Customer experience has been defined in many different ways by different businesses and sectors over the last few years. In essence brings together all the experiences a customer has when dealing with a company to purchase a product or service.
The customer experiences starts when a company is on the customer’s consideration set and brings together the sum of all the interactions a customer has with that company – from initial enquiry to purchase to after sales support. But what are the best ways to measure customer experience?
The customer experience is measured across all the channels a company operates. This may include service in-store or over the phone, the quality of marketing materials and customer literature or usability of the website.
Customer experience is now being seen as a key area for large multinationals and SMEs alike to improve their offering and ultimately sand out from the competition encourage brand loyalty and grow future profits.
Measuring Customer Experience
In order to improve a business key decision-makers need to know what their customers consider the strongest and weakest attributes of their offering. Detailed analysis of robust customer feedback can give invaluable strategic direction and can be directly linked to future business growth.
The most robust way to measure customer experience is to use quantitative market research methods in the form of a customer experience survey. If designed correctly surveying a representative sample of your customer base about their views and perceptions of your company will give you a snapshot of broader customer sentiment.
Choosing the right sample
Representative sampling is the most important aspect of designing unbiased, statistically valid research. The sample must be large enough to give you confidence in the results and also must reflect the demographic of your customer base. For example if your product is mainly aimed at women aged 25-34 with children they should appears as the majority group in the sample. If this is not the case it is possible to weight the data retrospectively to ensure their views are represented proportionally.
Designing Your Survey
The most effective customer experience surveys are designed in consultation with customers, employees and key decision-makers. It is useful to conduct workshops with each of these groups to hear their views and opinions on the most important aspects of the customer experience This should results in a number of key touchpoints in the customer journey whereby the customer has contact with your company. As mentioned earlier these may be over the phone, in store, online or through the post. To measure how customers feel about these areas an industry standard measurement tool is an 11 point likert scale where customers can rate how satisfied they were from 0 to 10 (0 being extremely dissatisfied and 10 being extremely satisfied). A few example touchpoints a company may want to measure are:-
- Helpfulness of staff in store
- Waiting times over the phone
- Usability of the website
- Information provided once the product was purchased
- Overall satisfaction
- Likelihood to recommend the company to a friend/relative (Advocacy)
- Likelihood to use the company again in the future
- Marital status
- Number of children
As well measuring key touchpoints in the customer journey it is also important to develop a number of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). The most common KPIs are:-
Finally, it is important to collect demographic data from your respondents so they results can be split by different sub-groups. For example:-
Conducting the Fieldwork
Many companies now operate across a number of channels and it is essential each channel is measured in isolation. Most surveys are conducted over the phone, through the post or online, but mobile and point of sale surveys are also becoming more popular.
Analysing the results
Usually most companies firstly want to know how they are performing across their KPIs, which as mentioned are usually overall satisfaction, advocacy and likelihood to re-use. These scores can be displayed as an overall mean (average customer rating out of 10) or can be grouped e.g. 8-10 = Very satisfied. They will then want to know which areas they are performing best and worst on e.g. they may score highly for the helpfulness of their staff but low for the quality of their products. Using a regression model it is possible to define key drivers in the customer experience. These are the touchpoints which have the greatest impact on overall satisfaction. A great way to prioritise management actions is to create quadrant matrix to highlight important areas which are under performing.
The results can also be analysed at a sub-group level to identified differences between customer demographics.Another key areas which is often overlooked is the analysis of open-ended questions. These are typically placed after the KPI questions to understand WHY customers rated the company high or low.
Customer Experience Over Time
It is important to track customer experience over time to assess the impact of management changes on customer sentiment. Most companies work on a quarterly cycle, but it can take 2-3 quarters before any change in sentiment as the result of management actions.
Below are a number of considerations before you start to measure customer experience:-
Expertise – designing and running an effective customer experience programme takes a number of years of market research experience to achieve. Consider using a freelancer or market research agency to assist with sampling, survey design, distribution and analysis.
Budget - define your annual budget up front and expect costs to be higher for telephone interviews versus online methods.
Customer details – ensure you have a way to collect contact details from you customers and they opt in to receiving marketing communications.
Change management – good research will provide a number of key recommendations to take your business forward. Ensure someone at your company is responsible to evaluating and implementing these changes.
For more information about Customer Experience Management or any other market research please contact:-
Scott Owens CMRS Dip (MRS) BA (Hons)
Robust Insight Limited
Regent's Court, Princess Street, Hull, HU2 8BA
Tel: 01469 640558
Mob: 07825 269235
Skype ID: scott1895