Many precision polling customers will be looking for an alternative to Survey Monkey as they announced earlier in the year by email and their sign-in page they had decided to close down the automated telephone survey business they acquired in 2010.
Obviously, VIRTUATell is a great alternative to Survey Monkey telephone surveys, as we provide the features found at Precision Polling plus many, many more. We are not a free – or even very-low-cost – automated telephone survey service but we are a more “hands-on” service, and pride ourselves on the flexibility and responsiveness of our team. Conducting many millions of telephone surveys per month, VIRTUATell is the market leader, based on survey volume.
As their website states “We regret to inform you that Precision Polling will shut down on March 31, 2016. We are not allowing new users to sign-up, and will no longer process payments. “ you may like to consider VIRTUATell as the alternative to Survey Monkey that you seek.
And why are SurveyMonkey closing Precision Polling? One can only assume that either they have not discovered how to make a profit from automated telephone surveys or the telephone channel does not fit into their longer term plans.
VIRTUATell would happily discuss with anyone without a home for their automated telephone surveys, the conversion of their current surveys and polls to our Synaptum platform – the alternative to Survey Monkey.
For those that did not see the email to customers, some of the details published on their website are as follows;
Precision Polling is closing on March 31, 2016
We are reaching out to let you know Precision Polling will no longer be available as of March 31, 2016. SurveyMonkey will continue business as usual, and there will be no impact to your use of the SurveyMonkey.com product.
Please make note of the following important changes that will go into effect on March 31, 2016.
You will not be able to sign into the PrecisionPolling.com website to download your data
You will not be able to make or receive phone calls using this system
Any purchased phone numbers will stop working and will be released to our provider
Unused account balances will expire
All your Precision Polling data will be completely erased from our systems within 60 days of termination
We strongly recommend that you download copies of all poll results before March 31, 2016. The steps to do so are:
Here at VIRTUATel, we believe in the Voice of the Customer, which is no great surprise, given that it’s a VIRTUATel trademark! But just what is it? And how can it help you?
What is the Voice of the Customer?
The Voice of the Customer might seem like a simple concept, but the act of listening can be a surprisingly technical process.
At VIRTUATel, we mainly work with companies with a large national or international footprint, but for this article, let’s take it back to the street. Take a local record shop for example: the voice of their customer is likely to highlight that they like music – no surprises there. But further to that, that they will expect you to have lots of obscure records in stock, and might even go as far as to say they dislike popular music. Once a business hears that voice of the customer, they can plan their business accordingly.
The analyst or business owner must try to identify as many things about the target audience as possible, and then order them in levels of importance. Whilst record shop customers might prefer low lighting, that’s not to be prioritised over getting hold of the latest releases! The hope is, of course, that with such useful data a business can create better tailored products and services, as well as perhaps expanding their target audience.
This information can come from all different sources – and as we’ve discussed before, not all surveys are created equal! For quantity of data, a simple survey could be used – as part of an email newsletter, or even a text message. But for more in-depth answers, longer interviews can be done. There’s also the use of large scale demographic information, not collected on your own but perhaps via census information, which can give you info about the potential market in your area.
What can the voice of the customer say?
There are three main kinds of information gained through listening to the voice of the customer.
1) the expectations of the customer
2) what they do like, generally, and in relation to your product
3) what they don’t like, generally, and in relation to your product
Whilst it’s tempting to think you possess mindreading skills (and most businesses begin with this assumption), your clairvoyance is no match for cold, hard data. Surveying your customers has some real, tangible benefits.
Better sales for your business
If you take the time to look into your target market and listen to the Voice of the Customer, you can better sell to them. Take the record store as an example. If this record store is based in the trendiest parts of a city, following current trends would mean that you should be selling new and old obscure music. If the record store is based in a small town in the countryside, it might be worth having more classic music that would appeal to an older audience. It’s a hard sell to market Bobby Darin to a younger audience, or Alt-J to an older audience. So take care to read your customer and find out what they like and don’t like, so that you can give them what they want, and not necessarily what you think you would like to sell.
Better branding for your business
You can tailor how you sell yourself through listening to the Voice of the Customer. If the store finds that their audience is mostly young people, they would have great success having a colourful, big and loud brand, as well as advertising on social media. If they find that their audience is mostly older people, they might benefit from having a more reserved but memorable brand and advertising in Sunday paper magazines. That way they would be reaching through to the right audience in a way that would relate to them.
Finding the right staff for your business
So – you can change your brand, and you can change your products: but what about your staff? It’s an often overlooked fact that listening to the voice of the customer can help you make the right appointments to fit your brand. Apple is well known for having ‘Genius’ staff members, because its customers demand a certain level of technical knowledge, and Apple prides itself on having products that are easy to set-up. But perhaps the record shop needs to make sure that their next hire has their finger on the pulse of the local music scene, or be an expert in classical music. And as an additional use of the customer insight, customer surveys are proven to help train and motivate staff. This is especially the case if you share the results and verbatim comments with them in real-time, so they can change their behaviour accordingly.
Choosing an informed vision
The Voice of the Customer can also be invaluable in choosing the vision you have for your business, right now and moving forward. Listening to the customer can give you new ideas for products to sell, new targets to market to and even suggest new locations to expand into. All of these potential areas of growth are far better prepared with reference to the customer’s likes and dislikes – that’s why there are focus groups for products and test screenings for movies.
So what does it mean?
As you can see, whilst the rules apply to a small highstreet operation, it’s easy to see how the voice of the customer can be applied to larger companies – and in fact, it’s arguably even more important to keep listening to the customer in these companies, as they tend to be in high competition industries. Having said that, even smaller businesses can take advantage of the Voice of the Customer by installing something simple like a kiosk where customers can press a smiley face to communicate their experience.
We’re marketing leaders in the Voice of the Customer, book an appointment to talk through the voice of your customer today.
The importance of customer feedback can not be overstated in any business. Without it, how can you grow in the right direction, or maximise the productivity in what you do? For businesses that need to sell, customer feedback is absolutely vital as a part of the sales cycle. Without it your agents will be facing plenty of swiftly terminated calls and doors shut in their faces.
What, then, is the sales cycle? Well – every single sales operation has one. Quite simply, it’s the method through which a salesperson sells! Of course, this can vary from enterprise to enterprise – a company that makes its living through cold calling people about PPI would need a different sort of salesperson to a company that sells top of the line BMWs. But regardless of the product, sales cycles have the same constituent parts.
The first is prospecting for leads – or in other words, finding people to sell to. This involves identifying who is the most likely customer to buy from you. For a business that manufactures and sells, for instance, women’s clothes, your leads will be women. A business that sells walking canes will likely concentrate their market on the elderly. This quantifying of leads allows you to stop your agents from wasting time on leads that never really stood a chance of buying in the first place.
Once a lead is found, they are then added to the sales funnel. At the top of this funnel, the number is large, and as each stage is progressed through some customers drop out, and those that remain at the end are the ones that actually buy your product. The form the stages take depends on the business, but you’ll reach out to the customer, find out if they are able and willing to buy your product, and then present your product or solution. Perhaps the most important step is to next handle with any objections the customer may have, then close the sale, and last but not least try to get a referral or even a repeat sale from your lead.
Collecting feedback via SMS or email surveys about this stage, will ensure your prospecting and targeting methods and aimed correctly.
Naturally this process has a lot of factors which influence its success. A salesperson who doesn’t take no for an answer will do better than one who does. Selling face to face is more likely to lead to a successful sale than cold calling. But the most important factor which determines sales success is whether the salesperson is listening to the needs of the customer through their feedback. This feedback can come in two ways: either directly as the sales process is being run through, or afterwards in the form of feedback through surveys, complaints or enquiries. But however it comes to the salesperson, importance of customer feedback potentially gives them the opportunity to sell where they wouldn’t otherwise.
Post-sale and non-sale surveys are proven to drive conversion success rates higher in a ver short period of time.
It’s an interesting use of customer surveys – whilst many companies use them to improve customer support, at VIRTUATel we work with several market-leading companies who use our surveys to inform their sales process.
The most obvious example of the importance of customer feedback in the sales cycle is when managing objections. Managing objections is, in fact, impossible if it’s not tailored to the specific lead being sold to! One lead might think the product – let’s say for example a nice pair of blue jeans – is too expensive, since they have extra bills to pay this month. Another customer might only ever wear the finest Armani jeans, and think that the pair you’re trying to sell can’t be anywhere near as high quality, since they’re cheaper.
Both of these objections are legitimate concerns but can only be managed through listening to the customer and judging what they might think based on their personalities and potential responses. The easiest way to get this feedback is, believe it or not, the most obvious: press your lead for info on what’s making them hold out on buying ‘right here, right now’, and tailor an answer just for them. Customers appreciate when they feel listened to and are much more willing to listen to you if they believe they’re in a two way conversation, not listening to a sales pitch.
The next most important way in which a customer can influence the sales process is after the customer has been through the cycle, through giving written feedback like a review, or indeed, a complaint. Unfortunately in many companies using modern sales tactics like a formalised sales cycle, listening to customer feedback seems to stop once the sale is finalised and money has changed hands. That’s why you see a lot of businesses out there that have great sales figures and a healthy profit margin, but dozens of bad reviews – it doesn’t matter to them so long as they close that sale.
Using survey techniques such as Net Promoter or VIRTUATel’s Advocacy Index will give you a valuable “recommendation” benchmark that you can measure progress against.
But in businesses which actually respect and listen to feedback given after the fact of the sale, these reviews can have a great influence on the sales cycle, particularly in this online age. If a lot of reviews come in about how the product is completely irrelevant to them and their needs, the business can listen and adjust how they find their leads. If reviews point out how their salespeople are too pushy, management could discuss with their staff how a sales pitch can also be a two way conversation. If reviews say that the offer seemed great at first but they lost interest because the salesperson kept waffling on, then perhaps remind staff to Always Be Closing!
The take-away message from this post, then, is that feedback effects the sales cycle by improving, enhancing, and specifying the techniques a salesperson uses to sell – using customer feedback is absolutely vital to honing this process and maximising the potential of a sales team. A sales cycle can’t be implemented straight from a book, but has to be put in place, imperfect at first, and constantly improved upon. Customer feedback is how you can make those improvements.
Happiness. It’s what we all strive for. It’s what’s used to measure the progress of the nation in Bhutan. And increasingly, it’s becoming a measurement that can predict the customer churn rate of a business.
The cold, hard fact is that if you want your business to succeed, you need to keep your customers happy. In fact, a recent study by Autotask found that 85% of service providers view customer satisfaction to be one of the most important metrics you can measure in your business.
But customer satisfaction can be measured in many ways. Traditionally, this has been using the Net Promoter Score™, Customer Effort and other indices, but some of these have come under criticism in recent years.
Increasingly, you may have seen people talk about a new metric – the Customer Happiness Index.
It was first developed by a company called Hubspot, a B2B inbound marketing business whose customers are looking for new ways to pull people towards their product or service without using direct marketing. To make this process less complex, but more analytical, they created the Customer Happiness Index to try to ‘maximise customers’ engagement’.
The Customer Happiness Index works by measuring three key metrics to identify which customers are likely to abandon the service and go somewhere else. In other words, how many and why customers are likely to churn.
First the CHI measures frequency of product use. Needless to say, a customer who uses a product more often than average is most likely happier with it too. This maxim applies broadly to all different kinds of products and services, from hotels to restaurants to Apple iPhone users.
Secondly, it measures breadth of product use. The logic of measuring this metric is obvious: one customer that uses more features of the product than another is more likely to be happy with it, and more likely to continue using it.
Lastly it identifies what HubSpot call the ‘sticky product features’. This metric identifies which features of your product or service make the customer stand out to the customer and keeps them stuck around, using your service and not that of the competition.
These measurements on their own are not foolproof, however – they do have their downsides. For instance, in an industry where there are many competitors to choose from, establishing and maintaining brand loyalty is all-important. But in an industry where a company might have a monopoly, whether a customer is loyal to the brand because they are happy with it or simply because they have no choice is difficult to determine.
Compared to CHI, the Net Promoter Score appears more simplistic, but in fact, that is one of the reasons for its success. It consists of one question: ‘how likely is it that you (the customer) would recommend our product/service?’. The score is measured from -100, where every customer is a ‘detractor’, to +100 where every customer is a ‘promoter’. Above zero is positive and above 50 is excellent.
Just like CHI, the NPS can be used for any sort of business, and again, just like the CHI, an industry with high barriers to entry and barriers to switching may not have much use for the metric, since detractors have no competition to switch to.
Those companies that use the CHI over NPS scores reason that it covers more ground, with more questions and gets a more nuanced answer. The book Customer Satisfaction: The customer experience through the customer’s eyes by Nigel Hill and Greg Roche criticised the NPS by claiming that ‘[a] single item question is much less reliable and more volatile than a composite index’ and that ‘simultaneously investigating multiple dimensions of the customer relationship’ leads to more accurate results.
In particular, it boasts two strengths:
1) It is proven to accurately predict and prevent customer turnover. By identifying customers thinking about leaving, your business can take proactive steps to retain them rather than waiting for them to come to you with their complaints (most likely leaving before you can do anything about them). HubSpot now manage to keep a third of customers who were identified as potential leavers just through their use of the CHI.
2) CHI can be used to measure many aspect of a business, not just customer happiness. CHI can be used to differentiate between the success of two products with a metric other than sales figures; it can be used to determine which marketing approach works best for your business; it can be used to determine whether your customer service department adequately and accurately deals with customer complaints.
We find that our VIRTUATel clients, many of whom use real-time NPS currently, realise the value of cross referencing NPS with other questions to get truly in-depth intelligence. And in fact, VIRTUATel’s real-time automated surveys are already extensively used to uncover those potential customer losses for proactive attention – the crucial thing is to make sure whatever you’re measuring, you’re measuring it in real-time, so that you can make changes quickly.
Will CHI takeover NPS in customer satisfaction terms? Perhaps not, due to the very significant investment already made at board level. However, in the next couple of years, we might see an increase in its use, and perhaps see it integrated increasingly into existing customer satisfaction strategies.
To speak to someone about the best metric for measuring your business, email us here.
Data is the lifeblood of what we do at VIRTUATel, so whilst we often write about ways in which to maximise your customer satisfaction levels, we love nothing more than a visual representation involving numbers. Enter customer service infographics! We’ve trawled the internet to bring you what we believe to be the top four infographics, each of which have some interesting insight into where we are and where we’re heading in the CX industry.
What it shows us
- customers’ perception of customer service in 2016
- the importance of fast problem solving
- tips on how to meet the needs of the customer
The Worst Case Scenario Infographic
What it shows us:
- what you lose when you lose a customer due to poor customer service
- the key frustrations for customers
- the worst offenders!
What it shows us
- the importance of meeting the customer on their terms, and on their preferred channel
- the importance of real-time problem solving
- why you should measure the whole customer journey
What it shows us
- What customer service will look like in 2020
- What customers will expect in the future
- What has to change before then and steps you can take
Want to discuss your own #CX needs? Email us to find out how we can help.