Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.
When an action yields a poor result, it stands to reason that the action should be modified, not endlessly repeated. This is especially pertinent in business when every action requires resource and we need to see increasing returns if we are to achieve business growth. Why then, are so many businesses still investing in sending long customer and employee satisfaction surveys, when response rates are so low and falling year on year?
When email surveys first started they were revolutionary. They were an innovative and refreshing alternative to the manual process of going person-to-person with a clip-board and pen or calling people individually on the phone. However time has moved on – the vast majority of us now consider a long email survey to be spam. Most of us don’t even open them and with actual response rates now dipping below five percent, it’s fair to say that the insight they glean is limited to say the least. The fact is, unfortunately, any representative customer survey that receives a low response rate suffers from statistical bias.
Obviously the need for timely customer insight has never been greater – especially in the era of digitisation when unhappy customers have a much greater choice of platforms to vocalise any issue that they have with your brand. However, that doesn’t mean that the poorly performing long survey should be put on a rinse and repeat cycle until we eventually hit a point where no one responds.
Instead, it’s time we looked at the institutionalised notion of long surveys with a fresh pair of eyes and debunk the myths that keep us clinging onto old habits, so we can start to look at fresh alternatives.
Myth 1: Surveys should be long because we’ve always done it this way
The traditional 10-question customer satisfaction survey has a lot in common with the multiple-choice market research questionnaires originally developed in the 1940s.
This is no coincidence. Such was the astute brilliance of customer questionnaires and their impact on the development of market intelligence in the post-war era, that when some bright spark adopted the entire methodology and applied it to the quest for customer satisfaction, nobody challenged it.
Myth 2: A survey designed by committee brings benefits to all
Stripped down to its bare bones, a purposeful and focused customer satisfaction survey appears conspicuously short – too short to be an efficient use of corporate resources. What’s more, if the people in charge of understanding customer satisfaction are the only ones allowed to design its questions, this could cast a disempowering and wholly undemocratic shadow on the rest of the organisation.
Such misguided thinking inevitably gives rise to the ‘Frankensurvey’ – a monstrous, oversized collaboration of disparate parts unwittingly borne out of a quest for perfection.
Myth 3: Don’t worry about the poor response rate, we’ll just ask another million customers
Ignoring the impact of bias and focusing purely on the response rate is a pragmatic – albeit slightly delusional – way of making the survey participation challenge into a pure numbers game. If upping the response rate is too difficult because the survey itself can’t be compromised, then attention turns to increasing the number of actual responses to a level deemed ‘representative’. Tactics for achieving this objective typically involve repeatedly issuing the survey to the same respondent, and/or extending the overall pool of respondents. The cost of doing so is negligible, so why not fill your boots?
Bear in mind that to achieve a sample of 1,000 customers on a one percent response rate means pestering 1m customers, 999,000 of whom will regard the invitation with indifference, despair, or somewhere inbetween.
Myth 4: All of these stats are going to be unbelievably useful when I present them to the board
The results of your Frankensurvey are in, and its extensive length and complexity has been thoroughly vindicated by the sheer volume of data amassed. Should anyone wish to explore it, there’s plenty of detailed justification for strategies adopted and processes implemented.
What’s missing is the clarity and accuracy of the objective: to improve customer satisfaction. As Seth Godin put it: “Don’t ask a question unless you truly care about the answer.”
Are you insulating yourself with data, or are you engendering happiness? It’s also worth bearing in mind that in the vast majority of cases, the information you glean is out of date by the time you receive and process it. For example, capturing data on an unhappy customer is most beneficial when you catch it quickly and can act to rectify it – thereby turning an unhappy customer into a potential advocate.
Myth 5: The customer journey is one thing and the customer satisfaction survey is something else
Organisations rightly pool their resources and intellect into the optimum ‘customer journey’ – everyone in the company prioritises and values it. You’re all about ‘injecting delight’ and ‘promoting effortlessness’. You get a tangible ROI from shaving nanoseconds off the time it takes for a payment to process via your website.
So why on earth are so many organisations failing to make customer satisfaction surveys a seamless part of the customer journey? Is it really good enough to put so much effort into positive Customer Experience, just to undermine it all by emailing a 10-question customer survey three days later?
Ultimately the era of the long customer survey is over – the key now is to capture and respond to feedback in the moment, whenever they engage with your brand. Technology is allowing businesses to get closer to customers in real time, as and when they interact with their products and services.
Leading brands like Amazon, Uber, Reed and Selfridges have spotted this trend. They need customer feedback to keep delivering the right service to their customers, but with the death of the long survey, they’ve had to change how they get that feedback. Instead they are opting for short feedback across interactions, which gives them fantastic insight across the customer journey.
Customer Experience has transformed business practice and elevated consumers’ expectations in recent years.
The modern consumer, empowered by new technologies, demands more than value-for-money products: they expect fast digital interactions with companies as well as personalised service and, importantly, an emotional connection with brands.
The impact of CX is also palpable in music services. Music services and hubs now see greater involvement from teachers and parents in their tuition delivery and management, whether that is for timetabling, monitoring lesson progress, or handling payments.
Historically, this level of interaction with end-users was not always the case. The focus for music services particularly in the early stages had been centred on the administrative relationship with schools and performing arts centres. Music services, similarly to many other businesses, did not consider the wider Customer Experience. They did not need to address parent expectations or teacher requirements.
Music services are now tasked with evolving to meet the CX demand and providing a better service for end-users. With music education under increasing strain and changes coming in the new National Plan for Music Education, it is more important than ever for music services to deliver CX which strengthens the relationship with customers and teachers while improving trust in the industry.
A new parent perspective
The challenge is that music services have not traditionally thought of themselves as businesses. To effectively deliver and manage tuition, this perception must change. As with any modern business delivering a service, having a customer-centric ethos and the digital tools in place to maximise efficiency is key.
Crucially, music services must appreciate that their teachers and parents are also digital consumers. As customers of various services across different industries, they have become accustomed to great customer service, accessible communication channels, and easy-to-use self-service options everywhere, whether that is Amazon or ASOS.
Music service customers expect high standards thanks to their interactions with retailers, insurance providers, and beyond. With this mindset, music services should be no different. They must offer customers simple digital solutions which elevate their tuition management experience, especially considering that 67 percent of customers will pay more for a great experience.
Building customer relationships
Indeed, one of the key objectives from the recent Music Commission report is that “parental engagement is supported as a priority from the earliest years onwards”, with tools that empower parents to track their child’s learning each step of the way. Ensuring that parents and pupils are fully involved and engaged with music tuition adds value to their experience and helps in developing a strong connection with music education. In other words, parental engagement can be achieved by considering the whole parent journey in the same way that CX is about the consumer’s entire journey with a brand.
Improving CX in music education requires solutions which are driven by the end-user and address the needs of the customer paying for tuition. Parents want like any customer a simple method of communicating with their tuition provider and accessing information so they can stay up-to-date on their child’s lessons.
Customers appreciate retailers for instance who establish a personal relationship with them, communicating regularly about the latest news and sharing personalised discount vouchers to demonstrate their value for that customer. Music services might similarly reach out to customers with personalised pupil updates, relevant news and special tuition prices via email or social channels for a more personalised experience which fosters loyalty.
Providing accessible tuition options for customers
A recent PwC report confirmed that speed, convenience, and friendly service rank highly amongst 70 percent of consumers when dealing with companies. Improving CX also involves making customer support available in a variety of ways for parents. Customers will naturally have questions regarding tuition and making the answers available can be as simple as an updated FAQ page on the music services’ website to a customer service telephone line or an online virtual assistant.
If more music services consider the parent as a customer first, this can help ensure timely payments and encourage better communication. Online banking has revolutionised the way consumers pay and for many parents, making online tuition payments is a more convenient and on-the-go option. Empowering customers with digital lesson management systems so they can quickly pay bills and make changes to tuition will add real value to their experience, whilst reducing the build-up of bad debt and strain on music services.
Reliance on manual paper systems is a common recurrence for administrative staff in music services yet when teams have thousands of students’ data records and payments to manage, this is hardly an effective or secure method. Customers also want to be assured that their data is being handled safely and compliantly.
Although music services have a number of different ‘customers’ to address, making CX core to their business practice will achieve the same goal and enable them to provide a better service for parents, teachers and schools alike. It is vital that music services facilitate online interaction between end-users from one single portal to make communication clearer and more accurate for everyone.
It is time for music services to change their perspective on parents and start seeing them as consumers too, providing them with personalised, digital services as standard to improve their customer engagement and loyalty.
“Calm down” has been voted the worst thing to say to customers over the phone, according to a new poll of more than 100 call centre and customer service professionals.
In a survey carried out by enterprise communications company Fuze at the recent Call and Contact Centre Expo in London, 22 percent said “calm down” is the most frustrating response to give to customers, followed by “you’re wrong” (20 percent), and “let me put you on hold” (15 percent).
The full list of the top ten most frustrating responses of 2019 are:
Let me put you on hold
Let me speak
That’s not my job/responsibility
That’s against policy
I don’t know
There’s nothing I can do
It’s no big deal
I’m new here
Bradlee Allen, Product Evangelist at Fuze, said: “Call centres are key points of interaction between a brand and its customers, but the experience can be frustrating for both parties. Appeasing the customer is a priority, but responses like ‘calm down’ and ‘let me put you on hold’ only add to frustration and usually mean resolution takes longer to achieve.
“The key is making it easy for customers to connect with a brand and choosing the right communication technology to create a seamless, simple experience that delivers fast resolution and optimum customer satisfaction.”