Why care about customer feedback? First of all, customer service can be a differentiator. Provide superior service and stand out in a positive way, or the other way around—poor customer experiences drive customers away.
Measurement is important, but it’s not enough. Investing in a program can help you increase your results. What differentiates top performers is the way companies support and act on customer feedback.
These ideas include feedback practices and organizational actions—what your measurement program should do and what your organization should do.
10 best practices from micro to macro level
1. Measure actionable attributes. One question is not enough to drive change. Your survey questions should reflect what customers experience and what employees can improve. Companies who take the next step and teach employees how to improve scores—recognize cues, learn new behaviors and result in better customer experience. Teach them how, don’t just tell them.
2. Use predictive outcome measures. Whatever you use (NAR, NPS, overall customer satisfaction) you need to validate your outcome measurement against financial results. Customer level validation shows customers who go up advocacy chain increase relationships and generate more revenue. Downward movement leads to account closures and lost revenue. Branch level validation shows differences across branches for financial performance compared to feedback scores.
3. Capture real customer experiences. Your measurement system should be based on feedback from real customers, not fake interactions by mystery shoppers. Real customer experiences that are genuine and natural, not the scripted experiences you get with mystery shoppers. How do you know what you have included in your mystery shops is important to customers? Focus on how customers really want to be treated not how you think they want to be treated.
4. Ask for feedback on feedback. Do you know how your customers feel about participating in your surveys? Don’t assume you’re bothering customers with surveys—our clients find customers like being asked. Include a question like this on your survey. 9 out of 10 customers are glad their bank values their opinion. Share this information with your internal customers and leadership so you gain internal support for your survey program.
5. Provide immediate action opportunities. Celebrate what’s going right—your system should let you know when, who, what makes customers happy so you can reinforce that experience. If unhappy, this is an opportunity for service recovery and your feedback system should provide opportunity for action right away. When, who, what, how to reach and resolution tracking so you know they’ve been taken care of. Our research shows managers at bottom performing locations take 1 day longer for first contact in responding to a problem and 2 days longer in attaining final resolution. Hold managers accountable for quick responses.
6. Expect specific actions. Your system should include action planning components that allow you to outline specific steps, who’s responsible and target scores. Access to best practices and an approval process so managers get follow up from leadership. The way you facilitate action planning makes a difference in its success. Upper-level manager at top performing branches teach front-line managers how to create, implement good action plans. Teaching versus telling.
7. Measure across channels. Your customers bank in many ways and use different types of products. All channels should speak the same language and be part of the same team.
8. Review and refresh program every 1-2 years. Our clients with the best results are never satisfied. Survey content changes to reflect customers’ current needs and expectations. Periodically look at scoring to keep managers from becoming complacent. You may make changes to purposefully lower scores. Financial linkage shows how customer feedback program helps the organization and helps you gain internal buy-in.
9. Don’t underestimate the importance of your employees. Companies that stand out recognize their employees are their brand. You can hire for service aptitude to help here—include in your hiring process. Screening questions or even roleplaying. Once employees have been hired, teach them how to deliver exceptional experience. Empower employees to resolve customer issues without the involvement of management. Putting this power in the hands of the frontline makes your org stand out in how customers feel their problems are resolved. Then measure how well your employees deliver customer experience. Finally, reward employees for how well they do what you’ve taught and empowered them to do. You can capture employee feedback to help…even get employee feedback about customer experience and see how it aligns.
10. Live your message from the top down. Some banks stand out due to a consistent message from their leadership teams. Makes sure everyone is marching in the same direction. You need to make sure your leaders’ message is reinforced through supporting networks. Prioritize customers in decision-making process. Customer experience champion should have a seat at the table at your organization. What impact will this change have on customers? Ask this question and make sure someone is there to reinforce decisions on behalf of customers. Reward service—why is only the CEO attuned to what’s going on? Well, are other executives incented to care about customer feedback? Best in class assign higher value to customer experience results in their compensation plans. Not just money; celebrate success stories and look for fun ways to congratulate your team when customers are happy. Don’t just make it about a number we have to chase, but positive reinforcement of consistent message from senior executive team. And never be satisfied with the state of your customer feedback program. You know your peers are measuring customer experience—are they getting better and you’re standing still? Look for new ways to improve all the time. Even the best message from the most charismatic leaders won’t work if the supporting structure isn’t there.
You need the right system and tools, the right organizational support and the right research partner in order to maximize customer feedback.
Look at customer level validation or performance across branches to see financial return on investment.
Compensation tied to satisfaction? Targets 1) Have overall organizational goal and whatever percentage of comp is tied to it you have to achieve or exceed overall company goal. 2) Give each different operating unit within org their own distinctive goals. Helps lower performers get where you need them while still providing motivations opportunities to top performers to stretch and improve. 3) Combine absolute target with relative improvement. You get points or credit toward bonus for relative improvement (certain number of points) but also get credit toward bonus for achieving specific set objective.
We recommend collecting customer feedback on an ongoing basis. Frequency depends on channels. Where customers have the most opportunity to interact with you we recommend getting feedback daily following an interaction with you. Where not as many interactions or not so transaction driven like wealth management or business banking, quarterly or monthly. If you only measure once a year you don’t have as timely feedback on how to improve. Becomes more of an event than a way of life. You want employees thinking about customer experience all the time.