The Customer Service Survey

Understanding Patterns of Customer Behavior

by Peter Leppik on Wed, 2012-03-21 16:00

Advanced analytics tools have made it easier than ever to identify patterns of customer behavior. It's now much easier to learn things like how often customers call on the phone after visiting your website, or whether certain customers consistently try and fail to use self-service options. This often uncovers some obvious places where you're leaking money through excessive support costs and repeated customer problems

Understanding why these patterns exist is harder. You can guess, but it's much better to ask the customer directly.

Customer surveys designed for this kind of in-depth insight are a little different than a routine customer service tracking survey:

  • Sample: This is not the place to use a random sample. Instead, target just the people in the group you're trying to understand. So if you're trying to figure out why some customers bypass your IVR and try to go directly to an agent, those are the customers to survey.
  • Method: It's important to get to the customer as quickly as possible after the experience, while the memory of what happened and why is still fresh (but not during the same phone call please!). Have a human being call the customer within an hour. The quick response and the rapport between the customer and interviewer yields the most detail and specifics about what happened and why.
  • Questions: Even though this survey isn't intended to track your top-level metrics, you still want to include those satisfaction or loyalty questions in order to compare against your entire customer base. In addition, ask detailed "what happened" and "why" questions with an emphasis on open-ended questions.
  • Size: For these purposes, several hundred completed interviews is a good starting size. 500 interviews will give you a broad cross-section of the customers you're interested in and some meaningful statistics about the different root causes and their prevalence (while keeping the budget manageable). Going up to a few thousand interviews gives more granularity and better statistics on particular root causes.

The challenge today is often trying to take too much data and generate insights and understanding. Modern analytics tools are a powerful start. Targeting a detailed customer survey to a specific pattern of behavior is often the quickest and most effective way to understand what's really going on. 

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