The Survey Scales: The Good, The Bad and The Unbalanced

At VIRTUATel we know that a good survey doesn’t just use the right questions, it uses the right scale to measure the response.  We probably spend 75% of our client setup time on the script and survey scales – it’s that important.  But with numerous choices out there, which survey scale is the right one for you?

 

  1. Graphic Rating Scale

This scale is:

survey scales

 

This scale has been used by researchers since the early 20th century. This is arguably the most common rating format.

The graphic rating scale is defined as any scale that consists of points on a continuum. The ends of the continuum are typically labeled with opposite values. Respondents are asked to make a mark at any point on the scale that they find suitable.

Advantages:

  • simple
  • easily filled out
  • easy to construct for researchers
  • high level of understanding for users

Disadvanges

  • Difficult to quantify in results data
  • Can only be used by eSurveys (not phone, SMS etc)
  • If using a “slider”, the default position can be mistakenly left in place to give a wrong score

Useful for: Fast completion where you don’t require complete numbers.

 

2. Likert Scale

“The Likert Scale is useful”

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Neither agree nor disagree

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

The Likert scale is another widely used rating scale. It was developed by Rensis Likert, a psychologist.  He developed this principle to measure attitudes by asking people to respond to a sequence of statements about a certain topic.

This scale has an odd number of options, often 5 or 7. One end is labeled as the most positive, while the other ends is labeled as the least positive. The middle of the scale has a ‘neutral’ label.

Advantages

  • Simple
  • Easy to score
  • Extremely useful when evaluating a product or service
  • Allows for varying degrees of opinion, including no opinion

Disadvantages

  • Participants can be prone to choose the ‘no opinion’ option
  • Scale gaps are unlikely to be equidistant
  • Extremes can intimidate respondents
  • Being an odd number, there is a fence to sit on

Useful for: Products or services or “mood” surveys

 

3. Semantic Differential Scale

My feelings about the Semantic Differential Scale:


Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 14.49.07This scale asks a respondent to rate a product, brand, or firm based upon a seven-point rating scale. It has two bi-polar adjectives at each end. Developed by Charles Osgood, the most common is a 7-point scale, but it is also acceptable to have fewer choices like 5 or 3 points scale.

For example, a survey conducted by a company about its new product would include polar adjectives like love/hate, attractive/unattractive, useful/useless, and satisfied/unsatisfied.

Advantages

  • Useful in targeting different age groups and cultures
  • Easy to construct and understand
  • Provides reliable quantitative data

Disadvanges

  • Doesn’t explain the reasoning behind the score
  • As with Likert, is an odd number with a fence to sit on

Useful for: Customer and employee satisfaction, operations measurement, personality measurement

 

4. Dichotomous Scales

“The Dichotomous scale is useful”

Yes/No

These are questions with only two responses, usually yes/no and true/false.

Advantages:

  • The most easy to score

Disadvantages

  • Doesn’t provide nuanced data
  • No “unsure” option

Useful for: users of different ages and language levels

 

5. Rank Order Scale

Put these scales in order of preference:

Graphic rating

Likert

Semantic Differential

Dichotomous

Rank order

In a rank order scale, respondents are given a set of items. They are to put the items in some order. The order may be based on preferences, liking or effectiveness, among others.

Advantages:

  • Allows for comparative data, particularly about competitors
  • Can get data about several different items within one question

Disadvantages

  • Doesn’t explain why the rating has been given
  • Doesn’t show the relative difference between the items
  • Doesn’t allow people to rank things equally
  • Difficult to use on automated surveys

Useful for: Gathering data about a company or product’s place in the market

 

Conclusion

The survey scales you choose are extremely important and how you present the survey equally important.  Therefore, always use a reputable and knowledgeable company to help you develop your script – extremely important if considering the use of automated surveys.

As a specialist in the area of automated surveys, VIRTUATel have additional papers that will help you develop your scripts here.

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Alternative to Survey Monkey telephone survey service Precision Polling

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.

Alternative to survey monkey precision polling

Alternative to survey monkey precision polling

Obviously, VIRTUATel are 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 phone 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, VIRTUATel are probably 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 VIRTUATel as the alternative to Survey Monkey, 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.

VIRTUATel 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.

If you would like an alternative to Precision Polling before the closure of their service on 31st March 2016, CLICK HERE to contact us

 

I need an alternative to Survey Monkey division, Precision Polling
 

 

 

 

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:

If you have questions or concerns, please contact our customer support team by sending an email to: support@precisionpolling.com.

 

VIRTUATel VXML automated telephone survey API – automated surveys on demand

VIRTUATel VXML automated telephone survey API – automated surveys on demand

Turn automated telephone surveys on, whenever required using VIRTUATel’s instantly accessible VXML automated telephone survey API for VXML IVR

Automated telephone surveys are now available with almost no effort, to anyone with access to a VoiceXML 2.0 compatible IVR such as Genesys, Voxeo, Asterisk, Plum, SPOT, etc. Whether hosted on on-premise, it means any client or partner using any compatible VXML IVR can have the market leading VIRTUATel Synaptum automated phone surveys and award winning reporting portal, up and running in literally, hours.

How?

As VIRTUATel’s Synaptum™ is a multi-channel automated survey solution which includes VXML automated telephone survey module. This means any third party VXML IVR can interrogate the Synaptum VXML survey solution whenever automated telephone surveys are required. No software or hardware installation is required and configuration can be completed in a few hours. In addition, all the Synaptum real-time charts, dashboards and alerts that turn automated surveys into actionable customer retention data, are available in the cloud.

As the market leader in automated customer feedback solutions, VIRTUATel’s Synaptum™ has a proven track record of increasing customer advocacy, retention and staff accountability.

Instant automated telephone survey API for VXML 2.0 IVR

Instant VXML automated telephone survey from VIRTUATel

How does VoiceXML help?

According to Wikipedia, VoiceXML (VXML) is a digital document standard for specifying interactive media and voice dialogs between humans and computers!
VIRTUATel Synaptum™ surveys are created using VoiceXML and existing VXML IVR systems can communicate using that common VXML language. Therefore, they can all talk “survey” directly with Synaptum™ in the cloud, without needing any survey applications created or installed. Synaptum™ provides your local VXML IVR with clear dynamic instructions enabling it to ask your customers anything you wish about their experience with you.
Our survey scripts react to your customer’s responses, enabling you to ask relevant questions and gain an accurate real-time record of your customers’ experience. In addition, Synaptum™ stores the scores, captures valuable verbatim comments and also captures any information to which your VXML IVR systems have access, such as customer account numbers, call recordings or agent ID’s.

What all this means is that your VoiceXML IVR can talk “Surveys” and use Synaptum™ today! CLICK HERE to contact us or complete the form on the right to subscribe to automatically receive new articles we add.

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How to survey the Customer Journey

How to survey the Customer Journey

CXM experts agree that companies need to consider the customer’s full end-to-end journey, as opposed to isolated touchpoints, if they are truly to understand how they are performing in their customers’ eyes. According to research in the Harvard Business Review, across industries performance on journeys is 20% to 30% more strongly correlated with business outcomes.

Therefore, if you’re looking to improve sales and build your brand, it’s important to keep your customer in mind and measure how you are performing in their eyes, at every step of the customer journey. After all, understanding your customer and how they interact with your business directly is crucial when it comes to optimising the value, loyalty, and longevity of a customer relationship. If you are to ensure you have a full understanding of their journey with you, it is essential to measure your performance at each contact point they may have with you.

What is the customer journey?

The customer journey is the series of stages that a customer goes through when engaging with your organisation. As with any journey, the customer journey is not always linear and customers can jump in and out at different points depending upon their familiarity with your company, their reason for contact, and a whole host of other factors. For example, they may browse your web pages to narrow down their requirements and then make a phone call to clarify certain items and may later place an order via the web site but send an email to gain further clarification. All of this is part of the Acquisition phase of the customer journey.

Later, during the Change stage, your established customer of 2 years may decide they are interested in one of you promotional emails and enquire via email about upgrading their service. This may involve a contract change and field visit by an engineer, followed by administrative and service delivery changes. All of wthese sub-stages need careful management and measurement and are important components of the customer journey. Failure of any one of these sub-stages can immediately ruin the relationship and satisfaction levels you have carefully built with this customer over the previous years.

Customer Journey Mapping

Before you can identify the appropriate points to survey and engage along your customer journey, it is helpful to map out the journey. A customer journey map tells the story of each customer’s experience, from the very first contact, through the process of engagement, and into a long-term relationship.

customer journey

Customer journey mapping is all about figuring what it’s like for customers to interact with your brand over time and across different channels. Whether it focuses on a particular part of the journey or offers an overview of the experience, the customer journey map offers an insight into the key interactions that the customer has with the organisation, referring to their feelings, motivations, and questions for each of these key touch-points.

There are numerous different forms of customer journey maps, each with slightly different features and layouts. Every map, however attempts to understand and document the customer’s experience with the organisation.

customer journey

Example customer journey

Measuring the Journey

Once you have identified the key touch-points in the customer journey, you obviously need to begin to measure each stage and touch-point to begin to understand how you please or frustrate your customers at every stage. By measuring, you can begin to compare and ultimately, fix any issue and promote good practice, on every channel.
In any customer journey, there will be touch-points that are more important (for example, ‘customer places an order’) and less important touch points (such as, ‘customer downloads user guide’). However, a poor performance in an area considered low importance, may be the cause of issues you may be having in high importance stages and it is therefore essential that you measure all stages.

That is why at VIRTUATel we recommend using similar survey questions at each touchpoint to have comparative data for more relevant analysis. And we also recommend the utilisation of short surveys more often to provide a wider base of understanding and at the same time maximise return rates.

Why use the customer journey in customer feedback?

Whilst most organisations are relatively good at gathering historic data on their users, it tends to be historic, transactional data that reflects values and numbers of calls rather than a measurement of the success or failure of the point of communication. Almost always missing is the customer frustrations and experiences in their own words or measurement. This is where the measurement of your customer journeys at every touch point will begin to pay off.

At every stage, or touch point, the customer journey gives you the opportunity to engage with and obtain feedback from the customer, whether the contact is via email, web, chat, phone or social media. Understanding the customer journey allows companies to gain a better insight into the experiences they are delivering, achieve a higher response rate from the surveys they send out, and identify opportunities to stay in touch with their customers.

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What is the Voice of the Customer?

What is the Voice of the Customer?

As the textbooks say, the Voice of the Customer (VOC) is the in-depth market research process to capture a customer’s expectations, preferences, and aversions – producing a detailed set of customer wants and needs, organised into a prioritised, logical, business management structure.

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But for any organization, the Voice of the Customer should be much more than a set of processes and measurements. As Peter Drucker said, “The single most important thing to remember about any enterprise is that there are no results inside its walls. The result of a business is a satisfied customer.”

If a company that truly believes in putting the customer at the heart of their organization, a Voice of the Customer program should be driving everything it does, with all decisions determined by what will be the best experience for their customers.

At VIRTUATel, we believe so strongly in the importance of the true Voice of the Customer that we own the trademark!  So you can see that we have understood the importance in listening to the voice of the customer for many years.  This experience is a vital component when you are considering designing and deploying the surveys and questionnaires that you will use to drive your VOC campaign.

 

Capturing the Voice of the Customer using automated surveys

There are a number of different touch points within each organisation’s customer journey where the company interacts with its customers. Each of these touchpoints provides the opportunity to collect VOC data from customers and influence their behaviour.  Using automated surveys over the phone, mobile, web and email contact points will ensure a complete VOC view is captured at minimal cost.

Once the finding have been confirmed and prioritised, it may be worthwhile delving deeper into the results by conducting specific customer interviews.

Successful VOC programs also call upon a variety of customer-initiated feedback, such as product reviews via third party websites as well as social media content.   At VT we have recently launched a social media survey service and have discovered this can be a valuable source of additional VOC data.  In addition, due to the “real-time” nature of social media, it is also an excellent channel on which to monitor changes.

In summary, the Voice of the Customer can be captured through a variety of different tools, mechanisms, and platforms, including:

  • Automated Surveys
  • Direct discussion
  • Interviews
  • Focus Groups
  • Customer Specifications
  • Observation
  • Field Reports
  • Complaint Logs
  • Ethnographic Studies
  • Social Listening
  • Home Visits

 

Why conduct Voice of the Customer research?

In any industry, listening to the customer is key – VOC programs make it possible for organisations to understand their customers’ preferences and buying decisions, and quickly respond to their feedback in an intelligent and meaningful way.

The effective use of Voice of the Customer programs and processes allows you to connect and engage with customers at key points in the customer journey, allowing you to:

  • Customise your products and services to meet the needs and expectations of your customers
  • Maximise your profits
  • Identify and prioritise your customers’ needs and wants
  • Prioritise issues and developments
  • Evaluate new concepts, ideas, and solutions

Allowing you to listen to your customers and act on their feedback, the Voice of the Customer process helps you to build better products than you would otherwise be able to.

The VOC also allows you to truly understand the customer journey. Each customer interacts with your organisation through different touch points, with different members of staff, buying different products and services, and having different post-purchase experiences. VOC takes a unified view – taking into account the entire journey rather than focusing on one of these angles.

 

Voice of the Customer in 2016

Most commentators agree that organizations that are not focusing on improving customer experience in 2016 will go backwards. According to Gartner, “Customer experience is the last source of sustainable differentiation and the new competitive battleground.” They estimate that by 2017, 50% of product investment projects will be redirected to customer experience innovations.

And the best place to start is to ensure you are hearing the voice of your customers loud and clear.

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4 ways to improve staff engagement among customer service agents

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that Temkins fourth law of Customer Experience says, “Unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers.” As many companies understand, it is the crossroad between engaged employees and their interactions with the customer that delivers a great or a poor customer experience.

And while self-serve tools will continue to grow, when it comes to customer service, there will always be a role for a live conversation with a company representative. So call centre agents will always be on the front line when it comes to delivering great customer service. Therefore it is vital that they, of all employees, need to feel fully engaged if they are to act as ambassadors for the Company.

Of course, there are a variety of tools and processes that organizations need to provide their staff such as support, training, and rewards. But based on our experience of providing automated surveys to a wide variety of call centres across multiple industries, we have come up with four simple actions, every business can quickly employ today that are based on the statistics and knowledge we have gained from those surveys.

Involve agents in the original survey development

As they interact with customers every day, your agents are best placed to know the major issues and frustrations customers face when dealing with your business. They can therefore provide valuable insight into the key questions that need to be asked, identify where the major touchpoints that create the most customer interactions are, as well as identifying appropriate language to be used in the surveys. This maximizes the return rates, and the value of the insights uncovered. Additionally, if you make them part of the development process, they are more likely to engage with the results and better understand how vital they are in building the relationship with your customers.

Build in alerts so agents get immediate feedback when they have given great or poor service

Setting alerts that are triggered when a customer either gives a highly positive, or highly negative, review of an agent, is a vital part of any voice of the customer surveys. Every business needs to be able to react quickly to ensure poor feedback does not escalate into a social media nightmare. And for the agent, speaking to customer after customer, it is easy to forget what happened in earlier calls as they need to quickly focus attention on the current issue. Getting an instant alert that the previous customer was either delighted with the service, or very unhappy, ensures they and their manager can immediately address how the call went with the results fresh in the agent’s memory, and can deliver relevant on-the-job training, or instant rewards, as appropriate.

Ensure they have access to reports and can compare their results with the rest of the team

The insights that Voice of the Customer® surveys provide to your company are of course vital in the delivery of great service and improving customer experience. But many organisations keep that information at the management level, and don’t understand the potential for leveraging it to provide learning and motivation to the agents who are effectively being surveyed. Fully understanding their role in keeping customers satisfied is critical for them to improve their performance, and to create accountability for their actions and the consequences of their actions. Additionally, being able to compare their results to teammates, as well as to the company average, is a proven driver of improvement. Our real-time Dashboards ensure all staff see meaningful and relevant result data, in real-time, whenever they need it.

Build training programs around the results

In addition to the instant training opportunities afforded by the alerts system, by letting your staff see their scores and hear the customer comments, they get the opportunity to identify their own areas of improvement to raise customer satisfaction. Together with team leaders, they can develop bespoke and relevant training programs that will improve performance far more quickly than generic, off-the-shelf, external training activities.

In our experience conducting millions of customer surveys per month asking about staff performance confirms that these four simple actions are all you need to engage your staff and help them become accountable for what is your most important business asset – the moment during which they are your only conduit to your customers of your standards, brand image and service ethic.

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