Customer Insights – What do you customers REALLY think about you? We actually found out.

Towards the end of last year, we decided it was high time to have a really close look at what our customers really think of us and how we are perceived as a supplier. It is firmly entrenched in our core values that we strive to be customer-centric in in all that we do. And yes, we hear the rumblings of “blah blah, everybody says that but what’s actually behind it?”. Well, that’s where the decision to do undertake this project stemmed from; to actually but some money where our mouth is.

What did we do and how did we do it?

We commissioned a third party customer insights specialist to undertake some telephone based research directly with a selection of our customers. Working together with them, we designed a simple list of questions to engage our customers in an open and honest conversation about why they initially chose to work with us, and in some cases, why they have stayed with us for a good length of time. Alongside this we posed more explorative questions about perceptions of our products and services and feedback on what works well or not so well the way we currently service our customers.

All recipients were given the choice to remain anonymous, as we felt it was important to put people at ease and encourage warts and all style feedback! We were really pleased that the majority chose to allow their identity to be shared back, on the one hand so we can thank them specifically forgiving up their valuable time to help us develop our product and service proposition, but equally as importantly so we can talk to customers who perhaps have been keeping certain issues to themselves that we can address and make sure their experience of working with us is as best it can be.

The questions

Our customer insights specialist helped make sure that we stayed focused with questions designed to make it easy for customers to engage and at the same time promote open conversation and actionable feedback. The starting pint for all conversations was the question “On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to refer Foresolutions to a friend or colleague?”. For those of you in the know about customer service measurement, this is the question used to calculate what’s known as a company’s Net Promotor Score or NPS. We then went on to ask why they selected that particular score (1-10), what could we do differently to get a score of 10, how would they describe us to someone else, why did they first choose to work with us, why do they stay and what products and service did they think we sell. The last question was specifically asking what operational challenges the customer was facing over the next 12 months, as that is specific to the solutions we sell and is especially important if we want to make sure our roadmap of product and service development is hitting the mark.

The feedback loop

What this exercise revealed is that it’s always surprising to actually hear someone else describe your business or give their thoughts on what you do. It’s a common position for most companies to think that their message comes though clearly or that customers are happy. Remember, that each customer will only reference you in the capacity that you serve them, why should they know or care about other parts of your business unless you tell them specifically in a way that meets a buying or service signal? Some of the calls in this process uncovered some immediate requirements we were able to address that customers otherwise may have sat on for a length of time thinking that the current state couldn’t be changed. Assumptions on our side that certain elements of our product were being used soon got quashed when we have specific feedback asking for some functionality that was already available unbeknownst to the customer. As the old adage goes: tell them once, tell them twice and tell them again!

Using the results to make changes

It’s now really important to use that we use this exercise to make meaningful changes that impact customers and help us stay focused on what’s important that will keep our offering relevant, keep innovating and act on areas that don’t sit so well and work to provide a better experience. Staying connected to our customers is what this is all about so that we in turn can help they connect better with theirs.

And the million-dollar question…what was our score?

NPS client insight scores are calculated using the volume of positive responses (scores 9-10) over negatives (scores 0-6). 7-8 are classified as neutral and not influential either way so are discounted from the equation. We came out of this process with a score of 61, which we are over the moon with, especially when we look at industry averages for the communications and software sectors which sit around the 40 mark. Some big brand comparisons are Vodafone at 15, Apple at 68 and N-Power at -68. Clearly we still have work to do and would love for all our customers to be getting the 10 experience, but we are extremely grateful to be received so positively by the majority of our customers and will be working hard to make sure this remains the case moving forward.