Our Machine Learning Journey: From Zero to Customer Value in 12 months

PART 1

At Wootric we collect hundreds of thousands of NPS, CSAT and CES  survey responses every week. We do this across different industries and product categories. Our customers then use our various integrations such as Salesforce, HubSpot, and Slack to route this feedback to relevant teams. Some of these customers like DocuSign and Grubhub have huge user base. This means even with a conservative sampling strategy they get hundreds of pieces of feedback daily.

The Challenge of Analyzing Qualitative Feedback

The quantitative aspects of feedback — NPS, CSAT scores, for example — are relatively easy to aggregate and analyze. It is the qualitative comments that provide rich insight into customer experience, but analysis of unstructured feedback is hard. Someone could read each piece of feedback one by one, but having a human read each comment obviously does not scale. If you can’t or don’t review what customers are telling you, then why have CX program to begin with? This is where machine learning saves the day.

Here is a concrete example of problem we needed to solve:
CXI-classification of customer feedback using ML

We set out to solve this multi-label classification and  topic sentiment analysis problem for our customers. We knew that doing it at scale would require some sort of automation using machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP).  Machine learning requires lots of training data — in our case it meant we needed thousands of survey responses manually labeled into different categories. Luckily our customers have had the ability to manually categorize survey responses in our dashboard.  In the last 3+ years, they have categorized thousands and thousands of comments. Fortuitous, but sometimes we would like to think we saw it coming. 😉 At this point, we have significant volume of training data, now we just needed to find the right machine learning algorithms to take a stab at the problem.

Sentiment Analysis

To get our feet wet in machine learning ecosystem, we thought we would start with sentiment analysis because there has been tons of research on this problem over last few years and there are several open source solutions claiming to solve this. We started with Stanford NLP library because it was and is still actively worked on and lots of great research papers have come out of this group. It took us about a week to get our heads around concepts of Tokenization, Lemmatization, Named Entity Recognition (NER), PoS tagging, Dependency parsing, Coreference Resolution, word embeddings and finally to embed the library into a REST API framework. The results were okay but not great for our use case.  We **think** it’s because feedback comments belong to different domain — these are responses to questions as opposed to news article, blogs and tweets. Most of feedback is short, ranging from a couple of words to couple of sentences. This does not give enough “context” for algorithms to find the sentiment. An alternative solution would have been to train our own model using Stanford NLP library but we did not have engineering resources and bandwidth at that point in time. But we had something working. It was a baby step, but a step in the right direction.

Categorizing Feedback Comments

For feedback categorization, we also first looked into a hosted service and open source libraries. The most compelling, trainable and easy to get started solution at that point in time (mid 2016) was Google Cloud Prediction API where you upload a CSV of training data and in few minutes you get a model and REST API to make a prediction. This sounded like a tailor-made solution for us. After all, we had lots of training data that our customers had manually labeled. We were able to quickly format our responses and training labels in order to meet the Prediction API requirements, and saw some initial results.

Results were better for some sets of feedback but horrible for other sets. Dissecting further we realized that the customer feedback set where prediction was more accurate belonged to DevOps, Data Analytics and similar developer centric and data analytics.  There was less success with feedback from e-commerce or other consumer-centric SaaS products. This made sense because most of our customers who spent their time manually labeling feedback had offerings catered to developers — such as New Relic, Docker etc. The bigger downside of Prediction API was that it was a black box so we did not have any ability to tune algorithms. Ironically, Google decided to deprecate Prediction API in favor of their Cloud ML Engine, driving us to improve our internal, customizable prediction methods instead.

Our experiments with Stanford NLP libraries and Google Prediction API gave us a good understanding of the complexity of problem we were tackling, provided more awareness of the ML ecosystem — people and research labs to follow, research papers to read — and finally helped us better understand the nuances of building machine learning models. It’s not as simple as having some training data, copy pasting some code from open source libraries and voila you have a ML solution. There are lots of hype and noise around what ML can do and how to go about doing it right.

At this point, we concluded that there was no shortcut and that we had to invest time focusing on high quality training data, going through various research papers, trying the algorithms in research papers using our training data and have nobs ( i.e. hyperparameters) tuned for our use case.

Delivering insights to customers

In April 2018, after six months in beta, we launched v1 of our product CXInsight™. The platform enables our customers to import and analyze customer feedback from any source. To date, we have analyzed 200,000+ comments pertaining to a wide spectrum of product categories and types of feedback — PaaS, SaaS, E-commerce, Mobile App reviews, employee reviews, social media, etc.

Of note, most of the data we’ve analyzed so far was originally collected using our competitors’ survey platforms. This is sweet validation of our goal: Regardless of how and where you collect customer feedback, Wootric gives you the best analysis.   

In our next series of blog articles, we will talk about how we have used and are using:

  • Bag of Words with Naive Bayes and SGD Classifier (Part II)
  • word2vec with PCA, Logistic Regression, SVM and SGD Classifier
  • Bidirectional LSTM
  • CNN
  • Custom word embeddings
  • Productizing — DevOps around ML
  • UX and UI
  • Online learning and Human in the loop

Our goal has never been to build a generic text categorization tool. Rather, our focus is to build the best customer feedback analysis platform. We are also aware that our system is never going to be 100% correct so we have made it easy for our customers and our own team to be human in the loop.

I would be remiss not to thank Stanford NLP, Richard Socher, Lukas Biewald, Sebastian Ruder , Google ML research whose research papers, blogs, tutorials, videos and guidance have directly or indirectly helped us build CXInsight product.

Please stay tuned to our Engineering Blog for next series of articles on this topic.  The Hacker News discussion is here.

Build vs Buy Customer Feedback Software: Making the Best Decision for a Survey Tool

Should enterprises build their own customer feedback software? After all, they’ve got the engineering talent and resources to take it on.

If you’ve got the resources to do it, creating such tools can be tempting, but more often than not, these solutions are trouble to build and maintain.

Why Companies Choose to DIY

Forget “to be or not to be”.

For businesses facing software decisions, it comes down to “build vs buy”. It’s always a balance between finding immediate solutions to problems and considering long-term growth.

Here are a couple of the tempting advantages of building software solutions for yourself:

  • “Anyway you want it, that’s the way you need it” – Journey

When you build something for yourself, it will solve all of your problems in exactly the way you wish. The dashboard will look exactly how you want it to look. The functions will pull from exactly the data you want it to pull from. If your business has specialized needs, a custom solution is functionally ideal.

  • Guaranteed compatibility with everything you already use

Your company has a suite of software that it’s already using. When the data in one software can’t be read by your system of record, people end up typing notes in manually, or other time-consuming methods to get important information recorded for everyone else in the organization. Building software for yourself means you can guarantee compatibility with everything you already use, and if you think ahead enough, compatibility with software you intend to acquire.

Unfortunately, these benefits will only bring value if you can spread out the significant cost of building custom software (time, energy, and resources) over a large number of clients and your engineers’ time isn’t better spent on other projects. Let’s face it, a customer feedback solution for Customer Success/ Customer Support is unlikely to be a priority for your product team.

Building your own software is expensive and getting a high enough ROI on this kind of project is difficult. Add in the ongoing costs associated with maintaining what you’ve built and buying a solution becomes very appealing.

Why You Should Buy Customer Feedback Software

Besides being incredibly labor and resource intensive, trying to build a solution requires months and months of brainstorming, planning, and coding. If the in-house solution isn’t properly and thoroughly planned out, with input from multiple functional teams, this can actually create more headaches and manual processes in the long term. Even worse, if the tool does not add value to the employees that it was built for, it could go unused.

When it comes to surveying your customer base, experts have already thought out a vast number of details, building standard settings and customizable options based off of best practices. There is a reason why customer feedback is a whole industry, and that is because rigorous methodology is paramount to actionable insight.

Get the ebook, The Net Promoter Score Software Buyer’s Guide.

8 essential questions to find the perfect technology for your organization

Customer feedback software creators like Wootric have developed and iterated a variety of features to make starting and running a robust feedback program convenient and valuable. These tools automate gathering feedback and surfacing insight, which can be sent out for action. Buying customer feedback software gets both immediate and long-term value out of a customer feedback program:

Automated Sampling

If you’ve ever gone through the trouble of listing out, segmenting, and randomly sampling your users/customers, you know how tedious this task can be.

Multi-channel survey solutions – that reach your customers via email, in web products, and via text – help you automatically survey the appropriate random sample to capture different segments of your customer base. You can get feedback from both decision makers who do not log-in to the platform very often via email surveys, and feedback from daily end-users via in-app surveys.

Wootric’s standard settings allow you to survey your customers with two different methods. You can keep the flow of feedback constant and random, avoiding various biases that may sneak in if you are not aware of them. This method gives you a daily pulse of feedback, usually Net Promoter Score (NPS), which provides a good sense of user sentiment on any given day, and can show you trends over time.

You can also send surveys based on completion of different events. For example, you may want to send out a Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) survey after a support ticket is closed, or trigger a Customer Effort Score (CES) survey after a customer completes onboarding. Implementing these three micro-surveys at various customer journey touchpoints will get you a holistic “Trifecta view” of your accounts.

With both of these methods, you have the power to change the time frame dictating eligibility to take a survey and what percentage of users/visitors we sample, including the option to survey less than 1% of the customer base, if necessary.

Automated Safe Guard: Intelligent Throttle

It’s always important to have safety features. Customers are already inundated with information every day. You don’t want to add to that annoyance by sending the same survey to them over and over again in a short period of time.

Avoiding survey fatigue requires having separate controls for a slew of different situations that enterprise feedback software companies have thought out and prepared for. These include control over how often any individual will see a survey and how often individuals can respond to the same question.

Sampling Page

For example, after one of your customers takes an in-app survey, that customer will not be shown another survey for another 90 days. You can change the number of days between surveys to suit your needs. You also have control over the number of days between surveys for people who decline your surveys.

All of these settings can be manipulated for each of the survey delivery channels that Wootric provides, as well as for each type of survey (i.e. NPS, CSAT, or CES) you choose to send. For Voice of the Customer programs using multiple delivery channels, Wootric has cross-channel safety features so customers don’t feel overwhelmed by your surveys popping up everywhere they turn.

If you decide to base your surveys off a triggering event, our survey throttle prevents customers from being bombarded with the same satisfaction survey in a short amount of time. While it is standard to have this throttle on, this can be overridden if you want every single triggering incident to fire off a new survey.

Auto-tagging and Segmentation for Insight

A Voice of the Customer feedback program doesn’t stop at just gathering feedback. The key to success is in the insight and action that happens after you’ve gathered customer feedback. If your engineers build a way to gather feedback but that data ends up sitting in a silo, unorganized, then you will never realize any value.

Tagging and segmentation features in enterprise customer feedback solutions aim to make sorting and analyzing survey responses easy and insightful.

insight with tagging & segmentation

Different customer segments will have different needs and therefore different feedback. The segmentation feature in software platforms like Wootric enables you to analyze CX metrics like Net Promoter Score by customer properties. You can pass various properties, like geographic region, or persona, to drill down to specific segments and understand what’s important to your different types of customers.

Tagging is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to dealing with qualitative feedback. Frequency analysis lifts trending topics out of customer comments, and various teams can find relevant feedback with a single click. 

For example, a product team can view all comments under a feature request tag and prioritize the most frequently requested ones from the highest value customers.

Tagging can be done manually for companies receiving smaller quantities of responses. For companies overwhelmed with feedback, expertly built tools like Wootric can save you time and effort.

Check out our guide to auto-tagging for more benefits and ideas on how to start.

Integrations & Webhooks: Break Down Data Silos & Trigger Workflows

With native integrations and webhooks, you can achieve some of the same benefits of building your own software, i.e. automated workflows among platforms and a consolidated overview of important account information.

Switching back and forth between platforms disrupts workflow. With that in mind, Wootric has built a host of native integrations such as Slack, Salesforce, Gainsight, and Hubspot, to get customer feedback into the hands of those who can act on it like Customer Success, Product, Marketing & Sales. For other apps, Wootric can connect via incoming and outbound webhooks or Zapier.

This means you can push Wootric’s data out onto the platform of your choosing, and Wootric can listen for instructions to fire a survey based on events from whatever app you choose. The possibilities for data exchange are endless. Best of all, this sharing happens in real-time, so your information will always be up-to-date.

Learn all about use cases for connecting platforms with webhooks here.

Spend Your Time Acting on Insight Immediately

When it comes to build versus buy, there is great peace of mind that comes with buying an enterprise feedback management platform. You’ll have experts guide you through the set-up, listening to your company’s specific needs. You can get started immediately, reaping the rewards of a stellar customer feedback program now, including higher customer retention, happiness, and company growth.

Customer Success Analyst: When to Hire Someone Dedicated to the Data

The Customer Success Analyst has evolved to be the go-to person for all the data – or as Marketo put it in their Linkedin job ad, “the primary deliverable of the Customer Success Decision Analyst is to convert our Customer Success operation at Marketo into a highly data-driven business where we can measure, analyze and optimize every aspect of our engagement with our customers.”

This includes data like:

  • Feature usage patterns
  • Maturity scores
  • NPS results
  • Voice of customer qualitative feedback
  • Customer journey mapping
  • Customer experience metrics
  • Capacity models

Among all of the hats that CSM’s wear, the number-crunching, data-heavy, quantitative analyst hat is one of the most time-consuming. But because of the data-savviness this role demands, CS analysts also hold the keys to unlocking incredible potential when your business is scaling up.

The CS analyst role isn’t *just* about collecting data for dashboards and reports (and basing recommendations on that data) though. It complements the Success Operations role, which builds new tools and processes to scale CSM’s everyday activities. As the person navigating multiple platforms for data on a day-to-day business, CS Analysts know how information flows and who needs what information.

For one of Wootric’s customers, Chorus.ai, CS Analysts also take ownership of the technical onboarding process for new or upgrading customers, ensuring “a smooth implementation, including initial and ongoing training for customers.”

It’s a prime position from which to watch for opportunities to make big impacts on the success of customers – and the success of the company. That’s the subtextual expectation: By being in charge of the data, the CS Analyst knows how to use it to find untapped value.

What does a CS Analyst need to know?

Experience working with large amounts of data (SQL, Python or R) and with survey and analysis tools (Wootric, Tableau, etc.) are must-haves, but the most important qualification is having taken that data and used it to produce actionable insights.

Analysts are data story-tellers. They work with the numbers and provide context for them, creating reports to recommend strategic options and solutions. A listing for a CS Analyst position at Salesforce described one of the responsibilities as “assist in developing and delivering presentations for senior executives”, which requires strong public speaking and presentation skills.

If a company struggles with data silos, CS Analysts must bridge the gap between teams. Not only must analysts overcome the technical issues of compatibility, but they need to possess strong internal communication skills to overcome any organizational walls that may be contributing to the data isolation.

While CS Analysts own the quantitative facet of Success, a customer-centric mindset and empathy for the humans behind the numbers distinguish a great analyst from a good one. These soft skills help analysts frame their analysis to produce long-term, customer-centric solutions that support CSMs to retain customers.

What does this role look like in real life?

For some companies, the CS Analyst position can be a foot-in-the-door to Customer Success.

Anthony Enrico, VP of Customer Success at Emailage, created the Analyst position because his “CSMs were being asked to spend enormous amounts of time compiling reports and the opportunity cost of spending time deepening relationships and loyalty with customers was too great.” As a leader within the organization, Anthony was also doing a lot of work with these reports, when his time was clearly better spent working on strategy, escalations with his CSMs, and focusing on new business opportunities with the company.

So Anthony hired Bryan Mehrmann, now a CSM at Emailage. Bryan was originally brought on as the first CS Analyst to support the CSM team. Bryan compiled and sent out daily reports on customer usage trends to identify and correct anomalies as early as possible. He took detailed revenue projection reports and distilled them for the C-suite for their weekly use. Bryan took on more responsibilities as time went on.

Working together, Anthony and Bryan shaped the role as it is today. As for how the position fits into the CS team, Analysts can be promoted to full CSMs after they’ve achieved a comprehensive understanding of the product, metric drivers, and relationships with Emailage’s customers.

On the other hand, CSMs may choose to specialize in VoC data analysis like Customer Success Analyst Tim Dressel at Qualer. For him, there’s the usual collection and analysis of customer data in spreadsheets, but also a lot of room for innovation and collaboration. If he sees a red flag in the metrics, he leads investigations into those customer issues, working with his cross-functional team (and collaborating, at times, with Qualer’s Head of Technology) to make sure customers’ needs make it into the software they develop.

How do you know if you need a Customer Success Analyst on your team?

Customer Success Managers are often being pulled in five different directions at once, and when that happens, they sacrifice time on one task for another. Not only does Customer Success provides data and insight crucial to their own day-to-day, but they are the go-to team for reports for the C-suite.

Customer Success needs data. Data is at its core. So if your Customer Success team doesn’t have time to live and breathe data, you may be at the tipping point to bring in an analyst who can parse the numbers for you. This is especially important for scaling processes when anecdotal experiences have to give way to metrics.

For some companies, bringing on an Analyst to Customer Success may happen by incorporating a company-wide business analyst into the team and transitioning them into a full-time Success Analyst. Depending on the company, Customer Success may not need an Analyst until their team is four or five CSMs.

The most common theme among companies looking to hire a CS Analyst is major growth.

For example, a Wootric customer that recently started trading publicly, DocuSign, decided to add the Customer Success Analyst position as they accelerated their growth.

Analysts (& their data) are a CSM’s best friend

For Customer Success, the best way to prove value, whether it’s to senior management or to a customer, is with numbers and context. Having a role dedicated to creating robust reports to highlight value and propose inventive, data-backed solutions is an excellent way to help your current CSMs be the best that they can be at scale.

Automatically send customer feedback to Salesforce, Gainsight and Slack for quick action. Learn about InMoment’s integrations.

Soft Skills are Real Skills – In CX, You Need These 10

“Soft skills” have traditionally been undervalued, and that’s slow to change. But more companies are realizing their worth. And even if the skills themselves are difficult to quantify (how much more likeable is Job Applicant A than Job Applicant B?), their effects aren’t.

The soft skills CX professionals possess directly affect metrics like:

  • Net promoter scores
  • Customer satisfaction scores
  • Customer effort scores
  • Qualitative survey feedback on customer support interactions
  • Qualitative data gleaned from online customer reviews
  • Number of referrals and recommendations

Human-to-human interactions can make or break those scores, generate referrals or cancellations, and either fuel word-of-mouth growth or silence it.

But before you break out your old copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (a classic for a reason), I’d like to talk about why I’m reading more articles now on “soft skills” as they apply to customer service, customer success, and customer experience.

Because we need them more now than ever.

“So let’s uncomfortably call them real skills instead.

Real because they work, because they’re at the heart of what we need to today.

Real because even if you’ve got the vocational skills, you’re no help to us without these human skills, the things that we can’t write down, or program a computer to do.”

– Seth Godin, Let’s stop calling them ‘soft skills’, Medium

What Exactly Are Soft Skills?

Often referred to as “people skills,” ‘soft skills’ don’t have a hard definition. In fact, they’re remarkably hard to pin down.

If you try to define these skills with a list of what they entail, you’ll run into trouble. Everyone has their own set.

Some argue that part of the definition of ‘soft skills’ is that they are something you’re born with. But others, including Seth Godin, say that’s “crazy because infants aren’t good at any of the soft skills. Of course, we learn them.”

(When was the last time you met a baby with a good work ethic?)

Seth Godin calls for five categories of ‘soft’ skills: Self Control, Productivity, Wisdom, Perception, and Influence.

Others cite the ability to listen, accept feedback, and communicate effectively. Or qualities like charisma, empathy, friendliness, patience, and reliability. Problem-solving skills get thrown into the mix with teamwork and attentiveness.

I like this exhaustive list from the balance which offers 6 categories of soft skills with sub-lists of specific skills under each. Their categories are:

  1. Communication skills
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Leadership
  4. Positive attitude
  5. Teamwork
  6. Work ethic

But even those don’t make it into “The Five Soft Skills Recruiters Want Most” that made it into the eponymous Fast Company article. Those were: Problem solving, adaptability, time management, organization and oral communication.

In 2013, Google tested its hiring hypothesis that prioritized top grades from elite universities in STEM subjects. They found that, in practice, the eight most important qualities of Google’s top managers were:

  1. Ability to be a good coach.
  2. Willingness to empower, rather than micromanage.
  3. Taking an interest in people’s success and well-being.
  4. Ability to be productive and results-oriented.
  5. Communication and listening skills.
  6. Willingness to help employees develop their careers.
  7. Holding a clear vision and developing a strategy for the team.
  8. Possessing key technical skills that allow the manager to advise the team.

Technical skills came in dead last. The rest were ‘soft skills.’

For our purposes, I’d like to simplify the definition of these skills and stop calling them “soft” – period. Let’s call them “people skills.”

People skills are what you need to relate to people, be understood, and be liked. Likeability is one word that encompasses myriad characteristics, including charisma, reliability, empathy, and willingness to take a stab at solving problems. Above all, we’re talking about genuinely caring about people.

If you get that one thing right – you’ve already got the core soft skills you need.

Relationships Can Make Or Break a Business

Businesses are rising and falling based on the quality of their relationships with their customers – and employees.

For subscription-based services in general, and SaaS in particular, success metrics like retention, customer lifetime value and cost-to-acquire are all correlated with how well businesses relate to, and engage with, their customers.

These are people skills.

And as artificial intelligence is taking over so many of the human-to-human interactions businesses have traditionally had with their customers, the human interactions that do happen are coming under more scrutiny.

In Top Customer Service Trends for 2018 by Kate Leggett, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester, Kate points out the repercussions of increasing AI and self-service in customer service.

“With customers increasingly using self-service, there are fewer opportunities for engagement with agents who can lend a human touch.”

That means three things: Those fewer opportunities are under more pressure to produce positive results, human-to-human interactions will be reserved for bigger problems that AI can’t handle, and those complex issues will require both accurate diagnoses and empathy.

“These organizations will focus on the quality of interactions as measured by customer retention and lifetime value. Agents will need to be more highly skilled and better compensated. Old management principles that focused on efficiency must be relaxed. Ultimately, technologies such as quality monitoring should be replaced by customer feedback.”

As companies race to differentiate themselves based on customer experience, these interactions become vitally important.

“Forget about your company’s historical point of differentiation. Customer Experience reigns supreme today and you will either be rewarded or punished for how you are treating your customers.”

– Bill Carmody, founder & CEO of Trepoint, “Customer Experience is Your ONLY Differentiator. You’re About To Be Rewarded or Punished”, Inc.

With hundreds of “soft skills” listed, it might seem like a lifetime’s worth of study for anyone who isn’t confident in their natural gifts of gab. Yes, you can learn people skills. You can certainly improve them. And to really make an impact on CX, you and your customer support or customer success team may have to. So let’s concentrate on the skills that make the most impact.

The 10 People Skills You Need Most for CX

  1. A genuine willingness to help – Not only does a genuine willingness to help make customer support agents shine and customer success managers effective, this instinct to solve problems and make positive impacts bleeds into other areas as well. For example, a customer success agent who becomes aware of a problem through customer feedback can patch the issue – or the agent can investigate the problem and actively work with other teams to bridge that success gap for everyone, strengthening the product or service and the company as a whole.
  2. Empathy – Customer support professionals are often trained to “show empathy” by repeating phrases that come off as insincere at best: “I understand that this can be frustrating.” Empathy phrases can be incredible tools (this is a very good list), but only when used with discretion (so it doesn’t sound like you’re reading off of a card). But empathy is about more than the words you use. It’s the desire to really understand where someone else is coming from and what they need to thrive. That’s Customer Success 101, right there: Taking the time to learn about your customer’s business and challenges so you can understand your product from their perspective.
  3. Communication – Communication skills, the ability to listen carefully, explain clearly and treat kindly are must-haves in the People Skills toolkit, but there’s another type of communication customer service and success teams should have: Cross-communication. You’re at the nexus between your customers and your business which puts you in a unique position to gather data customer sentiment, use, and engagement that everyone else in your business needs. Make sure they get that info.
  4. Emotional Intelligence – Connected to empathy in that you’re aware of other people’s emotions, Emotional Intelligence also means you’re aware of your own. It’s self and social awareness of mood, emotional strengths and weaknesses, and potential underlying motivations behind behavior. In practice, this means knowing when to praise team members and how to constructively criticize. With customers, often it’s about understanding how your actions and responses can positively affect their moods to create memorable experiences.
  5. Integrity – Managing expectations by honestly telling customers what they can and can’t expect builds a tremendous amount of trust and sets customers up to have positive experiences when businesses don’t overpromise. Being able to set expectations also builds trust with internal teams.
  6. Problem-Solving – The best problem-solvers are the ones who jump in as soon as they see a rough patch arise and have enough confidence to figure it out if a solution doesn’t immediately present itself. Really, it’s all in the attitude. You don’t have to know the answer to everything to help. You just have to be willing to figure out the answer that’s needed.
  7. Stress Management – Dealing with people, even lovely coworkers and customers – is inherently stressful to most humans. The ability to manage that stress and not take it out on those around you is one of the best ‘People Skills’ you can cultivate. One bad day can lose a lot of clients when you think in terms of not just the client you’re speaking to, but all of the future clients they can bring in with recommendations.
  8. Listening Skills – This is one everyone in the company, from the Founder on down, needs to have, because listening to your customers effectively, focusing on their needs and desires (instead of your needs), is how great products and companies are built. More than that, though, is the willingness to listen internally as well – to people from different departments who often have valuable insights to add.
  9. Leadership – Once you uncover a good idea or customer feedback that requires action, it’s a real skill to be able to inspire others to follow your lead (especially if those others are above you). This becomes easier when you work from the mentality that your role is to make those you lead wildly successful. Everyone wants to follow a leader who gives them what they need to do their best work and get the best results.
  10. Team Building – Team building across departments brings leadership to a whole new level. Reaching out and forming relationships with people in other departments is something anyone can initiate. And when you approach your co-workers with an open willingness to help and collaborate, you won’t get turned down.

What “soft skills” – or People Skills – do you see the most need for in CX?

Be the customer experience champion at your company. Sign up today for free Net Promoter Score, CSAT or Customer Effort Score feedback with InMoment.

Automatically Analyze Qualitative Customer Feedback with Auto-tagging

Customer experience professionals live in a world overflowing with data. Sitting on that wealth of information is frustrating when you know it has incredible potential.

If you are tracking CX metrics, like NPS or CSAT, the numbers help you quantify customer loyalty and satisfaction. But it’s the customer comments that come with those surveys, all of that rich qualitative data, that give you invaluable context for why customers feel the way they do.

Until now, it’s been difficult to analyze qualitative data because it is so unstructured.

This is where tagging comes in.

Using software to analyze qualitative data

Modern customer feedback software comes with the ability to tag customer comments. Tagging feedback has two functional goals: Routing and Insight.

Routing:

Creating a tag for specific stakeholders, e.g. “product”, quickly sorts feedback to be routed to the correct teams for follow-up. Product teams can simply click a button to see verbatim comments regarding feature requests and support teams can be more proactive by checking for comments under a “bug” tag.

Insight:

Tagging comments by relation to product, website, or customer experience helps themes emerge. For example, you may see that most of your detractors are tagged with “shipping” or “price”. This will help you prioritize and address issues in real-time.

Tagging comments manually doesn’t scale, however.

If you are receiving less than 100 comments a month, manually tagging comments can work. But customer comments can pile up just like emails in your inbox. Constant monitoring results in little else getting done. When you find yourself drowning in responses, CX feedback can feel overwhelming — just like your inbox.

This is where using software to auto-tag customer comments saves the day.

Auto-tagging gives you real-time categorization of large quantities text feedback

Auto-tagging automatically sorts qualitative comments for you using AI-powered text analysis, and it happens in real-time. This helps you surface themes and see trends that the human brain has trouble processing on its own.

For example, you may find that pricing issues are mentioned in 80% of your detractor comments in the past couple months, or a new feature is mentioned in 65% of your promoter comments since it launched.

Auto-tagging serves as a dynamic tool to quickly sort massive amounts of feedback for routing to the appropriate teams for insight and immediate follow-up.

We’ve provided the first steps and some suggestions to start auto-tagging in real-time.

Using machine learning to auto-tag

When you’re drowning in feedback, we recommend using natural language processing to auto-categorize feedback. Customer feedback software, like Wootric, can tag and surface themes in your feedback based on what’s important in your industry.

Automatic text classification is the ultimate time saver when it comes to comment feedback. While this isn’t a necessary step, for large amounts of feedback, it is an incredibly powerful tool for true automation in your tagging system.

How to set up text-match Auto-tags

The time you save by setting up an auto-tagging system can be spent taking action based on the insight lifted out of your survey feedback.

If you aren’t using machine learning software, here are the steps to take in planning your text-match auto-tagging system and some suggestions to get you started.

First, Some Questions to Ask Yourself

When you start to tag your feedback, read every comment you receive in a period of time, perhaps a week or a month, and consider the following:

  • What topics/features/issues stand out in your comments?

For example, you may see that many of your customers talk about your Support team’s response time, or the value your product/service has brought to them. These general themes will serve as jumping off points for brainstorming tags and keywords.

  • Is there industry or business specific vocabulary or jargon that you might want to track?

For SaaS companies, you may want to include terms like “dashboard”, “widget”, or “in-app” as tags or as text-match keywords. Oftentimes, these terms will be abbreviated, like UI for “user interface”. 

You can even choose to create tags for team members to alert them whenever they are mentioned by name. This might be helpful for a customer support agent who wants to see what customers are saying about their interactions.

As you read through your sample of comments, make a note of the words and phrases you spot customers using. They may be using different terms than the language you and your colleagues use as professionals in your industry.

  • Which teams will you be sending customer feedback to and what terms are relevant to them?

You want to be routing comments to the right teams. For example, a product development team will be interested in comments about user interface, integrations, or feature requests while your support or success team may be more concerned with bugs or implementation.

Nested Tags or Parent-Child Tags for Tag Hierarchy (SaaS example)

Once you’ve answered these questions, start grouping specific terms under broader terms. This is going to help you create hierarchy within your tags, also called nested tags.

Nested tags are labels associated by a hierarchy. The ‘sub-tag’ or ‘child tag’ is a tag that is more specific and can be categorized under a ‘parent tag’.

When any of the ‘child-tags’ are text-matched to a comment, feedback platforms will also tag that comment with the corresponding ‘parent tag’. Comments tagged with only the ‘parent tag’ do not include any of the words associated with any of the ‘child-tags’.

This allows you to pull comments that mention any of the specific integrations through the child-tags. At the same time, the broader “integrations” tag pulls comments that mention integrations in general, e.g. suggested integrations from our customers.

Choosing Text-Match Keywords or Keyphrases

For auto-tagging, it is important to choose the right words or phrases to match the tag to the comment. Text-match tags use an “exact match” rule for automation.

This is where having read through some of your current open-ended feedback is useful. You’ve seen the specific words that your customers tend to use when writing about different issues. It may also be helpful to use a thesaurus to come up with synonyms for the words or phrases you choose to match on.

Remember that text-match is very literal, so you will need to include variations on the words and phrases you choose. For example, an “implementation” tag should match on “implement”, “implemented”, “implementation”, and “setup”, as well as “set-up”.

Suggestions

We’ve compiled a list of auto-tags that are commonly used by SaaS businesses. You may be able to use some of these in other industries as well.

As you start to receive feedback you should refine your tags to be more specific to your business needs.

Here’s a list of common tags for SaaS companies to start with:

Tag name: Matches on:
“Product” parent tag Terms specific to your product like the name, or terminology for features, e.g. “Amazon”
“Product A” child tag Name of one of your more specific products or services if you have more than 1, e.g. “Prime Music”
“Product B” child tag Name of another product or service if you have more than 2, e.g. “Prime Shipping”
“Bug” “issue, issues, crash, crashes, bug, bugs, buggy, error, errors”
“Competition” Names of your competitors
“Documentation” “docs, documentation, article, articles, help article, FAQ, FAQs”
“Feature request” “wish, add, would like”
“Implementation” “implement, implemented, implementation, setup, set-up”
“Integrations” parent tag “integration, integrate, integrates”
“Integration 1” child tag Words specific to one integration, change the tag label to the specific integration, e.g. “Slack”
“Integration 2” child tag Words specific to another integration, with the corresponding label, e.g. “Salesforce”
“Performance” “speed, slow, fast, uptime, downtime, 404”
“Price” “cheap, expensive, promo, promotion, deal, price, price tag”
“Support” “support, onboarding, on-boarding, issue, broken, assistance, service, tech support, help, helps, helping”

Human Review: Manually Tagging for Refinement

Monitor your feedback for a couple weeks after you set up your auto-tagging system. If a comment should be tagged, but isn’t, add more keywords to the text-match tag. Manually tag any comments that are difficult to text-match.

A good example would be a comment like “I tried to connect your software to my CRM but it didn’t work.” This comment is clearly related to integration, but text-matching wouldn’t catch this. After manually tagging this comment, you can then add “connect your software” as a keyphrase to the integration tag.

Human review becomes a tool for refining your existing auto-tags, instead of the main workhorse. As time passes, you’ll spend your time scanning for edge cases and new issues or topics that require a new auto-tag.

Do this check periodically to ensure your insight is accurate. Maintaining your valuable tagging system will save you time in the future.

If you are using machine learning, use manual tags to train the AI to be more accurate in the future. In case you spot an inappropriate tag, the AI also learns each time you remove a tag that it generated.

Feedback Routing & Driving Action

Surveying customers is the first phase in your transformation into a more customer-centric company, but you will plateau if you sit on the feedback. Setting up an auto-tagging system means feedback is sent to relevant teams in your organization in real-time. Trends are lifted more easily from qualitative feedback, and your customer-centric organization will be empowered to actively pursue customer happiness.

Measure and improve customer experience.

Get auto-tagging with Wootric customer feedback software. Sign up for a free trial.

Communication Tips & Tools for Customer Success Managers

In Customer Success, communication with accounts can make or break the job. Upping your skills—and having the right tools to make the back and forth efficient—can help you win customers for life.  

Wootric has gathered some tips and tools to help you communicate with your customers at scale.

In the first part of this three-part series, we gave you tips and tools to help with time management. Use the time you saved to improve your customer relationships and communication processes.

Communicating with Customers

Tips:

  • Nail down specific measurable criteria/objectives in onboarding

When you start building a relationship with the client, the most important part of ensuring client success is establishing what success means to them. Oftentimes, clients come to you with large, lofty, general goals like “improve customer experience”. Create SMART goals with your customers during onboarding and establish a baseline so that you can prove to them, objectively, that your company is delivering value.

“You can focus on adoption, retention, expansion, or advocacy; or you can focus on the customers’ Desired Outcome and get all of those things.” Lincoln Murphy, co-author of Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue

  • Master telling a client “no” with grace

Nobody likes to hear “no”, not toddlers, not teenagers, and especially not adults. When you are dealing with customers, you will inevitably run into requests that you cannot and should not fulfill. It’s an unpleasant part of the job.

You can deal with this situation in a multitude of ways, and prior experience with your customer can guide you to the best method. It might be suggesting the closest alternative, or it might be providing a detailed explanation. Regardless of how you choose to tell them no, it is key to maintain your relationship with them, and maintain your position on their team, as their advocate, the whole time.

  • Listen for the “silently churning”

All too often CSMs default to listening to the clients who shout the loudest. This is a natural human response, but leaves you vulnerable to neglecting your clients who are less vocal. Just because someone isn’t complaining to you in an email or over the phone, doesn’t mean they’ll renew when the contract is up.

Maintain a pulse on your client portfolio with the help of metrics like NPS, CES, and CSAT. Surveying customers after interactions and a couple times a year will provide invaluable insight into the health of your accounts. Survey feedback and analysis helps focus on the “silently churning”, the customers who are simply disengaging instead of yelling, and helps to narrow down what actually drives their lack of enthusiasm.

Tools:

Boomerang:

Boomerang is a free email extension that lets you schedule emails to be sent, remind yourself if you don’t hear back, and take messages out of your inbox until you actually need them. Boomerang will archive your message, then bring it back to your inbox at a time you choose, marked unread, starred or at the top of your message list. You can use Boomerang as an automation tool for following up or checking in with clients, especially when you don’t hear back from them.

Text expansion apps like Text Expander:

Text expansion applications use a few basic mechanisms to make typing faster. Abbreviate blocks of text that you use often and the app will replace it with the full block of text that you assign to the abbreviation. For example, you could have the app insert “Customer Success Manager” everytime you type “csm”.

Grammarly:

Grammarly uses AI to detect grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, and style mistakes in your writing, offering you alternatives in real-time. Grammarly has recently been detecting micro-aggression and intent in emails, offering alternatives to help maintain professional relationships. It can also offer vocabulary enhancement suggestions for people using English as a second or third language.

Note: if you regularly use the Google suite of software, like Documents or Slides, you’ll have to stick with their autocorrect algorithms or take the extra step to upload documents into Grammarly’s own dashboard for corrections.

Doodle:

Doodle is a straightforward scheduler that helps you coordinate a time for meetings. You suggest a few dates and times for your participants. Doodle then creates a polling calendar that can be sent to them for feedback. As each person selects the dates and times they are free, Doodle aggregates the responses to tell you which option works best for everyone.

Calendly:

Calendly is also a scheduler that helps you schedule meetings without the back-and-forth emails. It has many more integrations and features than Doodle, which means it takes more getting used to, but is much more robust. Calendly takes time zones into account for each invitee and even allows you to request payments via Paypal and Stripe.

Retain more customers. Sign up today for free Net Promoter Score feedback with InMoment.

Why You Should Abandon Long Customer Surveys (and Use Always-On Microsurveys Instead)

When was the last time you completed the long survey you ask your customers to fill out? This is a painfully obvious (and obviously painful) exercise you can do to assess the customer experience of your surveys.  If the survey is long, you will probably find it a boring, tedious task to parse and answer the questions. Impatience grows as you face a seemingly endless list of attributes to assess. 

Elaine eyeroll

If this is what you are subjecting your customers to, know that you aren’t alone. Many companies are content with the status quo of traditional, bi-annual, 10+ question surveys, or they simply aren’t aware of alternatives.

But times have changed — and your customers aren’t having it.

Traditional, long surveys are a lose-lose situation

Not only do multi-question surveys have the potential to irritate customers, they have disadvantages for business as well.

 You are not hearing from enough customers.  Completion rates are abysmal. Studies show that the longer a survey is, the higher the chance of decreased, delayed, hasty or slapdash responses. So, the information you are getting from customers who are willing to run this gauntlet may not be thoughtful.  

Not hearing from customers often enough. Surveying once or twice a year means you can only react to feedback once or twice a year! In a quickly changing market, this is unacceptable. More agile competitors are going to leave you in the dust.

What can you do to solve this lose-lose situation? Modernize your feedback methodology with microsurveys.

What is a microsurvey?

Microsurveys take a well established, standardized question and use it as the first in a two-step survey. This first question can be used to measure Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction Score, and Customer Effort Score, providing you with quantitative feedback. The second step then provides a way for respondents to give open-ended feedback explaining their score.

Here is an example using an NPS microsurvey shown to a customer who is logged into a SaaS application. A similar microsurvey can also be delivered via email, mobile, or SMS.

Two-step Net Promoter Score survey from Wootric

Your first reaction might be “How can I possibly get all the information I need with such a short, open-ended survey?  And, how can I make sense of all of the qualitative responses?

Let us walk you through how you can get what you need — and more.

Advantages of always-on microsurveys 

Microsurvey design looks at feedback collection from the customer’s point of view — it should be easy, fast, and relevant. The results are a significantly improved customer experience. Microsurveys provide three key benefits to you:

  • Real-time trends
  • High response rates
  • Better insights

Real time so you never miss a trend:

With support of a customer experience software platform, it becomes easy to survey customers throughout the customer journey.  You can forgo your annual survey campaign and get a on-going pulse of real-time feedback on journey points.  Shortening your surveys allows you to ask customers for feedback more often. By asking the right question at the right time, you increase the chance that an individual will respond to your surveys. Deploying microsurveys across the entire customer journey will bring you both a bird’s eye view of the health of your account and detailed, actionable insights at each touchpoint.

High response rates means you hear from more customers:

Response rates can be as high as 60% for microsurveys, and typically exceed 25%. These numbers can seem miraculous compared to the significantly lower rates that long-form surveys attain. By asking a single question in the right channel at the right time, customer are more willing to give feedback.

Better insights:

Microsurvey responses will reflect what is important and relevant to your customers. Because you are no longer leading the respondent, you will learn things you wouldn’t otherwise learn. The qualitative feedback you receive is rich with context and potential to drive your business priorities.

Now, all of this may sound good but there are still barriers to making the switch, right?

Reasons why you are still using long form surveys

I can’t aggregate survey results when feedback is open-ended!

The advantage of endless Likert scale questions is that responses on a wide range of topics and attributes can be tallied and metricized.   This makes things easier for you on the back end. However, every time a customer must chose a response from a range of values, you are putting the onus of quantification on him or her. You risk asking them to evaluate something they do not know or care about.  Response quality, completion rates, and customer experience all suffer.

A modern approach is to save your scale questions for established CX metric questions like Net Promoter Score, “How likely are you to recommend [business] to friends and colleagues?”, and take the support of machine learning technology to quantify opened survey responses.   

Today, you can take the burden of quantification off of customers and place it squarely on machine learning software. In the past, getting insights from large quantities of qualitative data has been hard, if not impossible. Technology is now available to auto-categorize all of that rich, qualitative feedback. Auto-tagging and sentiment analysis have come a long way!

For example, this dashboard screenshot shows an analysis of auto-categorized NPS feedback. Auto-tagging reveals themes in qualitative comments so you can know what promoters, passives and detractors are talking about in real time.  

Wootric Dashboard
Wootric Dashboard – Auto-categorization of qualitative feedback

I need to ask a series of questions to get important information from our customers.

Every question you add is less likely to be answered with your respondent’s full attention and engagement. Asking a single scale question and an open ended question captures high quality data that is both qualitative and quantitative.

It feels counterintuitive to open up feedback to be a free-for-all; however, customers want to tell you what’s on their mind at the time you survey them. Asking exclusively about what is important to you is frustrating for the customer. Like the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

Getting the information you want is less obtrusive if you send customers a short survey at the right time. For example, you can send an microsurvey asking about how easy a transaction was to complete or how easy a feature was to use. Customers no longer have to reach into the depths of their memory to retrieve their impressions because they just completed the task you are asking about.

Asking for feedback at touch points over time, in the right context, creates a story of your customers’ journey and allows you to see trends, just like how thousands of photos can be combined to create beautiful stop-motion animation.

Beware of using incentives to make up for poor response rates, you will find a higher percentage of “satisficers”, or respondents who select answer options quickly and thoughtlessly to get to the incentive you promised them for “completing” their survey.

Of course, there is a time and place for long surveys.

There is nothing wrong with using a lengthy survey when you really need to — and there will be times when an in-depth questionnaire is appropriate. Here are two examples:

Annual “Brand” survey. Our customers use microsurveys to keep a finger on the pulse of their entire customer base throughout the year for customer journey feedback. Some also use an annual brand survey that supplements by asking many in-depth questions. Even though response rates for this survey may be low, they know they will hear from their most engaged customers on a variety of topics. And, with their microsurvey program,  they still get feedback from everyone else.

User interviews. Product teams may conduct focus groups or interviews to get more sophisticated feedback on feature use, build out an understanding of use cases, and create detailed personas. Microsurveys such as NPS help narrow down who should be included in these focus groups and who would be open to being interviewed.

How to start? Shift your Net Promoter Score program to microsurveys.

If you want to try real-time microsurveys as a baby step towards modernizing your feedback program, use always-on NPS microsurveys as one component of your feedback strategy. You’ll still send out your long, in-depth survey to decision makers like you always have, but now with an early warning system to help you proactively keep your most important accounts.

Entelo was able to double their survey response rate with this method, using NPS microsurveys for a better understanding of customer health. The real-time feedback also meant fewer surprises and easier prioritization when it came to addressing customers’ problems.

Get the ebook, The Modern Guide to Winning Customers with Net Promoter Score. Learn how to modernize your feedback program for growth and higher loyalty.

The Joy of Net Promoter Score: Sharing Customer Praise

Gathering Net Promoter Score feedback isn’t just about receiving critique and feature requests. An important growth component of an NPS customer feedback program is identifying your promoters, then engaging and activating them for upsell, referral or advocacy. But there is another benefit to identifying promoters — the feelings you get from their verbatim comments–gratification, inspiration, motivation, and satisfaction!

Promoters that are finding value in your brand can give some incredibly uplifting compliments that boost morale and provide a sense of pride for employees.

We’ve gathered some example comments from SaaS companies that use Wootric software to measure Net Promoter Score, analyze trends, and close the loop with their customers. Each company provided a screenshot of a favorite promoter comment from their InMoment dashboard.

Imagine how the team at presentation software Slidebean felt when this NPS survey response appeared:Slidebean NPS Promoter Comment

The stellar customer service at point-of-sale software Revel Systems is what got this promoter excited:

The team at video coaching platform Sibme was stoked when they read this:

This NPS response gives mortgage software company Maxwell props for their customer-centric culture:
Maxwell NPS promoter response

This kind of feedback contributes to feelings of accomplishment and meaning for employees, leading to more engagement and a happier work environment. Research done for the UK government showed that companies with a highly engaged workforce see a 19.2 % growth in operating income over a 12-month period. Additionally, companies with an engaged workforce grow profits up to 3X faster than their competitors.

With this comment, the whole team at e-signature software Signable can see the value they are creating for their customers:

Make sharing customer comments part of your NPS program

To get the most out of your NPS program, share your NPS along with select verbatim feedback across your entire organization. This provides context to your metric. Sharing customer requests and frustrations is a great way to create urgency around service and product improvement. It makes the problem less abstract and gives employees an emotional connection to the work that needs to be done.

In the same way that you would share constructive critique, make it a habit to share promoter comments. This provides you and your employees with the opportunity to celebrate the things you’re doing right and makes it real. When specific teams or individuals get mentioned, reach out to them and share. It is a great way to let them know they did an awesome job! It’s always great to feel appreciated and acknowledged.

Make sharing promoter comments easy by:

  1. Sharing it on a Slack channel – with Wootric’s free integration with Slack, you’ve got an easy way to spread the joy from reading promoter comments. Tag folks who were involved with different steps that culminated in the customer’s compliment and give them a pat on the back!
  2. Gathering the superstar comments to share at an all-hands meeting or Board meetings, along with your NPS score. This not only gives people the numbers they want to see, but also provides the story behind the number.
  3. Featuring promoter comments in your newsletter – whether it’s an employee newsletter or a customer newsletter.  Sharing positivity from customers makes everyone feel listened to and appreciated.

Having comments feed into Slack here at Wootric has helped us to monitor customer sentiment in real-time and keep everyone in the company close to our customers’ experience. Any issues are dealt with quickly, and promoter comments like these get everyone excited.

Promoter comments are a win for everyone

The Net Promoter Score system is a proven way to drive growth, and it is a delight when you get comments like the ones above. It is a positive feedback loop that creates more value and positive experiences for customers and a supportive, enjoyable work environment that encourages engagement for employees.

And to our own customers, know that we truly appreciate the time and thought that goes into every survey response you give us! We are listening. 

Build an army of promoters.
Sign up for free in-app NPS with InMoment.

How to Choose the Best Net Promoter Score Software for Your Business

You’ve decided to implement an NPS program to increase customer loyalty, but now you’ve got to wade through the pool of NPS software service providers to find the best value and match for your company. All of them allow you to ask that all important question, “On a scale of 0 -10, how likely are you to recommend this product?”, but the similarities end there.

Two Step in-app NPS Survey by Wootric

Round Up a List of Prospects

Ask around about the NPS software other companies are using. Resources like Quora can give you ideas to add to you list and oftentimes, you can read reviews of companies. If you come across a survey that you like, reach out to the company to ask who they use. This list of prospects can be as long or short as you want, but we recommend you keep this list to around 5 companies.

What is your goal?

It is vital for you to establish the goals you want to achieve through implementing an NPS program. Are you looking to move your company towards a customer-centric culture? Are you trying to improve your retention rates? Are you looking for growth?

Maybe you’ve used an NPS platform before and now you’re looking for something that’s faster, better, stronger! You’re probably looking for a platform that’s more efficient, easier to use, offers a more modern approach (like in-app messaging), or is more aligned with your stage of growth.

Whatever your goals are, have them handy as you answer these next three questions and have the peripheral conversations for each, guiding you toward the NPS software with a Cinderella fit for your company.

Get all 8 questions and a handy vendor evaluation spreadsheet with our free e-book!

Questions

  1. What is the best way to survey your customers?

You probably communicate with your customers in a number of ways – on your website, through your web or mobile app, via email, social media accounts and possibly even through text. Each segment of your customer base will prefer one or two of these methods over the others, and very rarely will they use all of them.

Some conversations to have around this question include: Who are your stakeholders? Who are the decision-makers, and are they the same people using your product on a daily basis? Depending on your answers, you will want to choose different channels to send your NPS survey.

  1. Which channel do you want to start with?

Everyday, we have people come to us asking about email NPS surveys, unaware that there are other option available to them. If you’ve answered the first question, then you now know that email isn’t always going to be the best fit. Follow-up the conversations you had with the previous question by weighing the pros and cons of each channel. Keep your short and long term goals in mind, as well as the customer segments you wish to reach out to.

There’s no shame in starting small – it’s not easy to take on a huge customer feedback program if you’re just starting out. Choose a channel, pick a customer base and start getting feedback. You’ll eventually find that different customer segments or journey points benefit from different channels, and your NPS program will evolve accordingly.

Expect your Net Promoter Score program to mature over time and select a vendor able to support the increasing sophistication you’ll likely need.

  1. When will you survey your customers?

When it comes to deploying your NPS surveys, there are two primary approaches:

Relationship Monitoring

This approach sends NPS surveys at regular intervals overtime to assess your customer’s overall loyalty to your brand — rather than just their satisfaction with their last interaction.

Checking in at Journey Points

In this case, often called “transactional NPS”, surveys are sent after a customer has an interaction or completes a transaction with your company. This approach works well when you’ve mapped out your customer journey and can find logical points at which to check in with your customers via a survey.

NPS software platforms that can integrate with Mixpanel, Intercom, Salesforce, Zendesk and other systems of record work especially well for this type of timing.

Once you know the approach you need, dig in and see if vendors can deploy surveys the way you prefer. Each vendor has different capabilities. For example, if you are sending email surveys, do you want to do so from your own platform like Marketo or MailChimp? Or do you prefer to upload a list of customers and have the vendor’s software send the surveys?

Is NPS the right question to ask at this journey point? In some contexts, a Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) or Customer Effort (CES) question is more relevant than Net Promoter Score. Learn more.

More to Consider

These three questions will get you started on your decision process. For a deeper look into the questions to answer that will narrow down your list to your perfect NPS software, download our free e-book, We’ve also included a link to a handy vendor evaluation spreadsheet to keep track of everything in this process. Once you’ve established your company’s needs and had the conversations to narrow down your list, request a product demo from two or three vendors who make the cut. You can tell a lot about a company through their demo, including how customer-centric they really are and how they will treat you in the future.

Find out if Wootric is the right NPS software for you. Sign up for a free trial or talk with an expert.

Get the “Trifecta View” of the SaaS Customer Journey using CX Surveys in Salesforce

Congratulations! Another customer is starting their journey with your company.

They’ll go through the various stages in the sales funnel, across departments from marketing to sales to product to customer success and customer service. All of these departments will be using your company’s system of record, perhaps Salesforce, as the one common source of truth. They’ll document each interaction with this customer, each touch point, and then pass the customer along to continue the journey.

The Three Touchpoints and Their Matching CX Surveys

Among the touchpoints in your customer’s journey, there are three vital ones that warrant focus: Onboarding completion, support interactions, and renewal. 

Gathering CX feedback at the right time gives you a pulse on customer happiness along the journey. You can act on this insight and boost your ability to retain customers.

Wootric customer, MindTouch, has implemented the Trifecta View.

See how they do it.

Benefits of Collecting Customer Experience Feedback in Salesforce

Your CRM is the best system to trigger journey point surveys because it knows where your customer is at. When feedback resides in CRM records, it is easy for Sales, Support and Customer Success to follow up and take action. It can also be a morale boost when customers sing praises after an interaction.

Most importantly, having feedback recorded in your CRM after these three touch points creates a holistic, birds-eye, trifecta view of the customer experience that is measurable and tracked over time. This is vital business intelligence that will better prepare Success for QBRs and prepare Sales for renewal conversations. 

An Account Level Report Provides the Trifecta View

Use an account level report to get a holistic view of your customers’ journey, with each survey score reflecting different parts of the entire journey. Account level NPS, for example, is valuable intel for the Sales team. See how better training for Support can boost CSAT scores, or watch your churn numbers go down as Success team members reach out to customers with poor NPS before the renewal is up. Wootric offers account level survey data in Salesforce, by month and quarter.

The Trifecta View can reveal your strengths and weaknesses, as they exist, across the entire customer journey. Drilling into each journey point’s feedback can guide decisions to improve the weak spots, smoothing out the entire customer experience from a roller coaster to a gentle upward journey into Customer Nirvana.

“Trifecta view”: term coined by Aric Martinez, Director of Sales at InMoment, for the customer intelligence view that enterprise SaaS companies are seeking in Salesforce. Contact Sales to learn more.

Here, we’ll show you how the Wootric-Salesforce two-way integration can help you trigger a feedback survey using workflows. Responses loop back into your contact and account records to create this view of your customer experience.

#1 Onboarding Completion: Customer Effort Score Survey (CES)

Post-onboarding is a prime time to get customer feedback on that process. This is the critical first phase of the SaaS relationship. The customer’s emotions and first impressions of your company are fresh in their minds.

You can get valuable insight into how easy the process of onboarding is by triggering a Customer Effort Score survey (CES). You may learn about how helpful documentation and Customer Success team members were in teaching your users how to use your product, or you may expose aspects of your product with a high learning curve.

Overall, you will learn what makes the process of learning your product as easy as possible, getting your relationship with the customer started on the right foot.

To automatically gather feedback on the onboarding process, Wootric’s Salesforce integration enables companies to set up a workflow to trigger a CES survey 90 days (or any time period) after an Opportunity is closed.

#2 Support Interaction: Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSAT)

Now that you’ve made your first impressions, and your customers have gotten to know your company and product a bit better, there are bound to be times when they will need your Support team. After the case has been addressed, triggering a Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) survey will get you important feedback about their interactions with Support.

Having CSAT feedback can inform the training and organization of your Support teams and help you better understand your customer’s expectations of interactions with the Support team. It can help you identify any gaps in your support coverage. CSAT feedback at this journey point may even reveal potential new services and offerings when there are multiple similar feature or service requests. It may also reveal bugs that were undetected.

When CSAT scores are recorded in Salesforce, it pairs with other meaningful factors, like account age or company size, to create more context for you as you analyze this journey point. 

Wootric’s Salesforce integration enables companies to automatically gather feedback on Support interactions by setting up a workflow to trigger a CSAT survey after a Case is closed.

Bonus: You might choose to trigger a new case to open for Support or Success when a poor CSAT score comes in, or assign a task of follow up to specific individuals. This will show your customers that you are actively listening to their feedback and value it, making it more likely for them to continue giving it to you. It can also clear up any potential miscommunication that may have occurred during the original interaction.

#3 Renewal Conversation: Net Promoter Score Survey (NPS)

As the year passes and your customer has more experience working with your company and product, inevitably, the time for the renewal conversation comes. You’ve got an idea of how things are going, based on the CSAT scores coming in, but that mostly tells you how satisfied they are with the Support team, rather than your company overall. Arm yourself with more relevant feedback before you talk renewal by triggering an NPS survey 90 days in advance of the renewal date.

Leverage workflow rules by having poor NPS scores trigger a task assigned for a CSM to reach out and talk to detractors to try to prevent them from churning. The feedback from your customers can be brought up during the renewal conversation to show them you take their feedback to heart. Bringing up the comments they’ve left you my open up opportunities to show product or service improvement, provide additional training and for upselling or cross-selling. It may also prevent customers who churn from being resentful of your company. If you’ve listened to them and tried to work with them, most customers will appreciate that effort, even if they choose not to renew.

By creating a Salesforce workflow based on the Opportunity or Account object, Wootric customers can trigger an NPS survey in advance of account renewal date.

Get Creative

Wootric integrates with Salesforce to enable you to ask the right questions to get the information you need, at just the right time. Our surveys can be triggered on any object in Salesforce, including Activities. That’s a lot of options.

Your company may have other customer journey points that warrant feedback. You may want to ask a slightly different question than the examples we’ve chosen, depending on your circumstances. You can tailor your Salesforce workflow rules to integrate with Wootric surveys in the way that best serves your needs.

Want to trigger & track CX metrics in Salesforce? Book a demo.

The Loyalty Metric: A Brief History of Net Promoter Score and How to Use it in Practice Today

More than two-thirds of the Fortune 1000 list currently use Net Promoter Score, a customer loyalty metric introduced by Fred Reichheld in a 2003 Harvard Business Review article, “The One Number You Need to Grow.” One number. And to get to that one number, you only have to ask one question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this [product/brand/company/service]?” Anyone who scores 0-6 is considered a Detractor. Passives rate 7 and 8. Promoters are those who score 9s and 10s – extremely likely to recommend.

The Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting Detractors from Promoters. Scores can range anywhere from -100 to 100. It couldn’t be simpler, or more powerful. Since 2003, the popularity of that one number has grown exponentially, spawning specialty apps to track it and spurring researchers to study it. The most recent study by Temkin Group of 10,000 U.S. consumers showed a direct connection between NPS and customer loyalty across 20 industries. In 291 companies, NPS was highly correlated to the likelihood of repeat purchases from existing customers. In fact, promoters across those 20 industries were 92% more likely to make more purchases than detractors (not surprising), were 9 times more likely to try new offerings, and 5 times more likely to repurchase. Promoters were also 7 times more likely than Detractors to forgive companies if they made a mistake. Loyalty is lucrative. The ability to measure and improve it is imperative. And that’s where NPS comes into play.

Calculating Loyalty Used to be Hard

The CEOs in the room knew all about the power of loyalty. They had already transformed their companies into industry leaders, largely by building intensely loyal relationships with customers and employees. – “The One Number You Need to Grow,” Frederick F. Reichheld Reichheld’s NPS origin story begins in a boardroom with chief executives from brands like Chick-fil-A and Vanguard. They’d gathered to discuss what they were doing to increase customer loyalty, and when the CEO of Enterprise Rent-a-Car spoke, everyone listened. He’d found a way to quantify loyalty that didn’t use traditional, complex and faulty customer surveys. His solution was a poll with just two questions:

  • How would you rate the quality of your rental experience?
  • How likely are you to rent from us again?

The simplicity of this approach allowed for faster results – nearly real-time feedback – that could then be relayed to the company’s far-flung branches. But Enterprise did something else as well: They only counted the customers who gave their experience the highest possible rating. Why ignore the less happy customers? Because concentrating on the happiest customers let the company focus on a main driver of growth – the customers who returned to rent again and recommended Enterprise to their friends. Today’s NPS hasn’t ventured far from Enterprise’s system, and it is still has two-parts:

  • “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this [product/brand/company/service]?”
  • “Why did you give us that score?”
Setting up an NPS program? Get the ebook, The Modern Guide to Winning Customers with Net Promoter Score. Leverage customer feedback and drive growth with a real-time approach to NPS.

How SaaS companies use Net Promoter Score in practice

NPS has risen in popular estimation from ‘a nice number to know’ to the most important number you can track for growth for a reason. But to understand that reason, you have to see how real companies are using this information. Receipt Bank is an award-winning bookkeeping platform that saves accountants, bookkeepers, and small businesses valuable time and money, and all of their business is subscription-based. While every business can benefit from NPS, growth of subscription-based businesses are inherently tied to customer loyalty – customers have to choose, over and over again, to come back. Receipt Bank had a challenge though. They recognized the value of measuring user NPS, and so were sending monthly emails to survey sample groups across their user base. However, this method was time-consuming to set up, and resulted in their NPS score only being updated on a monthly basis. With new initiatives being constantly released across Receipt Bank to improve the customer experience, monthly sampling just didn’t provide the quality of insight needed. In addition to the delay, users were reluctant to respond when presented with another email task to complete. Conversion rates were low. With the happiness of users on the line, Receipt Bank needed a fast, efficient way to gauge how well their product performed. To overcome these challenges, ReceiptBank tested triggering their NPS surveys in-app — while users were logged in and using their product. Their hunch was right, and their survey response rate jumped ten fold in the first 48 hours.

Quick path to high response rates & real-time NPS

Segment offered an ideal implementation solution: It is a central data and analytics platform that allows Receipt Bank to turn on tools for their teams as needed. Every team has its own data needs and its own list of preferred tools. In addition to tools that let ReceiptBank report on marketing campaigns, message their customers, A/B test, and find fresh user insights, they used Segment to integrate Wootric, a customer feedback management platform that delivers the NPS questionnaire in-app, to measure user experience. “Because of Segment, Wootric was simple to install and within a few hours, we had live NPS data like we’ve never had before,” says Steve Lucas, ‎Customer Experience Manager at Receipt Bank.

Delivering the NPS question in-app, while customers are using the product, continues to result in higher response rates. Not only that, but in-app surveying allows for a more representative sample of their active users, providing more powerful insights into their customers’ happiness. “We’ve seen a much higher response (10x) using in-app messaging to obtain our NPS data. Having a real-time NPS pulse has really helped us support our users better and resolve root causes to improve the CX for our whole customer base,” says Steve.

Improved Net Promoter Score = higher loyalty

“The combination of closing the feedback loop effectively and identifying common experience shortcomings has allowed us to improve our NPS score by at least 40% in just 6 months,” Steve reports. Once a company establishes its baseline score, it can then pursue A/B testing and other means to continually improve it. Receipt Bank, like most companies, combines the basic NPS question with a qualitative, or open-ended, follow-up question that asks users to explain their answer. Armed with these insights, companies can test improvement ideas to see what works best for their best customers. NPS is also a valuable addition to Customer Success programs. Wootric reports that Customer Success teams use their constant stream of customer health data to save accounts at the first signs of trouble, identify promoters ready for upsells, and celebrate clients’ successes – reinforcing their positive perceptions of the product. NPS works on multiple levels to alert you to trends in your user base, and reinforce your users’ positive perspectives of your company. It’s no wonder that promoters are more likely to become repeat buyers, upgrade their accounts, try new offerings, and recommend your company.

Taking action by Net Promoter Score segment

Now that you know who is a Promoter, Passive or Detractor, what can you do about it? Promoters offer the most immediate wins. Clearly, they’re already finding success with your product, so the question becomes: Could they be even more successful with an upgrade, expansion, or additional feature? But don’t just focus on selling, even though Promoters may be ready to buy. Show your appreciation. Make them love you even more. These are your best customers! And, most importantly, empower them to become vocal advocates of your brand. Don’t be afraid to immediately ask them to leave reviews for you, Tweet about you, or participate in your latest Instagram hashtagathon. Encourage them to join an “inside circle” of community members in a private Facebook group or section of your site. Making your best customers feel appreciated is the best thing you can do to attract more of them. Passives are tough cases. They’re just not that impressed, and your job is to figure out why. Hint: They’re not achieving the success they’d hoped for with your product, in all likelihood. Why is that? It’s worth your time to find out. Detractors do not like your company and/or your product. And for some of them, it can’t be helped – but don’t worry. They’re probably not your ideal customers. Some of them shouldn’t even be using your product in the first place, like a guy who wants to heat a frozen pizza quickly so he buys a toaster (instead of a toaster oven). But others have legitimate grievances, and they are worth winning back. First, determine whether or not they are your ideal customers (did they want the toaster oven?). If they’re not, point them in the direction of a product – even a competitor’s product – that will get them the results they want. They’ll be so impressed. Non-ideal clients waste time and resources, are never happy, are always willing to jump ship for cheaper competitors anyway, and are more likely to be detractors than promoters. By sifting them out, you can put your focus on target clients who will love you, promote you, and not drive your customer service department crazy in the process. Everybody wins! However, if detractors are your ideal customers, find out why they aren’t willing to recommend you. Did they have a bad experience? Are they not achieving their desired outcomes? All segments, however, benefit from receiving responses to the feedback they so generously give you. So remember to acknowledge their effort with something as simple as a quick, personal thank you.

NPS is a journey, not a destination

NPS is an ongoing effort that never really ends, and never should. Keeping your finger on the pulse of how your customers feel about you will become central to how you conduct your business – if you let it.

Measure and improve customer experience. Sign up today for free Net Promoter Score, CSAT or Customer Effort Score feedback with InMoment.

Our product: What we’ve built, what’s next & why

As the co-pilots of Wootric’s product team, we’re excited to share all the progress we have made in the past twelve months, and also give you all a peek into what’s on the immediate horizon for Wootric.

Expanding our offering while boosting customer happiness

At Wootric we prioritize people, product, and process–in that specific order. At the end of day it’s people who build products and support our customers; process is there for people to be productive, not to get in their way. We are very pleased to see that in this competitive job market we have not only retained all our team members but have also grown the team to deepen our machine learning and big data prowess.

As you can imagine, we work hard to “walk the talk” of boosting customer happiness.  I’m happy to report that Wootric’s Net Promoter Score has improved 7 points year over year. We are especially proud of this trend as we have grown (rapidly) and the capabilities of our platform have developed exponentially. As we drive innovation in customer feedback management, our own customers — like Docusign, Mixpanel and Hootsuite — are seeing the value of our platform and the way we prioritize their success.

Wootric's NPS July 2017
Wootric’s own Wootric NPS Dashboard – July 2017

Ensuring our customers have the insights they need to improve customer experience

Now let’s talk about product. One sentence that would describe our evolution this past year? We have evolved from an Net Promoter Score survey tool to a platform that effortlessly turns all of your customer conversations into insights. In a world where customer experience is the new battlefield for competitive advantage, this empowers you, as a business, to shift from product-led growth to the holy grail of customer-led growth.

Here are new features to back up this evolution claim:

  • New survey types: Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES) Survey, in addition to NPS
  • New survey channels: Email and SMS, in addition to in-app web and mobile
  • New Integrations: Salesforce, Mixpanel, Intercom, Slack, Zendesk, Webhooks
  • Email Templates: Mailchimp, Intercom, Marketo, Hubspot, Salesforce Pardot, PersistIQ, Zoho, Amity
  • Survey respondent profiles
  • API your way to almost everything
  • Big Data warehousing through partnerships with Stitch Data and XPlenty
  • Accessibility improvement.  Wootric surveys, now compliant with Section 508 standards, can be filled out by the visually impaired — highly valued in education and government services.

Among these features, if we were to pick the two that most impact our customers’ growth, they would be (a) launching our Salesforce Managed Package on the AppExchange and (b) the integration with Intercom. Both Salesforce and Intercom are two-way integrations in which Wootric enriches your CRM and Customer Support software with customer feedback and at the same time allows you to trigger surveys to customers based on events in Salesforce and Intercom. This has a huge impact on renewal and upsells because your sales and success teams have more context into what your customers think of your product and services.

It’s been a fun challenge to keep a balance between new feature development and upgrading our infrastructure to handle our growth.  Our already ‘big data’ platform has exploded this year, with 300% growth in survey responses, and over 800% growth in REST API calls.  (To reiterate: API all the things!)  Our tech stack now includes Elastic Search, PostgreSQL, Redis, and several Amazon (AWS) and Google Cloud (GCP) services.  Our infrastructure and devops are ready to handle the growth we foresee in next 12 months.

But that’s all in the past!

Our current focus is to add more intelligence to our service.

We are working on being smarter about who to survey and when to survey so that you can converse with more of your customers. And, once we have your customers’ feedback, we will provide better and more automated insights through the use of artificial intelligence.

AI-powered insights trained by millions of survey responses

Because the survey data we receive is unstructured text, it’s a great use case for the meeting ground between machine learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP). Besides leveraging the Google Cloud Platform, we are creating our own industry-specific machine learning algorithms that analyze open-ended human-generated feedback.  CX Insight™, our text and sentiment analysis product–trained by millions of survey responses–focuses first on SaaS, e-commerce, and media use cases. As with all things Wootric, this has been a customer-led effort. Our customers expect that AI-powered insights will provide them with a game-changing ability to improve customer experience.

Wootric is at the forefront of a revolution in customer experience intelligence and we look forward to sharing this journey with you.  Thank you.

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Measure and improve customer experience. Sign up today for free Net Promoter Score, CSAT or Customer Effort Score feedback with InMoment.

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