How can you use a survey to retain customer loyalty?
Thatís the challenge that Irina Klein, Market Analyst Global Marketing, Unisys Corporation, faced with the Companyís 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' revenue base.
"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 process.
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 survey
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 participate.
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 says.
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 and compiled.
"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 survey.
-> 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 problems
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 says.
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 http://www.iirusa.com/customer
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