Archive for September, 2010

Don’t bother with customer satisfaction surveys – ask about the customer experience

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Measurement is always a keen issue for management not least in deciding what to measure and what weight to put on the findings. The key to good practice is often thought to be having a clear idea of what you will do with the information once you’ve got it – but that will almost certainly lead to the wrong approach when it comes to measuring customer experience.

Asking the question to deliver a longed-for answer is using measurement to justify a predetermined action.   Proper customer experience research is not just about quantifying things like satisfaction.  Customer experience research should be about delivering answers to the questions you didn’t know to ask,  bringing insight and understanding about how your customers feel and think and how this drives what they do.  With that sort of research you can start to define a new strategy.  But if you don’t delve into the unknown then you can’t learn anything.

When dealing with customers this is vitally important. You can’t control them; they do seemingly random and illogical things and they get emotional.  This is even more pertinent to online retailers who may not have any human contact with their customer. So a survey set up just to prove you satisfied your customers is pointless. Maybe you do the survey every couple of months and can see if you’re getting better or worse.   But that is only useful if you know the root causes so you can address them. Far better is to find out what makes them satisfied, what makes them want to come back and what makes them recommend you and then you can do more of it.

Customers don’t care how you organise your business, how much effort went into your creative or the latest software you put in your call centre but most company based research programmes are there to test and measure these sorts of things – to test what you deliver. What is far better is to test what the customer takes away from your site – to measure customer experience across the full range of emotions and not just the very happy and unhappy customers who fill in CSat surveys.

This needs to be done independently of your in-house departments to escape intentional and unintentional prejudice and to be independent of vested interests so it can tell the story from the customer’s perspective.

Sure it is a little harder to do than putting up an online customer satisfaction survey but there are some different research methods out there and ultimately it will be more rewarding for you and for your customers.