How to Write Email Survey Subject Lines That Increase Your Open Rates

Micro-surveys are the key to gaining the customer feedback you need to power your CX program, and many of these surveys are sent via email. The first step to receiving that survey feedback is getting your customer to open your email. 

When it comes to open rates, your email’s subject line is more important than you might think it is. Two helpful email stats drive this point home:

  • 69% of recipients will look only at the subject line before flagging an email as spam.
  • 47% of recipients decide to open an email based only on the subject line.

If you’re trying to figure out all the possible reasons why your survey emails aren’t getting decent open rates, it makes sense to start with your subject lines.

1. Establish the right tone

Effective customer interaction is super dependent on speaking your audience’s language. This doesn’t just refer to the words and terms you use in your emails, even though that is obviously also extremely important.

No, we’re referring to your “voice” here – where you pitch the subject line on the “familiarity” spectrum. On the one side of this spectrum is “ultra conversational,” and on the other side, “ultra professional.”

On the conversational side, you’ll use language that makes your recipients feel like they’re being asked a question by a friend or a trusted colleague. These subject lines should make the recipient feel comfortable because they have an approachable tone.

Here are some examples:

  • “A quick question for you”
  • “Leslie, got a sec? ”

On the professional side of the spectrum, you’re using language that builds trust in your brand’s ability to take your service seriously. You don’t have to come off pompous or like you’ve swallowed a thesaurus. Stick to the point, and treat the recipient like someone who appreciates professionalism in the workplace.

  • “We’d genuinely appreciate feedback on our performance.”
  • “Leslie, how can we make you more productive?”

There are quite a few things to consider when choosing the tone of your survey email subject lines. Your brand image is arguably the most important, but things like recipient demographics and the industry you’re playing in should also play a role.

Building buyer personas is a standard practice in digital marketing. Many successful businesses go through this process to understand exactly who they’re selling to. This data is invaluable when deciding on the tone of your survey email subject lines.

2. Go beyond basic personalization

According to Campaign Monitor, recipients are 26% more likely to open an email if the subject line has been personalized.

What you use to customize the subject line will obviously depend on the data you have on the customer. Using their name is an obvious starting point. However, you can also reference their most recent purchase if your CRM has logged it. Or a virtual event they attended. A modern CX platform can grab this info and personalize the subject line. 

If you’re online mattress retailer Zoma and you’re sending out a customer satisfaction (CSAT) survey email to find out how a support query was handled, if the shipping went well, or if the customer is satisfied with the quality of a recent purchase, you could take one of the following approaches:

  • “How did we do on your support query [#66456]?”
  • “James, how was the webinar with DocuSign?”
  • “How’s that Zoma mattress working out?”

Showing evidence that the email comes from a reputable origin (i.e., the actual company they interacted with) is critical if you want to maximize that open rate.

By using their name and referencing their purchase, you’re landing a one-two punch of credibility and massively increasing the chances of a response.

3. Talk about benefits

Let’s be frank here. When you send out a net promoter score (NPS) survey email, you’re basically asking an established customer to take time out of their day to reveal their feelings about your brand despite there being no immediate reward in it for them.

But that shouldn’t stop you from letting your recipients know that their feedback will result in long-term benefits for you and them.

Good feedback — both positive and negative — means improved service for everyone. A large number of honest responses will help you get better at designing new product features. Let your recipients know! Make them feel like their voice is important and that it benefits them to be heard.

Here’s an example. If you’re an energy services company like Ecopreneurist, and you’re sending out an NPS survey, you may want to try subject lines like these:

  • “Help us get even better at saving you energy.”
  • “Leslie, your feedback helps us save you money.”

Even though the email content will ask them a typical NPS question like “How likely are you to recommend Ecopreneurist to a friend?” the subject line can illustrate the eventual reward customers will experience by responding.

There’s a genuine correlation between improved service and receiving this type of information from customers. There’s no reason you can’t creatively leverage this relationship to create highly engaging subject lines.

4. Ask your recipients a question

A good subject line engages the recipient. You’ll want the subject line to make them think and feel something. Trigger their thoughts and their emotions.

A great way to do this is by asking a question. 

The right question can trigger introspection. It can make the recipient think about something they want to share with you.

A SaaS company like ShowMojo might employ a customer effort score (CES) survey to help them spot inefficiencies and/or improve in two areas:

  1. Onboarding. Good onboarding helps ensure “trial subscribers” see the product’s value and eventually become paying customers, and it’s a critical step in maximizing a subscriber’s lifetime value (LTV).
  2. Product features. A CES survey can gauge how easily customers are adopting a new product feature and help you optimize for improved adoption. 

In both cases, positioning the survey in question form is a great way to maximize open rates. For example:

  • “How hard was the migration to ShowMojo?”
  • “How easy was it to create a new rental dashboard?”

You can see in the above examples that the subject lines don’t even mention the survey. The two questions are directed at the customer and their experience. 

5. Keep it simple and short

You should keep your survey email subject lines to under 50 characters to be sure everyone sees it. The number of people opening emails using their mobile phones is increasing every year. And the limited amount of real estate on a mobile device means that subject lines are often truncated.

Yes, it’s hard to make a compelling case for someone to open an unsolicited email using so few words, so take your time writing. Constantly try whittling the number of characters and words down to an absolute minimum without compromising your core message.

Let’s take a look at some concise and effective customer survey subject line examples:

  • “Are we doing a good job, Leslie?”
  • “Where can we improve?”
  • “We’re always looking for honest feedback.”
  • “Give it to us straight; we can take it.”

A quick word on open rate benchmarks

What kind of open rates should you expect from your survey emails? Having a sense of benchmarks is critical if you intend to measure how effective your new subject lines are. 

According to our customers’ results, an open rate over 20% is solid, with only a small number of emails achieving a 30% open rate. If you see this level of engagement, you’re probably doing multiple things right. If it’s below this figure, realize there’s room for improvement and review your subject line copy against our recommendations.

Some final thoughts

Regardless of what industry you’re operating in, certain best practices will always be relevant when crafting email subject lines.

Here’s a summary of the most important things to bear in mind (along with a fifth bonus tip):

  • Personalize as much as possible.
  • Tell recipients about the benefits of completing the survey.
  • Ask a question.
  • Keep it short and to the point.
  • Try to keep your subject lines under 50 characters.
  • Avoid spammy words like “opportunity,” “offer,” “cash,” “discount,” or “click here.”

There’s little point in rethinking your subject line strategy if you’re not backing up your efforts with data on the success or failure of a new approach.

You’ll want to A/B test your survey emails. A simple way to do this is:

  1. Split your email recipients into two groups (Group A and Group B). 
  2. Target Group A with subject line A. “Welcome! How was the sign-up process?
  3. Target Group B with subject line B. “Answer one question and help us improve.”
  4. Measure each email’s open rate. If Group A gets a higher open, a post-onboarding greeting works well for your new customers.

By A/B testing your email subject lines over time, you gain valuable knowledge about the subject lines that resonate with your customer base. Not only will that information help you with your specific survey, but it can also help other CX-focused teams optimize their customer communications as well.

Start sending customer surveys today with InMoment.

How to Level-Up the CX Program at Your Growth Stage Business

You’ve been using Net Promoter Score in all the right ways, and now you’re looking to advance your CX program. Fear not, you’ve come to the right place!

The next level of CX for Growth Stage companies focuses on a few key things:

  • Taking a more holistic view of the entire customer journey 
  • Leveraging technology to listen to hundreds and thousands of customer comments
  • Employing robust analytics

We’ve previously explained how to quickly build your first customer feedback program with a single survey like Net Promoter Score in a single channel. Now we’ll combine surveys with behaviors and concrete numbers to see how CX impacts metrics like product use, retention, and sales. 

Yes, it’s time to level up your CX program!

Get the ebook, CX FOR EVERY STAGE: How to scale your Voice of Customer program from startup to enterprise. Learn how to improve user experience for product led growth and loyalty.

We’re sticking with the 3-step Listen, Learn, and Act model but upgrading each step’s activities from Early Stage to Growth Stage CX programs.

Listen Learn Act model for Growth Stage

Step 1: Listen 

In this step, you’ll gather information across the customer journey. Many people at the Growth Stage have already identified critical touchpoints in the customer journey that drive success, including:

  • Achieving first value
  • Support interactions
  • Using a new product or service

The Listen step focuses on asking the right questions at these touchpoints to help you optimize your CX. During the Early Stage, you offered up the Net Promoter Score survey. Now it’s time to move on to two other important CX metrics.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

The CSAT asks customers how satisfied they were with a recent interaction, like a support call. CSAT is the most popular CX metric for transactional interactions, and you use it to gauge how well these interactions are being handled.

How might you use CSAT? If you’re with an e-commerce company, you likely use it to get post-delivery feedback on a purchase. At SaaS companies, product teams use a CSAT variation called a Product Satisfaction survey (PSAT). It’s often triggered in-app to get feedback that helps product teams optimize the user experience.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

The CES survey asks, “How easy was it to _________?” CES is used to improve systems that may frustrate customers. It allows you to capture early feedback and discover ways to make sure the path to the all-important first value is smooth. 

Use CES surveys to measure how customers feel about their onboarding, which is the critical first step of the customer journey. It’s much easier to retain a customer who has had an excellent first experience with your product than win over a customer reeling from poor onboarding that missed the mark.

When you combine the information gathered from NPS, CSAT/PSAT, and CES, you can uncover previously hidden areas of the customer journey and understand how those affect overall CX. 

Step 2: Learn

You now have a plethora of customer feedback from your three surveys, and it’s time to extract actionable insights. The important thing to realize here is you’re collecting feedback from thousands of surveys. That amount of data quickly becomes hard to address at scale, and text-match tags won’t capture the wealth of information available. You’re going to need more advanced tools than what you used at the Early Stage. 

Customer insights through machine learning

The most insightful input from customers comes in the free-text portion of your surveys. To mine that rich data, you’ll need a tool that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP), a form of AI for real-time text categorization and sentiment analysis.

For many businesses, the wealth of customer experience data has become overwhelming. Artificial intelligence gives us the means to retake the initiative.

– Jessica Pfeifer  CCO, Wootric

Advanced tools for the Growth Stage Learn step share two essential elements:

Categorization in real-time

One of the reasons you’re not manually analyzing the text is you don’t want to wait weeks for insights, and your customers certainly don’t want to wait that long for action. Natural Language Processing allows computers to auto-tag, interpret, and analyze text data as new topics arise, highlighting any issues immediately so you can take timely actions.

Sentiment analysis

Simply put, sentiment analysis tells you why your customers do or don’t love you. NLP performs sentiment analysis on your customer and user feedback, taking you way beyond the traditional text-match tagging. Not only is every topic tracked over time, but NLP also tracks the positive and negative tone and tenor of the customer voice. In a quick review, you can instantly gauge whether a specific product touchpoint performs well for your customers. This lets you see how your business initiatives are affecting your users in real-time.

Auto-categorizing feedback is a powerful step in VoC, taken with the help of new technologies like Natural Language Processing. 

Link CX metrics to business outcomes

You can tie CX directly to business outcomes by linking customer survey data to business-focused metrics like purchases, conversions, churn, and sales.

Say you want to tie CX to churn through your mobile app. No problem! 

  1. Look at your post-survey 90-day churn metrics and see at what scores you begin to lose customers rapidly. 
  2. Compare that with your NPS. Let’s say your NPS shows you can tolerate some Passives and maybe even some Detractors scoring you at a 5 or 6. Cool, you can let those ride a bit if you’re resource light. 
  3. Detractors scoring you at a 0 or 4, however, could be at serious risk of leaving if they don’t receive the support they need to succeed. Put your resources there ASAP!

How else can you monitor the risk of churn? Well, if you’re a B2B business, you’re probably already looking at your Customer Health Score. Factor NPS and other CX metrics into your Customer Health Score and get even more insight with a system that takes into account behavioral metrics like the number of support tickets per user, usage of product features, and other engagement metrics.

Step 3: Act

You’ve listened, you’ve learned a lot, and now you’re ready to make an impact. But here’s the thing: CX is built by and affected by more than just one team at a company. So there are two critical parts to the Act step.

Get CX data into everyone’s workflow

A customer-centric organization relies on everyone having access to VoC data, so no individual or team at your company should ever have to search for it. All functions can drive better customer experiences and benefit from having CX data and analytics at their fingertips.

  • Sales needs CX metrics at the account level in Salesforce to prepare for an upsell conversation.
  • Customer Success uses Gainsight or other platforms for regular communications with customers.
  • Customer Support is in Intercom or ZenDesk.
  • Product may want data in their analytics platform like Tableau.
  • Analysts will want to pull CX data into their relational database.

By connecting your CX program to the applications and software used by other teams, you can destroy silos and create powerful interactions that delight your customers. Look for CX platforms with native integrations and open APIs to make these connections seamless.

Optimize your product with CX

It’s all good and well to gather and distribute essential data and insights, but a CX program’s real power comes from making your product and services better. 

Use your CX data to rank and address the things that matter most to your customers and thus to your business’ success. We recommend creating a dual-axis plan of attack to prioritize what you optimize. 

  1. Look at the number of impacted customers and their average score for each issue.
  2. Combine that number with a qualitative measure of the engineering and operational effort required to address the issue.

Close the loop at scale

Once you’ve taken actions to improve CX, don’t forget to communicate back to your customers who gave you the feedback to make those changes. Let them know you appreciate their input and that it made an impact.

You now have hundreds and thousands of customers giving your feedback, and you won’t have enough resources to call each one personally. Thus you’ll need a hybrid model to close the customer feedback loop.

  1. High touch. A customer success agent or account manager can reach out to their customers when they respond, even if just to say “Thanks!” This connection lets customers know you’re listening and appreciate their feedback. For a B2B business, this is the way to go if you have the resources. 
  2. Medium touch. Segment the list by survey scores. Sync with a platform like Intercom to trigger automated messages or schedule a weekly email campaign to each group. 
    1. Thank Promoters and possibly offer them an incentive to be brand advocates, perhaps by sharing their positive feedback on social media.
    2. Route Detractors to Customer Success or Customer Support. That team can devote time to understanding why the customer’s not happy — especially those who didn’t leave feedback — and make the CX and relationship better.
    3. Automate a reply to Passives who didn’t leave feedback, spurring a “What would make you LOVE us?” conversation.
  3. Low touch. Respond with information-sharing and transparency, such as a blog post or newsletter at the end of the month, summarizing the feedback you’ve received and stating your plans to address issues customers have raised. 

A growing company needs to grow its CX program. By expanding your view to the full customer journey, expanding the feedback you’re requesting, and then using more advanced tools to pull insights from the feedback, you’ll be ready to optimize the customer experience you provide and enjoy the success it brings.

Quickly Build Your First Customer Feedback Program for Powerful Results

While so many companies are pondering how to grow their customer experience (CX) programs, there are plenty of CX champions looking to start a CX program. We talk with plenty of companies that are just starting up, or as we prefer to call it: Early Stage. 

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not at all hard to get your Early Stage CX program started. With a little guidance, you can quickly build and implement a quality program that helps you:

  • Listen to your customers.
  • Learn from your data.
  • Act to optimize the customer experience.

As your business grows, you can expand your CX program with it. For now, however, you’re primed for the Early Stage option. So listen up; we’re going to get you started!

CX program fundamentals

CX programs center on Voice of the Customer (VoC) data — your customers’ feedback about their experiences and expectations for your products or services. 

The key to a successful program lies in how you gather that feedback, how you process and learn from it, and then act on it. 

This 3-step CX model is easy to understand, simple to get started and offers quick time to value.

Listen Learn Act model for first CX program

Step 1: Listen

Listening starts with strategic thought: 

  1. CX metric. What are you trying to learn?
  2. Survey process. How will you learn it? 

Start by defining the goal of your CX program. Maybe your priority is to optimize your software product or to improve the support experience. Knowing what you want to learn will inform your listening strategy. 

Have your goal set? Onward!

Get the ebook, CX FOR EVERY STAGE: How to scale your Voice of Customer program from startup to enterprise. Learn how to improve user experience for product led growth and loyalty.

Begin With Net Promoter Score (NPS)

It’s time to ask your customers some essential questions. We’ve bid good riddance to long, multi-question surveys. Because they’re tedious, their completion rates are dismal. 

To get customers to give you actionable feedback, you’ll want to use micro surveys. These single-question surveys: 

  1. Give you a score (aka metrics!) on customer loyalty or satisfaction.
  2. Give you deep insight by inviting the customer to explain their score in their own words. 

Because micro surveys are short, sweet, and to the point, more customers will answer them, meaning your response rates will soar.

There are three core CX surveys you should have in your toolbox: 

  1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  2. Customer Effort Score (CES)
  3. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) 

For your first customer survey, we recommend you begin with NPS. Net Promoter Score is the gold standard for measuring customer loyalty and will give you immediate insight into your customers’ stories.

Once you and your CX program have grown, you’ll likely need other survey types. But Early Stage programs can find out what they need to know with these three.

Choose Your First Survey Channel 

Alright, your question is at the ready. Now you need to decide how you will survey your customers. Each segment of your customer base probably has a preferred method of communication. Common options include: 

  • email surveys
  • in-app surveys inside a web or mobile product
  • SMS

If you’re unsure where to start, ask yourself this: Where here are our most important customers interacting with us?

If you’re still not sure, dive into this article about how to choose the best channel for your feedback survey. Here are some general trends we see with our customers:

  • SaaS business or mobile app: in-product survey
  • E-commerce business: transactional approach like sending an email survey a few days after delivery
  • Airline or utility (or other business already using texts or phone calls to communicate on customer mobile devices): SMS

Next comes the question of when to survey. Keep it simple. Ask NPS 30 days after a customer onboards, or whenever they will have had enough time to form an opinion about the experience you offer. The surveys are something you can “set and forget” and then just let the feedback roll in. A CX platform will survey a few users every day, so you have constant feedback coming in. Some platforms (like Wootric) offer a free plan for early stage businesses. 

Step 2: Learn

Here’s where things get exciting because your customer feedback is coming in!

The great thing about Early Stage is you can read and respond to every survey response. This will help you stay closer to the customer and develop a holistic view of your customer experience.

There are an art and a science to the Learn step that will allow you to take hundreds of pieces of feedback and make it actionable. To do that, you need to get busy.

Segment Your CX Data 

Even if your company provides only one service or product, your customers are not all the same. Categories of users have different needs and are bound to experience your company in slightly different ways. 

You’ve given the same NPS survey to all your customers. Your overall NPS score will let you know how you’re doing across every customer. However, your customers aren’t just one block of users. Our marketplace customers like GrubHub and Deliveroo have both consumers and restaurant owners using their app, and those two groups have different needs. By segmenting NPS, you’ll receive more actionable insights to optimize your product for the various user groups. 

Take our customer Homebase. They have two user groups for their SaaS product that streamlines employee scheduling: those who create schedules and those who receive schedules. Per CEO John Waldmann, “NPS has allowed us to segment out the feedback and look at how happy restaurant managers are with the product after the recent changes versus how happy the wait staff is. Are we skewing too heavily toward one side or the other? Do we need to spend some more product cycles to improve the employee experience?”

You can take a constant pulse of your CX program by reviewing the performance of your overall business and customer segment NPS scores over time. Tracking and metricizing customer sentiment over time is very helpful when you’re looking to make improvements. The bonus is you never miss a trend.

Identify Themes in Customer Comments 

While it’s interesting to read and respond to individual feedback, at some point, you will get more qualitative feedback than you can easily digest. Lots of feedback is a good thing — it means you’re growing!

Now’s the time to filter your text responses to understand the “why” behind the numerical scores. You’ll filter these responses for specific topics by using tags. Tags are associated with particular keywords you want to monitor, and they allow you to easily track the Share of Voice (SoV) of a topic. How much are people talking about price, performance, delivery, or a new feature? 

Setting up this categorization does a lot of things:

  • It helps you follow long-term trends.
  • It gives you insight into a topic’s trajectory.
  • It lets you know if you’re addressing your customer’s concerns effectively — or you still need to do more.

Step 3: Act

You’ve listened, you’ve learned, and now it’s time to make a difference by acting externally and internally!

Close the loop with customers

Every piece of feedback is valuable. While you’re hoping for promoters telling you what a great job you’re doing, it’s the detractors who care enough to let you know what needs improvement that can help you make the most significant business gains through your CX program. 

Close the loop, especially with detractors! 

Reach out via email or phone and address their concerns promptly. Passing your CX data to the system, you use to communicate with customers — like Intercom or Hubspot — can make this easy. Customers will appreciate that you took the time to listen and respond. You may even turn a detractor into a happy customer. 

Activate your brand promoters. When someone gives you praise in a survey response, ask them to write a review or give you a quote. These testimonials can be great ways to distinguish your brand from the competition. 

If you don’t have the resources to respond individually, write a blog post that summarizes what you’ve heard and the actions you’re taking and share it with your customers. 

Loop closing in practice

You may be thinking, “this sounds great in theory, but that’s a lot to expect from a new program.” Understood. Many people in the Early Stage of CX programs are also in their company’s early stage, with too much work and too few people. Our customer Albacross, a lead-gen software startup, automated closing the loop with its customers, which achieved program goals without taxing their resources.

Here’s what they do based on the individual NPS score:

Detractors (who rate their app low with a 0-6): They send two messages via Intercom asking for additional feedback. The goal here is to start a conversation and better understand why the customer is frustrated.

  • They send an email:

Albacross-Emails-for-CX

  • They send an in-app message that appears immediately after the user completes the survey:

in-app post-survey message from Albacore

Passives (who rate 7-8) receive an in-app email of gratitude, letting them know they appreciate the feedback.

In-app post-survey message from Albacore for passive NPS

Promoters (who rate 9-10) receive an email from the CEO offering gratitude and asking them to please review the company on a 3rd party review site:

In-app post-survey message for promoters

Evangelize CX data

You are trying to build a customer-first culture at your company. To do that, you need to communicate, communicate, communicate. 

Make sure everyone has easy access to CX information! From Customer Success and Customer Support to Product to Marketing and beyond, every person in your company has a part in creating your customer experience. Create a CX Slack channel and encourage the entire company to join. Put up wall-mounted dashboards that put CX metrics front and center with the newest feedback and the latest scores — report it right next to other critical business metrics at the next company-wide meeting. 

A single survey on a single channel offers significant customer insights. Like any new program, you want to start simply, optimize, and then expand. Once you have mastered the Early Stage program, it’s easy to move on to the Growth Stage and Expert Stage. 

B2B Now Feels B2C. Here’s How to Consumerize Your Enterprise Product

Customer expectations drive the value of CX. Continuously meet or exceed expectations, and delighted customers will return and even become vocal advocates for your product and brand. 

Don’t let the terms B2C (Business to Consumer) and B2B (Business to Business) confuse you. Your end-user is a human who spends a lot of time on Amazon. They’ve come to expect consumer-level digital experiences at work and play. 

Welcome to the consumerization of B2B; your customers have been expecting you.

Whether your company’s releasing an app as part of its digital transformation or it’s a digital-native SaaS company, CX pros need to understand the evolution of the B2B customer experience and make sure their products meet their B2B consumers’ expectations.

The B2B focus: from customer to end-user

B2B encompasses many types of different companies with varying levels of digital experiences. They’re all still dealing with some legacy ideas of B2B as they innovate and strive to keep one foot ahead of customer expectations.

In the not-so-distant past, B2B tech was big. Big machines, big decision-makers, big purchase prices, big buying time, and big onboarding. Tech salespeople wined and dined the VP and C-level buyers through the months-long decision process. Procurement got involved in making sure the tech worked at least “close enough” for the largest number of people at the company. Once the systems were in, they were in for the long-term, and user experience be damned.

Today, the tech is in the cloud, and it’s the little things that are important. Tech choices are researched and made by individuals and teams. Procurement may still get involved, but they come in to find so many people already happily using the software they just need to negotiate contracts vs. deciding “are we going to use Slack or not?” It’s one tech-savvy end-user after another replacing the big buying teams, and the app just needs to let that one person do their specific job faster and better. The sales process is digital, set up is easy, and customer service is a click away. 

The newer SaaS companies practicing Product Led Growth (PLG) have grown up in this digital age where everyone’s a consumer. If you are a workhorse platform, how can your digital experiences compete with these disruptors?  

12 ways to “consumerize” B2B customer experience

Think of your week’s worth of online consumer experience, and there are some overarching elements of a good CX. From Netflix to Uber, there are elements you need to pull into the B2B experience.

  1. Freemium or trial access. Appcues found 90% of users want to try a product for free. Can you design a lite but still valuable-to-the-user version of your product? If so, this can be a great lead generation channel. Give marketing adequate development resources and let them run it. 
  2. Fully digital. There’s no need for interaction with a live person to access and use the product. Users expect the app to understand their goals and take them step-by-step through the process to meet their goals. 
  3. Intuitive setup and use. No user wants to have to read an essay on how to get started; it should be one step clicks without confusion. There’s no need to look for what they need, no need to be trained by an admin — it’s right there.
  4. Quick time to value. The user wants to do their job faster, easier, and better — make that happen quickly before they find another option.
  5. Easy connections to existing tech. While you’re focused on the individual end-user, don’t forget your app needs to fit into the organization’s workflow, speeding time to value and allowing your power user to advocate for your app. Also, realize that while one user may need everything your app does, others just need to know the results. Make sure your app links to the app others work in the most. If others need the data from your app to work in Slack, then offer a single-click integration to send the data from your app to Slack.
  6. Simple vs. feature-laden. Keep the interface as decluttered as possible, so it’s easy for users to find what they need. Visual clarity poses a challenge for feature-ladened platforms, so design with a bias toward simplicity. And remember, there will be light users who don’t want to have to figure out, once again, how to run a report. You still need all the features for those power-user admins, but you must also prioritize the light user’s experience. 
  7. Mobile. The more people who adopt your app, the more mobile users you’ll have. While you don’t have to design to be mobile-first, you can offer a simplified version of your desktop platform, keeping all the features someone on the go will need when they’re away from their office. 
  8. Easy to share. People work on teams for the most part, and shared apps help complete shared work. Make it easy for your power user to evangelize and share your product within the organization with a one-click invitation. 
  9. Real-time issue resolution. Digital is fast, and users expect to solve any problems encountered in real-time. Offer help right in the product through a chat function. No one minds AI if it resolves their issue — they just want it handled now. 
  10. Easy to review. Purchase decisions today reflect the power of the end-user. Decisions are made based on word of mouth and 3rd party review sites, so make it easy for your promoters to evangelize for you. Use in-app surveys to identify your happiest customers and then automate the review to link to AppStore or G2 once the survey is completed.
  11. Seamless upgrade to paid. The freemium or trial offer will demonstrate value. When more functionality is required, make it an easy click to the premium product version. 
  12. Customer feedback. Build improvement and growth into your product by asking for feedback right in the platform and mobile app. Your buyers and end-users expect you to be optimizing your product, so make it easy for end-users to give feedback in the moment through simple NPS, CSAT, and CES micro-surveys. 

Designing your digital CX for the modern B2B customer means taking a B2C mindset. Your product isn’t serving a faceless company; it’s serving the individual people who use it. Where are your people? What are their expectations? How can you connect them to value most easily? By designing to help end-users meet their goals, you create a partnership with individuals whose success is based on your product. They will tell you how to improve your product and evangelize its use to develop new customers. Once in, they want to help you make your product better, and their feedback will light the way for your company’s success.

Wootric is CX management for modern B2B companies. Book a consultative demo today.

How & Why You Should Customize the NPS Follow-up Question

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a simple and highly effective way to determine the happiness of your customers. This one rating — how likely are you to recommend <company> — gives you valuable business insights from the need to fix specific issues quickly, to long-term trends. 

The more actionable insight, however, comes from the follow-up question where the customer is able to explain the “why” behind their rating with an open-text answer that gives you the good, bad, and the ugly of their experience. 

By customizing your NPS follow up question, you’re better able to gain the insight you need to improve your CX and increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). We have four simple ways you can approach creating the optimal follow-up question for your specific needs.

Read More…

What is NPS: the Concept and Formula

You hear the term tossed around in most any meeting focused on customers: “What’s the NPS? How many Promoters do we have? How many Detractors?” You may be asking yourself “What is NPS and what should we be doing with it?” 

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a simple, powerful measure of customer loyalty. By asking customers to rate their likelihood to recommend a product or service on a 1-10 scale, you can gain actionable insights to guide decisions across your business.

Let’s break down NPS and see how it works.

The NPS survey

The NPS survey asks your customers this simple question:

Nps question, NPS example, NPS survey, What is NPS

It then logs the response and gives the responder a chance to explain their answer in an open-text format.

Nps feedback, NPS question, NPS concept

That’s it! Because the survey is short, sweet, and to the point, customers are more likely to respond. And you’ve just gained valuable information ready to be turned into insights and used to improve your offerings.

Net Promoter Score calculations

Once you have the customer feedback, the fun part begins.

First, respondents are classified into three groups based on their answers:

  • Promoters. Rating 9 or 10. Loyal customers who are a great source of referrals.
  • Passives.  Rating 7 or 8. Customers who are satisfied with the service but are susceptible to competitors.
  • Detractors. Rating 0 – 6. Unhappy customers who can damage your brand.
Nps coding, NPS calculation, Calculate NPS, What is NPS

Calculating overall NPS

Calculating your NPS gives you a clear indication from one moment to the next how happy your customers are. Real-time tracking can alert you to threats to your business, allowing you to take quick action. Tracked over time, it gives you insight into which of the company’s actions have resulted in the most customer value.

To calculate your NPS, subtract the % of respondents who are Detractors from the % of respondents who are Promoters.

NPS = % Promoters – % Detractors

Mining customer feedback

The answer to the open-ended NPS follow-up question tells you the “why” behind the rating. Mining this text for insights is what makes NPS so powerful, because it gives you rich information on the customer experience you’re providing. So analyze the text answers and use them to guide the actions you take.

NPS Survey Feedback

Don’t forget to follow up with the customer and close the feedback loop. Imagine immediately responding to a Detractor’s complaint, targeting your Passives with an information campaign, or asking a Promoter to review your product online.

Ongoing Voice of the Customer

Repeat the NPS survey at regular intervals. Segment your NPS by types of customers to understand the “why” behind your score and how your decisions impact customer loyalty.

Once you have NPS down, you’ll be ready to add in additional metrics over time at key customer journey touchpoints. When you combine the feedback from your NPS survey with feedback from CSAT (customer satisfaction) and CES (customer effort) surveys, these 3 core CX metrics give you a great foundation for making business decisions based on authentic voice of the customer feedback.

Build end-user loyalty. Sign up today for free in-app Net Promoter Score feedback with InMoment.

Low Touch to High Touch: Customer Follow-up Strategies for Any Size Company

A good customer experience improvement program depends on two-way conversations between companies and their customers. It has been reported that nearly half (43%) of customers don’t bother complaining because they don’t believe companies care. Get ahead of that stat by demonstrating your company not only wants the feedback, you act on it. The three-tiered approach to customer follow-up (high touch, medium touch, and low touch) allows every company to effectively respond to customers, even if they can’t commit a lot of resources.

Treat customer feedback like a gift. It’s not enough to just gather Net Promoter Scores (NPS), you need to follow up with responders to let them know that 1) you appreciate their effort, and 2) their feedback has impact. Even if you can’t deliver everything customers ask for, they will remember that they were heard and appreciated. Closing the feedback loop will help you retain customers, increase response rates, and hopefully create loyal brand advocates. 

Ready to respond? Good! Consider your resources and choose from three levels of engagement:

  1. High Touch. This more resource-intensive approach has proven very effective for B2B companies. Every time a customer gives feedback, a Customer Success Manager or Account Manager contacts them. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be an in-depth correspondence. Sometimes a simple “thank you” is all that’s needed. Other times, you can dig deeper into their response (and deeper into the relationship) in order to make the feedback even more actionable. 
  2. Medium Touch. We get it — not every business has the headcount to personally respond to every piece of feedback they receive. Automating the feedback loop is a time and resource saver. Segment your customer responses by the rating each customer gives and you can still have a personalized impact where it counts most. Your follow up plan could look something like this:
    • Promoter. Send a “thank you” and possibly offer an incentive for the customer to share your product.
    • Detractor. Route the response to Customer Success or Customer Support to uncover why that responder isn’t happy, especially if they didn’t leave further feedback explaining their rating.
    • Passive. Deliver a message to passive raters who didn’t leave feedback, engaging them in a “What would make you LOVE us?” conversation.
  3. Low Touch. If you have too many users to provide individual responses, or you don’t have contact information, you can still close the loop! Develop blanket communications that offer transparency and information sharing: 
    • A monthly blog post or newsletter. Summarize the feedback you’ve received, and detail the actions you’ll be taking in response to issues customers have raised. 
    • Product updates or release notes. CX champions in product or UX can use these to communicate “We heard you! Today we <fixed X or launched Z>.”

High Touch to Low Touch ways of following up on customer feedback
The video “5 Ways to Modernize Your NPS Program to Super-Charge Customer Success” goes into detail on these three followup strategies.

All three levels of engagement deliver impact, so choose the one that best fits your needs. Wootric customer Albacross chose a medium touch model, which resulted in 2X the NPS scores and a 2X ratings increase on Capterra.

By closing the loop with customers, you show them that you’re not only listening to their feedback, you consider it so important that you’re using it to make their experiences better. This simple step can turn ambivalent customers into vocal fans.

Wootric is CX management for maximizing customer lifetime value. Book a consultative demo today.

Wootric Joins InMoment to Accelerate CX Innovation and Growth

As we begin this new year, we want to share some great news. 

Today we’re excited to announce that Wootric is joining InMoment, a market leader in customer and employee experience. InMoment serves many of the largest, most sophisticated global organizations from Starbucks to Ford to VMWare. 

This next step in our evolution means great things for our customers and other businesses seeking a modern approach to CX improvement.  

We will continue to deliver the world-class product experience you expect from us. In addition, our pace of innovation and our ability to support our customers around the globe will accelerate as we leverage the considerable resources and expertise of InMoment. 

Our customers will also be able to tap into InMoment’s expertise and enterprise solutions as their CX needs evolve beyond our turnkey approach.

Read the official press release here

Seven years ago, we founded Wootric with a mission to empower customer-centricity in every organization through modern, always-on CX improvement.  We launched with a high-response in-app microsurvey and quickly disrupted a dated approach to gathering and responding to Net Promoter Score feedback. 

Guided by input from our customers, we invested in omni-channel feedback collection, AI-driven customer journey analytics, and native integrations with the modern tech stack — all the while staying true to the flexible, lightweight, user-centric approach to CX improvement that businesses expect from Wootric.  

Wootric now delivers the fastest ROI in the Experience Management category on G2.  Over 1200 businesses worldwide, including DocuSign, Zoom, and Comcast, use Wootric software to improve customer lifetime value with insights and action from voice of the customer data.  

We thank our customers, partners, investors, advisors, and above all members of our exceptional team for their support, and for choosing to be on the CX journey with us.  

Together, with InMoment, we will make 2021 an amazing year for customer experience!

With gratitude,

Deepa Subramanian, CEO  &  Jessica Pfeifer, Chief Customer Officer

The founders would also like to extend a special thank you to Steve Gurney at Viant Group for representing Wootric through this process.

How to Train AI to Analyze Your Customer Feedback

Customer comments are the lifeblood of any CX program, giving you the “why” behind customers’ NPS, CES, and CSAT scores. But until recently, it’s been nearly impossible to make sense of feedback from hundreds of customers at a time. Using artificial intelligence (AI) to automate text analysis gives you the consistent and fast insights you need, at scale. 

That said, automated text analysis isn’t just about technology. Humans need to put in the time upfront to teach the machine, by providing an accurately tagged set of feedback for AI to work from. The quality of that training data sets up the quality of your text analytics results, or as the old saying goes “garbage in, garbage out”.

Let’s look at what you need to be successful with automated text analytics. We’ll dig into the basics of text analytics, the inconsistencies of manual tagging, and how to create good training data and models.

A quick primer on AI training sets

Analyzing customer feedback from unstructured text can be complex. In one sentence a customer may talk about a variety of topics, offering negative, neutral, or positive feedback (sentiment) about each of them. It’s the job of machine learning to recognize what the customer is talking about and identify how they are feeling about those topics. With text analytics, it only takes an instant to:

  • Tag comments / categorize themes 
  • Assign sentiment to each of the tags and the comment overall 
  • Aggregate results to find insights 

Text analyzed for sentiment and themes

Again, machine learning is only as good and accurate as the data set you (the humans) provide to train the algorithm. So you need to do it right. 

At Wootric, we have a lot of experience helping teams create training datasets. While we have sets of tags that are specific to various industry verticals, we also build custom machine learning models for many customers. Custom models are helpful for companies that are in a new vertical or a unique business. 

Training model process

For the most part, companies have a good feel for what their users/customers are talking about and the topic tags they need. If they’re not sure, we can analyze their data and work with them to help them think through a set of tags to get them started. Once they have a set of agreed tags, they start creating the training data.

The process for creating this training dataset goes something like this. 

  1. Decide what tags are important to your business
  2. Create definitions for those tags so everyone knows exactly what the tags mean
  3. Pull 100-200 customer comments

Our customer assembles a team of at least 3-5 people who independently review each comment and determine:

  1. If the comment sentiment is overall positive, neutral, or negative
  2. Which tags apply to that comment

That last point is where things get interesting for a data analyst like me. 

Manual tagging: an inconsistent truth

Many companies still believe having human tagging and analysis is superior to AI. We’ve seen one employee hired full-time to pour over spreadsheets, organizing data and pulling insights, which takes A LOT of time. Other companies bring in a team of people (the interns!), which introduces inconsistencies. Not only is it expensive and time-intensive, manual tagging isn’t necessarily accurate

These same inconsistencies appear when creating training datasets because the process starts with manual tagging. Customer teams creating training data are always surprised by the level of disagreements on “defined” tags. It can take a few rounds of work to iron these out. 

Tag definitions vary

Not all tags carry the same level of complexity. Some tags make it easy for people to agree upon a definition, while others may be more ill-defined. Vague tags tend to invite more disagreement between human labelers who label the same dataset independently. 

Let’s look at a couple of examples from the software industry:

  1. “MOBILE” — applied to any feedback containing references to a mobile app or website functionality. This should be straightforward for a group of human labelers to apply similarly, and would most likely only result in a few disagreements between them.
  2. “USER EXPERIENCE” — a more complex phrase with many different definitions of what could be included in a user’s experience.  When a comment mentions search functionality, is that UX? How about when they say something like “While using the search bar, I found information on…“? Or even “Great product”? Because there is so little clarity on what fits in this category, the training team will surely disagree, leading to more rounds of tagging and defining.

The good news is that at the end of the process, after a few rounds of defining the tags and applying them, the team REALLY knows what is meant by a given tag. The definition is sharper and less open to interpretation. This makes the machine learning categorization more meaningful, and more actionable for your company, which leads to an improved customer experience.

Getting to a good training model

Let’s look at a real-world example of creating a training set, and the level of label agreement between the people creating those labels. 

A recent enterprise customer used 8 human labelers on the same initial set of 100 comments, and we then evaluated the labeler-agreement of each tag. During this exercise, each labeler worked independently , and we charted the agreement scores.

In the following two charts, the number in each cell represents the strength of the agreement from 0 – 1 between two labelers (F1-Score calculated from Precision and Recall values). 

  • 1.0 would be the ideal labeler agreement value.
  • 0 means no agreement.

The lower row of the chart contains the average agreement across all cells for that labeler.

In Figure 1, it’s clear that the tag is fairly well-defined, which results in an overall average labeler agreement of ~0.83. This is on the higher end of what we typically see.

Chart of 8 people labeling a term, demonstrating that a well-defined tag results in a high level of labeler agreementFigure 1 – agreement on a well-defined tag

In other words, even a well-defined tag doesn’t garner complete agreement between labelers. Labeler 5, our most effective labeler, only scored a 0.85 average. Labeler 1 and 8, with an F-1 score of .75, didn’t apply the tag, in the same way, a significant portion of the time. But it’s still considered successful.

Now, look at Figure 2, which shows the first-round results of the team’s effort to consistently apply a more complex tag. It resulted in an overall average labeler agreement of only ~0.43. 

Chart demonstrating level of agreement between 8 people on a vaguely-defined tagFigure 2 – disagreement on a vague tag

For the same group of labelers tagging at the same time, two different tags demonstrate nearly 2x difference in overall agreement — showing again that even we humans aren’t as good at manually categorizing comments as we would like to think.

Even when teams agree on 1) what tags to use and 2) the definition of each tag, they don’t necessarily wind up applying tags in the same way. It takes a few rounds for teams to come close enough to consensus to be useful for machine learning. 

Ready for autocategorization

Text analytics is not a perfect science. When are the label agreement results ready for prime time? Typically, we consider a model good enough to deploy once the F-1 score is around 0.6 (give or take a bit based on other factors). Like most things in life, when you invest more time upfront — in this case boosting F-1s with additional rounds of tagging/defining — you typically end up with better results.

Makes sense of customer feedback with InMoment CXInsight text analytics.

How to Leverage Net Promoter Score to Boost Customer Retention

You don’t just want to appeal to new customers – you also want to keep your current ones coming back again and again. Not only do returning customers require less introduction to your products and services, but they also tend to spend more than first-time customers, too. 

One user engagement strategy you can use to boost your customer retention is to make use of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) system. Simple to understand, this powerful metric can give you a wealth of information that you can use to improve your brand. 

What is Net Promoter Score?

NPS is a metric designed to measure customer experience. First, you ask your customers a simple question:

“On a scale of 0-10, how likely is it that you would recommend my brand/product/service to a friend or colleague?”

Then, customers are asked to explain in their own words why they chose the score they did.

From this, you can place your customers on a scale, where anyone who answered between 0-6 is a detractor, 7-8 is passive, and 9-10 are promoters. 

NPS Calculation

In order to get your NPS, you take the detractors away from the promoters.

Let’s say you’ve surveyed 100 people. Of these 100 people, 30 are detractors, 40 are promoters, and 30 are passive. That leaves you with:

40 – 30 = 10

Promoters – Detractors = NPS

Determining your NPS is important, of course, but analyzing the open-ended responses to the follow-up question is what will help you understand the “why” behind your score and make NPS feedback actionable.

What do these categories mean?

Promoters

This category (people who selected 9 and 10) are your loyal fans. They’re likely to be repeat customers, often spending more on subsequent purchases. They generally have a positive view of your brand (meaning if they do contact you with a complaints, they’re often more forgiving). 

As well as this, they tend to refer new customers to you – accounting for more than 80% of referrals for many businesses – and talk about you on social media/in person. You may see effusive praise, with descriptions like ‘we’ve been able to achieve our goals’ or ‘this is the only software I’ll use’, along with thoughtful suggestions for improvement.

Passive

This group (people who chose 7 or 8) tends to be satisfied, but not in the same way as promoters. They’re happy with their purchase, and they might buy from you again, though not nearly as reliably. 

They are unlikely to complain about you to colleagues, but won’t necessarily spend their time singing your praises or talking about you on social media either. They’re also likely to evaluate competitors if they see an interesting advertisement or offer, rather than being wholly loyal to your brand.

Detractors

You might think that a 6 is a high score to count as a detractor, but generally, this group are unhappy customers. Encompassing everyone who chose between 0 and 6, they’re likely to talk badly about you. At the higher end, there might be some positives mentioned, but they’re still going to have complaints. This is where a lot of customer churn and defection comes in.

Sometimes these customers may seem profitable, as many of them may be spending a lot of money with you. However, an NPS program isn’t about the initial revenue generated by a customer or account, it’s about customer lifetime value. Detractors are at risk of leaving your business and can even give your brand a bad reputation (and the lower scorers are likely to be difficult for your staff to deal with at times).

Image Source

What is a good Net Promoter Score?

Bain & Company, the originators of the score, consider between +30 and +40 to be a favorable score. (Why are we using +30, not just 30? Because it’s possible to have a negative score if you have more detractors than promoters). As you head up to +50, you’re looking at an outstanding result. If you’re at +80? That’s world class.

However, this will vary based on your industry and your location. Europe and Asia generally mark things more conservatively than the US. So, if you’re comparing your scores to your competitors, make sure you’re looking in the same place rather than at a global average. If your industry is one generally viewed negatively – think debt collection, or property management – then you’re generally going to have lower scores, too.

For this reason, it’s worth investigating NPS benchmarks for your industry, and your location, rather than relying on a general global average. It’s also worth focusing on improving your own score per quarter. If you go from 5 to 15, you may still be below the average, but a jump of 10 points is respectable and means you’re doing the right things.

How to use NPS to boost customer retention

Now you know what NPS is, it’s time to take a look at how you can use it to improve your customer retention. 

Make sure it’s accurate

Firstly, you need to make sure you’re starting off with an accurate assessment. There are a few common mistakes companies make, including:

  • Asking leading questions on the survey
  • Promising rewards for higher scores
  • Using methods that increase bias (like face-to-face rather than anonymous online surveys)
  • Only surveying happy customers
  • Asking too many questions at once

Using “set and forget” NPS microsurveys can help you avoid these pitfalls.  By starting with an accurate assessment, you can take the right steps. Having a false image of customer success can be harmful, as issues will go unrecognized and unresolved. 

Reach out to detractors

Responding to the customers who gave you lower marks is beneficial – both for finding out why they gave lower marks, and saving their business. 

Contact detractors right away.  If you can address their issue right away, you have a shot at keeping them as a customer.  

Even if you can’t meet their needs, it is important that their feedback be acknowledged.

If you lack the time to personally reach out to each detractor, you can still mitigate negative feelings by automating your survey response. Send an email right away to thank them for their response, and ask for more feedback.

Reading through detractor feedback, you’ll gain insights into why they wouldn’t recommend you and be able to adjust accordingly. For example, if half of the detractors respond with ‘processing time is far too long’, then you have something to work toward. 

Sometimes negative reviews are based on service factors, like the delivery company you used or customer support that is slow to respond. Sometimes, complaints won’t be directly about your business. For instance, if you provide companies with a virtual phone number, you might get complaints about it not working. Changing this can instantly boost results. Create the experience consumers expect by prioritizing improvements, drawn from their direct feedback.

Feed this data back into your product roadmap and to your sales team. Designing new products with these criticisms in mind can avoid the same issues in the future. Meanwhile, it also gives your sales team some leeway on what they can offer in response to these criticisms to overcome them at the point of sale or renewal. It’s an extra handy thing to add to their sales playbook

For instance, if a customer is concerned about delivery times, give your customer success managers permission to upgrade them to expedited shipping at no extra cost. If they’ve had issues with subscription software, offer them a feature upgrade. All of these solutions can turn your detractors into passive customers – and potentially even promoters.

Learn from passives 

Don’t ignore this group of customers. While detractors are clearly telling you their business is at risk, passives are more likely to silently churn.  It is your job to find out why and whether you should focus attention on this group. 

Segmenting your NPS feedback by business size or other factors will help you decide how important passive feedback is. If passives reside in important accounts or user groups, you may want to understand the “why” behind their lack of enthusiasm. 

One way to do this is to customize the NPS follow-up question. If a customer scores you a 5 or a 6, ask them “What’s one thing we could do better?”   

Engage your promoters

Not all of your effort should focus on your unhappy customers, however. You know that this category of people has positive things to say about you – so why not turn that into something official? 

Reach out to them and ask for reviews or personal testimonials you can use on your website.  You might want to automate asking for a review. That way you ask at the right time — moments after a promoter scores you a 9 or a 10!

If you don’t already have referral marketing in place, it’s time to implement it. Roll it out by targeting these promoters, who you know are likely to make use of it. 

This encourages customer retention by giving them special offers, but it also boosts acquisition at the same time. For B2B companies, this is especially helpful if some of your customers are well-known in their field, as businesses are likely to respect their opinion.

Referral and loyalty schemes aren’t always well suited to B2B brands, but customer marketing or a VIP program can work instead. Customer marketing seeks to deepen relationships by providing customers with multiple benefits. One such example might be providing access to your product roadmap as part of an advisory council. Alternatively, you could create a VIP ‘space’, where exclusive content and in-person events are offered.

Thank respondents

Reach out to your loyal customers, and thank them for being so. 

Getting an email that says ‘thank you!’ is a great boost and encourages them to remain loyal. Video can improve customer experience, so having a thank you video may be worth the investment – especially if it is personalized or includes some behind the scenes content.

While most of these efforts should target your promoters, some of them can be sent out to your passive base, too – potentially converting those 7 or 8 scores into 9s and 10s. Add value to your initial product through a higher tier service, exclusive access to industry information, or trade-in offers. These methods can tempt passive customers into a deeper relationship with you.

Keep Going 

Net Promoter Score shouldn’t be used as a one-off metric, but a regular measurement. To retain more customers, continue to listen to them, learn from their feedback, and take action. NPS is especially helpful for tracking if your tactics are working. You should see an improvement in retention as you begin to implement those suggestions above. 

Equally, you might see a drop if something changes, like an operating system update or switching to an IVR system to route customer service calls.  By regularly tracking NPS, you’ll spot improvements and problems quickly. You’ll know if something is working or not, and be able to mitigate negative effects as soon as possible.

NPS will help you improve the customer experience you’re providing and that’s the best route to customer loyalty. 

Retain more customers with InMoment, the #1 Net Promoter Score platform for SaaS

A Primer on the 3 Most Important CX Metrics – NPS, CSAT and CES

Welcome to the “Age of the Customer.”  Are you ready?

Increased competition in nearly every market is leading businesses of all types to search for ways to attract and retain their ideal customers.  Through technology, customers have unprecedented access to information about products and services. With a few clicks, they can compare your company with your competitor’s offering, and learn how others perceive you. As competition and buyer empowerment compounds, Customer Experience, or “CX”, is proving to be the only truly durable competitive advantage.

Not only does exceptional CX make customers happier, it drives customer behavior. More purchases and renewals. More referrals and positive word of mouth.

When you optimize for CX, the first step is to measure it. But “it” is a multi-layered concept, and to truly understand customer experience at scale, you may need to track three very important metrics. Together, these can give you insight into where you stand and how to improve your CX:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT/PSAT)
  • Customer Effort Score (CES)

Of course, no single metric is going to give you a complete picture, and you will have to discover how to adapt the big three to your business case. Nonetheless, these tried and true customer experience survey methodologies are used across industries, and are the foundation of a strong “voice of the customer” program.

What is Customer Experience? A quick definition to get us started

Customer experience (CX) is the cumulative impact of every touchpoint throughout the customer journey. CX managers first determine what a positive customer experience entails for their target clients, theorize and implement changes they believe will have the most impact, and use results to optimize each customer interaction.

With new technology and social media, we have more ways than ever before of interacting with our customers. And, that means, we have nearly infinite opportunities to delight them – or disappoint them. But focusing only on individual touch points, even if your goal is to maximize satisfaction with each one, is a mistake. Because CX isn’t just about the customer’s experience in the moment; it’s about how these touchpoints fit into the context of their end-to-end journey with your company.

End to End Customer Journey - TSIA
Image: TSIA.com

How do I measure Customer Experience?

Measuring customer experience (CX) requires a layered approach that can include in-depth user interviews and gathering data at key points of contact, as well as tracking metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), and Customer Effort Score (CES).

What is Net Promoter Score (NPS)?

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a CX metric that surveys customers based on one question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?” Customers who are promoters score 9 or 10. Passives score 7 or 8. Detractors score 6 to 0.

In-app NPS Survey- Wootric

NPS is such a valuable tool for measuring not just customer experience, but also customer loyalty, because it transcends single experiences. It is often referred to as a brand or relationship metric. The NPS question asks the customer to draw on the sum total of their experiences with your company, not just the most recent, making it a good indicator for repurchasing (and growth).  As a result, it is often considered a “board level” metric.

It is paired with an open-ended follow-up question, like “Care to tell us why?,” so you also get rich qualitative feedback that can guide improvement efforts from product to support to marketing.

NPS Survey Feedback

While NPS surveys are sometimes deployed once or twice a year, a good, modern NPS program will use “drip NPS” to keep an ongoing pulse on customer sentiment, so you can react in the moment, instead of after the fact.

If you are launching a customer feedback program, the Net Promoter cycle is a great place to start. However, NPS surveys are high level. How do you learn more about the experience you provide at specific touchpoints or transactions along your customer’s journey? This is where CSAT comes in.

What is Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)?

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is the most popular transactional metric. A CSAT survey asks a customer how satisfied they are with a recent interaction–often a purchase or a customer service call–on a rating scale.  CSAT is flexible and highly customizable.

You can also ask multiple questions in the CSAT format to create a longer survey (and then average those responses for a composite CSAT score), but we recommend you keep it simple.  An open-ended follow up question allows your customers to tell you what attributes of satisfaction are working–or not working–for them.  

Here is a 2-step CSAT survey on a mobile app:
CSAT Survey on Mobile App

You can also try other survey formats. Here is a smiley-face based CSAT survey embedded in an email:

Simple CSAT Survey in an Email

In the realm of CX, a short CSAT survey is most often used to gauge customer satisfaction with interactions with support personnel. It’s a great tool for identifying support agents who may need more training or to quantify the impact of your last team-wide training effort.

Customer satisfaction metrics are useful for gauging the ‘happiness’ resulting from recent interactions, which is valuable information, especially when you’ve been making changes and need to track the results. You will need to dig into the qualitative feedback you receive to understand which attributes of satisfaction are most important to your customers and which are areas that require improvement. In the food delivery example, those attributes could be promptness of delivery, quality of food, price/value, etc.

A related survey is PSAT or Product Satisfaction Score. This is an adaption of the CSAT survey that is popular with software developers and advocates of product-led growth. An example is an in-app survey that asks a software user “How satisfied are you with [this product or feature]?”  The specific, contextual feedback that users provide in a PSAT survey helps to prioritize a roadmap of product improvements.

What is Customer Effort Score?

Customer Effort Score (CES) surveys ask the customer “How much effort did you have to expend to handle your request?” and is scored on a numeric scale. It’s a customer service metric that is used to improve systems that may frustrate customers.

Essentially, CES advocates believe that when it comes to customer service or support, “effortlessness” is the most relevant attribute of customer satisfaction. In fact, Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) customer experience research confirms that exceeding customer expectations results in little change in loyalty. The CES survey helps you identify and remove obstacles, and solve problems, so your customers can find success with ease.

Here is an example of an in-app CES survey:

CES-in-app-Survey

Here is another common way to ask the Customer Effort Score question in a survey:

CES Survey example

A CES survey is typically deployed after a support interaction. But, for SaaS businesses, the CES survey can also help gauge the effort the customer must expend to onboard with you, the process of installing and becoming trained in the use of software. Onboarding can be self-service or high touch, and likely a combination of both. These steps that lead to a customer’s first experience of value are critical to success.  CES survey feedback can help you get it right.

According to the Harvard Business Review, CES can predict repurchasing even better than CSAT, making it a go-to, critical metric for SaaS companies, that depend heavily on successful onboarding and customer success to lay the foundation for repeat purchases.

How do CX metrics work together?

If measuring Customer Experience requires a comprehensive view, these three metrics help you get there. CX consultant Melinda Gonzalez says to “think in terms of layers.” Net Promoter Score delivers the big picture of customer loyalty and relationship over the long-term. CSAT & CES are typically transactional metrics that can help you analyze key touchpoints in the customer’s journeyCSAT can measure overall satisfaction on a number of attributes so you can discover and refine those that are most meaningful to your customers. And, Customer Effort Score dials in on one attribute, effort, and is incredibly useful for smoothing the customer’s path to their desired outcome. 

You’ll always need Net Promoter Score, “The One Number You Need to Grow.”  However, the numbers you need have grown.  CX improvement takes focus, but modern survey platforms can help streamline the process. The reward is market success. When you edge out the competition through world-class customer experience–think JetBlue, Starbucks, Charles Schwab, and Trader Joe’s–your customers will reward you with repeat business and brand advocacy.

How can I improve customer experience?

Optimizing to improve customer experience begins with establishing a set point – your current metrics – and forming a hypothesis for how to improve it. The hypothesis is tested, and based on the results, a new hypothesis is formed to be tested again for further improvement.

This series of testing and optimization is meant for agile companies and can be a challenge if you’re using dated methodology. For example, a traditional approach of sending out feedback surveys only once or twice a year, often via bulk email to all customers, means that it can take a long time to see results, and response rates can be low. Surveys that go out to a percentage of customers every day (to avoid survey overload) deliver results in real-time, which is especially vital for rapidly evolving products and services.

Once you have access to nearly instant customer feedback, the challenge becomes digesting it and taking action.

Unlocking the insight from qualitative feedback is key to making the most of your CX metrics. Machine learning enables you to auto-categorize the topics and emotion in open-ended feedback, and do so at scale in real-time. Pair that with operational data about your respondents–like role, location, account, associated revenue–and you’ll be able to diagnose the “why” behind your scores and quickly prioritize improvements that will drive your business forward.

Customer experience isn’t just about making the customer happy during a single interaction, though it is important. In fact, each interaction is a small part of an equation that spans the entire relationship you have with that customer. With that in mind, you’ll want to start by taking stock of each potential interaction with your company, website, products, self-service support, and customer-facing representatives.

Improving CX is truly a team effort, so you’ll want to systematically go through each touchpoint to see who is in charge of it, how well it’s working now, and what improvements are feasible to make in the short term and the long term.

Editor’s note: This is an update of an article originally published on Nov 21, 2016.

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CX Tipping Point: 7 Signs You Need Text & Sentiment Analytics

The potential for machine learning to elevate the customer experience has everyone buzzing. AI-powered text and sentiment analysis can be an incredible solution for specific problems that CX pros face. 

But how do you know when the time is right to move to the next level of CX? Are there new tools you can purchase to step your game up? How do you know they’ll be worth it? 

There are clear signs that your CX program is ready for, and your company could quickly benefit from, text and sentiment analysis. And we’ll delve into them here.

Before we get going, some definitions:

  • Text analysis takes qualitative customer comments and determines relevant themes. Software companies might see themes such as ‘feature request’, ‘bug’, or ‘pricing’. This allows you to quickly see what your customers are focusing on, and then dive in to see what they’re specifically saying about each topic.
  • Sentiment analysis offers micro and macro insights into how your customers are feeling about your company and products. It determines whether the text received for each text theme is positive, negative, or neutral. It also analyzes the comment as a whole, assigning sentiment to the entire verbatim text.

Let’s look at the 7 signs text and sentiment analytics will be worth the investment for your company. 

1. You have a mature or quickly-maturing CX program.

Those of you considering text and sentiment analytics probably already have a few key elements in place:

Now that you have a relatively mature CX program, you’re wondering how to extract even more value out of it.

2. You receive 500+ comments per month (or you’re headed there.)

Ideally, you want to listen to all of your customers – not just a sample or the first to respond. In reality, at a certain point the sheer volume of incoming customer feedback is more than a CX program can handle without an upgrade. You know this is the case when:

  1. You feel excitement and dread regarding the amount of feedback you receive.
  2. You’re anticipating a whole lot more comments soon.
  3. You’ve even had to cap the number of comments you receive in a day to avoid being overwhelmed with the task of organizing and responding to everyone.

Overwhelming amounts of feedback is an amazing problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. Using text and sentiment analytics, you can turn unstructured qualitative feedback, like NPS comments, into organized insight in a matter of minutes.  

Text and sentiment analytics allow you to analyze customer feedback using Natural Language Processing, looking something like this:

Read Google’s case study on Wootric and Natural Language Processing here.

By combining text and sentiment analytics, you can search negative comments and quickly assess, for example, that 80% of your negative comments are about pricing. Or 45% of your customers in the Northeast region are talking about slow delivery times. That summary lets you know where to focus resources, and how quickly you need to make the change relative to other company priorities.

3. You’re sitting on a goldmine of feedback, but unable to get actionable insights.

Do you have a backlog of comments waiting to be read and sorted? Or maybe you’ve skimmed a few comments to answer the urgent ones, but you keep putting off the others.

One of our clients came to us with NPS survey comments from thousands of users. But rather than mining that information, they were running focus groups to prioritize feature requests because it was easier. They were duplicating efforts to get information they already had but couldn’t access and act on.

“The two biggest mistakes [in CX] are not doing qualitative research in the first place and then not putting it to use.” –Morgan Brown, Product Manager at Facebook and coauthor of ‘Hacking Growth’

If you’re feeling this pain, it’s time to automatically mine the insight from that pile of comments you’ve been sitting on. Turn anecdotes and hunches that you’ve got about your customer experience into evidence-backed insight by using. And do it quickly with text and sentiment analytics.

CXInsight™ Dashboard tagging segmentation screenshot

Source: CXInsight™ Dashboard

Sliced and diced organized feedback is easily available with many platforms that offer text and sentiment analytics. Doing this can help you understand the root cause of trends – like the needs of different customer personas or geographic regions – more comprehensively.

4. Manual feedback organization & categorization is insightful, but painfully slow.

While some customers duplicate efforts between data gathering and focus groups to get insight, other CX pros just bite the bullet and spend hours reading customer comments, labeling them, and funneling them into an unwieldy spreadsheet. They’re understandably frustrated by how difficult it is to get actionable insight.

By using text and sentiment analytics, humans can get huge quantities of customer feedback sorted and analyzed at the push of a button. Better yet, computers don’t have bad days or lose focus.

Once organized with tags, your time is freed up to look at the themes and trends that arise from the noise, then create actionable strategies based on those insights.  

Now you can jump straight into action and the interns can work on more interesting, valuable projects!

PRO TIP: To get high quality insights at the push of a button, algorithms need to be trained. Be sure your feedback management software vendor has a team that will work with your data to ensure you get valuable insight from the start. With more data and occasional human guidance, you’ll get better and faster insight over time.

5. Your CX program lacks a real-time issue detection system.

An important element to providing a good customer experience is making sure any issues are handled quickly and efficiently. If you can detect and address them before your customer has a real issue, your CX program has paid for itself.

One of the benefits of having text and sentiment analysis is that your data and insights are updated in real-time. This means you have a new issue detection system.

Source: CXInsight™ Dashboard

This works best for a more mature customer feedback program with an established baseline, or status quo. For example, you know that on any given day, in any given geographic region, about 10% of your comments are tagged with ‘out of stock’ as an issue. When you check in and see that in Texas, 25% of comments coming in are tagged ‘out of stock’, that raises a red flag. You can immediately dig into specifics, read through the verbatims, and send those comments to the right people for follow up before the issue blows out of proportion.

The CX dream of being proactive in solving issues can be achieved with the help of automated organization of qualitative feedback.

6. Your internal teams aren’t agreeing on CX priorities.

It’s a given that successful companies focus on customer needs and experiences. The question is: is everyone at your company seeing the same information in the same way? If not, you’re wasting time and costly resources with competing priorities, and it is definitely time to invest in tools to fix it.

By having your CX tech parse the text and sentiment of your 1K+ daily inputs of customer feedback, you can democratize the information and insights across every team at your company. And that will ensure team leaders can quickly align to address the right priorities. So product development and customer support will be on the same page, and features will get developed (or possibly de-bugged) to meet the most important needs of the customer.

How does that happen? Feedback from every customer touchpoint is analyzed, from in-product surveys to emails. In this example, support ticket subject lines are auto-categorized and everyone from support to service to product to the c-level can see what issues are hot items to address.

Support Ticket Text Analytics in Wootric CXInsight

Source: CXInsight™ Dashboard

Looking at the text analytics, it quickly becomes apparent that 15% of the support tickets are related to bugs that need to be addressed. On the proactive front, product could also delve into comments tagged “feature request” and focus on user concerns about UX/UI.

7. You need to demonstrate the ROI of your CX program.

Companies are eager to hop on the CX bandwagon, but it can still be a fight to get the proper resources to make a CX program thrive. You’ve probably already shown the C-suite the correlation between CX and revenue growth, but there’s pressure to squeeze a little more ROI out of what you’ve established. 

Investing in a tool that pulls ROI from data is an expense. But it’s a more strategic spend than, and offers more immediate follow-up and action, than  performing passive data review and organization. It’s also a moredirect value-add and much less expensive than hiring a third party human operation. 

The cascading effects throughout the organization will increase ROI in the long-term as well.

  • Product teams can prioritize and build with evidence-based confidence. 
  • Marketing teams will gain an understanding of different personas and see customers excited to spread the word about your business. 
  • Support and operations teams will have early warning of potential issues and have more context when dealing with problems.

In the end, qualitative data is crucial to extracting value out of CX initiatives. Having more data from engaged customers should not be an obstacle. 

Is this the point?

Are you seeing any of these 7 signs when you look at your company’s CX program? If so, do a cost benefit analysis. Typically, once your program has matured, the cost of tools that create actionable insights out of customer feedback are far cheaper than the cost of misaligned resources and long delivery times. Text and sentiment analytics make the resources you put into CX initiatives efficient, and turn the large quantity of unstructured data into an advantage by mining insight that would otherwise sit in limbo. Move this tipping point in your favor.

(Editor’s Note: this post is an update of a 2018 post)

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