This post is a follow up to one of our most popular posts: Boost your Net Promoter Survey response to 60%+.
Customer survey rockstars know a lot about how to maximise Net Promoter® survey response rates. They understand the importance of mobile-optimised surveys. They send relevant, well- timed, and appropriately-worded emails. And they set expectations with clients (and customers).
But another factor that has the potential to significantly affect survey responses, especially for B2C businesses that tend to send surveys to personal email accounts, is Email clients.
Curious to see if there was a difference in how users of Gmail, Hotmail, Ymail, and other email clients respond Net Promoter surveys, we analysed 400,000 records from Europe, North America, and Brazil across five CustomerGauge clients from Q1 of 2013.
And this is what we found…..
Microsoft is the most popular email client among B2C customers…..
Microsoft (Hotmail, Live, Outlook, etc) accounted for more than a quarter of all emails that were sent by our clients in Q1 of 2013. Google (Gmail, googlemail) came in a distant second at 14% and Yahoo! at just over 9%. Over 50% of emails sent went to five domains, namely Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, AOL, and GMX.
…but Microsoft gets only 54% of the response rate that Google receives…
There is a distinct correlation between email client and Net Promoter survey response rates. While it may be the most popular email client for customers, Microsoft delivers only 54% of the response rate of Google and retains a significantly lower response rate than all other email clients except AOL.
You will note that “All Others” has a similar response rate to Gmail – it appears that if people give you their work address it is because they are open to communicating.
…Microsoft’s lower response rate is not because of a high bounce rate.
A factor that may affect responses is bounce rates. But our findings show that although Microsoft accounts do indeed return a higher bounce rate than other domains, it is less than one percent higher than Google and less than half a percent higher than Yahoo and “Others.“
So what does it all mean?
Our research shows:
- If your business has a high level of Google and/or “Other” email contacts in your database, you will receive a higher response rate to your surveys.
- If your contact list includes a lot of Microsoft and/or AOL addresses, you will receive a lower response.
It is not completely clear is exactly why this is the case. Anecdotal evidence says that Microsoft accounts tend to be checked less frequently, or used as secondary accounts, but we have to be hesitant to draw firm conclusions without the appropriate evidence.
Likewise, our research does not measure variations across different markets – so if you operate in a market that has a significantly different mix of email clients, our findings may not be relevant to your situation.
Nonetheless, if your database has a high percentage of Microsoft and/or AOL accounts, we suggest being particularly diligent in communicating to customers any benefits they may receive by being contactable at that address, and possibly asking for email confirmation to ensure that the customer checks that account.
Would you like to know more?
In the interests of enabling businesses to drive higher response rates for their own surveys, we are happy to share more information about these statistics.
If you leave your details below, we will send you an anonymised email response presentation, including:
- Sample size
- Spread across clients
- Data contribution by email clients
- Response rate per email clients
- Bonus stats on email opens by device and mobile trends
“This is no time to take your chips down,” said Sean Parker to Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. “A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A billion dollars.”
The average marketing email clocks in a 3.4% response rate. In the world of customer survey emails, a 10% response rate is considered successful. But to paraphrase Sean Parker, a 10% response rate is no time to take your chips down. In fact, a 10% response rate isn’t even cool. You know what’s cool?
A 60% response rate.
This might sound like a total fantasy for a 40 question customer survey email, but for Net Promoter survey emails, it’s much more realistic. In fact, several CustomerGauge clients have reached 60%+ response rates via email in part by acting on the tips below.
If you want to drive your response rates to similar levels, read on!
Pimp your response rate: A ten-point checklist
1. Be Relevant
Before starting, consider the impact a survey will have on your customer. Is it relevant? Is it intrusive? Are you and your customer best served by a transactional (recommended generally for B2C) or relationship (B2B) survey? Should you survey all your customers or only a segment?
2. Set Expectations
You are asking your customers for a favour, so it’s only polite to clearly outline what you are expect them to do, how much you value their assistance, and what you will deliver in return. In fact, you can even consider being creative and outlining what you are asking and what you will deliver to your customers in contract form.
3. Continuously monitor and update your contact lists
Monitor and update your contact data across multiple touchpoints, including phone, in-store, or online, and use an email management system that helps you keep the contact data free of bounces, unsubscribes or old phone numbers. (Hint: CustomerGauge has all this functionality built-in.)
4. Time your survey right
The best time to survey varies, but for telephone support, ten minutes after a resolution has been reached on the phone is recommended, for eCommerce, a week after the transaction, so that customers have time to test their products, and for B2B relationships, we generally advise twice a year, staggered throughout the year, and so on.
5. Schedule your survey wisely
In a similar vein, optimal timing can vary by business, but we have discovered that sending surveys on Thursdays and Fridays often give a kick of around 3% for B2C.
6. Make a fantastic first impression
The average person spends three seconds on an email subject line and eleven seconds reading an email. Make your copy short, engaging and personal, and your email design clean and clutter-free. A face and personal signature tends to drive up response rates.
7. Be mobile-friendly
A third of B2C and a fifth of B2B surveys are completed on mobiles. Your survey design and layout needs to be optimised for different operating systems (especially iOS and Android), browsers, and devices, and look good on a variety of screens from a small smartphone to an iPad.
8. Keep it short
Keep your survey as short as possible – we have discovered that every extra question drives down the response rate by 5-15%. You should be prepared in advance to receive feedback on about 50% of your survey responses.
9. Follow up
A well-timed reminder a week or so after the original is sent can deliver up to 50% extra responses (example – 21% response from first email, 13% reminder after 7 days = 34%). Don’t send second or third reminders – these tend to deliver little extra response and and more unsubscribes.
10. Don’t forget to say thank you!
You’ve just asked your customers for a favour, so the polite thing to do is thank them and let them know what kind of feedback you received and ideally how you are acting on it. This is particularly important for B2B relationships, and can be done a month or so after the survey, when feedback has been received, analysed, and acted on.
Do you have any other advice that has helped you drive increase response rates? Let us know below!
This post is based on a recent webinar: Everybody Everywhere: Maximise your Net Promoter response.
You might also enjoy:
- How (and why) to optimise your Net Promoter survey for mobile
- Use Net Promoter to put your sales team in the fast lane
It was fifty years ago that those mop-headed pop princes from Liverpool released “Do You Want to Know a Secret”, one of their most memorable songs. But who would have thought that Lennon and McCartney were really experts on customer experience? Yes, that’s right – some of these famous songs like “Love Me Do” and “From Me To You” have subtexts that if you know how to read the clues are really exhortations for today’s organisations to carefully collect and act on customer comments.
Incredible as it may seem, many organisations that spend millions on customer feedback just sit on these valuable comments. Too often, valuable feedback is locked up in paper based documents collecting dust on a shelf, or buried in a spreadsheet on a marketing department laptop. It’s such a waste.
Marketing departments need to take a lesson from George Harrison’s plea: “Closer, let me whisper in your ear, Say the words you long to hear…” and share the comments widely! Perhaps these companies do not employ Beatles fans.
Let’s examine the early work of the Beatles to help us understand what customers are looking for. “Please Please Me” is a simple statement of customer wants. How often? John’s vocals on “Eight Days a Week”, explain in a tongue-in-cheek way that those needs can never be satisfied in a way we would refer to today as “24-7″. We also learn that servicing customers will not be easy. Later in their career, we are warned of this in the 1969 track “The Long and Winding Road”.
“With Love from Me To You”
A modern interpretation of the Beatles lyrics is a sign to implement a Net Promoter® Score program. This can provide a constant stream of objective data, plus raw feedback from usually a large percentage of engaged customers. It’s one thing to hope of a high Net Promoter Score – some practitioners dream of a day “When I’m Sixty Four” but the only way to get there is to read and act on customer comments. Again, Paul referred to this in the 1966 classic Paperback Writer: “Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?”
We have found that is rare for research departments to share these gold nuggets of knowledge, but by publishing comments internally, employees can get a unfiltered view of customer comments.
“Speaking Words Of Wisdom”
How to do this? Taking advice from John and Paul in A Day in the Life – “I read the news today, oh boy…” – we know we must use comments in a timely fashion, and ideally immediately. To do this CustomerGauge has developed a system to pull comments out of our live platform in real time. As soon as a survey is completed, the comment can be distributed anywhere in the organisation. With some simple coding skills it’s possible to display comments on any site, format or style.
“I Wanna Hold Your Hand”
But we are reminded about time management in 1964s “Hard Day’s Night”. No one wants to work like a dog, so was it possible to develop a system that needed no technical skills to work? That was the challenge we set our development team, and the answer was a self contained hosted solution that can be deployed by pasting in just one line of HTML code in a web page. What’s more, the team built a very cool configuration screen to change size, colours etc. This is perfect for an internet application, for instance a Microsoft SharePoint site. You can visualise this on our “Scrolling Comment Carousel” example. Add a comment on a demo survey here, and see the result immediately.
“I Want to Tell You”
John reminds us in “You’ve got to hide your love away” that we cannot always reveal everything publicly. We have a solution for this – our team built a comment publisher that allows you to approve or reject comments for general display. Combined with a flexible filter (Promoters Only, or specific segments) it is possible to screen customer feedback to show only appropriate content. You should consider this for a public website, especially e-commerce, where you can easily show pages and pages of comments to help reassure customers. The example of what we call a “Testimonial Page” is here.
The results of sharing comments can make an organisation more customer focused. Your aim is to prevent customer defections as described beautifully in the singles “Hello Goodbye” (a song about acquisition and retention problems) and in both “You’re going to lose that Girl” and “Ticket To Ride“, John is clearly defining the danger of “customer churn” by females.
Taking notes from “We can work it out” with its excellent lessons in empathy, the Fab Four caution that “There’s a chance that we might fall apart before too long“, which is usually considered in the Net Promoter community as a lesson in responding promptly to customer messages. Fortunately it is Ringo that provides sage advice on organisational teamwork in his vocal on “With a little help from my friends”. CustomerGauge have a solution for this in our teamworking “FireFighting Module“. Interestingly, most experts now believe that that the reference “I get high with…” is a reference to improving satisfaction scores.
To learn more about how to “Come Together” with your customers, do contact our operations team to arrange demonstration, and avoid becoming the “Fool on the Hill”.
Next week we continue the musical theme in “Hey You Get Off My Cloud” – 7 tips on SaaS security from The Rolling Stones.
To have another language is to possess a second soul
For some fun last week in CustomerGauge HQ, we counted up the number of languages that we can speak. The result: 13. Maybe more – I think I forgot to count Norwegian. That certainly helps us roll-out complex multi-language solutions for our clients.
And from this week, we can now assist our clients with a low-cost, instantaneous translation system for Voice-of-the-Customer comments from Net Promoter® Score survey.
Our new CustomerGauge Automatic Translation System uses the Google Translate™ Translation Service API to translate over 60 languages. Translated comments are stored in CustomerGauge, and can be searched and reported on. No need for cut-and-paste, no buttons to press. If you have used Google Translate before, you’ll be familiar with the idea.
Technically it’s a “Gisting” service – you can get the “gist” of a comment – but it’s not a perfect translation. We always recommend that comments be routed to local language speakers to deal with; however, the service has already proved useful for client needs. Some interesting points have already be “found in translation”.
The cost of this service is EUR 0.10 per translated comment. (equiv: US $0.13, A$ 0.13, GBP 0.09). It is available from 2 December 2011 on CustomerGauge b2c sites.
Our Client Operations team are ready to set up translations on CustomerGauge sites now. Or if you are considering a Net Promoter project, let us advise you on acquiring the gift of translation for your Net Promoter project.
Download the presentation here.
I was recently in a meeting with a new client talking about how to best use customer feedback from their just-launched Net Promoter® initiative. We were looking at real comments coming in real time through their CustomerGauge systems. And that’s when one of members of the customer service group exclaimed that he just realised “after looking at all of these comments in depth, I now see how we could use these customers as unpaid business consultants!”. It was as if the scales had lifted from his eyes.
I thought about this for a minute and realized that he had discovered by himself the change management shift from the norm.
If we ask most customer service employees of companies what they think of their customers, the expletives will soon start to fly and the summary is sometimes “customers are pains in the XXX!”. Contrary to the website banners and company mission statement praising the company’s attention to customer service most companies still think of customers as “problems to deal with”.
If we think about customers as resources first, then we can start to think of how we can best “use” our customers to help us. This simple shift in mind-set can make huge changes in the way we deal and think about our customers. Following the Golden rule of Net Promoter® score, “treat your customers as you would like to be treated” coupled with the idea that customers are resources we expect the following type of information to come from our customers for free!
- Identifying process improvements: who better to identify issues with current business practices than the recipients? Customers will let you know when your systems, processes and people are not working as advertised.
- Providing testimonials: there are ones that have fantastic experiences and are willing to tell you if you ask. Using these testimonials on your website and marketing materials is a great way to promote the firm without saying anything.
- Suggest improvements: companies are amazed when they start to ask their customers what they think what information they get back. Many times customers will give insightful ideas for product improvements that can be passed directly to R&D.
- Ideas is for product extensions: just like improvements customers will suggest new products with similar attributes that can be passed to product marketing to design new SKUs
- Extending your marketing reach: with social media platforms today like twitter and Facebook advocates for your products have simple ways to tell thousands of people in seconds about their experience.
In case this is not something you are working on, CustomerGauge allows companies to quickly and continuously survey all of their customers asking the standard Net Promoter Score question and allowing for comments/self-select issues. Using the system’s features companies can route different type responses to the correct departments for immediate action.
A word to the wise: When you start to use customer feedback in this way, have the courtesy to let you customers know, and thank them! That’s when you can really start to build customer loyalty. So harvest your customers, don’t ignore them!
Reading customer comments is a serious business. Ultimately, it has to be the best way of understanding what your customers think about your organisation – and it is essential that comments get to the right people – the ones that can actually change or improve customer experience.
However, there are some drawbacks to manually classifying the comments:
- It’s not scalable: Some of our clients have hundreds of customer comments a day. It takes only seconds to read and classify each one, but it still takes resources
- Interpretation varies by person: People classify comments in different ways. And what may be urgent to one person is mundane to another.
- Customer comments are variable: It can take some head-scratching to understand what customers are referring to. We regularly see multiple issues in a single comment. Sometimes positive and negative sentiments are expressed together. Or positive comment, “zero” Net Promoter score.
This unpredictability means that it’s almost impossible with the technology of today to do pattern recognition, and automate the task (although we are working on this in CustomerGauge Labs).
So we have a better method, recently productised in CustomerGauge. We call it by various names: “Customer Self Select” or “Automatic Root Cause Analysis” but like all good solutions it’s simple and customer focused. The trick is to make the survey smarter. We ask the customer to highlight the issues that bother them (or delight them) the most. With a few simple clicks, the customer chooses the issues you should prioritise. We then direct the results into a series of “buckets” containing issues relating to Logistics, Product, Service etc. We call these “Level 1″ as they are the high level matters to focus on.
Below each Level 1 issue are more detailed reasons that provide more detail. For example, Delivery issues might be related to lateness, damaged goods or returns – and it’s important to separate out what drives the customer score. These are the Level 2 issues. Customer comments provide context and detail.
Depending on the initial customer rating the reasons can change, and are easily edited in the CustomerGauge administration tools.
The real magic comes in reporting. We now have a quantitative number of issues, selected by customers themselves. We then organise into Level 1 and Level 2 reports, and add Net Promoter Scores together with other customer data – for example order value or segment information.
We build up the data and allocate to individuals, so the Logistics manager automatically receives a report on issues relating to his/her department. These can later be assigned to projects (more in a later post).
The newest report is our Waterfall Analysis. This shows a bridge between Promoters and Detractors to break down the Net Promoter Score by Level 1 issues. It works by aggregating Net Promoter Scores in each issue, and weighting them on by the number of issues selected. It’s a simple way of visualising the impact of key elements in your business on your Net Promoter Score.
And then try the survey to see how our Self Select system works.
We are happy to explain how it is all put together, and demonstrate how our clients are already making great progress with this tool. Revolution is a strong word, but we see this making significant improvements in some sites due to its simplicity of implementation and interpretation. Contact us to arrange a webex and see more.
Net Promoter Score, Verbatim Comments on a Digital Sign.
Inspired by the “crawler” (or news ticker) on SkyNews and CNN, or maybe by the “Calls Holding” message boards in call centres, we proudly present the new CustomerGauge Real Time Feedback Screen. It’s designed as a digital sign (a new buzz word that as far as we can tell means “giant plasma display” and a spare PC running Firefox or Safari). Ideal for placing in your marketing department, lobby, canteen or even boardroom.
We pack a lot of information on this screen. As a CustomerGauge client, you can survey your customers continually. As comments and scores come in they are displayed in the upper part, on a sliding carousel of the most recent comments. All the relevant transaction information is shown next to the comment.
In the “lower third” we show the Net Promoter Score® for the current week, past week, month and year to date, plus sending stats and other useful information.
It is the latest iteration of our display board, and is designed to:
- understand the “zeitgeist” by reading customer voice in real-time
- help react immediately to customer comments
- motivate staff
For CustomerGauge b2c clients, it’s a simple low cost add-on. Let us know if we can show you more.
NB: Can’t see the Flash image above? View it on YouTube.
Every e-commerce professional tracks traffic and counts orders once a day, but rarely (if ever) checks customer feedback daily, weekly, or even monthly. Let’s look at some reasons for this, and why regular customer feedback will benefit your business.
Reasons we have heard for not taking regular customer feedback included: “not standard business practice”, “it’s extra workload”, “how will it benefit?” and “just too difficult”.
Here is what every e-commerce manager needs to know about daily feedback:
- It’s becoming the norm. World-class companies DO survey EVERY transaction for customer feedback. To mention a few: Sony, Philips, Canon, Avis, Hertz, eBay and many more. Feedback is an essential part of their daily business routine with comments distributed around the organisation. Also there IS an Industry Standard Methodology for measuring loyalty: the Net Promoter Score® - a simple, one-number approach, as understandable as page-views or profit.
- It’s not extra workload. If a customer complains in a survey, you would likely have to deal with that customer issue anyway (so it’s not additional workload, just time-shifted forward). More usually an unhappy customer will silently defect and never return. Unless you ask customers, you may never know how much business you are losing.
- It’s free consulting. Customer suggestions can help shape your business. We have seen examples where customer feedback helped merchandising give instant additional sales, and comments on manuals and packaging delivered cost-savings. In addition, positive comments can be used as testimonials on your site, which helps reassure future customers.
- It’s simple to implement. You can start a feedback project with a simple online survey tool and do it manually (actually, we started that way by doing monthly reports), but due to time lag we highly recommend that you automate it. Products like CustomerGauge have plug-ins for major e-commerce systems that automatically survey customers.
If you are still hesitant, here are some other points to consider:
Responding fast is impressive: When was the last time you had a response to a comment you made? You can transform customer experiences by responding quickly to feedback. Some large companies we deal with read and react to customer comments within 24 hours. That can turn the most hardened complainer into a delighted evangelist for a business.
Customer Focus: As a result of measuring, these same companies have become more customer oriented. Staff are bonused on Net Promoter Score, and welcome the feedback that customers give in order to improve service.
Give Us This Day Our Daily Feedback
Our customer feedback solution is CustomerGauge: a simple plug-in to your e-commerce site, paid monthly on subscription. All the hard work of integration and setting it up is handled by us. We arrange the emails, surveys (in different languages), automatic sending and reporting in real time. We deliver daily and weekly feedback to your staff by email. You can use positive comments and publish them on site as testimonials, which increase conversions significantly. CustomerGauge also helps keep your promises to customers: track open and closed customer issues with built-in workflow. And identify your most valuable returning customers with our real-time reporting.
In summary, Customer Feedback can become one of your essential Daily Metrics, tracked like your other Key Performance Indicators. You can receive it on a daily basis in your mailbox, and use metrics to check improvement. It is the business transformation you are looking for this year.
Join us today on our Campaign for Daily Customer Feedback and benefit from a January 2010 CustomerGauge offer: Free 30-day trial on your e-commerce website*
*Sign up by 31 Jan 2010. Terms and conditions apply, ask for details.
With Google Real-Time Search launching today, we thought it appropriate to show off the CustomerGauge Real-Time Customer Comment Feed, which works via Twitter. Ideal for customer-focused companies that like to rapidly react to feedback and issues.
It started when a client asked: “Could we put a desktop widget on the bosses desk, so that every time a new comment comes in it pops up?”. Actually we’d been thinking about this for a while, trying to find the right component.
Now we have a solution that’s super easy and flexible: we integrated CustomerGauge with Twitter. As soon as a customer makes a comment, an API connection to Twitter is made and a “Tweet” sent – and you get a real-time feed on your favourite device (PC, mobile phone etc). It is customisable, so you can filter on comments – examples: “Score 9 + 10 comments for call center staff” or “Detractors commenting in Manchester with ‘reception’ keyword”. The feed can be public (if you are proud of what your customers are saying) or private so it’s secure for selected subscribers. A link takes you to the full comment and customer details.
New feature on our field marketing measurement solution DemonstratorGauge: A wall of photos to allow browsing, searching and downloading. It uses an excellent plug-in from Cool-Iris which looks rather like the fancy photo-manipulation you see Tom Cruise doing in the movie Minority Report.
After logging in, you have a super-easy way of looking through the photos collected by field agents. We have it set up to show the last 30 days of photos, which currently displays around 2000 images. No extra software is needed, but the small download from Cool-Iris gives a slightly better user experience.
If you wish to collect images from marketing activities from thousands of agents in multi-country locations, DemonstratorGauge is the natural choice. Enjoy this 90-second demo here (and for iphone users it’s also on YouTube).