Over the years I have published interviews with new members of TSIA’s Partner Advisory Board. I had some time this week to chat with one of our newer PAB members, Duncan Heal, Managing Director and CEO for MARKETii, about industry trends around voice of the customer programs. With Duncan’s permission, I’m sharing our conversation with my blog readers. Enjoy!
John Ragsdale: Duncan, thank you so much for agreeing to participate in TSIA’s partner advisory board, and thanks for making time to talk to me today!
Duncan Heal: My pleasure and thank you and TSIA for asking me to be part of the board.
John: Market Intelligence International, or MARKETii, covers a lot of territory related to Voice of the Customer programs. Can you give us a quick overview of your services and programs?
Duncan: Simply put, Marketii and Marketii Medical work with service executives and help them increase customer retention and loyalty so they can grow service revenues and profits. Our customized Voice of the Customer programs help our clients grow faster, sustain business success and improve both top and bottom line revenues by gathering actionable customer insights so they can make the best business decisions. We cover telephone and web surveys as well as mystery calling into help/support desks. We have an enviable position of working in over 25 native languages that helps clients better understand the differences that come from providing service across the globe. It’s then a case of turning all of that feedback into reporting and action items allowing the clients to learn from best practice and the best resource allocation
John: In addition to all these customer facing programs, you also offer a program on employee satisfaction. I’ve seen a lot of survey data that the first step in having happy customers, is making sure you have happy employees. How do you work with your customers on measuring employee satisfaction, and what do you see them do with the data you provide?
Duncan: Great question, John. Our research shows that there is a direct correlation between employee satisfaction and performance and customer loyalty. Often times companies have to build their VoC efforts “from the inside out” meaning gathering and assessing employee satisfaction data, looking at strengths and weaknesses and then building a VoC initiative for their “outside customers”. Many of our programs include individualized agent performance data that helps service executives look at specific areas of strength and weakness of each agent, whether they be field service, technical support, customer service, professional service, etc…
John: I’ve gotten in trouble a few times for comments I’ve made about Net Promoter. My issue is that companies that only ask one survey question a year, of one account holder at the customer account, are not getting a full view of that customer and their experience. I know you do a lot of Net Promoter work with your customers. Can you comment on how you recommend Net Promoter should fit into the overall satisfaction, loyalty, or VOC program? Or do you think one question a year of one person at the account is enough?
Duncan: No conversation on VoC is complete unless you talk about NPS. Our feeling is that NPS is a great way to begin to assess the loyalty of your customer base but it is not the only way. The nice thing about NPS is that it is easy to understand and provides executives with a standard metric centered on customer loyalty. But as a stand-alone, it is not sufficient. Any holistic VoC program must contain satisfaction questions, must contain Customer Effort/Ease questions, must contain both qualitative and quantitative questions, must contain questions that measure importance vs satisfaction, must contain questions that center on root causes and key drivers of loyalty. Asking one account holder, one NPS question a year, is not enough. A key area to our research here at Market ii is also the understanding of differences in cultural feedback on areas such as NPS as different customers will give different ratings for the same services. We help understand and quantify this through our culture indices reporting
John: MARKETii was a finalist last year for our TechBEST Best in Satisfaction award, for having one of the 3 highest satisfaction scores in my annual technology survey. First of all congratulations for that—with 24 categories of tools and services, and dozens of vendors in each category, being one of the top 3 is a major achievement! How does MARKETii go about making sure your customers are satisfied and receiving value?
Duncan: Thanks John. First of all we ensure we have a great team of Account and Project Managers supporting every client. We then mix in a strong element of pro-activeness that comes from our experiences in running these type of programs and projects. And I think the key element of this and something that we teach to our clients is that the relationship is key to building an understanding of needs, wants, and how the actual client operates so that we can supply the right research at the right time to the right people. We treat them how them in the same way that they should be treating their customers.
John: With TSIA’s focus on B4B and the shift to outcome based services, we are seeing more interest in monitoring customer success. Our definition of customer success includes some sort of consumption monitoring to understand how customers are adopting and using your tools and services, and how much value they are receiving from the tools and services. My recent 2014 Technology Survey found that only 14% of our members are currently using any sort of technology for consumption monitoring and analytics. Are you seeing any interest in this topic from your customers? Does MARKETii see consumption monitoring as part of a strategy to improve satisfaction and loyalty?
Duncan: To answer your first question, yes, we are seeing this come up. We have developed some tools that allow clients to understand the customer importance and usage of some of their services balanced against the cost/time/risk and effort from the clients perspective in providing these services. When you take into account the successful, or unsuccessful customer interaction then our Strategic Priority Analysis helps the client fully understand where they need to concentrate their efforts and to understand what is successful.
This does lead well into the 2nd question you asked John in that by companies better understanding the way they deliver the services and the impact it has on customer satisfaction and loyalty then these companies are in a better position to adapt their services quicker and have more consumption based services. A good example is the way that companies are looking to Marketii for more subscription based and adaptable services for monitoring their customer satisfaction purely because they are adapting, improving and changing their own offerings.
John: I’ve started receiving more inquiries just recently about monitoring social media channels to help identify key influencers of your brand, and to better measure customer sentiment and identify areas for improvement. How important is social media monitoring to your customers, and is this a growing area of interest?
Duncan: John, it certainly is becoming more important . I think the users and customers in B2B or should I say B4B markets and organisations are a bit different to the B2C customers in their use of social media in terms of influencers of a brand. What I mean is that a consumer buyer being much more likely to tweet about their experiences of, say, a restaurant or some new clothes, than that of a consumer of IT systems or CRM tools. That is not to say it isn’t growing, but it is done in different ways.
Market ii and Market ii Medical carry out research into the “tipping points” or “tolerance levels” of customers at which they will go onto social media and write about the brand or issue. This is done to gain a much better understanding of the combination of when that is, and what is the caused. Companies are then able to prevent the issues from occurring and understand the customer issues better before they start to move to social media to potentially damage the brand.
Thinking about what you said about sentiment analysis, this can be looked at in two ways. One, there is the overall sentiment in the feedback from customers that we turn into dashboard reporting, thus giving a view of customer satisfaction levels leaning one way or the other. The real nuggets of information come in the coding of open narrative to assess areas of improvement and importance. We work really hard to ensure that when looking at as an example a pie chart of what area to improve upon you don’t see a large pie slice saying “other”. That is no good to the client. The better coding and analysis of the narrative gives the client a complete picture of where to concentrate their efforts and doubly so by being able to understand if those things that need improving or maintaining are of importance to the customer.
John: I know you work with a lot of different industries, including a new MARKETii Medical division. It seems the stakes can be pretty high in understanding issues with customers in the healthcare and med tech industries. What are some of the unique challenges these companies are dealing with?
Duncan: First, we are very excited to announce our new division, Marketii Medical. We saw a distinct need in the medical device marketplace for a Customer Experience company who was strictly focused on helping medical device companies build customer loyalty. Medical devices is a very competitive market place. There are new players coming into the market on what seems like a daily basis. What we are finding is that the vast majority of companies are seeing that service excellence and not product is driving customer loyalty and profitability. Also, service costs for medical device companies are among the highest in the industry, so it is critically important to measure and track satisfaction with service provided to help keep these costs down. Evans Manolis is the President of Marketii Medical and he brings with him over 16 years of experience and has worked with over 100 medical device companies during that time.
John: Duncan, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today! Look forward to seeing you in Santa Clara for TSW!
Duncan: Thank you John, good to talk with you and look forward to catching up in a couple of weeks. Take care.
Thanks everyone for reading! You can meet Duncan and learn more about MARKETii at our Technology Services World Conference kicking off May 5th at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Hope to see you there!