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The power of real-time customer surveys

When real-time customer surveying tools are used properly, they improve customer satisfaction, increase revenue, decrease customer attrition, reduce operating expenses and improve agent satisfaction and retention. Read advice from Donna Fluss on how to use customer surveys to optimize your contact center.


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The best way to determine if customers are satisfied with a company, its products and its services is to ask them. Customer surveys should be a priority for all enterprises. It's an important indicator of whether customers will remain loyal and recommend a company and its products/services to others.

An unused customer satisfaction survey can do more harm than good

Most executives and managers I speak with agree that customer satisfaction surveys are important. However, many are ambivalent because they think that it's challenging to collect statistically accurate, useful and actionable data. They've got a good point. If a company conducts a customer survey, but finds the data useless and does nothing with the results, the impact on customers is worse than if the survey never took place. When an organization reaches out to its customers and asks their opinion, the expectation is that the results are going to matter and the company is going to respond appropriately. If no action follows a customer survey, the company subtly communicates that customer opinion is not important. Clearly, this isn't a desirable message.

Real-time surveying tools give customers what they want

Surveying tools that empower enterprises to respond in real time accomplish many objectives. They allow an enterprise to identify and respond immediately to issues raised by customers. (Problems can range from a small mistake that impacts a few customers, to an annoying policy that disturbs hundreds of customers, to a product delivery or quality issue that negatively impacts thousands of customers.) Real-time surveying also allows an organization to be proactive about fixing problems before they negatively impact a large number of customers. This results in a better customer experience and reduces operating expenses, by preventing a high volume of calls related to the same problem.

Enhanced surveying tools simplify the process

Surveying tools have improved dramatically during the past 10 years. Web-based technologies have made it simpler to create and issue a survey. Enterprises looking for a surveying tool have many good options in every price range. Interactive voice response (IVR)-based surveying tools have also been enhanced. They are now much easier to use and yield significantly better results than a few years ago. Speech recognition technology has contributed significantly to improving the effectiveness of IVR-based surveying systems, as it's a more comfortable interface for many customers. Additionally, enterprises can choose either to purchase a surveying tool or subscribe to the functionality on a monthly basis from a hosting company.

The newer, real-time surveying applications provide companies with actionable information that can be used to bring about immediate change. These applications include traditional survey functionality, specifically:

• The ability to create and issue surveys in many channels – mail, IVR, phone and email
• Tools to collect and analyze responses
• Reporting

The advantage of real-time surveying tools is that they are designed to deliver statistically accurate results much more quickly than the previous generation of survey tools.

Benefits of real-time surveying tools

When real-time surveying tools are used properly, they improve customer satisfaction, increase revenue, decrease customer attrition, reduce operating expenses and improve agent satisfaction and retention. These benefits result from the following functional capabilities:

1. Availability of real-time alerts
2. Notification to management of angry or unhappy customers, in real time
3. Real-time alerts provide notification to management when a profitable or high value customer has a problem
4. Identification of risky situations in real time – unhappy customers, bad agents, broken processes or systems
5. Driving of immediate modifications in staffing, procedures and services
6. Detection of correlations between customer satisfaction and quality assurance scores in order to identify processes that disappoint customers
7. Communication of customer feedback in real time
8. Identification of call center agent training needs in near-real time
9. Near-real time feedback on outstanding call center agent or team performance
10. Measurement of adherence to enterprise, departmental or individual goals, in near-real time

Final thoughts

All enterprises should survey their customers, address the identified issues and share the results and benefits with customers and senior management. All surveying is valuable because it is the only way to determine what customers think about a company's performance. Companies can get excellent results from traditional surveying processes and tools but real-time surveying takes the process one step further by empowering companies to respond almost immediately to issues impacting customers. This increases the benefits of surveying initiatives by giving companies critical, actionable information as quickly as possible.

About the author
Donna Fluss is the founder and principal of DMG Consulting LLC, a firm specializing in customer-focused business strategy, operations and technology services for Global 2000 and emerging companies. Ms. Fluss is a recognized thought leader and innovator in CRM, contact center and real-time analytics. For over 23 years, she has helped end users build world-class differentiated contact centers and vendors develop high-value solutions for the market. She is the author of the book, "The Real-Time Contact Center" and many leading industry reports, including the 2006 Speech Analytics Market Report and the annual Quality Management/Liability Recording Product and Market Report.

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