How can you use a survey to retain customer loyalty?
That’s the challenge that Irina Klein, Market Analyst Global
Marketing, Unisys Corporation, faced with the Company’s customer
loyalty and retention program.
The program is based on a survey sent to decision maker-level
executives in companies that account for roughly 70% of Unisys'
"The word 'survey,' does not really communicate all of the uses
for the data," Klein says. "It's more than just capturing a
customer opinion; it's using the information to build our
programs in response."
Klein detailed the six steps she takes to measure customer
feedback and use it to drive day-to-day business actions.
-> Step #1. Company-wide internal communication
Because the company administers the survey in 17 languages and 32
countries, communication plays a key role. Two tactics have been
implemented for keeping everyone on the same page:
o Global Survey Advisory Counsel -- Certain high-level
executives from every region and organization are asked to join
the Counsel to facilitate the survey process locally at offices
around the world.
"We jokingly call it a 24-hour support hotline," Klein says.
"They answer questions, provide education and support to our
account managers, and coordinate at a local level."
The entire Counsel holds conference calls "bi-weekly as we're
rounding up the survey, then as it gets closer, we do it weekly
or even daily," Klein explains.
The calls cover any problems or changes within the survey
o Communications campaign out of headquarters -- Through an
internal Web site called Customer Advocacy, the Company posts
FAQ's, tips, and news about the survey for anyone within the
company who might have questions.
It tells when the survey process is beginning and ending and
includes information on any changes from the previous survey.
An internal newsletter to sales managers also keeps employees up
to date with survey news.
-> Step #2. Get customer participation *before* sending
Once a target list is compiled, sales reps talk to the customers
to explain the importance of the survey and get their buy-in to
If any questions come up from the customer that the rep can't
answer, the rep calls on the local Global Advisory Counsel member
for help. "Believe it or not, it's run very smoothly," Klein
Customers can fill out the survey online. Once they've spoken
with the rep, they receive an emailed invitation to participate.
They are given a user ID and password and sent to a unique URL
where they complete the survey online.
According to Klein, 79% of those who completed the survey in 2003
did so online. Customers who choose not to do the survey online
do it via phone with a non-partisan phone interviewer.
-> Step #3. Survey scoring system
Klein's team measures survey results based on a metric that
scores satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.
While the survey contains as many as 16 questions, with
recipients answering each question on a scale of one to five, the
scoring system, called the Customer Value Index (CVI), is based
on only three questions:
- Are you satisfied?
- Would you continue to purchase from us?
- Would you recommend us to your colleagues?
Achievement of the pre-established CVI targets is tied to
executive and sales management compensation plans.
-> Step #4. Trigger system for a potential problem area
During the survey process, Global Advisory members may receive
what they call "hot surveys." This is an email notification, sent
to the Counsel member responsible for a particular region, that a
customer gave a score of four or less to any of the questions.
This happens in real-time and ensures that action can be taken
immediately without having to wait for results to be translated
"The summary tells them it's possible there's a problem area, and
allows them to react very quickly," Klein says.
Executives at the corporate level get copied in on every hot
-> Step #5. Action plans to correct problems
If a customer gives a score of three or less on one of the
Customer Value Index questions, a disciplined process is put in
place to address the issue.
Called the Customer Loyalty Improvement Process (CLIP), it's
designed to improve the situation and say to the customer, "We
listened to you, we understand your concerns," Klein says.
The process involves:
1. Understanding the customer survey responses
2. Confirming that understanding with the customer to ensure
the rep and customer agree about the problem.
3. Developing an action plan to solve the problem.
4. Gaining customer buy-in on the action plan.
5. Putting the plan into effect.
6. Verifying the results with the customer.
-> Step #6. Act on both systematic problems and individual
Once the results are compiled and translated, "We carefully
examine all customer comments; and any suggested areas of
improvement are viewed in two ways," Klein explains:
o Systematic problems to be addressed at the corporate level
o Individual problem to be addressed at a local level
When problems and solutions have been identified, the Company
acts on them. "Our management is extremely involved in looking at
survey results, using them to make business decisions," Klein
Unisys customers truly respond to the survey process. "We offer
no incentive for the customer to fill out the survey outside of
the fact that they know that we'll be responsive to their
concerns and suggestions," she says.
Want to meet Klein in person? She'll be speaking at the IIR show,
Linkage Strategies for Integrating Customer Feedback to Improve
Corporate Performance, February 25-27 in Miami. More info at