April 13, 2016 / John Dumbleton
The 4 Golden Rules of Exceptional Customer Experience
It stands to reason that the best way to attract and keep customers is to serve them well. But how do you know if you're actually doing that? Ask them of course.
Direct customer feedback not only allows a business to quantifiably measure customer satisfaction, it can provide early indicators into areas needing improvement and ideas for new services and solutions.
But broad studies indicate that customer service levels are dropping across industries and geographies. A recent Forrester Research report that benchmarks the customer experience at nearly 300 large brands across industries, 15 of 18 industries' scores dipped slightly compared to a study done six months earlier. The research shows that emotion – how an experience makes customers feel – has a bigger influence on their loyalty to a brand than effectiveness or ease in most industries, according to "The U.S. Customer Experience Index, Q3 2015."
Masergy's "customer first" culture delivers the industry's best client experience, something we've always validated with annual Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys. But in the interest of continuous improvement we turned to a quantifiable, comprehensive and consolidated approach to measuring just how well we serve our customers. We look at the entire customer lifecycle from the moment we meet them, through the sales engagement process, to solution implementation process and ongoing support.
Several years ago, we turned to Satmetrix Systems' Satmetrix NPX platform. The SaaS-based platform lets us measure customer satisfaction and loyalty by examining critical customer touchpoints. This is done through a combination of annual surveys of all our customers on solution design, sales collaboration, service implementation, technical support and billing, and through periodic surveys whenever we’re connected with customers during service activation, customer support calls and more.
Satmetrix NPX not only helps us quantify happy customers by helping us determine our Net Promoter Score (NPS), it also helps us identify areas for continued improvement. We are able to measure and find satisfied customers willing to "promote" us in a sales reference or testimonial, for example.
The Quantifiable Customer Experience
All this data—the quantified customer experience—can be pored over via dashboard reports that let us filter customers by revenue, solution category and geographical segments, and then easily identify trends. Each sales rep can see his or her customers’ survey results; regional VPs can check regional customer results; and our execs can look over all the surveys, compare market segments and recognize global trends.
Masergy is able to glean actionable intelligence and drive improvements in overall operations across departments. Customer inputs from the NPS survey also help the company prioritize its innovation agenda to solve specific customer challenges. Our overall NPS is so important to us, we've made it part of every full-time salaried employee's annual bonus incentive.
It seems as though other technology vendors are finally appreciating the importance of the client experience. After three consecutive years of NPS decline, the technology industry average NPS increased by more than 8 points for a 2015 average of 31.8. During the same time period, Masergy continued its march forward, setting new records for ourselves including our 2015 score of 66, 2016 score of 70, and 2017 score of 74.
While we are proud of our NPS metric and our year-over-year improvements, we are more proud of the processes, systems and best practices we've created, revised and optimized along the way that allow us to identify opportunities to improve.
A comprehensive platform like Satmetrix NPX helps inform our best practices for delivering exceptional customer outcomes. Here are the key insights we've arrived at along the way:
1. First Impressions Last
Customers size you up and form a lasting impression during the first encounter. The meeting can occur during the first sales call at their office, at an off-site event or even on the phone, and it is vital that you listen to their needs and provide them with the information they’re looking for. First impressions continued to be reinforced every time you engage, so pay close attention to all forms of communication including email and verbal.
2. Follow Up
Nothing can kill a great first impression faster than a forgotten follow-up.
3. Be Proactive
Don't wait for a customer to call you with complaint. Identify the data sources and business analytics that can help you anticipate and manage issues. In the age of big data and analytics, the indicators are likely already there for you to recognize and address issues before they become big problems.
4. Get Personal
Make your client experiences as personal as possible. Encourage relationships to evolve beyond the sales organization to span all key functional areas. For us, this includes solution engineering, account management, service implementation and ongoing support. Cross functional teams are aligned with every client for the life of the customer engagement.
Take a look at our customer testimonials
and case studies
and you'll see that customers view our customer service as a key point of differentiation from other service providers. And that’s something you can take to the bank.