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NPS Pop-Ups—Low-Cost, Yet Low-Quality

Jean Fasching, Lead Consultant

This is a guest post written by one of our very own Lead Consultants, Jean Fasching. 

A friend of mine who’s new to NPS research recently shared that she was frustrated with the response rate (less than 1% of those asked) from a B2B, NPS (Net Promotor Score) question recently added to her company’s website. Executives dictated the addition as a low-cost and efficiency method to get at NPS. So, to keep it simple, she had it added as a one-question pop-up for every “n” visitor to their home page.

She was frustrated at the low response rate, especially to a one-question survey—it was as simple as it could get, so what could she do to get more responses? As we chatted, I mentioned a low response rates (let’s say, below 3%) for the clear majority of website surveys is a common issue, and I’ve only seen good response rates (let’s say above 10% – 50%) using pop-up website surveys in a very few instances. Read more

Customers + Bad Math = Worse Strategy 

There’s something that always bugged me about how people present their customer scores – whether satisfaction, NPS, Customer Effort, or anything else. 

There are really two primary approaches to this reporting: 

  1. Give an average (4.65 out of 5, for example) 
  1. Give the % of top box (5 out of 5, 9 or 10 out of 10) or Top-2 Box (4 or 5 out of 5) 

From what I can tell, nobody really thinks about this. They just do what’s traditional. If a vendor reports one way to one customer, they report this same way to ALL customers. As if everybody’s customers react the same way, and all points in the scale matter the same. 

But that’s not true.  Read more

Your business doesn’t really care if your customers are likely to recommend you 

And neither should you.  Read more

Heart of the Customer in Expert Interview Series

Something different. I was recently interviewed by Netscout as part of their Expert Interview Series for CIO Brief. A copy is below. Enjoy!

Jim Tincher is the Mapper-In-Chief of HEART OF THE CUSTOMER, where he helps brands understand how hard it is to be their customer. We recently asked for his insight on how businesses can better know their customers and improve their customer experience. Here’s what he shared:

Can you tell us about the mission behind Heart of the Customer? What are your goals?

Our mission is to help change agents transform their organization to fully internalize the voice of their customer and to drive action against that. Our goals are to provide those change agents with the call to action needed to drive change.

How has the way brands engage with customers evolved since you launched your business?

Customer experience is now being taken more seriously. In the last few years we have seen the rise of the customer experience (CX) organization, charged with driving the company to build a customer-centric approach. However, we’re still at a fairly early stage, so methodologies are not yet robust. We’re in a very exciting time, as we are building the tools that will become the standard. Read more

man having poor customer service

Training Customers = Losing

iStock_000024086772XXLarge“Customers aren’t filling out our form completely. We need to train them to fill it all out, and then we’ll be able to serve them better.”

“Our members just don’t understand the benefits of volunteering. If we educate them better, more will volunteer.”

“We just need to teach our customers how to use our website so they won’t call us so much.”

“If we can teach people trying to get their licenses that it’s okay to wait hours on end in really uncomfortable seats before talking to soul-dead, disengaged employees who are just waiting until 5:00 so that they can go home, everything would be much better.”

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These are all actual quotes from employees we’ve worked with while leading customer experience workshops. Okay, I made the last one up (it’s been a bad week at the DMV).  But the other three are real.

Read more

Customer Experience begins with a clear strategy

Do you have a clear direction?

Asked differently: If I ask three members of your team to give me your customer experience strategy, will I get the same answer?  If the answer is yes, you have an unusual level of clarity – congratulations!  If not…

 

Clear Direction is Crucial

Fifteen years ago I was tasked to create a new business practice at ExecuTrain – providing training to IT professionals.  I laid out a clear strategy, telling my team how we were going to be first to market to beat the competition by offering classes that they didn’t yet have.  My team was excited about the opportunity.  That is, until that evening at our all staff meeting.  That’s when our CEO introduced our program to the company and told the staff that our strategy was to be fast followers.  We would let the competition try all the new classes, and we’d follow up with those that were successful.

Clearly, the team was confused.  Which was it?  In this case, they had two different leaders with opposite directions.  Which was correct? It’s like they were in a boat with kids that each tried to go in a different direction.  And we went nowhere fast! Read more

Case Study: Personal Customer Connections + Employee Empowerment = a Great Customer-Inspired Experience at Davanni’s

“We pretty much let our employees and customers decide what’s on our menu.”

That’s a great example of the philosophy that has led to long-term success at Davanni’s, a Twin Cities pizza and hoagy restaurant. While their local focus and fun atmosphere are definitely part of the mix, it is the extreme efforts to keep fresh with customers and employees that really drive their results.

Davanni’s has 21 locations throughout the Twin Cities. They have been in business for 37 years, featuring family-friendly food on the lower end of the cost spectrum. I originally asked to interview them about their experience with Coke’s new soda machine. But I ended up discovering the best example I’ve found of a company trusting their strategies to their customers and front-line employees. This story is a great example for any industry. Read more

Tekserve: A Blueprint for a Great B2B Customer-Inspired Experience

“Our job is to make our customers look good to their bosses.” 

That’s the philosophy of Tekserve, an Apple retailer and IT services provider in New York City, as articulated by Director of Marketing Jazmin Hupp.

Imagine that you are a long-time Apple retailer and supplier, and then Apple builds their flagship store just two miles from you, then four more just as close. Some might find it time to close up shop. Instead, Tekserve used the challenge as an opportunity to refocus on their customers. Their reward? Consistent growth, being featured in the Crain’s New York Business Fast 50 and the Computer Reseller News’ 2012 Solution Provider 500 list, which ranks the top technology integrators in North America.

Tekserve doubled-down on the service surrounding Apple’s products, particularly for businesses.  Almost 2/3 of their revenue comes from B2B relationships, where they are far nimbler than Apple. Much of their work involves integrating Apple products into existing networks, including wholesale conversions from PCs to Macs.

Tekserve credits their growth to three main areas of focus: Read more

Surveys – a Force for Good or Evil?

The Internet is a wonderful thing.  With little effort, we can connect to hundreds (or millions!) of people.  That access makes it really easy to conduct surveys.  So easy, in fact, that we no longer have to spend much time thinking about it.  And it’s obvious that many companies don’t.

While a proper survey can teach you about your customers, poor surveys lead you down the wrong path, sacrificing development dollars on delivering something your customers just don’t want.

Survey problems show up in three ways:

  • Asking for opinions instead of using readily available data
  • Outsourcing your thinking to your customers, asking them what you should develop
  • Piling on “just one more question”

Surveys vs. Data

It has now become easier to ask a survey than to do actual research.  Just because you can ask a survey, though, doesn’t mean that you should.

About 18 months ago the financial management website Mint conducted a survey that has been used by a host of speakers purporting to show the huge impact the economy has had on spending habits. One often-used slide:

You can see one presentation using this data at http://slideshare.net/MirrenBizDev/2010-new-business-conference-mintel. This slide is used to show how consumers are abandoning credit cards – 12% discontinued their use in 2009!

Not likely. Can you imagine the ripple effect if one out of every eight consumers completely discontinued the use of credit cards? The fallout would be massive!

The biggest problem is the question Mint asked.  Just because respondents said they discontinued credit cards does not mean they actually did it. Worse, the real data is only a short search away. What was the real change in credit card usage in 2009? According to the Fed, credit cards did decline – but by 0.2%! Yes, this is a dramatic change from the growth of previous years – but nothing like the impact that the Mint survey suggests.

Predicting the Future with Surveys

Survey data are frequently used as input to business decisions. Asking customers what we should develop feels right – but doesn’t work.  Consumers are notoriously bad at predicting what they want. Take this survey by the Consumer Electronics Association. While it’s dated, I saw the waste it generated at a consumer electronics retailer firsthand.

In this survey the CEA asked consumers what content they wanted to watch on their HDTVs. 47% said they wanted to watch home videos, while 44% wanted to view digital photos. This survey was cited in numerous business cases, and the retailer developed dozens of endcaps showing customers how they could do this through adding a computer to their home theater or connecting their Xbox 360 to the computers on their home network. We invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in these displays – likely millions when inventory is considered – yet sold very few.  What went wrong?

You can’t ask customers to predict the future – even their own behavior.  When asked whether they wanted to see their home videos on their computer, almost half the respondents clicked yes. Clicking a Yes box is a far cry from actually purchasing a thousand dollars of equipment and installing it into your home theater.  When it came to actually installing a computer to the home theater, very few were willing to take that step in order to watch their videos of photos.  Predicting the future is always risky business – this survey is just asking for trouble.

Yet, there is some truth to this data. Consumers clearly did want a better way of viewing their home photos. But when compared with the daunting task of getting computer content onto their TV, most took the sensible path of a digital photo frame – much easier, with almost the same result. Surveys are a great way to learn about your customer – but not a great way to learn what they will do.

Question 21.1.2.1

There is also the issue of the rapidly growing survey. Since it’s easy to ask 5 questions, why not 10? 20? Or, in my favorite “Bad Survey” example, why not 45?

This survey is by one of my favorite retailers. But it is a poster child for bad survey design, featuring a total of 45 questions, 40 of which are required. There’s even a question “21.1.2.1!”

When you’re writing a survey, it’s tempting to include everybody’s input. And that’s a good idea. But every question you add results in a few more customers dropping out.  Surveys require discipline:  prune the non-critical items to be sure customers will give you good data on what is left.

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Does this mean that you don’t need surveys? Of course not – well-designed surveys provide critical input. But you need to spend the time to do surveys right. Some tips to success:

  1. Start with the end in mind. What is the #1 thing you need to learn? Is the rest critical? If you need to accomplish two very different things, consider a second survey.
  2. Decide whether a survey is really the right tool. If you want to understand behavior, observational data or behavioral analytics will typically give you much better results.  Surveys are best if you want to compare data over time, or compare results from two different groups.  Just keep in mind that the specific numbers (47% want to watch videos on their TV) are almost certainly wrong.  It’s not about predicting the future – it’s about understanding customer needs.
  3. If a survey is the right tool, determine how much patience your target market has. If it’s a free survey, keep it to no more than 5-7 minutes in length.  This is especially true for satisfaction or NPS surveys – keep these focused on this specific outcome, and use other surveys for market research.
  4. Consider using an expert to help you design the questions. Poorly-phrased questions will give you data – but sometimes customers answer different questions than you think you’re asking. If you cannot afford an expert, at least use an outsider to review what you develop.
  5. Test out the survey first. Have people outside the development team take the survey, and talk to them as they go through it – make sure their understanding of the question matches yours.

While the Internet makes it cheap and easy to do a survey, it also makes it cheap and easy to do crappy work. But if you take the time to do them right, surveys can be an excellent view into the Heart of Your Customer!

– Jim Tincher, Heart of the Customer