Surveys are the most common method to obtain feedback. However, surveys alone cannot keep organisations up to date with changing customer behaviours. Traditional surveys capture information about a limited number of touchpoints or interactions and can be restricted in scope. They often sample only 7% of a company’s customers. As such, when used in isolation, surveys do not provide a comprehensive picture of the customer experience.

To fully understand the voice of the customer, organisations need to be able to capture and analyse a variety of customer signals, including direct and indirect feedback. Completeness of insight is key. CX leaders are more than twice as likely as their ‘laggard’ counterparts to say that they have enough data to understand the experience of customers in key segments.

The power of direct feedback

Although surveys are no silver bullet, they still play a crucial role in organisations’ customer experience strategies today. Their benefits are manifold: the structured nature of questions makes it easy to analyse feedback and quickly identify patterns in large data sets. At the same time, when deployed at particular touchpoints along the customer journey, surveys can collect feedback on specific aspects of the customer experience.

At highly impactful touchpoints, surveys can be the starting place to recover a customer at risk or upsell to a passive one. Successful organisations recognise this, and treat surveys as part of a two-way conversation with customers, rather than a mere information-gathering exercise. At the transactional touchpoints, surveys can help organisations obtain high-level insight into what is working across a product, channel and customer segment – all of which are key levers of innovation.

The question, then, is not if organisations should continue to leverage surveys, but how. Adopting new technologies and methods will help them obtain more meaningful and accurate responses from customers, and do more with direct customer feedback. 

How to capitalise on direct customer insight:

  • Enable continuous feedback and offer the appropriate survey method at the right time. This allows organisations to reach customers at a time when their insight is most useful and accurate. For example, using popular messaging channels for surveys, customers can share their exact experiences in real-time, instead of a watered-down version at a later point.
  • Distribute surveys across multiple channels, including email, SMS, social media or in-app. This means customers can be reached where they are most likely to engage. Since 33% of customers do not report issues for lack of an easy way to do so, this ease of access to the survey can also result in higher response rates.
  • Personalise surveys by using customer data to ask questions based on the individual’s preferences, activities or interactions with the brand. For example, with location-based data, brands can track several key metrics, such as foot traffic, and survey customers based on their visits to brick-and-mortar stores. Such personalisation makes customers feel seen and heard.
  • Reach customers via video to capitalise on rich insight. Video surveys allow customers to record their answers to questions and share their experiences in a more personal way. Moreover, when customers leave video feedback, they use six times more wordsthan those who use a comment box.

It is also important to remember that surveys can deter customers when issues persist and feedback falls on deaf ears. Organisations must avoid wasting customers’ time by sending them long and erroneous surveys; asking about what they already know; or requesting feedback on areas where action will not be taken. To avoid over-surveying or frustrating the customer, organisations should instead ask: can we fill the gaps in our knowledge in any other way? 

Building a full picture of customer signals

Since surveys typically only capture the opinions of the ‘vocal minority’ – and contribute just 20% of overall customer signals to a company – it is essential to supplement them with indirect feedback methods. These can be used to extract the opinions of the ‘silent majority’, which would otherwise go unnoticed. There are three major ways modern analytics capabilities can help organisations find underlying customer experience insights and value in feedback:

  1. Text analytics: By applying AI-powered Natural Language Understanding, organisations can derive more insights from text feedback by analysing data for intent, empathy, sentiment and more. Surfacing these themes and trends in real-time – and to the right people – can drive process efficiencies. For example, it can help customer-facing staff prioritise support tickets.
  2. Speech analytics: Data gathered from calls, voicemails and other voice recordings can be further analysed for acoustic sentiment to surface actionable insights. By listening out for competitor mentions, script compliance and signs of churn risk, organisations can stay ahead of the curve. In addition, using speech analytics can result in a return-on-investment (ROI) of 20 to 30 percent and customer satisfaction score improvements of at least 10 percent.
  3. Video analytics: Video allows organisations to delve deeper into data insights than via any other method. By using technology to analyse facial expressions, tone of voice and emotions, organisations can capture non-verbal cues that may otherwise not be detected or noted down. Ultimately, video allows for a more authentic understanding of customers’ experiences.

From nice-to-have to cutting edge – how a survey can drive change

A stellar customer experience strategy is one that can capture the full range of experience signals across all channels and in the moments that matter the most. When conducted correctly, surveys remain a powerful tool in an organisation’s CX arsenal. However, they must be used in conjunction with other feedback methods to meet modern customer expectations.

Companies can only gain a more holistic understanding of the voice of the customer if they expand their use of surveys as well as look beyond them. Effectively combining direct and indirect feedback will enable organisations to become CX leaders and reap the rewards. Organisations that take these steps are 26 times more likely than laggards to experience a year-over-year revenue growth of 20 percent or more.

In an evolving marketplace, it is essential that the way in which an organisation gathers insight mirrors the preferences of its customers. The modern customer’s needs have changed, and as such, so too should organisations’ customer experience strategies. In the battleground for customers, CX remains the best way to retain and attract a loyal customer base and establish an organisation firmly as a leader in their space.

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