, you need to hear from your entire population. Again, using an incentive may need to be part of your customer survey strategy.

Customer Survey Sampling Error #2:
The Medium Controls the Audience

Do you offer your survey online? By IVR? Mail? Email? How you provide your customer survey has a huge impact on who takes it. Here are a few ways to increase responses from all your survey channels and correct for channel-related distortion:

  • Most likely, your customer satisfaction survey is online, which provides for a variety of delivery options. Set up your survey so customers can dial an 800 number, visit a URL, or use their mobile to text their answers. The more options you offer, the more respondents you’ll get.

  • Be willing to receive survey responses the way customers want to give them. For example, if you email your customers with a link to your survey, tell customers that if they prefer, they can simply reply to the email with their thoughts about your company and their experiences—they don’t have to take the survey. Then, use a scientific coding technique to incorporate their open-ended comments with the rest of your text analysis.

  • Finally, tell customers the survey is short, and then keep good on the promise.

Most customer surveys are plagued with biases—and sampling errors are just one type. But with strategies to prevent sample bias and channel distortion, you’ll be one step closer to accurate data, leading to decisions based on fact, not fiction.

Gain a new perspective. Start for free.

Break Your NPS® Routine

by Martha Brooke on February 17, 2016

NPS® is a routine question used in customer feedback surveys. Nearly everyone has seen it: How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend?

This question assumes that customers think in terms of their likelihood to recommend companies—but all too often, it’s not realistic, and it’s not how people think.

For instance, say a traveler rents a car. Recommending that car rental company to a friend later on—unless something truly extraordinary happened—just isn’t something most people would do. Furthermore, if a customer has already seen a question many times before, they’re unlikely to engage with the question and give it its due. They may even find your customer feedback survey annoying.

If you want powerful insights, don’t use generic stock questions that your customers have seen countless times before. The problem with “me too” questions is that they come across as if you don’t really care and you’re not really listening.

Here’s what customer feedback questions should do. They should be engaging, dynamic, and thoughtful. They should invite your customers to voice their true feelings. For example:

• “What would have made your experience better?”
• “What words come to mind when you think of our company?”
• “Who do you see as our main competitor? What do they do better?”

These questions recognize the contextual nature of experiences, and that your company doesn’t exist in a vacuum. In this way, they are more intellectually honest and therefore encourage customers to pause, think, and give honest answers.

Another way to break the NPS® routine is to apply adaptive logic so that your survey uncovers who the customer is, their situation, and the specific touchpoints they interacted with. An Interaction Thinking™ approach recognizes that your survey can and should add value for both you and your customers. Repetitive “me-too” surveys are out. Personalized, relevant interactions are in. Break your usual customer feedback routine. Give value and you’ll get value. Dare to interact. Show your customers you care.

Try a Free Net Promoter Mini-Audit. We’ll tell you if the Net Promoter question is right for you.