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Ask The Right Question

If you want insight into your customer’s experience (CX), you need to ask the right question.

Ask The Right Question

For every customer complaint you get, 25 other unhappy customers never return. They simply disappear and you won’t know why.

Customer experience (CX) is fast becoming the dominant factor in customer retention, challenging the mainstays of price and product as brand differentiators.

It might seem like we’re doing an OK job when complaints are low, but Esteban Kolsky sounds the warning bell: “Only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain[s]. The true enemy is indifference.” (HuffPost)

Worse still, all those departed customers might not be complaining to you, but they’re very likely telling others. “Those who leave will tell at least 15 of their buddies just how disappointing your business is.” (smallbizgenius).

So how can you find out if you’re doing a good enough job satisfying your customers’ CX expectations?

The best – and only – way to find out is to ask your customers. I recently wrote that only your target audience has the right to judge your business. (“90% Of Everything Is Crap”) For the same reason and, experience being a personal, “inside job”, your customer owns your CX.

The savvy entrepreneur will pre-empt customer churn by systematically getting regular customer feedback. The best way to assure a high response rate to your survey is to keep it short. And you can’t get a survey any shorter than asking just one question!

There are 3 popular indicators to gauge CX and each has its specific question:

- NPS: net promoter score – how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?

- CSAT: customer satisfaction – how would you rate your overall satisfaction with the service you received?

- CES: customer effort score – how easy is it to buy from us (or do any other specific action)?

The only response needed from each customer is to rate their score on a scale of 0-10, where 0 is bad and 10 is good.

But the problem I often see with these metrics is that they are mis-applied. E.g. I commonly see NPS data used to measure satisfaction, or CSAT to forecast customer loyalty.

In reality, though, the only insight the response data can offer is how customers answer each specific question. Specifically:

- NPS can only tell you how referable your business is;

- CSAT tells us only about satisfaction; and

- CES shows only how much ease or friction customers experience.

Depending on your marketing goals and strategy, it’s best to tailor your survey to ask the right question and use the right indicators.

For example, if your business strategy prioritises organic growth, then use NPS. To assess operational performance or make product and service improvements, use CSAT. And if you’re chasing customer retention and loyalty targets, you should rely on CES data.

Check your current business strategy and your CX metrics – are they aligned?