If your business has undergone a change that has made your customer satisfaction (CSat) tracking program less relevant, it may be tempting to cut back on it or cut it out entirely. After all, asking, “How was your most recent experience with our front desk staff?” to a customer that hasn’t engaged with your front desk in weeks does more harm than good.
But it’s also dangerous to disappear from your customers’ purview entirely, especially in a time of disruption. If you deactivate your CSat tracking survey and hope to reengage your customers later, you might find that they’ve forgotten about you, deprioritized you, or replaced you with a competitor. You might also find that you’ve lost track of them— that you eliminated one of your best vehicles for customer outreach when you needed it most, and you’re now lacking key insights.
Fortunately, you can make changes to your CSat platform to promote customer engagement and allow you to tap into your consumers’ emotions in real time. CSat tracking gives companies a unique opportunity to connect with your consumers as they go about their new normal. Rather than asking the standard questions about their shopping or product experience, you can ask how they’re doing, how they’re adapting to their new habits and environments, and if there’s anything they’re lacking.
For instance, if you own a chain of gyms or fitness studios, and you can’t send surveys about customer satisfaction, you can ask about their emotional and mental well-being. How has their exercise regimen changed? How are they taking care of their mental health? Do they have enough resources to substitute for the gym? You may find that consumers miss aspects of the experience that aren’t related to the product itself. A lot of Equinox devotees, for example, like going to the gym for the spa as much as they like the exercise equipment, and a lot of regular fitness class attendees go for the community. These could be opportunities for you to expand your offerings or to fulfill unmet needs.
As long as you ask questions in a way that’s appropriate to your industry and relevant to your products, this is an organic way to show empathy, since these consumers are already used to being in dialogue with you. You can pleasantly surprise your customers by sending surveys that speak to their present situation and emotional well-being rather than asking about products and in-store experiences.
Furthermore, a customer satisfaction tracking program of this nature can help you bridge any anxiety your customer might be feeling. Research shows that the emotional relief you get from telling someone your problems is almost equal to the relief you get from listening to someone else’s problems. This establishes a rapport and increases trust between your brand and your customers, and once social isolation ends, you’ll have a better chance of re-engaging these consumers than competitors who stayed silent during this period.
If you’re a B2B brand that relies on clients whose businesses have slowed during coronavirus, you can use this as a mechanism to gain insight into their consumers and what their concerns are. Ask them how they’re coping, if they need help finding new ways to do business, if they’re worried about inventory, and other questions that show you’re a thought partner who’s committed to solving their problems together.
You should treat CSat (or Customer Engagement) tracking like human interactions and write clear, approachable questions that make it easy for them to answer. The questions don’t even have to be related to the coronavirus pandemic. We’re in uncharted territory, and as businesses think about how they’re going to adapt in the short and long term, you can use this as an opportunity to re-evaluate your practices. Asking questions like, “What’s something you’ve always wanted to tell us?” and “Have you found greater satisfaction in certain parts of your experience?” can open your eyes to things you wouldn’t have otherwise considered.
You can use the insights you gather from your updated CSat tracker to plan your current and future strategy. If people are engaging positively with your brand and finding ways to apply the solutions you’ve offered them, you can market to them more directly and offer them other products and services. If they indicate that they’re not ready for these kinds of offers, you can take a softer approach and reinforce the idea that you’re “in this together.”
You can use these responses as metrics for testing out marketing campaigns and new communications. If a subset of consumers has indicated a willingness to receive promotions, you can target them with a promotional email and then survey your consumers to compare whether those that received the promotion have better or worse feelings about your brand than those who did not receive it.
If you change your CSat tracker questions to ask about current habits and give customers an opportunity to talk about what emotions and motivations are driving their decisions, the insights you uncover can also be valuable from a predictive standpoint. Asking what has changed in their behavior, whether they think they’ll go back to their old ways, or how they feel about change will give you some insight into what the future looks like. In the short term, your consumers’ responses may reveal some unmet needs that you can convert into business opportunities. In the long term, it will almost certainly put you in a prime position to revamp your relationship once the market changes.