Agile Alternatives to Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Kevan Chew

Kevan Chew

Remesher

Kevan has an aggressive love of writing, coffee, and bagels. He's a member of the marketing team.

There are few things that strike more fear in the hearts of brands and businesses than savage customer reviews, especially on public domains like Yelp or Twitter.

Worse still, most of the time brands don’t even see the customer churn coming. When unhappy with a brand, 9 out of 10 customers choose to leave it without complaining. You know that surveys aren't comprehensive enough to understand the insights you need, but other methodology bogs down your time to market.

It's time to investigate alternative, agile research methodologies. 
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Traditional Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Traditionally, companies have relied on customer satisfaction surveys to gauge how customers feel about their products and services in an effort to prevent churn. Depending on what you are trying to understand, there are a number of different metrics that you can measure. Some of the most popular metrics include:

1. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT). This popular metric measures the average level of satisfaction customers experience on a linear scale from “very unsatisfied” to “very satisfied.” Scores are then tabulated and divided by the total number of respondents to get an average satisfaction score.

2. Net Promoter Score (NPS). This metric measures how willing customers are to recommend a company’s product or services to somebody else. Customers are segmented into detractors, passives, and promoters. This score also serves as an indication of brand loyalty.

3. Customer Effort Score (CES). This measures the ease of customer experience on a linear scale ranging from “very difficult” to “very easy.”

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Limitations of Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Surveys are definitely an easy and fuss-free way to collect customer satisfaction data. However, there are a number of key limitations that may prevent you from getting a complete picture, including:

  • Self-selection bias
  • Lack of qualitative insights
  • Survey fatigue

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Alternative Ways of Measuring Customer Satisfaction

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Mobile Ethnography

This type of agile market research method is simply a combination of ethnography with mobile devices, allowing researchers to observe consumers in an organic environment or in action, as opposed to collecting information from a consumer’s recollection of an experience or action.

Some benefits of using mobile ethnography are:

  • Deeper context surrounding consumer choices 
  • Needs outside of decision-making that still influence the process 
  • Evidence of subconscious decisions or opinions
  • Insight into personal habits

Of course, mobile ethnography can also be chaotic given that the evidence lies within a scene, and that classification for video and photo evidence can sometimes be complex. 

 

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Analyzing Online Reviews

While customers may not always communicate their needs directly with brands, online review platforms have become an increasingly popular avenue for customers to make their feelings known. Today, nearly 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase. Understanding what customers are saying on such platforms thus becomes critically important. 

Platforms like Capterra not only consolidate customer reviews, but also directly compare customer sentiment between brands and others in the same field. 


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Social Media Monitoring

Another important channel to understand how customers feel about a brand are its social media channels. 1 in 5 consumers would rather message a brand via social media than call up customer service, which means social media is a critical platform for extracting customer feedback.

Beyond direct messages, analyzing what customers are saying about the brand online can also inform customer experience with the company. This is especially useful on Twitter, where text-heavy content makes for easier feedback analysis, and where a whopping 145 million monetizable daily users live online.

Social listening tools such as Brandwatch can help brands understand how they are being talked about across various social media channels, and get a pulse check on existing brand sentiments. Make sure to avoid the use of basic social scheduling tools like Hootsuite for this purpose, which can track mentions but is not technically classified as a social listening tool.

 

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Customer Focus Groups and Interviews

Of course, nothing beats talking to your customers directly in a structured setting. Deep-dive customer interviews can not only help you measure customer satisfaction, but also understand the underlying customer concerns behind them. Additionally, these conversations can also uncover feedback and comments that customers might otherwise not share through a survey, since you have the freedom in this space to ask follow up questions and probe deeper. 

A key limitation of in-person focus groups and interviews is the cost of travel and the lack of ability to scale. By allowing brands to have a live conversation with a large number of customers simultaneously, online focus groups are a great way to overcome these obstacles. 

 

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Wrapping Up

Despite being a tool as old as insights itself, it’s clear that customer satisfaction surveys alone are not sufficient. Using a combination of different approaches can help you gain a more complete picture of your customer’s needs, and make steps towards truly improving your state of customer satisfaction.



Ready to automate your research, or optimize your customer feedback management? Download our eBook on the state of AI in the research industry.
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