Posted tagged ‘customer satisfaction’

Driving Online Customer Success: Guest Blog by Mark Penson, CMO & co-founder, Survey Anyplace

October 14, 2014

Hello Blog Readers! I rarely allow guest bloggers on my site, but I wanted to highlight this great post by a new TSIA partner, Survey Anyplace, who will be participating in our TSW Expo next week in Las Vegas. Enjoy!–John

Driving Online Customer Success
Real-time Feedback & Two-way Communication Drives Customer Technology Usage and the Bottom Line
By Mark Penson, CMO & co-founder, Survey Anyplace

When was the last time you used your generic spreadsheet program to its maximum capabilities? Do you even know all it can do for you? Many of your clients have the same issues with the software you’re providing. You need to get to know your customer better before you can help them know your product better. You need to determine what they most need to truly benefit from the services you provide.

When was the last time you received an email after you made a product purchase? Did you actually fill it out? No. I didn’t think so. That’s exactly my point.

Get into the minds of your customers, in real-time, so they can tell you exactly what they think, when they think it, so you can make sure you deliver – and continue to deliver for a very long time – exactly what will delight, not just satisfy them.

Customer Retention, Usage, and Happiness for Long-term Profit

You need real-time, two-way communication to drive customer satisfaction. Consider every customer interaction to be an opportunity to delight.

Customers have a variety of ways to get in touch with you….or may decide not to. It may be easier for your customer to ignore you. You need to remedy this. If the customer doesn’t contact you, initiate contact! If not, you’ll lose the customer before you’ve had time to react.  Think about this statement: “unknown” equals “unloved.”

The question is how you can create two-way communication.

1. Always ask for feedback.

  • Provide easy-to-answer questionnaires embedded in your mobile app or web application to let your user tell you what he thinks about your app, device or service. You’ll get very valuable “in the moment” data.
  • During online support, provide a “Click on this button” survey, asking for his one-minute feedback.
  • Add a sticker with a personalized QR code and URL linking to a survey on every hardware package.
  • If you know who the user is, personalize the survey, upload the results into the CRM system, and react or act accordingly.
  • Always give your users an incentive, of course.

2. Post your users’ feedback in your newsletters, on your website, or any other channel you use to get in touch with them.

  • Be sure to point out what you’ve changed or improved based on the information, so they can see their participation gets results.

3. Gamifying Effort Scores for Better Educated Customers

  • If you’re using only 20% of an application, it’s easy to drop it and jump to another vendor. It’s incredibly important that your customers use your software or hardware to its full extent. Only then will your accounts be less vulnerable to your competitors.
  • Embed questionnaires and quizzes within your applications. Use a “Did you know….?” style. Ask users to take small quizzes about some of the features.
  • Add gamification: give them a score, let them earn badges. Give prizes to people who not only know the most, but also to highly active participants.
  • At the end of each quiz, always ask for one minute of feedback.
  • Track the answers. Not only are you driving loyalty, but also analyzing the scores allows you to measure the “user experience” and the effort it takes to learn new features.

4. Be Proactive During Online Support

  • For every online interaction, let the customer tell you what he thinks. Did he really get the help he needed? Ask him explicitly. If he’s not happy, give him the chance to “click on this button” to get in touch with your priority helpdesk.
  • Don’t just collect the data. Analyze it and make any necessary changes to your customer service process or to reorganize the way the team works.

Get Your Employees’ Effort Scores, Too

Your employees need to know more than your customers. They cannot support your customers unless they understand your products at the deepest levels themselves. Are they there yet? An advanced training program doesn’t necessarily mean that employees all have the required skills. Do you test them on a frequent basis? If not, you should. Define a process to review general and detailed scores and to take actions on individual and group performances.

No matter what you do, though, make it fun. Gamification is critical to drive participation.

Organize quizzes for all the required subjects. Ask your employees to take them at different levels, from junior to expert. Reward them for their expertise and participation.

For these companies without a formal training program, create one using the collective intelligence of your employees – crowd-source it. Ask each person to take a specific product to create quizzes and try them on their fellow employees. You’ll end up with a full training library at a low cost. Formalize it. Gamify it, too, by department, area of expertise, etc.

Success for your organization means satisfied customers. Get everyone on board to drive customer delight in real-time.

Mark Penson is CMO & co-founder of Survey Anyplace, which generates real-time insights by facilitating easy creation of real-time customer surveys and quizzes.


Creating a Customer Experience Management (CEM) Strategy: A Conversation with Dennis Gershowitz

March 17, 2011

According to the 2010 Member Technology Survey, 81% of TSIA members, across all service disciplines, are using some sort of technology to track customer satisfaction (CSAT), making this the second most adopted technology by tech companies–second only to incident management. And other than financials, CSAT is also the only metric tracked across all services disciplines (support, field, PS and education). But satisfaction tracking has become much more complicated in the last few years, and now the C-Suite is involved as the discussion moves beyond satisfaction to include the importance of the brand, the customer experience, and longer term loyalty. As a result, satisfaction, experience and loyalty are perennial hot topics with TSIA members.

Today I bring you a conversation with an expert on the topic, Dennis Gershowitz of DG Associates, a longtime TSIA partner who works with companies on challenges such as: Services Strategies, Building Customer Loyalty Culture, Best Practices, Voice of the Customer and Process Improvement. Dennis, along with Bill Moore, Director with DG Associates, will be leading a professional development workshop at our upcoming Technology Services World Conference on May 2nd, “Customer Experience Management Strategy Boot Camp.” I had a chance to talk to Dennis about all things experience this week, and here are some highlights of the conversation.

John Ragsdale: Let’s talk experience. I sometimes see companies that are so focused on transactional customer satisfaction surveys that they lose sight of the overall customer experience. Could you talk about the difference between CSAT and CEM?

Dennis Gershowitz: Good question John and one that I am often asked. From a pure definition standpoint, CSAT is part of an overall CEM Strategy. CSAT is the measurement of the degree of satisfaction to which a product or service meets a customers expectations. CEM is a business strategy for acquiring-retaining-growing and winning back customers. Imbedded in this over all CEM business strategy is the component of CSAT. CSAT can often be looked upon as a one time occurrence. For an example, a company might conduct an annual survey to its customer base. This effort certainly fits the definition of CSAT. CEM on the other hand, is not project driven but rather a life-long journey that a company commits to making, whose objective is to continuously exceed the customers expectations and to achieve the ultimate end goal-customer loyalty. In fact, as Tom Peters used to say…to continually deliver that WOW experience to your customer. As I always say to senior level executives, every touchpoint with your customers, prospects and employees is of importance and has an effect, positively or negatively, on satisfaction and loyalty. Make them all count.

Transactional surveys are a great way to measure satisfaction with the service and support your organization is providing the customers. It provides a good look into the day to day interactions with customers, but it only tells part of the story. A holistic, actionable CEM Strategy includes transaction surveys, relationship surveys, employee surveys. CEM communications, in-depth analytics, CEM training for customer facing personnel as well as management and most importantly, and buy-in from the executive suite. When a company has embraced the concept of CEM and runs their business with the customer experience as vital piece of its success, then it has moved beyond CSAT and begun the journey of CEM.

Ragsdale: We just did a webcast on gaining executive buy-in and support for customer loyalty initiatives, and it was a very popular topic. I thought most sales and marketing organizations were onboard with customer experience and loyalty programs, but turns out that is not the case. How can service organizations get cross-enterprise visibility for the work they are doing, especially with the long-term profit implications?

Gershowitz: I actually watched that webcast and thought it was excellent. The question you ask is at the root of a company’s commitment to Customer Experience and loyalty. I work with hundreds of service organizations during the course of the year and find that many of them are very proficient at getting the message of customer satisfaction and loyalty through the organization. There are many ways for this to be accomplished. A mission and vision statement relating to the service organization and entire company’s commitment to continuously exceed customer expectations is a good starting point. Company wide communication tools are great ways for the service organization to continually gain visibility across the company. We have, for example, worked with clients to implement a CEM Communications Strategy. This strategy includes disseminating customer satisfaction and loyalty results electronically via LCD display units throughout the company in places such as the corporate lobby, customer service area and the cafeteria. Also tools such as short State of the Union video promoting satisfaction and loyalty levels within key accounts, marketing pieces that help differentiate your company from direct competitors based on level of service provided, a customer satisfaction annual report that highlights the state of customer satisfaction and loyalty within your customer base, are excellent ways to get the message across the company. One thing is certain, product revenues have slowed over the years but service revenues remain a good point of growth and profit for many companies.

Ragsdale: Is a CEM program only for $10B+ companies, or can small and midmarket firms benefit as well?

Gershowitz: This question reminds me of a story. A few years ago I had an associate who used to frequent a small pizza shop, whose owner became increasingly concerned about losing customers to a new pizza parlor in town. He wondered how satisfied his customers were, how loyal to his restaurant they were, what was important to them regarding the product and service he was providing and were they recommending his place to friends and colleagues. Knowing my profession, he asked me about the possibility of conducting a one time market research project for him that would provide him with the answers he was looking for. Remember, this was a five man pizza and sub shop in New Hampshire. Compare that story to the work that done for a multi-billion dollar medical manufacturing company who was worried about very similar problems. Were their customer’s loyal? Would they recommend them to others? How susceptible were they to the competition? What was important to their customers? CEM is a concept that any company/business with a customer base must be concerned with and take on.

Ragsdale: When we’re in Santa Clara, I want to hear the rest of the pizza story! In your course abstract you touch on one of my favorite topics—mining customer interaction data for valuable insights. Today’s analytic platforms are enabling some exciting and sophisticated reporting. Could you give some examples of insights companies have gained by analyzing the oceans of customer data they usually ignore?

Gershowitz: There are really two ways for companies to look at customer satisfaction and loyalty data. They can look at it from a quantitative perspective and they can look at it from a qualitative perspective. Both are important and will provide in-depth analysis and both can tell you a pretty good story about the overall health of your customer base. Mining of customer insights and feedback is critical when determining what actions should be taken after the analysis of the data is complete. Quantitative data tells you the “what” of satisfaction and loyalty but qualitative data tells you “why”. It allows you to look at Key Drivers and Root Causes of satisfaction and loyalty. It allows you to drill down to the real issues that are either driving loyalty or making your company vulnerable to the competition. Are there particular issues that continually appear when mining customer feedback? Is time to resolve a continuous function that your customers complain about? Is professionalism and courtesy of your service organization a problem that is eliciting negative feedback from your customers? Are you able to slice your data to focus on the feedback and comments from your Key Accounts, the ones that provide your company with the bulk of revenue and profit? These questions can be answered by mining customer interaction data.

Ragsdale: In your course, you explain the 12 basic building blocks of a best in class CEM strategy. Would you be willing to give us a sneak preview of some of those building blocks?

Gershowitz: Sure John, I’d love to give you a quick preview of the 12 basic building blocks of our CEMDNA Playbook Strategy. The premise of the entire strategy is that companies really have two sources of revenue; new accounts and existing accounts, and both are important. We center our twelve step methodology around the core belief that this approach helps companies with customer Acquisition, Retention, Growth and the ability to Win back lost customers.

The 12 Steps are broken down into four distinct phases; 1) Measure 2) Analyze 3) Act 4) Assess. Within each of these phases are modules that help you to accomplish the goals of each phase. We begin with helping companies outline a Road Map to CEMDNA and end by looking at the ROI of successful CEM programs. In between, we look at areas such as the importance of Account Management, Enterprise Feedback Management reporting tools, benchmarking, building corrective action plans, employee engagement as it relates to customer loyalty, communications to stakeholders and the importance of Executive Briefings. The objective of a CEM Strategy is to evolve a business’ DNA to the point where every employee is on board working together to continuously exceed customer expectations. This accomplishment results in a major competitive advantage for the business and ties in directly to increased revenue and profit from both new and existing customers. In the end, the company has e a customer centric philosophy and journey and culture.

Ragsdale: Could you give an overview of how your professional development course is structured? How will attendees spend their day?

Gershowitz: Absolutely. If attendees are thinking about taking this course and are looking for a six hour lecture then they are looking at the wrong course. This course is designed to be highly interactive, with attendees sharing their best practices as they relate to CEM. Having given this course many times over the past number of years, I am always surprised at what I learn with each new session I present. The key to this sessions continued success is rooted in its participants. There are many group activities that take place. There are side breakout sessions, continuous question and answer phases, as well as a day full of educating the attendees on the latest and greatest in the field of CEM. Our goal is that each attendee walk away with one or two Key Learnings. This will help them increase revenues and profits by continuously exceeding customer expectations and maximizing loyalty within their customer base.

Ragsdale: Thank  you Dennis, always a pleasure!

Gershowitz: You’re welcome John, I am looking forward to seeing you and all of the attendees in Santa Clara.


I hope you are all enjoying this month’s series of interviews with industry experts. Coming next week: Breakthrough Knowledge Management: An Introduction to KCS with David Kay of DB & Associates, and a deep dive on services marketing with Kathy Macchi, Managing Partner, Allegro Associates. Thanks for reading!

CSAT by Channel: The More Assistance, The Higher the Score

January 25, 2011

I’ve had lots of questions about channel traffic since my recent post, “Interaction Volume by Channel: The 2011 Outlook,” some people asking about effectiveness by channel, or customer satisfaction by channel. I’m spent some time playing with the data this morning to arrive at some satisfaction numbers by support channel, and the results are interesting: the more a service is employee is involved, the higher the score. The less the amount of employee touch, the lower the score.

First, a few caveats about the data.

  • I’m using data from our brand new benchmark survey, so the number of responses is low compared to the 300+ responses in our old survey. But, the new survey has more channel options, including chat. NOTE TO TSIA MEMBERS: Please enter your latest data in the new benchmark survey as soon as possible!
  • The data combines results of multiple scales. I’ve converted scores to a 1-5 scale, my personal favorite. (1 = very unsatisfied, 5 = very satisfied) I don’t want to go down a rat hole here, but 10 and 11 point surveys have lower average scores than 5 point surveys. Any time you factor multiple scales into a single average I think the final result is a bit iffy. But a few hundredths of a point one way or the other won’t change the findings on this chart.
  • I’ve counted data only for direct employees, not satisfaction with outsourced employees.
  • The data is for “overall satisfaction” with the interaction, not speed to answer, ease of use, customer service skills, etc.

With all that in mind, here is the chart:


nGenera CIM Launches CIM 9 with Social Service Focus

March 31, 2010

One of the realities of high tech is high employee turnover, especially in sales and marketing roles. The grass always looks greener, and a job change usually means a decent salary bump and title change. I was thinking about this when I received my pre-briefing on nGenera Customer Interaction Management (CIM) 9, which launched today. I’ve seen a lot of demos in my time, and this was pretty impressive. Not only for the functionality, which I’ll get to in a minute, but even more so because of Nikhil Govindaraj, Vice President of Products at nGenera CIM, who drove the product briefing and demo. Nikhil started at nGenera CIM (then Talisma) in 2000 as a program manager, and has worked his way up through the business in sales and sales engineering roles before assuming his current role, responsible for Product Management and Engineering functions for the nGenera CIM product line, last year.

With a decade of customer facing roles at nGenera, Nikhil knows his customer. He’s heard every criticism and wish list first hand; he understands the balance between fulfilling tactical customer requests with pushing the envelope on market-leading capabilities. It was really enjoyable to have a briefing with a product person who knew the product so deeply, as well as the back story for every feature. He is also a great presenter, so check out the next nGen webcast you see advertised, Nikhil will probably be presenting. You can also see him in action in a video on the nGen CIM 9 launch page.

Today’s nGen CIM 9 launch was interesting because they focused on customer success, not marketing. Beta customer KMD, the largest IT company in Denmark, presented case studies of launching nGen Knowledgebase,  nGen Community and nGen Social Media in a variety of government services, technology support, utilities, consumer financial services, etc., all with great success (including publishing articles from the knowledgebase to Twitter and Facebook). Nice to hear from a customer, especially for a new release.

nGen CIM 9 includes new or enhanced capabilities in the following areas:

  • nGen Community: nGen CIM has extended their forum capabilities into a full community offering, including wikis, reputation modeling, discussion forums with good management tools, and the integration with the popular nGen Knowledgebase means community-generated content is fed back into the knowledge base and can be accessed by users through federated search.
  • nGen Social Media: This release enables customer support via popular social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, including some cool sentiment technology that prioritizes and routes incidents using a sentiment score, so frustrated customers can be sent directly to a senior agent.
  • nGen Knowledgebase search: nGenera CIM has expanded its federated search capabilities to include knowledge-base content, Web site content, file server content, and now with CIM 9 nGen Knowledgebase, database and social content has been added to the search. For more information on nGen’s intelligent search, check out my new research report, “Intelligent Search Market Overview: Three Search Technology Markets Converge to Streamline Information Access.”
  • nGen CoBrowse: One of the few multi-channel players to embrace remote control/co-browse, nGen CoBrowse allows support techs to engage customers in collaborative CoBrowse sessions to help them complete purchases or solve complex issues.
  • nGen Survey: Having a survey module as part of a multi-channel platform seems a ‘must have’ to me, it allows you to create granular rules about surveys by channel and account with zero integration costs. nGen Survey is a completely integrated post-interaction survey module, so nGen customers don’t need additional survey tools.
  • Enterprisabilty: In deals for large accounts, nGen has sometimes faced FUD from competitors about their mid-market roots. To put to rest any question about scalability, nGen CIM 9 features architecture enhancements that ensure scalability, and new administration features to streamline management of large, globally distributed support agents.

I wish nGenera great success with their launch, and I hope all of you shopping for multi-channel and social service tools will check them out!  Thanks for reading.

What customer satisfaction scale to use? Majority go with 1 to 5.

April 30, 2009

I receive lots of questions about customer satisfaction programs. One area with lots of disagreement is what scale to use. I’m a fan of 1-5 scales, because I think the increments are realistic for rating a service experience. Also, average scores are always higher on a 1-5 scale than a 1-10 scale. Do customers really understand why they would rate you a 6 verses a 7? In my opinion, too much granularity leads to random choices.

But clearly lots of people disagree. Here is a chart showing which scale is used by SSPA member companies:


While the 1-5 scale is the most popular, there are also lots of companies using 1-10 scales, and a pretty big slice of members selected ‘other,’ which is sort of curious to me. Of course, another big factor is how the scale is labeled, and we’ve heard lots of stories about strange labeling that certainly influences scores (like having 5 on a 1-10 scale labeled as ‘satisfactory’). (more…)

Threatening Customers–A Poor Tactic to Raise Customer Satisfaction

July 8, 2008

I took my car in for a 20k service visit last week.  And just as winter comes after fall, a week after my service appointment, The Letter appeared in my mailbox.  You know what letter I mean–all dealerships use them now to cajole, if not threaten, customers into giving them high marks for satisfaction.  “Thank you for choosing <Dealer Name> for your recent warranty repair.  We will continue to be the answer to all your parts, sales and service needs.” So far so good, though I’m smarting a bit at the term ‘warranty repair.’  If the repairs were under warranty, why did it cost me $1200?  But I digress.

“You may be getting a survey from the <brand> manufacturer.  They will be asking you if you are completely satisfied with the warranty repairs and service on your car.  If you are completely satisfied, please indicate so.  If not, please contact me so I can immediately look into the matter…  Remember, anything less than an outstanding (bold theirs, not mine) score on the survey is considered a failure on our part.”

Boy, oh boy.  Where do I begin in the list of ‘worst practices’ I see developing as companies use gorilla tactics to gather high satisfaction marks? (more…)

Understanding Cultural Differences in Customer Satisfaction Ratings

April 10, 2008

Sorry I have been neglectful of my blog for the last week; I have been headsdown working on a report detailing the best practices for attracting, developing and retaining talent in India.  The SSPA has a committee of members who have been working on this project for the last year, surveying and interviewing hiring managers in Indian tech support organizations.  The amount of data they uncovered, and the indepth findings and recommendations from the members is amazing, and my job was to merge all the information into a research report.  I completed a draft of the report…all 46 pages…today so am coming up for air.

The report will be released at our Spring Best Practices Conference, and the head of the committee, Microsoft’s Dheeraj Prasad, will lead a session highlighting the findings. I hope you will attend his session; any company with either owned or outsourced support resources in India should leverage these findings.

While I was emerged in writing the report, I came across a fascinating article I wanted to share with everyone.  Over the years I have received inquiries from support managers who were perplexed about how the same service organization could receive such different ratings in post-interaction surveys from different regions of the world.  I have waxed poetic on this topic many times…but never in writing for fear of being politically incorrect.

Last week I had a briefing with CustomerSat, an SSPA partner providing customer satisfaction analytics for the support industry, and we talked about how people in different cultures rate the same experience differently. Marya Darabont, Research Consultant for CustomerSat Professional Services in Europe, wrote an excellent article on this. If you service customers outside of the US, I encourage you to read it. Some highlights discussing propensity for selecting certain scores on a numbered scale: (more…)