Asking the right questions

Recently, I called my mobile phone operator to activate a service. The following day, I received a text message inviting me to complete a customer satisfaction survey.

The survey consisted of 3 questions:

That has to be good, right?

Not really.

For customer satisfaction surveys to be useful they need to ask the right questions. This one didn’t.

First things first: the customer
Customer satisfaction surveys need to focus on the drivers of satisfaction. And for that, we need to understand what the customer really values. If I call my mobile phone operator to activate a service, the key driver of satisfaction will be whether or not I get the service that I asked for.

However, the survey focused on the interaction with the adviser during the phone call – which was, indeed, satisfactory. It was what happened after the call – or rather, did not happen – that determined how happy I was with the company. Not at all, as you may have guessed.

The survey addressed what the company wanted to know, not what the customer wanted to say. It failed to adopt the customer’s viewpoint and, thus, it failed to gauge customer satisfaction levels.

Hygiene factors and motivators
We can separate customer needs into two broad categories: hygiene factors and motivators.

Hygiene factors are those things that you absolutely need to have in place if you are to remain in business. In the hotel business, this would be a good night’s sleep. In the transport business, it would be arriving at your destination. Or getting the service I called for.

Motivators are those desirable aspects, the nice to haves that contribute to the decision. For a hotel it could be location or leisure facilities, whereas for the transport company it could be on board entertainment. Maybe a warm and friendly adviser.

While companies need the ‘motivators’ to differentiate themselves from competition, appeal to particular segments, etc… they can never loose sight of the hygiene factors. Following up on the phone call to customer support with a customer service survey was definitely the right thing to do. However, it should have started with a simple question: ‘Did we solve your problem?’ This could be followed up with a question asking ‘Is there anything else we can do for you?’.

Then, and only then, should I be invited to provide feedback about the phone call.

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