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.

Time Management for Customer Success Managers

How many times have you wished for another pair of hands or a couple more hours in the day to get through your work as a Customer Success Manager?

Between onboarding clients, liaising for customer support, and negotiating an upsell, CSMs juggle many essential functions.

We’ve gathered some tips and tools to help you be more productive with less stress.

Tips:

  • Create a calendar-prep sandwich

Having some quiet time before the day starts to strategize and prioritize will allow you to go through your day with less need to juggle. This time at the beginning of the day can be a time to review events from the previous day, catch up on emails, or prep for your meetings, but most importantly, set aside about 15 minutes to prep your calendar and to-do list for the day and look ahead to the rest of the week.

Set aside another 15 minutes at the end of your day for another calendar and to-do list prep session, during which you can update everything based on your notes from calls and meetings you had. Making this prep-session sandwich a habit will improve your organization and help you transition between meetings and calls more confidently.

  • Schedule “buffer” time between meetings/calls

As you schedule your meetings and calls, be sure to include a buffer zone of time in case something takes longer than you had anticipated. Include travel time between meetings if you have to physically be somewhere else and add some time for traffic or delays. Even if everything goes according to schedule, having that buffer gives you time to take down notes on the call, expand on any thoughts you had, as well as create and schedule tasks based on your prior meeting or call.

  • Prioritize ruthlessly, batch related tasks together

A large part of managing your time is mercilessly prioritizing your tasks and following through on the important tasks first, rather than the easily completed ones. Be sure to take on projects that will pay dividends in time-saved and customer retention in the future, like mapping the customer journey, or periodically reviewing the onboarding process. These are tasks that you have got to schedule with high priority or else they won’t get done.

Once you’ve prioritized, group together tasks that are related, whether they are for the same client, or they are on the same web application. This will allow you to complete more tasks without having to break your workflow to switch gears too often.

“Do not try and make every customer happy all the time. Prioritize programs that generate tangible business outcomes for their team. When you focus on making the customer successful with your product or service, things like retention and renewal become an easy conversation.”

– Omer Gotlieb, Co-Founder & Chief Customer Officer, Totango

  • Micro-breaks: Do something to clear your mind between meetings or tasks

Once you’ve completed a set of tasks, get ready to switch gears to another set of tasks by doing something quick to clear your mind, preparing your brain to use a whole new set of neural connections. For you, that might mean getting up to walk around the office, having a little stretch, or meditating at your desk. Check out this website for some more mind-clearing methods for between batches of tasks.

For a more comprehensive guide to time management check out this article!

Tools:

ToDoist:

ToDoist is a to-do list application available on nearly every platform or device you can think of. It uses natural language processing to make entering tasks incredibly fast. Advanced users will appreciate paid features like custom labels and filters, location-based reminders, templates for recurring projects, as well as the ability to collaborate with co-workers. Even if you use this app for its most basic functions, it is straightforward and clean to use for task organization.

Google Calendar:

You’ve heard of this one, and may even be using it already for your time management. But are you using all of Google Calendar’s features to their fullest extent? For example, you can create an event and ask Google calendar to “find a time” or give you “suggested times”. Before you use either, be sure you have added everyone who needs to attend the event. Then click the “suggested times” below all of your names and a pop-up will show you some options for times you can meet.

While you are at it, calendar your 15 minute prep sandwich as a recurring event and schedule buffer time you need between major calls.

For more features you may not be using in Google Calendar, click here.

SmartDay:

SmartDay is a hybrid calendar and to-do list. You can add events, tasks, and notes, and then share them with others. SmartDay’s prime value is its focus on collaboration. Comments can be added to any shared event or task, and tasks can be delegated to different team members, which automatically schedules them in the individual’s calendar. The star feature is SmartDay’s automatic task scheduling. When you add tasks for your various projects into your list, SmartDay places them on your calendar in the free time between your appointments.

RescueTime:

RescueTime is an app that tracks the time you spend on applications and websites during your day. It informs you both when and how you are productive or distracted. RescueTime helps you be aware of where your time goes and more intentional with how you use your time.

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

How to Use Webhooks to Turn Your Software Platforms into a Digital Relay Team

Bang!

The starter pistol has fired for the relay race and you’re sprinting to get the baton to the next runner. As soon as you pass them the baton, they’re off to the next runner, and then the next, until the last runner crosses the finish line.

Using webhooks is like a digital relay race, with a trigger in one web application starting a sequence of events that passes data from one platform to the next, optionally triggering an event in each as the baton gets passed through the relay sequence.

You’ve got a team of software platforms that you use, like Zendesk or Intercom for support requests, Wootric for customer feedback, Salesforce as your system of record for Sales & Customer Success, and Tableau for analytics. With webhooks, you can create a digital relay of data. Once these systems are passing info to each other you can accomplish all kinds of workflows that streamline data collection, analysis and action. 

To skip the technical definition to get to the uses of webhooks, click here!

What Exactly are Webhooks?

Webhooks are “user defined” notifications that allow a web application — a.k.a. a cloud-based software platform or software system — to provide or receive real-time information to or from another web application about an event’s completion.

Webhooks can be incoming, i.e. the app is getting notified when something happens along with context around that event, or they can be outbound, i.e. the app is sending notifications out to other apps about events that occur within its services, along with context around that event.

It is inefficient to constantly request data from another network (a.k.a. polling for new data at regular time intervals in engineer-speak) and many internet browsers cannot support having an open connection between two web applications. Webhooks are an efficient, flexible, and convenient way to bring up-to-date data into the web applications you use regularly.

Compared to hiring a developer to create a native integration of one application on another, webhooks are a tech-lite method to sync data and trigger workflows across multiple applications. This also has the benefit of letting you work mainly on the software systems that you are most familiar with.

What are Webhooks Used For?

Webhooks’ capabilities allow you to:

  • Know that a specified event took place — e.g. a support ticket closed, a payment method was added, a survey was completed (a.k.a an incoming webhook)
  • Let another software platform know that the event took place (a.k.a. an outbound webhook)
  • Ensure that data is synced across all platforms
  • Set off an automatic relay of data and workflow for a network of software platforms

All of these can be combined to create “relays” for insight in a customer feedback program. Here are a couple of common use cases:

Improving Customer Support

Use Case: Zendesk Support Ticket Closure Triggers Email Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Survey

One prevalent use case for webhooks is triggering a survey after the closure of a support ticket in Zendesk or a customer conversation in Intercom.

Let’s take the support ticket example. Zendesk tickets are loaded with information, like ticket ID # and ticket requester email, that can be sent via a webhook to Wootric to trigger a Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) survey.

This additional information, or properties, allow you to customize the title and body of the email survey that gets sent to your customer.

Having CSAT feedback after support cases are closed can help inform the training and organization of your support teams. You’ll have a better understanding of your customer’s expectations of interactions with the Support team. CSAT feedback at this journey point can help you identify any gaps in your support experience.

Keep the Relay Going: Follow-up with Dissatisfied Customers

Use Case: Salesforce Workflows or Zapier webhook triggers a new case open or follow-up task

Using Salesforce workflows and our outbound webhook, you can close the loop with unhappy customers by triggering 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 stick with you. It can also clear up any potential miscommunication that may have occurred during the original interaction.

As you plan out your webhooks, be wary of survey fatigue. Wootric has built in protection from sending surveys too frequently to customers so you don’t have to worry about accidentally bombarding customer inboxes.

Take Action or Test a New Strategy with One Segment of Customers

Use Case: Mixpanel Event in Specific Segment Triggers an In-App Customer Survey

Another useful way to use webhooks is to have Mixpanel events, such as a customer creating their first report with your app or completing their first order, trigger a survey for specific segments of users.

Let’s say you are a meal kit delivery app, like Blue Apron or HelloFresh, and you want to test a new dinner party kit.

You can use a webhook to survey the dinner party kit customers the next time they log in your meal kit app. That survey might be a Customer Effort Score (CES) survey (” How easy was it for you to cook your dinner party meal?”), or it might be a CSAT survey, depending on what kind of feedback you are looking for.

This feedback would identify improvements that need to be made to the new dinner party meal kit. It will also identify people who love it. Another webhook can trigger a task be assigned to a marketing team member to reach out to those promoters for testimonials or a potential interview.

Incorporate CX Metrics into Business Analytics

Use Case: Send Wootric Net Promoter Score Survey Data into Tableau or Chartio

Compiling all of your data from multiple web applications for correlating analysis can be tedious and frustrating. Sometimes it can feel like your data is trapped in one app or another with no way of importing that data in real time.

Webhooks allow you to bring data from multiple sources for consolidated, holistic reporting. This helps you create beautiful reports, rich with context, and connect all of your various analyses to guide organizational action.

If you’ve already been surveying customers with Wootric, our dashboard has been helping you manage your customer feedback program. We often see our customers’ business analysts use webhooks to report customer experience metrics, like Net Promoter Score, alongside other KPIs, such as churn or expansion revenue.

Webhooks allow you to take all of the raw data from Wootric and send it to interactive data visualization applications like Tableau, Chart.io, or Looker as the feedback comes in, in real time. The information reflected in charts is updated every time new survey feedback comes in.

Tableau Example
Example of real-time data visualization in Tableau

Create a Holistic View of Account Health
Use case: Send Wootric CX Data to Salesforce or other CRM

Gathering customer feedback to understand the health of your organization often relies on both relationship monitoring through drip/cadence Net Promoter Score (NPS) and journey point monitoring through transactional CSAT/CES surveys.

Example of Account Level CX data in Salesforce

Using all three of these CX surveys at appropriate journey points can provide a bird’s eye view of your customers’ journey, with each survey score reflecting different parts of the entire journey. Wootric offers a native integration to accomplish this in Salesforce, but you can use a webhook service like Zapier to move Wootric data to any CRM. 

Custom Insight Through Creative Webhook Use

Webhooks enable you to customize the segments you survey, the events that trigger a survey, as well as the title and survey question itself. With some creativity and planning, webhooks and CX surveys can get the exact information you want into your preferred web application for insight and analysis.  

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

Blended AI will Improve Customer Experience (CX), But Keep It Human

“We believe that in 2018, the use of blended AI will help improve sales outcomes and reduce customer servicing costs. But, there are implications.” – Forrester

When it comes to delivering prompt, effective service to customers, human customer support agents have their limitations. For example, for all but the biggest multinational companies, customer service isn’t available 24/7. And even during regular working hours, the supply of sales people, customer success managers and support agents is finite, causing wait times, call abandonment, and dissatisfaction (in other words: bad customer experience).

Artificial Intelligence-powered technology is even more limited – even though it’s available 24/7, even the swiftest systems can’t handle anything more than simple or common inquiries (yet). And when was the last time you called customer service with a simple problem? Too many situations are unique. Try to have your problem solved by an algorithm, and even worse CX ensues.

But do you see what I see?

I see two puzzle pieces coming together. Two halves of a potential whole. Two wrongs making a right.

What if we blend them together?

Blended AI, but which path to take?

Forrester qualifies their prediction that blended AI is in our near future by also speculating that it will result in dropping customer satisfaction levels, “as companies drive more traffic to chatbots, self-service, and chat that are not fully optimized to engage customers effectively.”

Essentially, if you use AI/chatbots to replace human interaction, your customers won’t appreciate it.

But, if you use AI/chatbots to facilitate human interaction… well, that’s another story altogether.

There tends to be two camps of thought when it comes to AI interactions with customers and it boils down to whether or not you want your customers to know they are interacting with a bot.

Avoiding Smoke & Mirrors in CX

Lisa Abbott, VP of Marketing at Wootric, believes in transparency in CX and particularly in customer interactions.

“I value brands that I can trust. If I find out your sales development rep is really a bot, I feel foolish for having wished “her” a good day. And, I have to wonder what else you are comfortable hiding from me. It is no way to begin an authentic customer relationship.”

It is important to remember that the customer’s priority is achieving their goals efficiently. If AI can help you get them there faster, customers will be delighted. However, passing a email sender or chatbot off as “Amanda” does nothing to meet customer needs and can risk alienating them if the bot gets caught.

The good news is that there is no need for a charade.

Intercom’s Operator bot was designed knowing that consumers are tired of chatbots that “try to answer questions they shouldn’t and pretend to be human which leads to bad customer experiences.”

Another good example of transparency is Drift’s chatbot — their bot’s language is breezy and human, but it is clear that sales leads are interacting with a bot. It’s fun to interact with their bot, rather than falling into the “uncanny valley” of creepy by trying to pass a bot off as human. Think Wall-E rather than Commander Shepard from Mass Effect 3.

For a good example of B2C interactions, take a look at Levi’s Virtual Stylist. It quickly guides customers through a decision tree to narrow down the broad range of style options offered by Levi’s and adds a human element with a “see it styled” option, which shows customers how other folks have styled the suggested jeans.

In each of these cases, a bot does a masterful job of building customer relationships — as a bot!

Passing the Turing Test

Arri Bagah is the head of chatbots at BAMF media, a growth hacking agency for B2B businesses.

He agrees that chatbots can work well as a customer service tool “especially to help people make purchase decisions faster and more conveniently, answering questions on the fly so people don’t have to wait to get their answers.”

But he believes brands can also use these conversations to start building relationships.

He says, “You can use bots at the top of the funnel to teach, build the relationship, and sell.”

“One thing I’m doing on my own website is to ask visitors if I can walk them through a few strategies to help them reduce their Facebook ads cost. ‘Can I teach you about…[whatever it is]?’ You can put people through that sequence and, at the end, recommend a product that would help them move forward to the next steps. And people can ask questions. I’ve set it up to where the bot notifies me to answer specific questions live.”

Bagah works specifically with Facebook Messenger, but his advice can apply to any AI messaging app. When you start to think of messaging as a relationship-building, educational tool, whole new avenues of interaction open up.

But – according to Arri, it has to sound like a human being.

And there’s a trick to that.

“If you look at how people use messaging apps, they use images and gifs, not just text. That’s what you need to use with a chatbot to make it feel personal and engaging.”

He says he designs his clients’ Facebook chatbots to have personalities.

“They’re funny. They send you GIFs that make you smile. When you nail down that personality, you’ll see people asking ‘is this a person?’ I love those questions!”

According to Arri, when customers can’t tell whether a bot is AI or a human being, you’re getting it right – especially when the bot can pass warmed-up leads to a real sales agent.

Customer Expectations Will Make the Choice for You

If you intend to incorporate AI into your customer experience, you will need to make the decision of whether to disclose the robot nature of specific interactions or not. If you are not sure, it may be wise to gauge your customers’ sentiments around bot interactions, or deploy some testing with both methods and determine which is better suited to your company’s need.

Service is a good start, but blended AI can deliver so much more

It’s not just about quality of service – it’s about quality of data (qualitative data, that is). Website designers and optimizers have traditionally used click analytics to determine the performance of a website, landing page, or SaaS product engagement. But one of Forrester’s predictions for 2018 is that 25 percent of enterprises will supplement click analytics with conversational interfaces that deliver voice-of-customer data.

Conversational interfaces, bots, chats – whatever you want to call them – are treasure troves of voice-of-customer data that can tell you why something doesn’t work (click analytics just tell you something is wrong, and it’s up to you to figure out what). But troubleshooting is just the tip of the iceberg, because once you have a customer talking to you, you can ask them to tell you what they want, need, wish they had, and plain don’t like.

Forget about optimizing your CTA button – you can optimize your business for the best possible CX.

Of course, it’s not quite that simple, because you’ll have hundreds and thousands of conversations coming through.

When you’re working at scale, sifting through qualitative data to come up with business-changing insights is another challenge altogether. And this is where AI can really shine.

One example is InMoment’s CXInsight™ , AI-powered text and sentiment analysis tool that can categorize unstructured feedback based on what matters most to you. Millions of Wootric survey responses pre-train the algorithm to look for important themes, which can be further segmented by buyer persona, user group, sentiment, or even individual. Like the best examples of blended AI, the AI does the tedious, time consuming work of categorizing massive quantities of qualitative data, letting the humans spend their time digging into the insights and taking action.

CXInsight- Instant-AI-categorization

Are you ready to power your CX with AI in 2018?

From customer service to warming up sales leads, from educating consumers to helping derive insights from massive amount of data, AI can do so much to improve customer experience.

But as Forrester predicts, “Having a successful AI-driven customer service or sales program will depend on the processes that support a blended AI approach.”

Our prediction is this: Companies that have the processes in place to support AI and understand what AI tools can accomplish – and their limitations – will be poised to grow exponentially in 2018.

Are you one of them?

Get insights from qualitative data. Learn more about InMoment CXInsight™.

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.

Who Should Own Renewal? Customer Success Experts Share the Pros & Cons of 3 Different Models

A year has gone by, and it’s time for SaaS subscription renewal. Who reaches out to close the renewal, the Account Executive, CSM or Account Manager?

In two words, it depends. In five words, it depends and will change.

In order to ensure your company’s growth and reputation, you need a harmonious ecosystem of teams with proper compensation and incentives to fit the size and nature of your company. Upsells and renewals come as a natural result of successful adoption. Making sure your CSMs can perform optimally results in an easier job for whoever you chose to own the “commercial” aspects of the customer relationship.

During August’s Customer Success Meetup in San Francisco, Dave Blake, founder and CEO of ClientSuccess, Angeline Felix, Customer Success Manager at New Relic, and Sylvia Kuyel, Customer Success Strategic & International Lead at Cloudflare, discussed the different facets of three ownership models at their own organizations and from previous experience. Most SaaS companies will fall under one of three models: the account executive owning the renewal, the CSM owning the renewal, or an account manager owning the renewal, and all three have their perks and problems.

Model 1: The Account Executive/ Sales owns the expansion and renewal

The first model they discussed was the model where the account executive owns the renewal and all the “commercial” parts of the client relationship. Dave Blake, who has seen all three models, says that organizations where the renewal process is complex, or where you’re dealing with large accounts with labor and resource intense negotiations would do best under this model. The key to making this model work is fostering a strong, collaborative relationship between the AE and the CSM. He has seen teams fall into the trap of the AE treating the CSM like a secretary or administrator, which creates resentment and does not add any value for the organization’s customers.

A problem that can happen within this model is that AEs, in their sales mindsets, can start neglecting their current client base in order to pursue the next potential customer. At New Relic, Angeline Felix has a system where if a customer downgrades, a “spot-back” is on their record, meaning AEs “get dinged…it’s in their best interest to stay engaged, continuing the relationship through the entire customer life cycle, and through the adoption phase.”

In Sylvia Kuyel’s experience at Cloudflare, “in our early stages we were one bundled product, which means there’s not a lot of upsell. AEs will naturally be interested in large accounts because they see one business unit and then they want the ins to the additional ones.”

You can also run into the opposite problem, where AEs have an easier job expanding in their existing customer base, focus too much on them, and stop going after new logos, which is what happened at ClientSuccess. They fixed this by changing the comp plan for the AEs to push them to hunt new logos.

Model 2: The Customer Success Manager owns expansion and renewal

Discussion then led to the second model, where the CSM owns all of the relationship, including expansion and renewal. Dave Blake has been seeing this model across the industry more and more and this is the model that Cloudflare follows. Coming from a venture capitalist background, Sylvia knows that when valuing a company, people look at how risky their recurring revenue is and the heavy influence customer success has on this. She emphasized that the main reason this works for Cloudflare is that all their customers are on auto-renew contracts with a 60-day notice period.

“ The key to success here is fairly straightforward renewals that aren’t high maintenance, and the experience and maturity of your CS team. Some teams don’t have the negotiating experience or want that pressure.” Dave Blake, founder and CEO of ClientSuccess

Even though this is the majority of their customers, she says that when dealing with large accounts with long complex initial negotiations, it makes sense to bring in the AE because they have all the contacts, and they negotiate every day. They have a long standing relationship with the AE, even though renewal is truly a customer success number.

“As long as you’ve done a good job of driving the adoption along the way, the renewal itself is not a negotiation process.” Sylvia Kuyel, Customer Success Strategic & International Lead at Cloudflare

All three CSMs in the latest panel for the Customer Success Meetup felt strong ownership over expansion and renewal. According to Erica Pearson from Periscope Data, “ I own it all; it is my relationship with the client. I am their partner.” Their job is to get their clients value, with renewal being part of the CSM’s reward for doing the job right. Cloudflare recognizes the heavy workload that is involved when CSMs own everything. They set a global CS team goal that contributes to their comp but it is not individual. They do not want CSMs getting possessive over their accounts, and this encourages them to help each other out when one CSM has a particularly heavy day or week.

Many are hesitant to have CSMs own expansion and renewal because they fear that CSMs will lose the “trusted adviser” role, but Dave, Angeline and Sylvia all disagree with this based on experience. Customers tend to prefer having the trusted adviser to talk to about the commercial aspects, rather than bringing in a sales rep. They want someone who knows their business and if the commercial interactions are done right, CSMs can actually gain more trust as an adviser.

Model 3: A separate sales team of Account Managers own expansion and renewal

This last model brings in a third party into the organization’s ecosystem, a dedicated team of Account Managers who specialize in expansion and renewal. There is an undeniable benefit of specialization that comes with this model, letting AEs focus on new logos and CSMs focus on adoption. However, none of the experts at August’s Meetup were keen on this model, even having seen other companies successfully use it.  Dave and Angeline found that customers are overwhelmed, having so many introductions and relationships to maintain. Sylvia suggested that if there is noticeable tension between the trusted adviser role and the commercial duties, then this is the model for you. It’s important to clearly delineate the duties among these three roles, with appropriate comp and incentives to drive the individuals in these roles.

Lana Pucket, a CSM at WalkMe gave insight into her experience with this model and relationship during the most recent Customer Success Meetup, saying that she executes the entire lead up to the renewal, but the AM comes in to handle the renewal contract. She noted that 20% of her salary is based on renewals, tying her salary to a number that she does not own according to the roles within her organization.

Having previously managed an AM team, Angeline says this model worked at that unnamed company, but you have to think about the type of person you are hiring for each role. The AM needs a balance between the CSM mindset of customer care and the AE mindset of making the sale. To learn more about the traits you should look for in a CSM, check out this article.

Tailoring it for you

Depending on the product you’re selling, the maturity of your organization, and the size of your customers, you may need to switch from one ownership model to another. Through this transition, remember to define the roles clearly to your customers, aligning to their needs. All of this will result in high expansion and successful renewals.

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

How SaaS Companies Hire & Scale Customer Success: Perspectives from Leaders at JobScience & brightwheel

Great news! Your company is growing fast.

If you are responsible for scaling the Customer Success team though, it can be daunting. You need more CSMs to support all of the new customers your Sales team is bringing in the door.

How do you recruit? Who do you hire? How can you ensure new hires succeed? What are some of the hiring pitfalls to avoid?

At the latest Customer Success Meetup in San Francisco, moderator Emilie Davis of Periscope Data asked Sabine Gillert, VP of Customer Success Operations at Jobscience, and Eddie Nguyen, VP of Customer Success at brightwheel, to share their customer success hiring expertise, and attendees were not disappointed.

Sabine and Eddie have entirely different backgrounds giving exciting, diverse perspectives as they answered questions. Eddie has a strong history of working with early-stage startups and helping them grow from a few team members to hundreds, while Sabine works with a leading SaaS business in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Traits you should look for in Customer Success candidates

The first question asked was: What are the universal traits for customer success managers to be successful in the role? This is the question most of us need to have answered as we are searching for the right person for our team. 

To start Eddie laid out four qualities he looks for, keep in mind this is for early-stage startups hiring for customer success:

Grit: The hire has to be willing to work hard as it’s sometimes necessary for a startup role.

Empathy: Both internally and externally. It makes sense that empathy is needed for customers and clients, but the internal part is an interesting tidbit to consider. No doubt there will be issues that developers, sales, or even marketing has mistakenly caused, and it won’t help to blame them, it’s much better to acknowledge a mistake, help the client, and move forward.

Learning Mindset: Managers have to be interested and willing to continue learning, especially at an early stage company, as there will continuously be changes and they will need to learn steadily.

Leadership: Sometimes customers need to be led through their issue. Other times they may expect or want too much from the company and that will need to be conveyed. There will also be times when a CSMs will need to internally advocate for a customer to management, sales, and/or marketing.

Sabine added additional skills that are important for customer success:

Listening Skills: Customers can sometimes bring their frustrations to the conversation. The manager will need to listen, identify the core problem(s) and propose solutions that will help on all levels.

Curiosity: Just as Eddie mentioned Learning, curiosity is a necessity. Managers will need to investigate issues, ask why things are the way they are, and possibly propose solutions. Customers don’t usually know what they don’t know, and further, they won’t usually give a lot of details, so the manager will have to go the extra mile in some cases.  

When pressed for attributes for building your team out and hiring to improve the team you have, our two experts suggested:

Attitude: Someone that has a great energy, that can be happy about handling issues that require going the extra mile.

Process & Data-Orientation: You’ll need someone on the team that can dig into data and find opportunities while also being specific about following procedure and sticking to policy.

How do you hire for Customer Success? 

Hiring should start long before an ad is placed. Either the company desperately needs a hire (and should have started the process weeks ago, which is standard) or they are looking ahead and know that will need to have people available as new accounts come online.

With that in mind we wanted to know how the experts handle hiring, what approach do they take?

Sabine and Eddie had very similar answers to this question. Sabine suggests knowing who you would like to hire ahead of time, and approaching them before you need them.

Eddie also starts the process before hires are needed. He begins with leveraging the people at his company for intros on Linkedin. He also throws recruiting parties to get to know prospective team members.

Like a sales process, he plants seeds, so he has someone ready when they are needed. This keeps the pipeline full and hiring easier to manage than posting an ad and hoping the right person comes along.

At the other end of hiring is firing. Sometimes we hire the wrong person for a fit on our teams, and Eddie and Sabine seem to have experience here as well. Both experts suggest breaking ties with the employee as quickly as possible; it’s never good to prolong it or start looking for other opportunities for them. Sabine further suggested that every employee has a 90 day probation period and this helps with identifying poor fits.

What is Customer Success?

This was an intriguing question to ask as it would often seem like a simple answer.  You might just jump to the conclusion that every company’s CS team would be there to help customers be successful. But, both experts had unique perspectives to share.

Sabine started with a quick question: “What does it mean to your organization?” She followed up with “What do you want customers to achieve?” and added that at her company customer success also means protecting revenue and staying focused on what you have to do to do that.

Again, Eddie had an altogether different answer from his early stage startup experience. “Customer success represents brand and voice. It’s about supporting customers, harnessing the knowledge you gain and teaching the rest of the organization. It evolves being an innovator for customers and making sure everyone gets an amazing experience.”

Two strategies for training CSMs

Once you have new employees on board, it’s time to train them for customer success within your organization. Depending on how you handle management, you’ll probably have your own way of dealing with training new hires. Sabine offers extensive training programs where hires do not talk to clients until they are confident and have gone through time being shadowed by someone with experience.

Eddie’s approach was entirely different; he puts customer success managers on the phone with clients on Day 1 to expose them to the environment and help them learn what they’ll be handling. He likes to present an environment where it’s OK to make a mistake, and the manager doesn’t have to be afraid they’ll be fired for messing up. Even in these cases, answers to support issues are usually approved by another team member before going back to the customer, so there is a failsafe in effect.

How do you retain Customer Success talent?

It’s no good getting new employees on board if you can’t keep them happy and with the company, so we wanted to see what Sabine and Eddie thought about retaining talent.

Both suggest understanding and getting to know the person and what is going on in their life. Sabine likes to give them space and flexibility to handle issues so they can give it their all at work. She says it’s best to understand they are people and that it isn’t all about salary.

Eddie added that you want to first hire who is right for the company, and find out how committed they are regarding staying with the company — what are their goals? can you help them succeed? Then understand their currency, some people are motivated by money, some want recognition, others want more trust to work on tougher projects. Find out what they like so you can give it when they perform well.

Additionally, Eddie suggested that when you ask for feedback, you should take steps to appreciate the input, and take action to make changes needed. No one will leave feedback if it isn’t acted upon.

Interesting Hiring Lessons

One of our last questions for Sabine and Eddie was about their most significant learning experiences in hiring. We all have them!

Sabine had a particularly useful one about working with mentorship/ apprentice programs. Her company took on five college students in 2016, and they thought it would be just like any hire.

They quickly realized these hires required more time, management and investment because it is so early in their careers. You have to make sure they are supervised. Recognize the investment these programs require because you’ll want to do everything you can to make them successful.

Eddie summarized his lessons by saying that up until 100 people, you do unscalable things to grow, you want effectiveness. Then you’ll start to hire for efficiency, you’ll keep giving managers customers until you hit a ceiling, and that ceiling is different for every business, but you won’t know what yours is until you get there.

In the world of Customer Success, many things are new and changing, so it’s helpful to hear from others that have been in the field for years and can share their experiences. It is clear from the approaches that Sabine and Eddie shared that different strategies can be equally successful. CS leaders who are growing there Customer Success teams must  determine what practices make the most sense for their SaaS company. Good luck to all!

Each monthly meet-up gathering in San Francisco is packed with Customer Success Managers from SaaS (Software as Service) companies who want to learn the latest insights from experienced Customer Success leaders. If you don’t live in the SF Bay Area, you can still benefit from the expertise shared at these monthly meetups.  Whenever possible, the organizers post a video of the event on their meetup page courtesy of Success.ly. The September meetup was hosted by Cloudflare

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

CES: New Ways SaaS Companies are Using Customer Effort Score

Effort. We’re taught to praise it, get really good at avoiding it, and really, would rather do without it. Effort is hard and uncomfortable. As human beings, we’ve designed incredible digital tools to reduce effort as much as possible. Today, “user-friendly” isn’t just a selling point anymore, it’s become a basic expectation among customers – to the point that if a task isn’t intuitively easy to complete, consumers will drop the product and go elsewhere.

Effort is a big deal.

So why are most companies not measuring customer effort, or only relegating it to a customer support metric?

What is Customer Effort Score (CES)?

Customer Effort Score (CES) is a newer metric originally developed for Customer Support. In that context, it measures customer service satisfaction by asking customers “How easy was it to get the help you wanted today?” That is valuable information for your Support department. But Customer Success and Product Development departments have been latching onto the idea for so much more.

The core CES question is: “How much effort did this task require to complete?” – typically on a scale of 1-7. And that question, followed by an open-ended “Care to tell us why?” question,  can be used in a number of ways to yield more relevant feedback from customers on numerous fronts.

In-app CES Customer Effort Score Survey

Customer Success and Product Development teams in particular have been adding CES to their customer journey metrics to get feedback on onboarding and ease of feature use.

[ctt template=”3″ link=”1b54y” via=”no” nofollow=”yes”]”Anytime you have a workflow you want a customer to complete, #CES is a great question to ask.” – Jessica Pfeifer, Chief Customer Officer, Wootric[/ctt]

How Product teams use CES to improve UX & feature adoption

Customer Effort Score fits in seamlessly with Product goals because user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) depend largely on ease of use. Product teams are starting to use CES to get feedback on how well the UI supports new feature adoption and to identify moments where customers begin to feel frustrated and lost.

Frustration is an emotion that is closely linked not only to churn, but to a decreased rate of customer advocacy.

“The revenue impact from a 10% improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion.” – Forrester

Frustration metrics” like rage clicks, error clicks and form abandonment are also useful to track, and can alert dev teams to issues they may not have expected, but adding CES to the mix can shed more light into just how hard customers perceive tasks to be. And with an open-ended follow-up question, they can even tell you why. When 40 to 60 percent of software users open an app once – and never log in again – anything that reduces friction during those early critical stages will have major impact.

Canva, a design tool for non-designers with a freemium sales model, has one of the smoothest onboarding sequences, which begins with a 2-minute tutorial that shows users the value they’re about to get while giving hands-on instruction on using the tool. Instructions ask users to complete fun design exercises, like putting a hat on a monkey or selecting different layouts and backgrounds, which builds users’ confidence.

Canva onboarding

Canva onboarding example 2

SaaS guru Lincoln Murphy says, “The first in-app experience your customer has with your product sets the tone for your relationship, and if it’s confusing, overwhelming, or otherwise puts up barriers to achieving success (or at least recognizing the value potential of your product, you’re in trouble.”

Canva may hit this out of the park, but for businesses struggling with smoothing out their onboarding flow, CES surveys – especially those that can be deployed while the users are in the app – becomes tremendously valuable.

But it’s not just about reducing friction and frustration – retention really is about ease. A Customer Contact Council survey of more than 75,000 consumers found that the most important factor in customer loyalty was reducing effort – defined as “the work they must do to get their problem solved.”

How Customer Success teams use CES to reduce churn

Customer Success managers know that one of the most important purposes of onboarding is getting the customer to experience value from the product – as soon as possible. This has it’s own metric, called “time to first value,” and the shorter it is, the more likely the customer will be to continue using the product.

CES for onboarding

CES now helps Customer Success keep a pulse on the onboarding experience of each new customer. The customer onboarding experience in Enterprise SaaS can involve training and implementation advice delivered by Customer Success Managers, in addition to the elements like videos, documentation and walk-throughs in the product itself. Unfortunately, “the seeds of churn” are sown if that process is painful.

Sarang Bhatt, Customer Success Manager at Wootric uses Wootric’s own CES survey to assess the onboarding process. “I find it very useful. We may not get a 7 every single time, but when we do miss the mark, we can close the loop with the customer and improve our processes for the next cycle. This is all because we have proactively solicited honest feedback via CES. Customers see a CES survey before NPS, so it gives us a chance to learn whether we are on track and make adjustments.” 

CES for monitoring customer hand off from Sales to Success

Customer Success teams are also using CES even earlier in the customer journey to measure the ease of transition between Sales and CSMs.

One of the most common causes of frustration for customers is answering questions asked by Sales, only to have to repeat their answers once they’re handed to a Customer Success Manager. The interdepartmental communication ball tends to be dropped during the handoff because customer information is siloed by department instead of shared freely. Customer Effort Score serves as an alert when these types of communication failures affect UX

In fact, Customer Success can use CES to monitor many (if not every) success milestone to see how easily customers achieved them – from the customers’ perspectives. Mapping CES onto the customer’s journey by checking in at success milestones effectively transforms CES into part of the overall customer health score every CSM should be tracking.

Not familiar with customer success milestones? These are often a checklist of tasks your customers must complete to use your product successfully and get closer to achieving their ideal outcomes – what they really want from your product. You can chart them out visually in a customer journey map.

CES for Advocacy

Using CES in customer success has another benefit: advocacy. Users are more inclined to become brand advocates – sharing positive reviews publicly – after positive support experiences. So an in-app CES question that follows high ratings with a timely advocacy ask can help spread brand awareness.

How Customer Service & Support use CES

CES surveys are most often deployed via email after customer support interactions. A user has a question, contacts customer support, receives an answer, and is then asked to score the interaction based on ease.

Why ease? Because research shows that the most important attribute of satisfaction is ease, which makes it the most logical metric to use instead of, or in addition to, other satisfaction metrics like length of wait time or even resolution of the problem. The CES question gets straight to the heart of whether the customer service experience increased satisfaction.

Don’t throw CSAT away though – customer satisfaction metrics provide broader feedback that is still extremely useful.

What to do if CES is low

What if the rating isn’t high? Close the loop! Put a process in place, or use a software platform like Wootric, that takes less than ideal customer effort scores and allows you to close the loop with the customer by reaching out to them individually or triggering appropriate automated responses.  Take action — create a cross-functional team to review feedback and prioritize actions you can take that will ease the pain and create a better experience for your customers.

Trends Tab CES in Wootric Dashboard
CES Trend in Wootric Analytics Dashboard

As you track CES over time, you’ll be able to see the results of your efforts in the score and in your customer retention numbers as well!

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Tips on Improving Customer Experience from Six CX Experts

Why is Customer Experience becoming the primary way companies differentiate themselves in an increasingly crowded market? How does CX pave the way for growth? How do you measure it accurately (and actionably) – and how can you leverage customer feedback for happier customers, more referrals, and more sales?

We asked all of these questions and more of CX experts at the top of their field – and their answers will inspire you.

Customer Experience Experts on Growth

Customer Experience is inextricably linked to growth – when you give the customers not only what they want, but also what they need in a way that leaves a positive impression, you’re making an investment sure to pay dividends.

“Customer experience drives growth. Data supports this fact. Forrester showed that CX leaders, on average, grow more than 5x faster than CX laggards. The companies that have made CX a priority focus on understanding the customer’s needs and wants and spend a lot of time understanding the journey a customer takes. They ensure the customer voice is heard (either through direct interviews or other opportunities to provide feedback) at each touch point of the customer journey, make sure actionable insights from feedback gets back into processes and close the loop with customers to advise them of the actions they took. They do this because they understand the post-purchase phase of the customer lifecycle is where growth occurs.” – Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience, M4 Communications, Inc.

Customer Experience Experts on Tracking CX Metrics

What’s the best way to improve the experiences your customers are having? Opinions differ, even among experts, but everyone agrees that what gets measured gets done.

“An organization should have many tools available to them and not lean on any one of them too heavily. They should look at a combination of CES, NPS, CSAT, loyalty, and emotions metrics. In addition, measurement shouldn’t be taken in a vacuum. Testing and analysis should occur regularly and consistently so you can view trends and then take deep dives to determine the reasons the trends are what they are. This will help you improve your CX performance.” –Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience, M4 Communications, Inc.

“If you want to get started with measuring and improving customer experience, I recommend you begin by tracking Net Promoter Score. You’ll get a metric that everyone in the company can rally around improving, and the rich feedback you get from customers will give you guidance on how to do it.  Over time you can build a sophisticated customer feedback strategy that incorporates a number of CX metrics, but I advise that you get the ball rolling as soon as possible. There are a number of low cost/no-cost SaaS platforms out there, including Wootric, that can get you started quickly.”  –Jessica Pfeifer, Cofounder and Chief Customer Officer, Wootric.

The Net Promoter System is the most effective way to gauge customer experience at scale. The better your customer experience, the more likely your customers will be brand enthusiasts or promoters. And the more promoters you have, the higher your Net Promoter Score will be.” – Jes Kirkwood, Content & Community Marketer at Autopilot

The social media sites that have perfected the art of public reviews are the best customer experience gauges available.  Yelp is a great example for the service industry, Capterra is a grand example for the software industry.  Monitoring those channels is a passive way to manage these gauges.  If you want quality, meaningful results, you will have to intentionally drive customer traffic to those platforms. Be brave. Invite them to be honest.” – Joe McCollum, Configio Support/SaaS Consultant

Customer Experience Experts on Retention

Sure, you can keep customers even if you provide a lackluster experience – if you’re the only game in town. But with competitors coming out of the woodwork, nobody has any market cornered for long. Offering superior CX is the only way to win the kind of loyalty that becomes the mortar paving the road to retention.

“I spend a lot of time with SaaS startup clients whose number-one goal is to improve recurring revenue. What I’m really excited about is a lot of my early stage startup clients are eager to put CX in place now so they are ready for when they scale. They know how vital CX is to corporate growth.” – Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience, M4 Communications, Inc.

“Customer experience is one of the two core pillars of customer retention — the thing is, you can’t grow if your customers don’t stick around. Keeping customers around is harder than ever—and delivering an unparalleled customer experience is the only way to win. Today, companies must curate a timely, relevant, and personalized customer journey, nail customer support, and take advantage of every opportunity to surprise and delight.” – Jes Kirkwood, Former Content & Community Marketer at Autopilot

Efforts toward retention should start early in the customer relationship. At Wootric, we ask our customers the Customer Effort Score question to get feedback on our onboarding process. When we don’t get top marks, we get an opportunity to make things right with the customer immediately and get back on track. All because we reached out and proactively asked for feedback early on.” –Jessica Pfeifer, Cofounder and Chief Customer Officer, Wootric.

Customer Experience Experts on Leveraging Emotion

Emotion is a vital, yet often underappreciated, component of decision-making – but CX experts know that winning minds isn’t enough. Customer Experience is a game of winning hearts.

“In my experience working in varying industries, customer trust is a byproduct of an amazing customer experience. Whether it’s helping them with a purchase or teaching them how to use software; the make or break is how they feel when they walk away from you. If they walk away with complete trust, that type of experience translates to growth.” – Joe McCollum, Configio Support/SaaS Consultant

“We’ve found that it’s often the accumulation of small annoyances that does the most damage to a customer’s perception of a brand and their loyalty as a purchaser. Frustration metrics (things like rage clicks, error clicks and form abandonment) are a great way to quickly spot and fix major things that are actively blocking customers from achieving their goals and/or contributing to an overall negative experience.” – Amy Ellis, Marketing & PR at FullStory

“As a Product Designer, I understand that even more than having a great graphic design and program, the product needs to generate an experience that connects customers emotionally with your brand/service/product. Meaningful relationships are created by strong experiences. It’s how customers become allies for the marketing team for both referrals and acquisition.” – Diego Dotta, Developer & CXO at Youper

Customer Experience Experts on The Future

CX is a quickly-evolving field as new technologies make it easier to create better experiences, track those experiences, and leverage those experiences into engines for retention and growth. What does the near future hold – and what do you need to do to stay on top of the wave?

“I believe that CX will only become more important as it gets easier for newer, more nimble companies to disrupt larger slower companies. Technology will continue to get better at helping companies quickly and easily see where they’re letting down their customers – like causing them frustration and anger, complicating their progress toward their own goals, and missing opportunities to surprise and delight.”  – Amy Ellis, Marketing & PR at FullStory

“Right now brands are inundated with CX feedback–social, surveys, support tickets–and it’s all over the place. Companies that take a systematic approach to aggregating and analyzing all of that Voice of the Customer data in one place will have a competitive advantage.  AI–in this case a combination of machine learning and natural language processing–is making it possible to glean insights from those thousands of qualitative comments.” – Jessica Pfeifer, Cofounder and Chief Customer Officer, Wootric.

“Companies will need to focus on two areas:

  1. Creating consistent omnichannel experiences that cover digital. CX tends to be fragmented which hurts customers and companies. A better approach is to create a consistent experience across channels, and companies miss the boat on digital because they have gaps in their technology. Companies should focus on setting up a strong technological foundation which encompasses the entire customer journey
  2. Investing in AI. While current AI applications include chatbots for many tasks (Facebook Messenger currently has over 100,000 chatbots), a common application is to use AI for lower level customer service tasks. At more advanced stages, AI will be invaluable to CX in predicting sales and service behaviors and in augmenting engagement, to name a few.”

      – Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience, M4 Communications, Inc.

“As technology continues to evolve, customer expectations will continue to rise. Delivering a hyper-targeted, personalized customer journey will become standard practice—customers won’t accept anything less. Creative marketers will find unique ways to surprise and delight, setting the bar even higher. Any companies that are already falling behind will struggle to keep up.” – Jes Kirkwood, Content & Community Marketer at Autopilot

“The challenge I have here, in a behavioral health company, is to discover and solve customer issues before they realize it themselves. I also see a need for increased availability – even offline – for when customers need emotional support, which we can do by being proactive using AI and passive data.” – Diego Dotta, Developer & CXO at Youper

A lot of companies are turning toward value-added membership campaigns. I personally feel these first round of loyalty driven offerings are based too much on the fear of losing market share, less on value added that builds and increases the trust of the consumer. The evolution of CX will force many companies that want to be successful to bite the bullet and put their money where their mouth is. The good news is, the future is bright for the consumer.” – Joe McCollum, Configio Support  / SaaS Consultant

Experts Agree: The Future is About Using Technology to Serve Customers Better

From customer success goals to metrics that measure emotion, to carefully planned and tracked customer journeys, Customer Experience reaches into every aspect of how companies relate to their customers. You can look at CX as the end result of how business decisions ultimately affect customers, or you can look at CX as the guiding light that becomes a company-wide compass for customer-facing decisions. Either way, it’s clear: To survive and grow, today’s businesses have align behind the customer experience.

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

The Customer Journey Mapping Guide to Getting Started

A customer journey map is a diagram of all the places customers come into contact with your brand, online or off. Each of these touchpoints influences the customer, and by analyzing customer behavior, feelings, and motivations around each touchpoint, you can begin to identify opportunities to establish more positive relationships by giving customers what they need at any given stage of their journey.

The goal of journey mapping is to gain a deeper understanding of your customer, how they interact with your brand, and how each interaction affects your relationship. It’s also a way to ensure that the brand experience remains consistent for each customer across touchpoints.

“With the number of touchpoints a customer has with a brand increasing with the proliferation of technologies and channels, the need to create a consistent experience is critically important.” – McKinsey & Company

But the big picture goal is why there is so much buzz around customer journey maps now:

Customer journey maps can move you towards more conversions, greater customer loyalty, and improved customer experience from end to end (or from end to forever, if you are subscription-based and there’s no bottom to your sales funnel).

But customer journey maps can be complicated to create, and their results can be difficult to track and interpret from end to end. Many businesses are tempted to ignore it altogether in favor of lower-hanging fruit to increase conversions.

However, that hesitancy to use journey maps is quickly disappearing as more companies are seeing the results from properly mapping their customer journeys.

And, if your company is struggling with the question: “Why aren’t customers completing (or repeating) purchases?” – there is no better time to create the map that will lead you to that answer.

SaaS companies optimize the customer journey with this 4-touchpoint approach from InMoment.

Customer cartography: Where to begin

“We found that a company’s performance on journeys is 35 percent more predictive of customer satisfaction and 32 percent more predictive of customer churn than performance on individual touchpoints. Since a customer journey often touches different parts of the organization, companies need to rewire themselves to create teams that are responsible for the end-to-end customer journey across functions.” – McKinsey & Company

Gather a cross-functional team

As customers go through the various stages in the sales funnel, they cross departments from marketing to sales to product to customer success and customer service.

So it only makes sense that, when choosing your team for your customer journey mapping project, you have a representative from each of these departments involved. Having a cross-departmental team is vital to gaining the kind of understanding that is the whole point of the exercise.

“When a manager takes the lead to form a cohesive, customer-centric, interdepartmental team, it not only facilitates learning and accountability throughout the whole company, it can even change company culture for the better.” – Jessica Pfeifer, VP & General Manager, InMoment.

Define customer segments

Once your team is assembled, ask Marketing to list out each key customer segment.

Customer-Journey-Map-for- a-segments

Example of a segmented journey map

It’s extremely likely that each customer segment’s journey will be different. They’re likely finding you, and communicating with you, in different ways depending on demographic and psychographic variables.

That means, unless you only have one ideal customer persona, that you’ll actually be creating several customer journey maps, one for each segment.

Plot touchpoints

Once you have your segments identified, it’s time to plot out your touchpoints for each one. How and when does your customer interact with your brand, your product, your team?

You can decide whether you will tackle the pre-acquisition journey, post-acquisition journey, or the whole thing.

touchpoint customer journey map

With touchpoints, there are the ones you have control over, and the ones you don’t. There are the ones you can track easily, and those you can’t. If your company advertises via billboard, for example, that can be hard to track, even if you survey customers.

Of the ones you can control and track, online touchpoints are the easiest. So start there. Ask your marketing team members to fill you in on what the top of the funnel looks like, what links are bringing people to your website, and how those people first heard of you. In the post-acquisition phase, Customer Success and Support own certain customer touchpoints, and are likely already gathering feedback about them from customers. These touchpoints may include the end of the onboarding cycle in SaaS, order delivery in ecommerce,  a customer support interaction. The Product team may articulate journey points that are driven by behavior, such as feature adoption in SaaS or a purchase threshold in e-commerce. 

And, if the team doesn’t know already, don’t be afraid to ask the customers themselves – every step of this journey should be grounded in real customer data. At the same time, don’t let the exercise become overwhelming. You and your team may already have an intuitive sense of the journey. Get something documented and work to refine it over time. 

Flesh out your map by gathering customer data

Of course, you need more than touchpoints for your customer journey map. You need to know what’s happening at and around each touchpoint. You have to get inside the minds and hearts of the customers at every juncture to find out what they’re thinking, feeling, and needing to do.

Of these three, understanding customers’ emotions shouldn’t be given short shrift: 69% of consumers say that emotions count for over half their experiences.

Unless you have robust research from marketing and customer success departments already, you may want to gather all of this data, asking members of each segment – around every identified touchpoint – these questions:

  • What they’re thinking at that touchpoint
  • What they’re feeling at that touchpoint
  • What they need most at that touchpoint (use this as an indicator of buyer stage – awareness, research, choice reduction, purchase)
  • What their ultimate goal is (why are they here?)
  • What they do/did at that touchpoint (or use a session recording program to see exactly what they did, like hitting the “back” button when they land in the cart, etc.)

To get a pulse across your entire customer base, consider tracking core CX metrics. These include Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter Score. You can use your customer feedback software program to deploy at specific touchpoints, alerting you to places where people are experiencing trouble that will require more of your attention.

You may also need to conduct analytical research, taking a deep dive into your website/product analytics to find what users are doing and where they might be experiencing difficulty.

And don’t discount the data your customers volunteer on social media and review sites. You can gather valuable anecdotal evidence from a social media listening tool – as well as from the stories of your own customer success and customer service managers.

With this data, you can start to build a customer journey grid for each segment persona, for each purchase stage, and each touchpoint, with an overlay for what they are thinking, feeling, wanting, doing, and most importantly, what they’re hoping to achieve.

The customer success component

This is where we add Customer Success to the mix, ensuring that at each step, we have a crystal-clear understanding of each customer segment’s success milestones and ideal outcomes, so we can bridge any gaps between them.

Including customer success metrics, particularly success milestones, in customer journey mapping isn’t mentioned or suggested often. I believe this is because customer journey mapping has been traditionally focused on the top end of the funnel – Acquisition, Decision, and Purchase phases.

But SaaS is different. The funnel doesn’t end with the purchase. The goal isn’t to sell once or twice, but to retain customers via subscription, which requires continually providing and increasing value.

SaaS businesses – you need to chart much more than any other industry and make each post-purchase touchpoint count towards getting your customers closer to their desired outcome.

And that focus turns touchpoints into stepping stones towards success milestones.

In practice, this means you’ll need to consider how touchpoints, especially after purchase, can be used to help your users make real, tangible progress.

Examples of customer journey maps for SaaS, eCommerce, and brick-and-mortar stores

There are so many ways to map your customer journey, and it can be difficult to decide what has to be in, and what may be less important to you depending on your type of business and your goals. Here are a few examples from different types of industries that are mapping their customer journeys effectively. 

First, let’s look at two of the main ways you can organize your data: Linear or chart.

Linear: Works best when customers have fewer options for how they interact with you, or when you want to map the customer journey along a timeline.

Customer Experience map

Chart: Works best when you have touchpoints that meander in a nonlinear fashion.

Chart format customer journey map

Clearly, both types of charts can hold a lot of widely-varying information. And there are many more ways to map customer journeys too, like with emotion-centered maps.

Emotion-centered-customer-journey-map

Or journey by departments

Customer Journey map with department touchpoints

By need

CX-Map-by-customer-Need

However you choose to create your chart, be sure to include what the customer feels and needs at every touchpoint, as well as how you can improve the one and deliver the other.

Here are some more examples by industry. Notice that no single chart has everything.

SaaS example by InMoment (formerly Wootric)SaaS Customer Journey touchpoints and surveys

SaaS example by Telefonica

Saas Customer Journey

eCommerce: Lancome’s Brand Experience Map in two ways

Experience journey

lancome cx journey

A slightly different angle:

lancome-brand-exp-journey

Brick-and-mortar: Starbucks

Starbucks Customer Journey Map

Improving customer experience (CX): Start with a simple customer journey map

As you can see, there are many, many valid ways to approach journey mapping.  The examples above reflect deep thinking and research — the result of intensive project work by these companies. Use them for inspiration.  Don’t let them stop you and your team from drafting a simple journey flow to get the ball rolling.

By dedicating even an afternoon to a cross-functional knowledge-sharing session you will likely come away with:

  • a more robust understanding of how your customers interact with and “experience” your company.
  • a basic journey map
  • 3-5 “low hanging fruit” opportunities for improvement

Your goal with all of this is to improve customer experience. Remember, there is a good reason for that. As Jake Sorofman, Research VP, Gartner says,  “As competition and buyer empowerment compounds, customer experience itself is proving to be the only truly durable competitive advantage.”

Good luck on your journey!

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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