In an era of digital communication and vast social media influence, it has become incredibly easy for consumers to voice their opinions about the companies they frequent, support, or vilify. One disgruntled customer can rally thousands in a matter of hours with nothing more than a 140-character blurb gone viral. Every individual has potential access to the digital megaphone of social media and thus, companies must put forth the utmost effort to maintain a high level of service and satisfaction for their customers.
Yet, this begs the question, how does a business go about ensuring its representatives meet corporate standards while fostering a positive experience for its client base? By going straight to the source – the customers. That’s where Interactive Voice Response (IVR) surveys become a major asset. Survey platforms such as Plum Insight afford enterprises a great deal of flexibility in collecting client feedback and ultimately, improving company performance through data-driven, customer-oriented decision making. With thorough planning and adherence to some basic tips, you’ll be on the right track to getting the most out of your IVR survey.
Conception and Preparation are Key
1. Know your objectives forwards and backwards
Formulating a concise set of objectives may sound like a simple task, but don’t underestimate its importance within the early stages of survey planning. Just as a house is only as sound as its foundation, a successful IVR survey depends on adherence to clear, well-defined objectives. Who will your survey target? What insight do you hope to discover with your questionnaire? These are the most basic examples of questions you should answer prior to the IVR polling stage. Be as specific as possible to gather targeted information from your customer base.
2. Start your analysis early
Now that you know what you want to ask, it’s time to think about what analysis is necessary and how you will use the information gleaned from the survey. The actual crunching of data doesn’t occur until after you’ve launched your survey, but outlining how the data will be used during the planning stage will save you plenty of headaches later. This is also the time to determine how to handle incomplete surveys, figuring out whether to weight specific questions, or any other tweaks that may affect your final results. Develop a system of analysis procedures early so that you can spend more time drawing conclusions from the data, not sifting through it.
3. Take a test drive
To borrow a phrase from those Head & Shoulders shampoo ads in the 1990s, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This philosophy extends far beyond managing dandruff and is especially applicable to surveys. Before starting a survey campaign, test the waters with a pilot group that is reflective of your target demographic. A small focus group is the perfect medium to judge the effectiveness of your survey questions and remedy any problems before sending out the poll in mass.
4. Soft-launch to a sample group
As a general rule of thumb, when it comes to sample size, the more the merrier. In order to gather usable data that is representative of a larger target population, it is essential to have enough respondents. (That haunting echo you hear is probably the voice of your statistics professor of yore.) Luckily, there are a variety of resources available to help survey creators determine the optimal sample size for their particular needs.
5. Motivate survey takers with a personal touch
Users are more likely to provide feedback if your survey stands out from the crowd. Don’t beg for participation. Instead, tell your customers why you’re requesting their individual feedback. Mention a specific experience based on a recent interaction that each customer had with your company or brand. A bit of personalization within the invitation to the survey is invaluable as a mechanism to appeal to potential respondents.
Design Your IVR Survey Like a Pro
6. Get to the point
Surveys should be succinct, easy to understand, and most importantly very quick to complete. Don’t plan to take more than a minute or two of your customer’s time. A post call survey may sound exciting to you, but not all of your customers will be as enthusiastic. The more questions you include in your survey, the more skewed responses tend to get. Longer-than-expected surveys are not only frustrating for customers, but they almost entice users to quit the survey before finishing. Respect your customers’ time, tell them up front how long it will take and how many questions they will be asked to make the survey process as painless as possible.
7. The KISS Principle – Keep it simple, stupid
No, this has nothing to do with Gene Simmons or face paint. It’s tempting to jam pack a questionnaire with as many inquiries as possible. While you have their attention, you might as well try to gather insight about multiple areas of your business right? Wrong. Shorter, more frequent surveys provide much more accurate picture of customer satisfaction.
8. It’s all about timing
As any comedian can attest, timing is everything – the difference between a successful punchline and a room full of crickets. This is especially true when conducting a survey. When asking for feedback, it is crucial to do so within a reasonable amount of time – typically as soon as possible but no more than 24 hours after an encounter. Memory is a tricky thing. The longer you wait, the less likely your customer is to remember the specific interaction in question. And you don’t want that inaccurate data clogging up your analysis.
9. Ask, listen, then act – User feedback counts
It’s vital to let users know that their input is being heard. Make it clear to survey takers that their responses haven’t disappeared into the ethereal mist; that their opinions aren’t just sitting in a data bank somewhere. Use customer feedback to make positive changes within your organization and then flaunt it! A customer who sees improvements based upon their feedback will not only be more willing to complete questionnaires in the future, they’ll thank you for taking the time to listen. Win, win.
Make the Most of Your Data
10. The more you gather, the more you can measure
While the main goal of your business’s survey could be to analyze company performance or see which department protocol needs improvement, don’t forget about all of the other data that you’ve collected beyond the arena of public opinion. Cross-analyze customer feedback with internal metrics such as queue-time, agent-id, etc. You might be surprised at the additional trends you identify with seemingly disparate information.
11. Patience is a virtue
You’ve done your research, created, tested, and formalized your survey questionnaire, and now the data is rolling in. It’s exciting, but don’t get ahead of yourself. Wait until enough responses are accumulated before attempting to draw statistically significant conclusions. A provisional data analysis has its uses, potentially as a vehicle to generate a sense of customer opinion, but key business decisions should never be solely based on early figures.
12. Prepare for extremes
When beginning to delve into your survey data, it’s important to understand that the most vocal participants tend to be those who have had a very positive or very negative experience. This is called self-selection bias. In terms of representing a target population, these responses are typically outliers – extremes that cannot be correlated with the entire group because of their small proportion. Yet due to the severity, these polarized attitudes often draw more attention than the sentiments of your normal customer. Don’t let those who shout the loudest drown out the majority of your clientele!
13. Pictures are worth a thousand words
Data can be opaque and difficult to decipher. Yet, it’s through the analysis process that spreadsheets and mountains of numbers gain meaning. Use visual tools to bring clarity to that data. Charts, graphs, and other visual displays showcase your findings in easy, understandable ways. Plus, charts are a fantastic medium for quickly drawing comparisons with past and concurrent campaigns.
14. Share your results to inspire action
So you’ve determined your customers’ likes and dislikes and where your company excels and struggles. Now it’s on to the meeting room to disclose the results to the board of directors. But don’t stop there. Customers rarely, if ever, deal directly with your C-Level executives. Share the results with your entire company, all the way from the bottom to the top. Performance improvement starts with the actions of individual employees and large-scale policy changes can cement improvements in powerful, data-driven ways. Make company-wide changes to complement the findings of your survey and use subsequent polling to gauge satisfaction with the new practices and protocols.