Design Surveys to Uncover Meaningful Customer Insights
By Susan Hash

Collecting reliable and meaningful customer feedback is a fundamental component of a customer experience program. It's important to understand the customer's world and measure the experience the way that they do, says Lynn Hunsaker, head of ClearAction.

Unfortunately, most customer surveys do not. Customer research is typically designed from marketing's point of view. Survey questions ask customers to rate product or service features, how easy or difficult the ordering and fulfillment process was, and whether they would recommend the company, product or service.

For more valuable—and actionable—insights, Hunsaker advises organizations to collect customer feedback about their expectations and challenges. For instance, find out how they're using your company's products, as well as other products or services that they may be integrating with your products to fill a need that your company isn't providing.

An important part of the customer feedback process is what Hunsaker calls "peeling the onion." It involves identifying which touchpoints the feedback relates to and the root causes of key issues. Next, determine which functions and/or individuals have an impact on those touchpoints or that part of the process, and then have them follow through with an action plan. "Don't excuse anybody in your company from owning part of the customer experience," she stresses.

This is a process that Hunsaker put into place at Applied Materials, where she managed the customer experience program. After analyzing customer feedback data, she visited each of the organization's product units to engage crossfunctional teams in peeling the onion—analyzing their cut of the customer data and customer comments, finding the root causes of issues, developing an action plan to address those and creating a metric to track the progress of their action plan. To ensure that each product unit was accountable for improvement, they were required to submit their action plans and progress reports to the C-suite on a quarterly basis.

The contact center's access to customer insights gives it a vital role in aligning the organization's customer experience vision, culture and strategy. Using text and speech mining tools, the center offers organizations a valuable opportunity to stream relevant customer feedback to internal groups, says Hunsaker. "Each department can start receiving very timely and relevant customer inputs that are customer-initiated rather than company survey-initiated. It is purely about the customer's world."

Inside View: 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

Most people think of junk as the useless clutter lying around their homes. For customers of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, though, the word also calls to mind a first-rate customer experience. The full-service junk removal firm is strongly focused on customer experience management, and closely tracks its Net Promoter Score (NPS) to ensure continuous improvement in its service delivery and processes. Staff at all levels are educated on customer lifetime value, and the impact that customer experience has on the company's financial success. In addition, all new employees, no matter what their role or function, are required to spend some time in the contact center listening to and handling customer calls—an approach which helps those who are not in customer-facing roles to better understand and connect with the call center staff, as well as the customers.
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