Your business receives customer feedback every day. With thousands of online survey tools available, many businesses are using more than 100 survey tools with no co-ordination among the teams deploying them. This can lead to duplication of effort, unnecessary costs and over surveying of customers.
To develop a more coordinated approach to feedback gathering, you need a more advanced system where feedback can be gathered, analyzed and distributed with a clear view as to what is being done across the business.
This paper will help you if you have been using these tactical survey tools and increasingly find that they no longer meet your needs.
Driving the Change
The growth of internet usage means that customers can take their business to a competitor and you may never know why you lost them. Understanding your customers has never been more important.
In its 2007 report "Buyers Guide: Online Surveys and Research", e-consultancy stated "A feature of a growing number of organizations these days is a desire to put customers at the heart of their decision making processes, something which has led to the formation of customer experience teams within many businesses."
Managing and improving customer experience is increasingly the key to business growth and has started to gain focus at board level. This focus allows organizations to put more effort and budget into analyzing customer experience, and accounts for the sharp rise in the number of tools available. By bringing the process of gathering information about customer experience in-house, businesses are able to pinpoint key issues quickly.
Tactical Tools: a short term solution
You are unlikely to launch straight into a full-scale, coordinated customer experience program. There will first be dozens of smaller, tactical projects where the primary aim is getting the right feedback from the right people quickly, easily and at a low cost.
But no matter how many of these projects you undertake, they do not amount to a customer experience program.
Much of the scalability issue is driven by limited reporting functionality. Anything beyond creating pie charts, graphs and basic tables that summarize a few hundred responses to a single survey becomes more problematic. Open-ended questions are extremely valuable in getting detailed feedback from clients which simple box-ticking cannot achieve. However it is difficult to manage a large number of responses.
If you require a greater level of detail than allowed by the standard reporting tools, then you can export to Excel or a similar package. Wrestling with hundreds or potentially thousands of rows of data in Excel is not a pleasant, nor is it an efficient use of your staff's time. Once results have been finalized, laid out and reformatted into a suitable report, they have to be manually distributed to the relevant stakeholders. And, of course, these reports are static, so you cannot incorporate any changes without recreating everything from scratch.
Lack of a Complete View
The limited nature of reporting available has greater implications than losing your staff to Excel for days at a time. By being able to report on one survey at a time, you can only achieve an isolated snapshot of your situation at a given moment in time..
By reporting on each survey individually, you create a series of information silos, resulting in a lack of continuity and wasting potentially valuable information. The lack of a complete view stretches beyond a limitation of your results and you will struggle to monitor which of your customers you have gathered feedback from, and when.
Imagine you are a customer who has expressed a level of dissatisfaction and, when nothing has been done to address this, you are asked the same questions again. Over-surveying becomes increasingly likely as different departments across the business deploy their own surveys for their own needs. It leads to lower response rates and creates the impression that one part of the businesses is entirely out of touch with other parts.
Lack of integration
The stand-alone nature of tactical tools allows for rapid deployment from anywhere in the business without assistance from IT departments. You may find that the lack of integration with the rest of your business limits your ability to contact customers at the right time. Short of mining data from your CRM or contact center system on a daily basis, you cannot guarantee catching your customer at the "moment of truth" which will give you the most accurate and valuable feedback.
Lack of Scalability
One of the main limitations is their inability to scale effectively. Oftentimes you require slightly different versions of a survey for different groups of people. In most cases, this will mean re-creating an existing survey and deploying it to the appropriate target audience. While this in itself is not a great problem, with multiple versions of multiple surveys it can become immensely complicated and time consuming to analyze the data and come to any meaningful conclusion. This lack of scalability makes the process of gathering feedback rather laborious, and significantly increases the costs involved.
From Tactical to Strategic Feedback
Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) software is designed to provide large organizations with the tools needed to build an integrated customer experience program. Gartner defines EFM applications as those which "focus on the consolidation of feedback from multiple channels and multiple departments...to create single view of the customer's feedback."
By consolidating feedback, you immediately move closer to a more detailed and complete view of your customers.
Scalability is greatly improved in these platforms. Deploying multiple surveys or different versions of surveys to different target groups is managed from within the platforms. By reducing the number of individual projects, large amounts of time are saved. Many of the products support the translation and deployment of surveys in multiple languages, making them far more suitable for global organizations.
The reporting functionality within EFM platforms is far more advanced and you can drill down to the details when reporting to stakeholders. In several cases you can allow staff to access constantly updated reports minimizing time spent on administration.
A key benefit is the ability to launch event driven feedback programs on a continuous basis. A follow-up survey can be automatically deployed to find out how the customer feels about that contact. If the feedback is negative, an alert can be sent to contact center staff to rectify the situation immediately. This combination of speed and integration with your business processes enables you to gather more accurate data and reduce customer churn.
The more advanced EFM tools provide a robust system with advanced functionality and an easy-to-use tool which requires no training for the more ad-hoc users. This enables both advanced and novice users to work on the same platform.
What to look for
When you decide your business is ready to move from using tactical survey tools to an EFM platform, it is vital to make a decision which accurately reflects the needs of your business both now and in the future.
1. Take a big enough step
As you might expect, there is not a vast abyss between the small, tactical survey tools and the most advanced EFM solutions. It is important to carefully examine how your needs are likely to develop over the medium to long term. While moving to a mid-range tool will have its appeal, not least because of the apparent cost savings, there is a cost associated with taking this small step.Implementing a tool which you grow out of again within a short time frame simply means you have to remake the decision and go through any implementation difficulties all over again in the future.
Tip - Perform a clear needs assessment across key areas of the organization to ensure the tool you decide on will do the job now and in the future.
As you develop your customer experience program, you may find that the amount of work involved is quite time consuming. One way around this is to move towards a full-service agency approach. Such agencies will design, deploy and analyze your projects and deliver results to you at regular intervals.
The appeal of such a solution is obvious,, but you may find that this takes you too far from the sharp end of your customer experience program. By retaining the use of the software in-house, you are free to make adjustments as needed. The total cost of ownership of such a solution can be higher than anticipated. An alternative is to partner with an agency that uses the same technology as your business. This enables you to easily share reporting functions.
Tip - If you are not able to create the content and methodology for your customer experience program in-house, then an agency is a good alternative. In order to establish a real best-of-breed approach, look for a software provider who will work with your agency And ensure you have a good understanding of the technology and will have access to the results directly through that platform.
3. Focus on Technology
When evaluating a solution, it is important to establish how strongly the provider focuses on their technology. In the event that technology is not the primary focus, you may find that you are pushed towards professional services whenever the software fails to meet your needs. This will incur a charge and take time, leading to higher costs and delays. Avoiding all additional services, particularly during implementation or periods of rapid growth is not realistic, but it is important to develop a balance.
Tip - Look at the overall business model of the organization. If there is heavy emphasis on services, the technology isn't likely their key focus.
4. A joined up solution
An EFM platform should enable you to move seamlessly from development to deployment to collection, analysis and dissemination of results easily. When evaluating products, ensure that you are looking at a single platform and not a series of cobbled together tools which may allow certain processes to fall through the cracks.
Tip - Look carefully at the construction of the product.
A major reason for the leap to an EFM platform is scalability. Most platforms offer improved scalability, but there are different degrees of scalability. While the software may be able to handle multiple surveys in multiple languages and huge numbers of responses, you need to be sure your requirements are handled as you develop and grow your feedback program.
Ensure that your provider will have capacity to run any projects that you need effectively and quickly so that you do not outgrow or overwhelm the people and technology which should be supporting your business.
Tip - Be clear on how your needs may evolve and establish what SLAs are in place and compare these to your requirements.
Upgrading to Confirmit
Confirmit provides EFM solutions to a range of organizations for whom tactical survey tools are not sufficient. Confirmit's truly integrated and scalable platform enables you to maximize the impact of your customer experience programs and derive real benefits and is able to meet all your software requirements. Over 6 million surveys are completed on the Confirmit platform every month, making it one of the most scalable global solutions available. Because it doesn't require any installation on your company's servers, there is no need to tie up your IT resources with a complicated set-up.
Some of the key benefits of using the Confirmit platform are:
Time saving - By using Confirmit Reportal to analyze and distribute results, you can leave your staff free to act on the information gathered instead of trawling through spreadsheets. The hierarchical reporting enables you to distribute tailored reports so each stakeholder only sees the information they need, without creating different versions of the report manually.
Reduce customer churn - Confirmit allows you to launch event-driven feedback requests to pinpoint dissatisfied customers and contact them before you lose their business.
Detailed view of the customer - Integrate Confirmit with your CRM system to import key details about your customers into your reporting. By adding this dimension, you develop a more detailed view of your customers to better anticipate their needs
Improved completion rates - Importing background data into Confirmit enables you to ask fewer questions and increase your completion rate. Confirmit's advanced authoring allows you to easily develop personalized, interactive and engaging surveys.
A single, flexible platform for all users - Confirmit provides a single platform to meet both internal and external feedback requirements. You can run complex customer experience programs, employee engagement studies, and create simple ad-hoc projects quickly using Confirmit Express. Results can be viewed, manipulated where required, and made available to those who need it.
By implementing Confirmit to handle all your feedback management requirements, you can dramatically improve the value gained from your feedback programs.