Collecting and making use of opinions – positive or negative – to unify and centralise the voice of the customer has become a pressing need for companies, in 2018 more than ever. However, there is a fine border between soliciting and bothering … All the more so because customer insights originate from multiple channels and multiple information systems!
Whether it concerns email marketing or satisfaction surveys, consumers and buyers feel overwhelmed. A B2B buyer receives an average of more than 40 emails per day, 10 of which are of an advertising nature. And for B2C, over-solicitation is equally problematic. 67% of French people consider that receiving too great a number of commercial or marketing calls is particularly annoying, followed by emails which, although a little less irritating, remain a unacceptable practice for 57% of them.
Over-soliciting is risky!
By being too keen to make the customer talk, the latter no longer understands who he should talk to. As a result, companies engage in inefficient or even counter-productive practices. Thus, we observe that survey response rates rarely exceed 20 to 30 percent, whilst e-mails have an average opening rate of 22 percent.
In parallel with this, the remarks of a customer who expresses himself spontaneously sometimes “fall into a crack”, due to lack of responsiveness or poor organisation.
The consequences are far from innocuous. An over-solicited customer will not hesitate to boycott a company if he considers it to be too heavy-handed. This is especially true for 56% of French people, who feel that receiving spam is a good enough reason to part ways with a brand. Similarly, a customer will not hesitate to turn his back on a company that fails to review and respond to inputs that are freely-given. The challenge is very real!
Give priority to targeting rather than bombarding
An effective customer strategy is one that prioritises its actions and targets its recipients, rather than inundating customers with messages and satisfaction surveys. It is sometimes necessary to know how to lie low at a given moment in order to be better perceived later on! It is a particularly difficult trick to bring off since the voice of the customer comes and goes as he follows his purchasing journey, becoming dispersed over different departments. Customer advisors, sales representatives, after-sales service, and marketing: all activities of the company are involved. What this means is that internally, these departments must be connected and made to interact together, otherwise there is a risk of over-soliciting the customer. There is nothing worse for the latter than to receive duplicate satisfaction surveys at a few days interval, all because of a lack of internal coordination.
Next, when you decide to solicit your customer, you should ask yourself the following questions: who to ask? why ? how? when?
Concerning satisfaction surveys, here are some rules that should be observed:
- Determine the appropriate moment for solicitation. For example, if it is a real-time survey, send it as soon as possible after the customer interaction so as to maximise the response rate
- Organise your database to avoid duplicates: there is nothing worse for a customer than to be spammed with a message in duplicate or triplicate! Sometimes a company combines software solutions, some of which include satisfaction survey systems which rub shoulders without cohesion. The best way to counter this error is to adopt a single, cross-platform Feedback Management system, centralising solicitations which are governed by customer pressure management rules, in order to intelligently trigger (or not) a survey.
- Customising questionnaires, and adapting different questions to the context and the targeted customer profiles; limiting the number of questions; focusing on open questions to avoid a proliferation of closed questions
- Sharing the results, internally between the different departments, headquarters and field, but also with those who are the most concerned: the customers themselves!
- Finally, a watchword: responsiveness. At the end of each survey, the response back to the customer must be as rapid as possible. And, in the case of significant dissatisfaction, reactivity means immediately.
Inferred feedback and zero solicitation
As well as the above good practices, the best way not to over-solicit the customer is … not to solicit him at all. How? By trying to understand him without actually interrogating him, by capturing a maximum of “weak signals” continuously and in real-time. Analysing the data from this unsolicited feedback (commonly known as inferred feedback) is just as important as the responses to surveys in order to get a 360-degree view of the overall experience of your customer base.
To accomplish this, the company must be equipped with a platform that gathers customer data and feedback from all channels and contact points, whether internal (feedback from all employees in contact with the customer) or external (website, social networks, email, phone calls or chat with a customer advisor …). Incorporating artificial intelligence functionalities, the platform provides continuous analysis of this feedback, and real-time adjustment of proposals for the required commercial and marketing actions.
The ultimate objective of this approach: to invest in a strategy based on predictive data analysis, to not only eradicate (over)solicitation, but also to anticipate dissatisfaction even before it manifests itself at the customer! It is an ideal which is expected by many customer service departments: 68% of them would like to strengthen their conversational capacities by using real-time tools that are capable of exploiting their interlocutors’ behavioural signals and helping to develop customer relations in particular.
The most sophisticated companies practice “optimum solicitation”, using the technologies of customer pressure management to their advantage. It is a good bet that in a few years, a large majority will have followed suit!
BtoB E-mail marketing attitude study, SNCD 2016
GetResponse study, 2017
SAP Hybris consumer insights study, December 2017
Focus on customer service, Salesforce Research, 2017