In this opinion piece, Qualtrics Asia Pacific & Japan MD Bill McMurray and principle consultant of customer experience Kyle Groff share their tips to picking a winning customer feedback channel, both solicited and unsolicited.
Voice of Customer (VoC) programs can deliver significant competitive advantages to organisations that can use them well, but too many organisations miss the point and end up with a program that fails to deliver value, according to Qualtrics.
McMurray said, “Central to VoC program success is choosing the right customer feedback channel. The method businesses choose can make a big impact on the quality and quantity of customer data.
“There are two types of customer feedback channels: solicited and unsolicited. Solicited channels are methods used by companies to proactively seek customer feedback. Unsolicited channels are methods of collecting feedback initiated by sources outside of a company’s control.”
Groff and McMurray have identified five key solicited and two unsolicited feedback channels for organisations to consider:
- Email surveys
Email is the most popular way for organisations to gather feedback because it is cost-effective, requires minimal effort to reach a lot of people, and is universally used. Businesses can also customise the survey to keep the experience simple and engaging.
Bill McMurray said, “Email surveys have an average response rate of 10 per cent, which isn’t too bad considering the low cost and relative ease of this channel.
“To increase response rates, companies should limit the survey to 20 questions or fewer, and optimise the survey for mobile users to create the same experience across desktops, tablets, and smartphones.”
- Email with embedded questions
For businesses looking to answer just a few questions, such as a net promotor score (NPS) survey, embedding the first question into the body of the email can be useful.
Bill McMurray said, “Response rates for embedded surveys tend to be higher because respondents are engaged immediately. It’s reasonably simple to embed the first question but it’s a feature that not many businesses use to its full effect.”
- Text message (SMS) surveys
SMS surveys work when organisations have customer mobile numbers and are looking to get responses to as few as five questions. SMS surveys can be more expensive than emails because of carrier fees but open rates can be as high as 99 per cent with response rates around 30-45 per cent, depending on the industry.
Bill McMurray said, “For best results, SMS surveys shouldn’t have more than five questions. However, they can act as a great gateway into a more in-depth survey by including a link to the online survey in the body of the text message.”
- Web intercept
Websites with high traffic can provide a strong channel to interact with customers while they are already thinking about the company.
Bill McMurray said, “Website intercepts can let companies push or pull information to users based on their activity on your site. Getting information from customers who are already engaged delivers a different kind of metric, and it’s a great way to get quick feedback from website visitors and online application users.”
- Phone interviews
Phone interviews can be made by an actual person or via an automated poll. Interviews achieve around 85 per cent completion rates but can be slow, and it can be difficult to collect personal or controversial information.
Unsolicited email can be a great source of feedback from customers that may not partake in solicited channels. It should be noted that this form of feedback tends to be negative as customers are more likely to engage after a negative experience.
- Social media
Due to its popularity, social media can be a powerful tool for collecting customer feedback. This feedback can come in the form of likes/dislikes on a post, comments left on a post, or just simple tweets.
Bill McMurray said, “Choosing the right feedback channel depends on the organisation, the type of information you need to collect, and the budget. It’s important to choose the channel that will maximise the number of responses so that the VoC program can yield real, actionable results that let the company achieve a competitive advantage.
“Traditional VoC providers can make adding or changing customer feedback channels difficult. Now, with VoC disrupter providers, like Qualtrics, organisations can have a VoC program, which is agile, flexible, and self-customisable. This means as their customers, products, services and markets change, they can adapt quickly and easily to remain competitive.”