Well, we’re here, and it’s happening: Back in 2013, Walker Insights made the bold prediction that, by 2020, customer experience would overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator –and today’s customers are reporting that it’s true. Consider the following findings from Salesforce Research’s State of the Connected Customer report, second edition:
- 80 percent of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services
- 76 percent of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations
- 67 percent of customers say their standard for good experiences are higher than ever
This emphasis on the customer experience has in turn put the spotlight on “voice of the customer” (VoC) initiatives. So how can your business gather this critical survey information in a cost-effective manner that still results in timely, relevant, actionable data?
A Real-Life Example
It’s true that today’s customers expect omnichannel options, but some channels just work better than others for VoC data collection. Such was the experience of Plum Voice’s client Erie Insurance, who had for years been doing paper surveys through traditional mail. The desire to keep up with advances in technology motivated Erie to expand its surveys onto the web; they incentivized customers to take the survey, but they soon realized they could do even more by employing a voice option through their contact center. Plum’s IVR survey app integrated perfectly with their existing infrastructure. Now,instead of receiving 4,900 survey responses per year, the voice channel alone gathers about 1,000 per month. The depth of data now readily available has driven real change at the company, including processes not only within the contact center, but in sales and training,as well.
Why IVR Shines
Several characteristics of the post-contact phone survey make it really shine for survey data collection:
- It’s immediate. Your customers are already on the phone and are being asked specific questions about the interaction they had just moments before. They don’t have a chance to forget their true opinions in the hours or days before receiving an email or mailed survey. Further, they have no excuse to get distracted or put off their response;it’s “do or do not” at the exact moment it’s relevant.
- It’s quick. Post-call surveys that run just two minutes are short enough to hold the respondent’s interest but long enough to collect useful information.
- It’s easy. Callers can opt in if they wish, and it takes very little effort on their part to listen and press a few keys to register their responses.
- It’s actionable. The same survey app that collects the data routes it for use–no more waiting days or weeks for the numbers to be crunched (if they got meaningfully crunched at all). In Erie’s case, they had their data available on the contact center dashboard the next morning and were returning customer service calls on any issues within 24 hours. You can imagine how that helps move the needle toward any company’s standard goal of delighting the customers.
- It’s consistent. IVR surveys can be customized and implemented for various subgroups of customers and run automatically over time without further action needed by your team. This allows you to see trends as they’re happening and to hone in on the performance of individual agents, to cite just a couple of examples.
How to Construct a Great IVR Survey
Not everyone, however, has experience with constructing the puzzle of a great phone survey. While our Plum Insights app comes loaded with 19 types of questions and is fully customizable, here are some additional tips to make your surveys the best they can be:
- Before you construct a single question, tightly define your survey goal and your audience. Are you setting a benchmark for a new product or service? Checking your NPS with long-term customers, or your brand awareness with new customers? The more carefully you think through these questions, the more targeted you can make the few questions you should include in the survey and the more useful data you’ll collect.
- Keep in mind the data you already have. Because the survey takes place at the end of a call, you can program your survey to automatically connect to your CRM data for that customer. No need to ask the customer to confirm their identity or that they made a recent purchase, etc.
- Keep your word choice simple and clear, and precisely phrase your questions. For instance, the words “and” and “or” in a question may be a red flag that you’re really asking two questions in one.
- Keep your answer choices intuitive. Since IVR invites your respondent to press a certain numbered key, plan answer choices like “press 0 for none, 1 for once, 2 for twice,” etc. Anine-point scale that uses the numbers 1 through 9 may perfectly optimize your survey response set.
- Don’t forget to provide a mechanism for reporting and fixing any problems; at the minimum, offer an easy transition back to an agent.
The Rules for Smooth IVR
We’ve spoken elsewhere about the ways to keep your IVR transaction calls under 90 seconds, and your survey structure could benefit from some of the same considerations:
- Your prompts should provide the necessary information as briefly as possible. For example, put the information before the instructions; your respondents intuitively know that when they hear their menu option, they should likely hit the next sequential number.
- Similarly, make the process easier by allowing “bargeable prompts,” whereby callers can enter their number selection at any point during the explanation.
- Use whatever standard DTMF conventions are in use throughout the rest of your IVR menuing, such as 0 to reach an agent.
- Don’t forget to program an “escape route” that will allow respondents to fix any input errors.
Finally, when your surveys are up and running, don’t shy away from negative feedback. It pinpoints exactly what you need to improve in order to maximize your customer experience, build customer loyalty and grow your business.
Your existing voice channel could be just the thing to maximize your “voice of the customer” initiatives. Contact us to get started on gathering customer insights this week.