Post-case close transactional surveys are part of any well-managed support operation. They let you know how you’re doing overall, provide opportunities for coaching individual team members, and give customers a formal way to say thank you—or vent.
But what questions should you ask?
First, don’t ask too many questions. In today’s world, we’re all inundated with survey requests—I counted five from a recent hotel stay. (“How was the booking experience?” “How was the hotel?” “Just a quick reminder: we noticed you haven’t yet rated your experience…”) Low response rates, less than 20%, taint your data with non-response bias, so we really want people to take our surveys. This means we should make the survey as easy as possible. We recommend three questions, maximum, and ideally one or two. Our clients with the highest response rates (around 40%) ask only one question.
Traditionally, the primary question is customer satisfaction (CSAT). But CSAT has a real drawback when it comes to measuring support: research has shown that the most important predictor of CSAT is satisfaction with the product itself, which is out of the support staff’s control! Also, CSAT doesn’t correlate well with business outcomes like loyalty and churn: customers can be perfectly satisfied and still defect to a competitor.
We recommend replacing your CSAT question with a Customer Effort Score (CES) question. Popularized in a provocative Harvard Business Review article called Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers, the CES question asks customers how hard they had to work to resolve their issue. Unlike CSAT, poor CES is an excellent predictor of disloyalty, according to research done by CEB, the firm that popularized the CES. Also, unlike CSAT, CES measures things that are largely in the support organization’s control.
As a customer, here’s what causes high effort:
- Bouncing around, talking to different people
- Repeating myself
- Not knowing what my options are
- Having to do the company’s work for them
- Telling the company things they should already know
- Poring through opaque documentation
- Going multiple places for information
- Being unsure how I’ll get what I need
- Being unsure if I’ll get to a resolution
As you can see, these are things Support can control much more effectively than product quality.
There are two versions of the CES question. The original asks “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?” on a five point scale, from “Very low effort” (1) to “Very high effort” (5). The later version asks, “To what extent to you agree with the following statement: ‘The company made it easy to handle my issue’” on a seven point scale, from “Strongly disagree” (1) to “Strongly agree” (7). I prefer the second version, because I find the scale more intuitive, but I generally simplify it to a five point (“Likert”) scale to make it easier for the responder.
Once you know your customer effort score, the next step is to improve it using Customer Experience Journey Mapping.
Interested in learning more about the Customer Effort Score and Customer Experience Journey Mapping? Please join me and my colleague, Melissa Burch from Irrevo, as we host a free webinar on this topic on Wednesday, August 19th. Sign up here.