The following is a guest post by Jim Jones, CEO & Founder of Voyant Consulting.
Last week I wrote the first post in a three-part series on building a voice of the customer program. In that article I dealt with collecting feedback to hear what your customers care most about. This week, I’ll discuss how you analyze that data.
Customers Want To Know: What Happens Next?
Once you have a significant amount of data going into your feedback loop, you should provide your customers with a clear view of what happens next. Everyone who received your surveys, regardless of whether they responded or not, should receive a communication from your company listing out the next steps in the process. For transactional surveys, this communication can be streamlined through a marketing automation tool. For longer and more complex surveys, the message may need to be crafted by a marketing team. Regardless, the customers need to know what you’re going to do with what they just told you.
Tell them how long it will take to analyze the data, what types of future communications they can expect from you, and when they can expect to see action. Making and sticking to these commitments helps improve the response rates on your surveys and encourages customers to give more feedback. It may also be worthwhile for your customer success team to reach out directly to enterprise or strategic customers to communicate with them individually, and answer any follow up questions they may have.
Quick Analysis for Quick Wins
It’s tempting to jump right into a deep analysis of quantitative data and begin creating spreadsheets, charts and graphs – but you should start the analysis process by going through the qualitative, open-ended feedback from customers. A quick read through customer comments will give you a sense of the overall sentiment of your customer base. Sometimes the best feedback only comes from stepping back and looking at trends that run through customer responses.
Analyzing qualitative feedback also allows you to see tactical or one-off problems that can be addressed quickly. Doing so can allow you to quickly build trust with customers. As an example, let’s say a customer completes a survey after a technical service request is closed. A customer may say something like this: “I’m glad your team was able to resolve my question, but only called because I was unable to play your self-help videos using my current web browser.” This feedback should be sent immediately to the CSM assigned to this customer so that a follow up call can be made.
Depending on your sample size, you may well find a lot of tactical feedback like this. Again, address it quickly and leverage the customer success team to do the outreach and follow up. There’s no need to make the customer wait longer if their issue can be addressed quickly. I’ve seen many cases where a quick follow-up call from a customer success manager can have a significant positive impact on the customer’s opinion of a company.
After analyzing the tactical feedback and getting some quick wins, you need to take a deeper dive into the data. We’ll tackle that process next.
A Deeper Dive into Data
As you’re analyzing and acting upon the tactical qualitative feedback from customers, you can also begin a more strategic analysis of the data as a whole. You need a broad-based overview of customer sentiment to begin analysis so you can begin to make fact-based decisions and plans.
It’s important to analyze feedback from each touch-point separately. It may be tempting to merge all the data together and come up with what looks like an overall score, but doing this will hide some of the data. Each touch-point with the customer has to be evaluated based on its own set of questions, its own results, and its specific impact on the relationship with the customer.
Quantitative data can be analyzed by one person or a small group of people: there really shouldn’t be much disagreement on the analysis of numeric or scalar data points. However, with qualitative data the analysis can be much more subjective. To ensure that all stakeholders in a company feel a sense of ownership of the results and the actions, it’s important to assemble a cross-functional team. In most cases, customer success can lead a customer feedback analysis team – but participation from product development, product management, sales, etc., is also important.
Many software solutions are available to help you to draw conclusions and inferences from qualitative data. The simplest and easiest are web-based solutions to create word clouds for you, so that you and the team can see what words are used most frequently by customers in describing their relationship with your business. Enterprise-level applications are also available for deeper dives into the data. Pick the solution that is most appropriate for your needs, budget and timeframe.
Analyzing Data By Customer Type
It’s important for that your survey analysis process takes into consideration information about the customers giving the feedback. As any customer success team member will tell you, not all customers are created equal. You need to make sure that your conclusions and action plans benefit your largest and most strategic customers first.
If you have a large enough pool of data, consider “slicing and dicing” the results by various customer attributes. Here are some things to consider when breaking down your data into cohorts:
- Results based on length of relationship with the customer: Do you get different feedback from customers in their first year after purchase as you do from customers that have been with you for 10 years?
- Results based on the title/position of the respondent: Do your customers’ executives feel the same way about your company, products and service as their end users do? A significant gap between populations of respondents may help your customer success team identify specific target groups they need to work with to improve the customer’s experience.
- Results based on customer size: All things being equal, most companies will choose to prioritize feedback from enterprise customers over that of their small/medium business (SMB) customers. Enterprise customers carry more weight, because they provide more revenue to your company and there is greater capacity for upsells. Listening closely to their feedback is important.
- Results based on customer vertical market: Are your customers in healthcare as loyal to your company and products as those that are in packaged consumer goods? Your business model may work well for one vertical, but you may be ignoring the needs of another vertical. You do this at your peril.
Turning Analysis Into Action
Once the analysis of your data is complete, you will likely have a laundry list of things that you could do. Trying to address all customer feedback at once is a recipe for disaster: your efforts will be fragmented and you likely won’t complete anything.
When evaluating customer feedback, here are some helpful criteria to determine which actions need to be taken:
- Is the feedback in question something that affects a large portion of our customer base, or impacts a major tier or vertical our customers are in?
- Is the feedback something we can address in a fairly short timeframe? If not, can the problem be broken up into manageable chunks so we can report on progress to our customers over time?
- Is the feedback something that makes economic sense for our company to address? You may find that a specific business problem contributes to a small percentage of customer dissatisfaction or churn, but will cost a lot of money to address. Those problems are better left alone.
Now that you’ve analyzed your data and created your action plans, the next step is to close the loop with your customers. Our next and final post in this series will provide guidance on doing just that.
About the Author:
Jim Jones is the founder and CEO of Voyant Consulting, a Chicago-based firm that helps clients improve customer loyalty by improving their Customer Success organizations. In his previous roles with multiple international technology companies, Jim has a history of increasing customer loyalty, and improving customer retention by building world-class customer success and customer support groups. He has also been a featured speaker and blogger on the topics of customer success, voice of the customer programs and customer experience.
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