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Today’s brands grapple with an ever-increasing proliferation of customer comments online. However, customer experience leaders know that feedback customers provide is only the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” in a sea of customer sentiment.

In a 2014 research study, CX Act revealed that more than half of people do tell others about customer contact experiences. However, the vast majority—85%—share their customer service stories in person. By contrast, just 22% of people post information about customer experiences on social media.

These findings suggest that many dissatisfied customers may not alert your organization about their concerns. Instead, those individuals make silent complaints to friends and family.

What does this mean for your brand?

Your company must anticipate that silent pockets of negative sentiment likely exist in your customer base. You need tools to identify and remedy those hidden concerns before they surface. Customer sentiment surveys are key resources in your quest to identify and manage silent complaints.

Collecting Customer Feedback

Many companies use surveys to collect and measure customer perceptions. Some companies still rely primarily on large-scale annual satisfaction surveys. However, post-interaction surveys—which allow companies to gauge individual customer experiences—are enjoying wide adoption.

Many post-interaction surveys rely heavily on closed-ended questions. These questions—which can solicit “yes/no” or numerical scale responses—certainly have value. However, the do very little to reveal customers’ true feelings about a specific experience or overall brand impression.

For a more well-rounded approach, your brand should include opportunities for customers to leave open-ended feedback. This can take the form of free-form text comments on a written survey. If you use a voice-response survey, you can let your customers leave thoughts in their own words. More and more organizations are recognizing the value of such Voice of the Customer (VoC) input.

Surveys aren’t the only way to receive VoC data. Other VoC sources include focus groups, inbound calls, and social media. However, surveys are highly valued by senior managers. In fact, a study from Maritz Research revealed that executives are far most likely to review VoC data from customers surveys—including transactional, relationship, and benchmarking surveys—than other sources.

VoC data sources used by senior management
Source: Maritz Research, October 2012

 

Recent research from the Temkin Group validates that brands are primed to make investments in VoC. More than 45% of firms plan to increase VoC program spending in the near-term, while just 5% expect to cut VoC spending. In addition, the Temkin study revealed that the vast majority of enterprises see positive results from their VoC efforts. However, most firms are not taking action or making business changes based on the insights they gain from VoC.

Discerning Meaning behind the Metrics

At present, many enterprises are lagging in moving from VoC data collection to action. One reason for this trend may be that companies lack the analysis approaches they need to gain high-value insight from their VoC data.

As companies look for ways to assess volumes of VoC input, computer-based analysis seems like a logical choice. However, service leaders know that raw analysis of words provided in free-form comments has its limitations.

Those companies who use voice surveys have a rich opportunity to gain deep understanding into the minds and feelings of their customers. The only way to achieve these insights is to use human-rated sentiment analysis. Technology tools can evaluate words, but only human beings can discern the true meaning behind customers’ statements.

With human-rated sentiment analysis, you may find that customers who give you good scores or speak good words about your brand may harbor negative feelings. A skilled sentiment analyst has in-depth knowledge of the subtleties of human communication and can evaluate nuances—such as word choice, tone, voice volume, and more—to uncover a speakers’ true feelings.

This approach can help single out individuals who may not overtly complain, but may be inclined to share negative word-of-mouth perceptions about your brand. Once you’ve identified that a person may be making “silent complaints,” you can identify remediation strategies. You may need to reach out to that customer to gain input about their perceptions, offer personalized discounts or incentives, or use other tactics to shift their feelings.

Moving from Collection to Action

If you are one of the many firms who needs to do more with the customer survey data you collect, you are not alone. As brands prioritize their 2015 VoC spending, they need to recognize that a reliance on machine-based analysis of VoC input may not yield the results they need.

Adding human-rated sentiment analysis is essential to gain true insight into customer perceptions. Human sentiment analysts can identify those customers who are likely to make “silent complaints” and empower you to keep those negative feelings out of the public eye. This is a must-do to protect your brand in today’s era of the social, vocal, empowered customer.

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Engage with Us

We know that customer experience is a top-of-mind issue for every company today. Share your insights on these and other topics in the space below:

  • Do you have a process for spotting customers who may be harboring hidden negative sentiment about your brand?
  • Are you one of the many companies planning to increase VoC spending in the coming years?
  • How do you plan to move from collecting VoC input to using this high-value data to drive improved customer experiences?

We look forward to hearing from you.