To get ahead and stay ahead, you have to ensure a consistent, positive customer experience.
You can’t simply hope that all is going well with each customer interaction, nor can you risk the chance of losing customers to poor experiences—even 1% of the time. How do you know what is happening in the field, the call center or at the register? You’ve got to get a read on your customer experience, but how? There are myriad choices of customer experience measurement available and how do you know which one will be the best for your organization, your people and your goals?
Let’s take a look at the basics of the 3 most widely used methods of customer experience measurement and gain an understanding of their use, their benefits and their viability in your world:
1. Mystery Shopping
Overview: Undercover mystery shoppers—or secret shoppers—pose as customers, members, visitors, patients, patrons, etc. for the purpose of reporting on their experience with an organization. Mystery shop interactions are scheduled so they deliver results consistently, based on scheduled frequency, and the shop form is created to measure specific areas based on client needs.
Pros/Cons: This method allows for the capture of quantitative and qualitative information. Because the collection vehicle is the same for every respondent, results can be compared across many disciplines. Guaranteed results on a consistent basis, whether experiences are positive, negative or anywhere in between. Scenarios are realistic and relevant, and while shoppers are not necessarily truly customers, they are still able to report factual results.
Is it for you? Mystery shops are often used to measure service quality, regulation compliance, workforce development or specific information about products and services. Mystery shopping’s strengths are in its analytics: Mystery shopping data is gathered by experienced evaluators who maintain a detached and unbiased perspective, and who provide objective factual results.
2. Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Overview: Customers are asked to answer questions via a survey form—most commonly electronic—to rate their experience with your organization. Questions may elicit quantitative responses or qualitative narrative. Specific questions can be asked to focus on current promotions, observed behaviors or areas on which the organization would like feedback. Frequency of results is not guaranteed, i.e. surveys are completed when customers choose to complete them.
Pros/Cons: Can be distributed and collected several different ways, i.e. weblink, QR code, IVR via phone ("push 1 for agree, 2 for disagree"), website, etc. Surveys solicit true customer experiences. Like mystery shopping, because the collection vehicle is the same for every respondent, results can be compared across many disciplines. Unlike mystery shopping, surveys oftentimes only collect the outliers—great experiences or horrible experiences—there is generally no incentive for a customer to report on the average or expected experience.
Is it for you? Customer satisfaction surveys are all about opinion—and often, the opinion is a very strong one. These are real customers telling you what they really feel and in their own words.
3. Social Media Monitoring
Overview: Social media channels are monitored for references, positive and negative comments and specific items of actionable feedback regarding an organization, product, service, etc. This data is gathered to better understand, be proactive, or react to the chatter happening on social channels and provides a picture of customers’ experiences with your organization.
Pros/Cons: Offers the opportunity to collect qualitative data and report on quantitative numbers such as "number of positive mentions" across a time frame. Hear customers in their own words. Can include actual photos of items, uploaded by customers, that can help determine improvement or celebration efforts. Does not offer pure quantitative data for comparison. Like surveys, oftentimes collects only the outliers—great experiences or horrible experiences—there is generally no incentive for a customer to report on the average or expected experience.
Is it for you? Organizations that already have a strong social media presence, or are interested in building one will benefit greatly from this approach. It should be noted, though, that even organizations that don’t proactively have a presence in social media—that doesn't mean people aren’t commenting on-line to several thousand people about your organization…monitoring it is an effective method to get a measure of public opinion regarding your brand.
All in all, the most comprehensive approach to receiving information about customer satisfaction and experience is to engage in a program where all methods are implemented and the results are layered over each other to reveal the complete story. However, if your budget doesn’t quite support this approach, then ideally the information above will help you to decide which one is the best fit for your organization. You may want to consider the following questions when deciding:
- Why are you measuring?
- What do you want to do with the results?
- What do you want to measure?
- What is your budget?
- How will I prepare my team to be measured?
- How will I prepare my team to receive results?
The answers to these questions should start to focus your efforts and therefore shed some light on the method that will best help you achieve your goals. Should you seek more guidance, please do not hesitate to bounce some ideas off of the experts at CSE. We are always happy to help!