customer survey best practiceCustomer Satisfaction studies have become a mainstay metric in Marketing’s effectiveness dashboard. However, all too often this metric is used as a feel good measure promoting top box results. Leveraging customer experience analysis to also identify drivers of bottom box response can make the difference in shoring up attrition, improving product and offer capabilities, or creating stronger client references.

The Need:
A leading online retailer noticed sales in certain key segments slowing or remaining flat in North America and Europe. They needed to understand if this was happening because of economic conditions, increased competition, or a maturing market.

The Project:
The study was designed to collect both quantitative information through online surveys as well as gain more in-depth qualitative information through telephone interviews with customers. This allowed the ability to gain better insight into the motives of peoples actions as well as the story around purchasing behavior.

The survey and interview sample was created by analyzing the recency and frequency of purchasing. Based on this behavior, the sample was divided into groups of those that were current customers and those that were believed to be attritors.

The questionnaires focused on 5 areas:

1. Overall customer satisfaction among online retailers including the client (10 pt scale)
2. Customer satisfaction among online retailers around key areas of online purchasing experience (10 pt scale)
3. Loyalty of customers and willingness to purchase again at the online retailer (5 pt scale)
4. Customer’s willingness to recommend the online retailer (5 pt scale)
5. Customer’s reasons for most recent purchase at the online retailer
For the phone interviews, participants were encouraged to discuss their most recent experience in depth and provide comments on their overall customer satisfaction, loyalty, and next purchase opinions.

The Outcome:
Initial analysis of top box responses proved indecisive as a way to show causation in repeat purchasing or attrition due to the strength of customer satisfaction ratings. However, through analysis of bottom box responses, a pattern began to show itself around aspects of purchasing behavior and customer service experiences. This pattern was further supported in the comments provided during the phone interviews.

It turned out that sales were driven primarily around gifting which was cyclical. By better understanding this, the online retailer could modify it’s customer analysis around different expectations of next purchase. Secondly, there was one aspect of the customer experience that did have an effect on whether the customer would purchase again. This revolved around the management of customer issues and complaints. Customers did not feel the online retailer made it easy to resolve issues or did so in a timely manner, thus reducing their purchases or going elsewhere.

Upon receiving these results, the online retailer instituted a service for customer’s gift purchases and set about improving its customer support.

Without looking at bottom box results, the leading indicator of top box customer satisfaction masked underlying purchasing behavior and the online retailer’s ability to maintain customers. Having this knowledge helped determine ways to retain customers as well as improve their experience and improve sales.

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