In a recent survey of ours we revealed that only 1% of financial services organisations didn’t measure customer satisfaction. Surprised? Us too. With consumer feedback now an essential ingredient for a successful business strategy, we were shocked to learn that 99% of businesses were not measuring it.
There is a myriad of ways in which companies request feedback from their customers – focus groups, customer panels, CSAT or NPS surveys and customer interviews. In all of these it is the business that is initiating the process and so these are examples of solicited feedback.
But there is also a treasure trove of comments that customers can decide (as a result of good or bad experience) to proffer without any prompting. These are known as unsolicited feedback and include – review sites; social media; forums; conversations with contact centres and customer complaints. Often these can prove as valuable as feedback gathered by the organisation itself.
What’s the best way to gather solicited feedback?
As always with customer research there is no ‘best way’. There is an appropriate way where the methodology should be designed to fit the objectives. Here’s a quick, but by no means exhaustive, run down of different types of solicited feedback:
- Focus groups – small groups of 8-10 consumers with a moderator who asks them questions about a range of topics. These are good for exploring in-depth understanding and attitudes but do not provide quantified data.
- Customer panels – a representative group of customers that can provide feedback on product, process and marketing initiatives. You can go back to a panel on multiple occasions to explore different issues.
- Customer surveys – there are many types of customer survey – usage and attitude; relational; transactional – but increasingly service organisations are using transactional surveys. Designed to be delivered (via email, SMS or web) in the immediate aftermath of a transaction they deliver a constant flow of information about process and performance. The cornerstone of many of these surveys are NPS, CSAT or Effort metrics.
What’s the best type of unsolicited feedback?
As with solicited feedback there is no ‘best’ unsolicited feedback. All feedback is invaluable and should be examined in its own right. These are the main types of unsolicited feedback:
- Review sites – Trustpilot, Google, Amazon, TripAdvisor and Feefo are all examples of review sites. Research suggests that 99% of online purchasers read reviews. Some of these straddle the divide between solicited and unsolicited feedback as you can be asked by an organisation to leave a review or you can do so on your own accord. They are an invaluable source of insight into what’s gone right and wrong between you and your customers. However they are open to abuse and you need to look out for the rogue review. I was reading the reviews of a very nice cottage we were staying in only to see a one-star review given “because the cottage was too far from our home”!
- Social media – consumers, frustrated by not being able to speak to a contact centre, are increasingly turning to social media to air their grievances. Nearly 50% of people claim to have used social media to call out a problem.
- Conversations with contact centres – your customers are ringing you all the time with issues and questions. Analysis of this constant flow of feedback can provide invaluable insight. We’ll explore how to do this effectively later in the blog.
- Complaints – According to the Institute of Customer Service biannual ‘UK Customer Satisfaction Index’ one in six UK consumers experienced a problem with an organisation. While not all of these will have lodged a complaint that still represents a significant volume of feedback that can deliver insight.
Data without analysis is worthless
You can have all the data in the world but if you don’t analyse it, you cannot generate proper insight. Most surveys, review sites, social media posts, complaints will provide customer feedback in the form of text explaining why they complained or gave you a low score. AI-driven text analysis verbatim engines automatically provide real-time analysis of topic, theme and sentiment for every comment left by your customers. It means that thousands of paragraphs of feedback become defined risks, ideas, action points and more.
This allows you to identify whether specific issues crop up more often in particular channels. It also allows you to prioritise the actions you take based on a combination of score and text analysis.
In the same way speech analytics uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology to analyse what your customers are saying to your agents, providing you with actionable insights about customer interactions. It looks at everything from customer sentiment to pain points and handling times. It can do so in real time and across every conversation that is taking place. It highlights opportunities to improve service, performance and quality monitoring. This kind of analysis is on a completely different level to traditional, ‘listening-in’ quality monitoring. Rather than a small sample of comments it can give you coverage of every conversation in the contact centre yielding a treasure trove of insight.
So which is best, solicited or unsolicited feedback?
There is no black and white with this question and different channels of feedback can be used to different strategic ends. The fact is that all feedback is valuable, and you need to ensure that you are in a position to take this valuable resource and make the most of it.
Thomas Cowper Johnson