Annual surveys and customer feedback are terrific ways to get the insights to inform you strategic planning and operating plans. An even better approach is to find ways to collect customer insights throughout your customer’s journey continuously.
Having multiple data points makes it easier to see changes and alert your team to trends and issues that you can address immediately.
But this won’t happen without an intentional process.
In this last installment of my three-part series on customer insights, I’d like to share a few ideas to consider in crafting your company’s customer feedback strategy:
- Net Promoter Score data
- The performance defining element
- Customer service experiences
- Quarterly customer reviews
- Annual Industry survey
Let’s dive right in!
Net Promoter Score Data
The net promoter score (NPS) is one of the most powerful metrics in customer loyalty measurement and is strongly correlated to customer retention, sales, and growth. NPS is calculated based on customer responses to the question, “How likely is it that you would recommend our products/service to a friend or colleague?”
Here are two examples of opportunities to collect NPS data throughout the year:
Directly Embedded In Emails
Make it easy on your customers and send them an email twice a year with the NPS question embedded in the email, so all they have to do is click on the scale from 1 to 10, and it’s done. Embedding the question in the email means they don’t have to click on a link and get redirected. While that may sound like a small thing, response rates for NPS questions embedded in emails are much higher than those linked to a survey or other site.
Pop-Up Surveys Post Order Placement
An NPS pop-up question can be a very effective way to collect data after placing an order. Again, it’s a simple question that only requires the customer to click on a scale from 1 to 10, so response rates are pretty high.
A Word of Caution
With B2B customers who may place orders very frequently, you do not want to burden them with answering this question every time they place an order. Use the request wisely, with a frequency of 3 or 4 times a year. One way to do this could be to have the pop-ups turned on for one week a quarter.
NPS data is so valuable. Add NPS as a metric to the strategy dashboard that you review each month to drive awareness and keep changes front and center.
The Performance Defining Element
The performance defining element for your business is the part of your value proposition that your customers care about most.
For this reason, it’s critically important that you have an ongoing metric to capture how your customers think you are doing with what matters most to them.
Let’s say, for example, that the performance defining element for your business is “on-time shipments.” A simple rating question asking, “How well are we serving your needs for on-time shipments?” like the one below would provide powerful insights.
This type of rating scale question is straightforward to execute and for the customer to answer, so I recommend approaching it like the NPS metric.
- Directly embed in an email
- Add a pop-up to the website
Again, for B2B customers, be mindful of how many times you are asking the questions. You want ongoing data, but you don’t want your customers to become desensitized or, worse, annoyed by your requests.
Customer Service Experiences
Insights gained from customer service interactions represent a treasure trove of opportunities for new product and service ideas, added value to customers, and sales growth.
Why are customers contacting customer service, and what can you do to virtually eliminate the need for them to make that extra step? To gain these insights, follow up after resolutions with three short questions:
What was the customer service request regarding? Make it easy on your customer and provide a dropdown list with an “other” option.
How would you rate your experience with your customer service? (Rating scale question.)
Any additional comments you would like to add? (Open-ended question for the customer to provide further detail if they are willing.)
Collecting this data can alert you to process breakdowns you need to address, and it can provide sales and growth opportunities, so don’t let this great resource go unutilized.
Quarterly Customer Reviews
Formalize the process of quarterly customer and sales reviews and share those insights with the rest of the organization. So much customer and industry knowledge exist at the sales team level. Sales team knowledge needs to be mined and shared with the rest of the organization to leverage customer insights for strategy and growth planning.
When I work with clients to create a Quarterly Customer Review process, my guidance is always to keep it simple. The process shouldn’t be cumbersome or require too many metrics. You want a simple format that separates the signal from the noise. A few things you may consider:
- For strategic accounts, you’ll want a separate review page for each account.
- For smaller accounts, you can have just one page representing that group of accounts.
- As part of the review with the customer, have the sales team ask about competition, review mix shifts, and update understanding of what the customers’ future needs might be.
- Explain sales dropoffs and mix shifts for strategic accounts as well as by customer segments overall. Is there disruption, a market trend emerging?
Quarterly reviews can be of great value to your customer and your organization, but a word of warning. It’s tempting to try to do too much, and reviews can end up being complex, burdensome, and dreaded.
Keep them simple to a one-pager that the sales team can quickly execute. And make sure that you have the proper perspective. Your review should be about serving the customer and seeing things from their perspective. Design your reviews with that goal in mind.
Annual Industry Survey
Ok, this can be an enormous task, but it’s a compelling way to provide extra value to your customers. At the same time, you gain valuable insights to inform your strategy and business decisions.
Consider conducting an annual “State of the Industry” survey each year where you survey your customers and non-customers in your industry. In this survey, you would ask the burning questions about the industry, market insights, trends, etc., that would be of most interest to your customers and prospective customers.
An incentive to participate in the survey could be exclusive access to the detailed report results. While this might be a significant investment depending on the scope of the survey, the benefits could be equally substantial, including:
- You gain valuable market insights.
- Your customers get to share in those insights
- Your non-customers get exposure to your brand and service that could lead to new business (and you get their emails)
- You establish your company’s thought leadership in the industry
Customer insights are essential to your business. Leveraging them in a way that provides a competitive advantage requires you to be intentional about creating a plan for gathering data that is continuous and automated.
Of course, having the data is not enough. Be sure to synthesize the data into your operating rhythm so that you can incorporate the insights into your strategic and operational planning to drive the best outcomes for your business.
If you’d like help mining and leveraging your customer insights or if you’d like guidance creating a focused roadmap for growth that clarifies priorities, aligns resources, and ensures the successful execution of strategic goals that will transform the organization, please contact me.
I’d be grateful if you’d share this article with anyone else you think would find it helpful!