Sending surveys is a tried-and-true way to gauge how your customers feel about your company and its products and services. Just as there are many ways to gather data about customers’ experiences, though, organizations have multiple opportunities to engage people. Attempting to send surveys and gather information at less-than-ideal touchpoints can produce lower-quality data.
So can sending the wrong type of survey to certain segments of your customer base. You wouldn’t want to send a survey to a new customer about something they haven’t used yet, for example. But you also don’t want to try to gather data about experiences customers had several weeks or months ago. While some people might remember a few details, you run a higher risk of receiving diluted and inaccurate data.
Learning how and when to gather customer data is part of strategic experience management. Relevance and timing are important factors. So is knowing why you’re collecting data and defining how you’re going to use it. By keeping these things in mind, you can start to craft better survey questions to target the right audience segments. You can also use methodologies that capture the true essence of how customers feel about your brand.
Without Goals, Data Becomes Random or Biased
If you’re sending out survey links through emails without clear objectives, you’re collecting data for the sake of collecting data. Although you may find a few information nuggets in the data you’re getting, do you know what to do with it? Do you have a good sense of what value and insights that data holds?
Without any goals or strategic visions behind your customer data, it may not mean much. You could be wasting company resources and your customers’ time, leading to less than stellar decisions. Plus, you’re giving people a chance to simply vent and remind themselves of why they don’t really like you. You might only get back data from customers who have had extremely negative experiences instead of a wider pool.
To form a solid foundation, define what you want to learn and how you want to use the information. Does your company need to understand what factors contribute to loyalty among your customer base? In this case, it could be better to send periodic surveys at various intervals.
Timing and Targeting Are Everything
The best time to seek information from your customers will depend on the nature of your survey. Methodology or format can make a difference, too. Email will work fine when the anticipated changes will take place over days and weeks. But you’ll want to use a text if your goal is to better the customer’s experience in real time. Consider, for example, a hotel that wants to course correct after a flawed check-in experience.
When you wait too long to follow up on customers’ experiences, there can be several negative impacts on the information you receive. Your response rates will be lower, as many people might not understand or remember why you’re reaching out. Those that do respond may not give as complete or accurate information as they would have at an earlier date.
You might also see an increased number of incomplete responses, with partial answers and skipped questions. That’s problematic, as 72% of companies admit incomplete or missing data can negatively impact customer satisfaction and engagement.
Reaching out to the wrong customers at the wrong time can also lower your data quality. Sending a Net Promoter Score survey to customers who have been using your services less than a few months isn’t helpful. These clients haven’t experienced your company and services long enough to provide the answers an NPS survey aims to get. Customers who have been with your company for a year or longer are better candidates.
Various formats exist for data gathering. Email and website pop-ups are popular tools, and surveys via text message are becoming increasingly common for the reasons mentioned above. However, some customers are going to get annoyed by too many survey requests. Their inboxes, whether personal or business, are already inundated with solicitations and messages.
Think about whom you’re targeting and experiment with different days of the week and time frames. Research on the best time to send surveys has produced varying results, so you’ll need to determine what’s best for your company. Every customer base is different, and whether you’re a B2C or B2B organization will also factor in.
Monitor and Measure Results Quickly
Collecting data from your customers without analyzing and acting on it promptly can contribute to decision-making errors and customer dissatisfaction. This is one of the reasons why digital methods and automated survey platforms are so popular. Some of these apps will produce sentiment analysis, trend graphs, and calculations for you. But even with all of these tools, you still need to efficiently monitor and act on your customer data.
Knowing how your customers feel and segmenting them into different sentiment categories isn’t enough. It’s the same as being aware you have a crack in your home’s foundation that’s going to get worse. If you don’t fix it immediately, letting it go until it expands further, you’ll only have a bigger problem on your hands.
Customers’ feelings can and do change over time. It doesn’t make sense to base your decisions solely on the information you gathered six months ago. During that time, some of those people may have left for a competitor. Or they may have discontinued their service and came back.
Similarly, your company probably gained new customers, launched different products or services, and ran additional promotions. You might have rebranded your look, style, and feel. While it could be beneficial to compare previous data with current information, you still need to gauge your customers’ perceptions in the here and now. Establish a cycle where you evaluate, act, re-measure, and then act again.
Customer experiences and data are fluid. Randomly sending surveys to everyone that walks into your stores or signs up for your services isn’t a useful strategy. Instead, identify what your company hopes to learn from your customers and what information you need to develop solutions to pressing problems.
Target the customers most likely to give you the insights you need at the right time. When you use that data to make the changes your audience is demanding, you’ll be on your way to creating winning customer experiences.