A customer experience management program can seem overwhelming at first. Employees may initially react with an attitude of, “Oh no, not another thing I need to do.” Ask yourself whether following up with customers to resolve issues, build relationships, and uncover new opportunities is just another thing to do or the thing you should be doing.
In a world where customers are bombarded with calls for their attention, we recommend connecting with customers in a more personal way. Don’t use technology to annoy customers with survey requests. Invite them to provide feedback, and follow up with them through a program specifically designed to build relationships and increase sales.
Once you have established your Customer Engagement Program, how do you get customers to actually participate? Here are some ideas and best practices:
- Senior leadership needs to communicate the importance of this program—especially the critical aspect of following up with customers—to sales managers, customer support representatives, and anyone else who interacts with customers on a regular basis. The program must have support from the top-down to receive the priority that it needs to be successful.
- Communicate on a personal level with your customers on a regular basis, not just when you are asking for feedback. They need to know they matter all year long. This doesn’t necessarily mean more communication as much as it means more intentionally personal For example, reach out to customers monthly to check in and ask if there is anything more you can do. Ask what is going well and what could be improved. Listen and demonstrate that you care about them and their success with your products/services.
- Don’t over-survey your customers. Make sure your communication—from requests for feedback to marketing messages—is strategically planned and serves a purpose. This will help alleviate the chance that messages from you register in their mind as “another annoying email.”
- Keep the questionnaire short—three minutes or less—with questions that are simple to answer. Overly complicated or lengthy surveys frustrate customers and often result in higher abandonment rates.
- Make sure your customer data file is up-to-date with current company, title and/or job position, phone number, and email. Inaccurate contact information not only has an impact on participation, it also affects the perception of your company.
- Do not ask customers for feedback if you are not prepared or motivated to act on it. Asking for feedback without following up will annoy your customers and they will be less likely to share their feedback in the future.
- Send a notification (email, letter, or phone call) to customers in advance of the survey invitation, letting them know what is coming and why it’s important. Ideally, the notification should come from someone who has a direct relationship with the customer.
- Follow up with customers soon after they submit feedback. The more personal the follow-up, e.g., a phone call from their account manager, the better.
- Don’t limit your follow up to only those who have an issue. The follow-up call is also an opportunity to strengthen the relationship with the customer, learn about what your company or a specific employee does well, generate referrals, and sell more.
- Communicate to customers whether they chose to participate in the survey or not. Make note of improvements being made in response to the feedback you received. This will encourage more customers to participate in the future, because they see that customer feedback actually matters.
- Ensure the messaging around your program is focused on listening to customers. Rather than using language around sending out a survey, use language that you are inviting customers to share their feedback on how you can improve.
- Track customer follow-up so you can monitor actions-in-progress and results. For instance, does someone else need to follow up with the customer next? If the case is closed, did the employee prevent the customer from dropping you as a preferred supplier? Did your employee establish new contacts in the account? Did they manage to identify a new sales opportunity?