Browse Tag: customer issue priority

How to Delete Google Reviews?

Google review

Discover how you can delete negative Google reviews and learn what you can do if deleting the review isn’t an option.

Think about the last time you traveled. After you arrived at your destination and checked in at your hotel, what did you do next? If you’re like me, you probably start thinking about where you’re going to eat. But when you’re new to an area, how do you find a good spot?

Advertisement

Rather than asking the hotel clerk — who’s probably a local and has eaten at every place nearby — most of us take out our phones and do a quick Google search. In fact, studies show that 72% of customers won’t take action until they have read a review for a business. And, since Google is the preferred review site for 64% of consumers, one poor review on its search engine could determine a sale for your company.

Every company hopes to receive positive feedback, but the fact is that customers who have poor experiences are twice as likely to write an online review. It’s your customer service team’s job to keep track of Google reviews and remove the negative comments that are harmful to your business.

In this post, we’ll break down what a Google review looks like, how to delete them, and what to do if you can’t.

Download Now: 20 Review Response Templates

What Is a Google Review?

Before we jump into how you can delete Google reviews, we should first clarify what a Google review is. There are many popular review sites that can easily be confused with the Google review interface. Google’s review site is unique because it’s integrated directly into the search engine as well as its apps and business tools. For example, take a look at the Google review page for HubSpot:

How to Delete a Google Review

  1. Open Google Maps and locate your business.
  2. Find the review on the Google reviews page.
  3. Click the three vertical dots to the right of the review.
  4. Select the option, ‘Flag as inappropriate.’
  5. Insert your email address.
  6. Choose a ‘violation type.’
  7. Submit your appeal to Google.

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t offer a simple “delete” option for its reviews. Instead, there are only two ways that a review can be removed. The person who posted the review can delete it or your business can “flag the review as inappropriate.” Flagging the review alerts Google that the review is fake or that it doesn’t comply with Google’s review policies.

After that, you’ll be guided to the landing page below where you’ll need to complete a brief report of the issue and submit your email for follow-up communication. 

Image Source

After that, Google will notify you as soon as your request has been processed and analyzed by its team. 

It’s important to note that Google has built-in spam checkers that automatically analyze a review for inappropriate, irrelevant, or misleading content. While this feature is pretty reliable, inaccurate reviews are sometimes overlooked which can lead to negative perceptions of your business.

While not every review will be removed, let’s look at a few scenarios that you’d want to file an appeal.  

When to Flag a Google Review

According to Google, the topics below are considered to be against its user terms and conditions. Therefore, if you notice a review that falls under one of these categories, your team can request to remove that content. 

Irrelevant Comments

Google wants to make sure its users are getting accurate information about your business. So, if you’re seeing comments that don’t pertain to your organization or a customer’s experience, you should flag these reviews for Google to remove. 

Illegal Content

Some businesses provide products or services that are illegal in certain locations. Google accounts for this by prohibiting users from posting reviews that contain links to websites or email addresses that sell illegal products. This also includes images that promote products or special offers. 

Inappropriate/Offensive Content

Google will remove any content that it views as “obscene, profane, or offensive.” It will also remove reviews that are threatening or contain derogatory comments. If you come across any reviews like these, be sure to flag them immediately to protect your brand’s image.  

Advertisement

Conflicts of Interest

Google wants its reviews to be as unbiased as possible. Therefore, you can’t post a review of a company that you own or work for. You also can’t post a review of your competitor, as this would allow you to manipulate their rating in your favor. 

Impersonation 

Google values the accuracy of its reviews as well. It doesn’t want to misrepresent a business or provide deceptive content to its users. Because of this, all Google reviews must be published by the person who is writing the review. You can’t publish the review on someone’s behalf or pretend to be someone else when submitting your review.

Disadvantages of Appealing a Google Review

As you can imagine, this process is slow and doesn’t guarantee that your review will be removed. And, even if Google does decide to remove it, there’s no telling when it will actually be taken down. In that time, your business could lose thousands of customers if you wait for Google to handle the issue.

The other major setback is that Google won’t remove a review just because it’s negative. The point of Google reviews is to provide users with unbiased feedback from other customers’ experiences. If those experiences are poor, Google wants its users to be aware of them. So, if you’re upset with a customer’s opinion, you can’t report it to Google because they won’t do anything about it.

Instead, your customer service team needs to take action if you want to remove a negative Google review.

5 Ways to Handle Google Reviews

1. Respond to the customer’s review.

The most effective way to handle a negative customer review is to respond to it. In fact, a Harris study reveals that nearly a third of all customers who leave a negative review end up deleting it if the business responds to them. Remember, these reviews are public for the customer too, and they don’t want to look like the villain when your team responds underneath with a sincere apology.

2. Ask the customer to delete it.

The customer may respond positively to your team’s comment but choose to leave the review up anyway. They may think the matter is closed and that other users will see the review as an example of your great customer service. While we appreciate the sentiment, you and I both know we’d rather have the review removed so other customers only see the positive experiences at your company.

In these cases, reach out to the customer to see if they will remove the review. If possible, message them on a private platform like email, so the customer doesn’t feel pressured by your request. Thank them for reading your reply and ask them if they will consider the removal of the review in light of their recent experiences with your company. Be sure to remain patient and don’t make any demands on the customer.

Advertisement

3. Solve the customer’s problem.

This one may seem obvious, but customers often leave negative reviews because their original need from your business was never fulfilled. For example, you may really enjoy the customer service at a restaurant but hate the food they serve you. Even though your beef — pun intended — isn’t with the restaurant’s staff your review still gets counted all the same.

It’s important to recognize the problems that customers are reporting in your negative reviews and take action to correct them. Once you do, follow up with the customers who left poor reviews and see if they’re willing to try your product or service again. Make it clear that you have taken steps to correct your past mistakes and you still value their relationship with your business. While you may not win every customer over, this promotes a customer-centric culture for your brand’s reputation.

4. Follow up with customers.

One common statistic that customer service experts like to point out is that 77% of customers will only consider reviews that were posted in the last three months. However, this stat neglects that these older reviews still count towards your business’s overall rating on Google. That rating is extremely important because 49% of customers will not buy from a business if it has less than a 4-star rating.

Additionally, a lot can change with your business as you grow and develop over time. A Google review that was posted two years ago may not be as accurate today. If the user is still active, try to contact them via the review and see if they would be willing to edit their post. Or, offer them an incentive to try your product or service again in exchange for an updated review.

5. Authenticate the review.

Believe or not, some people on the internet are deceitful. It gets worse. Some people will even write fake reviews to sabotage their competitors’ business.

Advertisement

If you’re dubious of a review’s authenticity, look for signs that would confirm it is a fake. Fake reviews often lack details and seem like they could apply to almost any business. Check to see if the reviewer has left any other reviews and if they have a pictured listed with their account. Then respond to the review. If you don’t get a response, flag the post as inappropriate and wait for Google to review your report.

Waiting for Google to remove a review from its search engine can be time-consuming and tedious. However, the steps listed above should help your customer service team quickly address negative Google reviews and improve your chances of removing them sooner.

Source

A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Customer Experience

customer experience

Discover what digital customer experience is and how you can master it at your business. Then, check out some digital customer experience trends.

In today’s digital age, no business is complete without a website or an app. In fact, 65% of consumers said their experience on a website or app is “very important” in their decision to recommend a brand.

Advertisement

But, it’s not enough to simply launch a site and call it a day. You need to create a customer experience that’s engaging, user-friendly, and delightful. By optimizing these digital steps in the customer journey, you’ll improve your ability to attract and retain customers.

In this post, let’s review everything you need to know about digital customer experiences, including what they are and how you should manage them. Then, we’ll wrap up by highlighting some digital trends that your team should be considering this year.

Digital Customer Experience

Digital customer experience refers to the customer’s perception of your website or app. It accounts for all interactions that occur on these channels as well as how they affect the customer journey. As business continues to shift into a digital landscape, these touchpoints are playing a larger role in how companies are perceived by customers.

To create a delightful digital experience, your website or app should meet the needs and expectations of your target audience. Leads should be able to navigate through your content and understand why they should purchase your product or service. Returning customers should have access to customer success and support features that are built right into the user interface. This will create an ongoing experience that nurtures customers through each stage of your flywheel.

Now that we’ve introduced you to digital customer experiences, let’s review some best practices you can use to optimize them at your company.

Digital Customer Experience: Best Practices

Advertisement

1. Pay attention to mobile experiences.

Whether you have a detailed website or a handy app, it’s important to focus on mobile experiences. After all, 82% of customers use mobile devices to make a product decision.

That’s because smartphones allow customers to compare companies while they shop. They can see how your brand stacks up against your competitors before they make a purchase. If your website or app doesn’t seem to fit their needs, chances are your products won’t either.

When designing your digital customer experience, make sure it’s mobile responsive. That means when it’s displayed on a tablet or phone, the interface automatically adjusts to the smaller screen. This dramatically affects the user experience and makes it much easier to navigate through your content.

2. Adopt analytics.

Like any other part of your business, you should be actively looking for new ways to improve your website or app. Fortunately, that’s easier to do if you have reporting tools that monitor your digital customer experience.

This software tracks the features and pages that customers use most and helps your team identify points of friction within the app or website. For example, you can pinpoint where leads are abandoning purchases and can work proactively to prevent churn. Or, for returning customers, you can review their favorite tools and adjust your page navigation so they’re easier to find when users revisit your site. Having this insight into how customers are engaging with your offers helps your team effectively optimize the user experience.

Advertisement

3. Collect customer feedback.

Another way you can gather information is by asking customers for their feedback. Have them fill out a survey after using your website or app and ask them if they would recommend it to their peers. You can use an NPS survey to gather both qualitative and quantitative data on your digital customer experience as this should give a good idea of how customers are reacting to your content.

4. Conduct user testing.

User testing is another way to determine how much customers enjoy using your website or app. In this environment, a select group of customers is asked to test your product, then they provide feedback on specific aspects of the user experience. This gives you chances to tweak your website or app before releasing it to the rest of your customer base.

While there are a few different types of user tests, the most popular one is usability testing. Usability testing assesses how easy it is to use and navigate your product. Participants are asked to perform a simple task, then they’re evaluated on their ability to complete it. This shows your development team how user-friendly your website or app is.

5. Create an omni-channel experience.

Omni-channel experiences generate customer delight because they provide more communication options to customers. People can engage with a business on a medium that they’re comfortable using and aren’t forced to work on an interface that they’re unfamiliar with.

And, as we can see from the graphic below, this added comfort significantly impacts customer satisfaction.

Omni-channel

Image Source

The more channels you support, the happier your customers are. And, they’re more likely to buy from your company again. That’s because you’re engaging them on channels they’re already using, making it much easier for users to interact with your content.

These best practices should help your business optimize your digital customer experience. However, as technology advances, new trends will continue to emerge and influence customer perception.

In the section below, let’s review a few digital trends that businesses are following this year.

Digital Customer Experience Trends

1. Improvements in Artificial Intelligence

When we think of artificial intelligence (AI), we often think of sentient robots that mimic human actions and conversations. While these are fun, sci-fi villains, they aren’t accurate representations of how AI is used in modern business.

Most AI is used to automate business functions and personalize experiences for the customer. For example, AI is often programmed into email newsletters when companies want to send messages to their entire customer base, but want the emails to seem genuine and sincere. So, they use AI to pull data from the CRM and personalize the message with the customer’s information. This makes the email look and feel like it was written specifically for that person.

As AI continues to improve, you should expect more features like these to appear in your marketplace. Customers crave personalized experiences and AI is the perfect tool for delivering users exactly what they want and need in a digital landscape.

2. Increased Number of Chatbots

Chatbots were once a novelty that businesses used to show customers that they’re trendy and keeping up with the latest technology. These bots were very limited and could only perform a predetermined series of actions. This made for dull customer experiences that didn’t always end with the customer getting what they wanted.

Advertisement

Now, chatbots can answer 80% of routine service questions which significantly reduces the pressure placed on customer support teams. With bots, support agents can refocus their time and energy on more complex or time-sensitive cases that are more likely to result in customer churn. That’s why experts predict that 85% of customer interactions will be handled without a human agent by 2020.

3. More Focus on Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics determine how customers will react to changes in your business. These reports help business leaders understand customer behavior and the role the company plays in their customers’ lives.

As AI and machine learning continues to improve, we can expect predictive analytics to become a fundamental tool used by companies with a digital presence. These reports will be built right into the internal user interface and will update with the most recent customer data. That way, business leaders will have all the information they need to make a confident decision for their company.

4. New Augmented Reality Tools

Augmented reality (AR) has generated a ton of cool opportunities to improve digital customer experience. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s a technology that supplements real images with digital elements, like in the example below.

Augmented-Reality

Image Source

Since AR is still relatively new, there’s a lot of potential for its use in customer service. Some brands have used it to supplement in-person customer experience by displaying product information that appears as customers shop. When a customer is in the store, they can use their smart device to scan a product and see data like customer reviews and product details. This reduces friction during the buying process and makes it easier for customers to find the product or service that’s right for them.

Another popular AR trend is the “try-as-you-buy” experience. If your company operates mostly online, you can let customers test out your products by using an AR version on their computer. That way, customers don’t have to go through the hassle of buying your product or asking for a sample, only to return it a few weeks later.

5. Personalized Customer Experiences

With all of this customer data at your company’s fingertips, it’s going to be much easier to create personalized customer experiences. Not only will you have a stronger understanding of your customer base, but you’ll also have the technology needed to distribute content effectively. And, you’ll be able to automate this personalization so you can maintain a delightful customer experience as your business grows over time.

Source

The Expert’s Guide to Contextual Inquiry Interviews

contextual inquiry

Learn how to ask and analyze contextual inquiry questions effectively.

This style, while still informative, puts your consumers in a very passive role. This can be completely fine, considering what the point of the interviews is. However, often times, consumers don’t actually know how to articulate responses about their needs in a product or service. They may not have a full grasp on the technology or completely comprehend the “why” behind their purchasing decisions.

Thus, this style of interviews can be lacking in producing effective and actionable insights. This is where contextual inquiry interviews come in.

Advertisement

What Is Contextual Inquiry?

Contextual inquiry is a type of customer interview where participants perform tasks to show how they use a product or service. This provides important insights into how a company’s product is perceived and valued in a customer’s day-to-day life.

This differs from a typical interview because you can observe participants’ natural, habitual activities that they might overlook when describing their usage in a normal, verbal interview. In addition, the interviewer can confirm their understanding of the tasks occurring with the participants, who can agree, disagree, or provide greater explanations. Thus, contextual inquiry is a great option if your company is struggling to understand the root problem for which your product or service is a solution.

There are four main principles of contextual inquiries:

1. Context

Naturally, the first principle is context. It’s essential that a contextual inquiry occurs in the context of use. This means the interview must travel to the participant’s work, home, school or other location in which they habitually use the product or service. If reaching the location is an issue, contextual inquiries can also occur over video chat in order to still observe the participant in their environment.

The interviewer must also pay attention to all tasks done and artifacts used in addition to the product or service at hand. In order to fully understand the situation, interviewers must take into consideration everything a participant does during the process of using the product or service.

Advertisement

2. Focus

Before going into a contextual inquiry, the interviewer should decide on a focus for the interview. What conclusions are your company trying to come to? Having a focus is similar to having a research question in an experiment. It will keep all the participant’s activities honed in on only what you need to observe.

A good focus says exactly what you want to accomplish with the interview and how you plan on accomplishing it. This is also to save you time; once you’ve learned all you need to learn about the focus, you can feel free to end the interview. However, it’s okay to let the interview be loose in structure and in the hands of the customer. Be open to the interview taking you down an unexpected, yet rewarding, path.

3. Interpretation

As mentioned above, an important part of contextual inquiries is mutual interpretation. That is why these differ from natural observations; in those situations, the researchers are left to come to their own conclusions without ever consulting the observed participants. But, in contextual inquiries, interviewers have the opportunity to speak with their subjects and gain greater meaning.

Rather than just making implications, an interviewer must review their learnings with the participant. This gives the participant a chance to confirm whether your observations are accurate or not. Their clarifications can either validate, expand on, or disprove your findings, making for a more accurate interview.

4. Partnership

The entirety of a contextual inquiry is based on collaboration between the interviewer and participant. There are two models that can be used to make for a more meaningful partnership:

Active Observation

This is the most commonly used model in contextual inquiries. This occurs when the participant talks through all the tasks they are performing as if educating the interviewer on their process. The interviewer has the opportunity to interrupt the participant in the middle of tasks to ask questions.

Passive Observation

In this model, the participant performs their tasks as if the interviewer is not present. The interviewer silently observes the participant and does not interrupt their tasks. Rather, they ask all their questions at the completion of the observation.

Keeping these principles in mind, read on for some examples of when you would use contextual inquiry interviews.

Contextual Inquiry Examples

1. Testing a Product

Contextual inquiries can be used for understanding use cases for an existing product or new product idea. Observing a participant navigating a product can help an interviewer understand what aspects trip them up, what they enjoy, what is unnecessary, and what they might use it for.

A children’s toy brand is considering creating a new educational technology product for preschool-age children. Using a contextual inquiry, an interviewer can observe a classroom full of children using the product, while being guided by their teacher. The interviewer can also observe some children using the product at home with their families. These interviews can help the interviewer understand whether or not the product is age-appropriate, engaging, and actually educating children as promised.

2. Optimizing Ecommerce

Contextual inquiries can also be used to find ways to improve the shopping process for a company. Interviewers can observe how participants navigate an online ordering process to discover ways to make it more efficient.

An ecommerce clothing brand wants to improve their online ordering process. An interviewer can observe customers surfing the website on their respective devices, adding products to their carts, and completing the order process. The interviewer can then speak with the customers to understand the ways to make the experience easier and faster, such as by allowing customers to save their credit card information for future purchases.

3. Designing a User Interface

Another great use for contextual inquiry interviews is to better design user interfaces. It can be difficult to get a sense of the best possible user interface by simply asking participants questions about what they like to see. Watching them succeed and stumble through different interfaces can be a better gauge.

A technology company is designing a new smartphone model. An interviewer can pass out a prototype to a participant and assign them some tasks to complete, such as downloading an emailed file or connecting a Bluetooth device to the smartphone. The interviewer can then ask questions about their experience with the interface and observe if certain apps are difficult to locate or tasks require too many steps.

4. Enhancing Customer Experience

Contextual inquiries can also be used to improve or modify a customer’s experience with your brand, typically at the location site. Following a customer through their journey can give you important insights that would otherwise be difficult to understand.

A bookstore cafe brand is trying to create a more welcoming environment, as most of their customers currently only come to shop and not to sit at the cafe. An interviewer can invite participants to the location and observe their experience with the location. Throughout, the interviewer can ask them questions. Participants will have a better grasp of their emotions and habits while they’re actually performing them at the bookstore cafe.

5. Improving Employee Workflow

Contextual inquiries don’t have to be solely customer-facing. In fact, one of the most beneficial uses of this interview style is assessing employee workflow. Interviewers can review an internal process at your business and ask employees what can be done to improve productivity. 

For example, if your customer support team is struggling to meet customer demand, you can conduct a contextual inquiry to see where you can improve their workflow. Interviewers can observe your call center and survey agents about the roadblocks they face during their shifts. This can provide you valuable insight when making important business decisions, like whether or not to invest in customer service tools

Advertisement

6. Anticipating Customer Behavior

Sometimes, business leaders struggle to make a decision because they don’t know how customers will react to the change they’re proposing. This is the perfect time to use contextual inquiry as it can help organizations anticipate customer behavior. You can analyze how customers are currently using your product or service, and ask them how that may change if you executed the action you’re considering. 

Let’s say you manage an app that connects people who are looking to play recreational basketball. While your product is loved by your users, you’re considering expanding it to include soccer as well, but you don’t know how to appeal to this new target audience. To find out, you can go to soccer fields to see how players are meeting and connecting with each other. This can give you plenty of information to determine how your marketing team should position your app’s new update. 

7. Identify Unanticipated Use Cases

Did you know that text messaging was never intended to be a popular cell phone feature? Its original purpose was to give carriers a less-intrusive way to notify customers about problems with their networks. Eventually, people started using this feature to quickly communicate with their peers, and then cell carriers capitalized on the financial opportunity. Now, texting a staple that’s included in almost every cell phone plan. 

This is a great example of how contextual inquiry highlighted an unanticipated use case for a product or service. By analyzing the different ways that customers were using cell phones, carriers uncovered a new feature to monetize. 

8. Recognizing Product Flaws

Some unanticipated product use cases can end up costing your business. Customers are always looking to get the most from their purchase and it’s not uncommon for them to find aspects that they can exploit. While you certainly want to encourage most uses of your product, sometimes you need to make adjustments so you don’t end up losing money. 

Take Netflix, for example. The streaming giant found that it was losing over $100 million each month because users were sharing their passwords and accounts. To salvage this, it added product limitations so users could only create a certain number of accounts. Additionally, Netflix added a clause in its terms and conditions that states it can terminate or freeze an account if it finds that the customer has been sharing passwords.

Now that you have an idea of the situations in which you might use contextual inquiry interviews, you can use some of the following questions as a diving point for your next interview.

Contextual Inquiry Questions

Many of the questions you ask may be in response to something you observe a participant do. So, often, the questions may be “Why did you do that?” or “What made you perform that task?” It’s great to be present and ask reactive questions, but you’ll also want to prepare a list of proactive questions that can typically be applied to any contextual inquiry.

1. “What did you enjoy about this product/service/experience?”

Naturally, you want to know what people already like about your brand. These are the aspects that should remain steady amid any improvements or changes.

2. “What issues did you face?”

On the flip side, you want to know where they were confused, frustrated, or simply “stuck.” These are the things that should raise red flags and be improved to create greater efficiency and ease for customers.

3. “When might you use this product/service?”

Although you’ll be watching the participants use the product or service in their typical context of use, you want to be sure of example when else they might use it in their day-to-day life. For instance, you might be watching a customer test out a new tech gadget at their workplace, but there’s a high chance that they might also use it while on their daily commute, resting at home, or exercising.

4. “Will you use this product/service for personal or professional reasons?”

Similarly, you’ll want to know the specific use cases for this new product or service. This can also help you decide if you should be more of a B2B or B2C company. You can better target audiences if you know if your products or services are being used to fulfill workplace duties or personal pleasures.

5. “Will you use this product/service alone or as part of a team?”

This question is key because it can reveal how many people are actually interacting with your products or services. Newspaper and magazine companies recognize that circulation figures are often much smaller than readership, and the same principle can be applied to other brands and improve targeting efforts.

6. “Do you prefer (a) or (b)?”

Advertisement

This is an essential question if you’re using the contextual inquiry to compare two models of a product or service, as participants can help you decide which prototype will be better received by customers.

7. “What would make you choose this product/service over that of a competitor?”

At the end of the day, you want to know what already differentiates your products or services from those of competitors and what more you can do to improve on that. When participants are hands-on with the product or service, they’ll have a much easier time relaying exactly what they enjoy about your differentiation.

Source

A Beginner’s Guide to SD-WAN

WAN

Familiarize yourself with SD-WAN, the most cost-effective and advanced network setup available for IT teams.

New business models drive the need for a new network model, and SD-WAN addresses this current IT challenge. Simply put, SD-WAN can convert your expensive and complex network into one that’s much more cost-effective, secure, and easy to manage.

What’s SD-WAN?

Software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) is an innovative technology that abstracts network hardware, simplifies IT management and enhances employee performance. This allows businesses to replace expensive private WAN connections — like multi-protocol label switching (MLPS) — with higher-performance WANs that use low-cost internet access.

When you’re an enterprise business, this technology plays a major role in connecting teams throughout your organization. For example, if you operate internationally, this network optimizes your ability to share information between employees in different locations. So, if an employee in Tokyo needs customer data that’s stored in Europe, SD-WAN makes it easy to access that information. That’s because it uses cloud-based technology to connect your data centers so employees can quickly find the information they’re looking for.

Why Companies Should Adopt SD-WAN

As applications continue to migrate to the cloud, IT staff are quickly realizing that traditional WANs aren’t built for this transition. With the traditional WAN architecture, once organizations adopt cloud-based applications in the form of SaaS and IaaS, a burst of traffic affects programs distributed across the globe.

What does this mean for your business? Well, these changes can have several implications for IT. Employee productivity may be compromised by performance problems and WAN expenses can increase the inefficient use of dedicated and backup circuits.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of SD-WAN, let’s review some of the benefits it can provide to your business.

5 Benefits of SD-WAN

1. Better Customer Experience

With SD-WAN, you can expect the performance of critical applications — such as voice and video — to improve. For example, SD-WAN can enhance VoIP performance, creating a better customer experience in your call centers.

2. Faster Application Performance

Since SD-WAN uses cloud-based technology, it performs faster and more reliably than traditional WAN systems. This allows you to adopt and combine several applications without jeopardizing their performance.

3. Significant Cost Savings

With SD-WAN, you’ll reduce the total cost of ownership by removing maintenance and professional services costs. Since there isn’t any hardware to manage, there won’t be a need to hire someone to perform routine checks and assessments.

4. Improved Security

SD-WAN virtualizes network functions like routing and firewalls which helps boost encryption levels and utilize cloud and hybrid VPN functionality. Additionally, since it’s a cloud-based setup, any further security measures that you’d like to install are easily integrated into the system.

5. Quick Deployment

Data centers in new locations can be activated in as little as minutes using two-factor authentication. This allows you to expand your business into new countries or states without having to go through a tedious setup process.

While these benefits demonstrate how SD-WAN can optimize your network, one common question that business owners have is, “What’s the difference between VPN and SD-WAN?”

Let’s explain this in the section below.

The Difference Between SD-WAN and VPN

The main difference between a standard VPN and SD-WAN is the features of software-defined networking (SDN), upon which SD-WAN technology is based. SD-WAN consolidates network options and WAN features into a single platform, creating easier management for IT teams.

Advertisement

VPN, on the other hand, branches office communication by offering authenticated WAN security between two or more endpoints. End-to-end VPN encryption is only a small component of overall security, as IT teams are responsible for supporting cloud-based applications. And, standard VPNs normally don’t include options to route traffic based on optimization and security.

So, when it comes to comparing SD-WAN and VPN services, businesses should consider factors like cost, cloud-usage, and application awareness.

If you’re thinking about making the switch, take a look at the section below for some questions you should consider before adopting this network setup.

Does SD-WAN Make Sense for My Business?

After reading the above sections, you may be wondering if SD-WAN makes sense for your business. And, is now the right time for you to make the switch to SD-WAN?

We completely understand that any change to your business is a big decision, so why would this be any different? To help, we’ve compiled a list of questions for you to consider:

Advertisement
  • Are you looking to improve application performance, particularly for cloud apps?
  • Do you have plans to increase bandwidth at a remote or international site in the near future?
  • Do you need to replace an expensive private network?
  • Are you interested in simplifying or outsourcing the management of your network?
  • Would you like to build resiliency into your network to guarantee uptime?
  • Would you like to decrease turn-on time for new sites?

Networking has changed — and continues to do so — because the network’s capabilities need to reflect the growing requirements created by new technology and continually shifting business practices. SD-WAN can lower maintenance costs, increase data capacity, reduce rigidity and make your network more manageable for your IT team.

Source

Customer Service Skills That Will Make You a Better Project Manager

project manager

At first sight, it might not seem like project management has a lot to do with customer service. Read on to discover some surprising cross-over skills..

Being a project manager sounds more like a methodical job, where you coordinate lots of tiny moving pieces, manage tasks, research, fill in spreadsheets, strategize and write progress reports.

Advertisement

When thinking of a PM, we picture someone sitting behind a desk, elbows deep in paperwork, not someone working in the dynamic and interactive environment of customer service. However, between project management and customer service there are more similarities than you might think. Ultimately, isn’t customer satisfaction the goal of every project?

If you’re currently training to become a project manager, you’ll be surprised to discover that many of the skills you will learn have a lot in common with customer service. Here are some of them:

Being a good listener and communicator – one of the main skills you’ll learn in PMP training

Advertisement

As a customer service representative, communication is the most important part of your job, which entirely revolves around talking to customers, carefully listening to their concerns, understanding their point of view, and suggesting ways to improve things. We simply can’t picture someone working effectively in customer service without having good communication skills and the same goes for project management.

As a PM, you have to communicate with your team, managers, and clients to make sure that everything works together like cogs in a well-oiled machine. You have to address things such as goals, responsibility, and performance and, unless you’re a good communicator, you’ll come across many bumps in the road.

According to the Project Management Institute, a project manager should spend 90% of their time communicating. Poor communication has a major impact later in the project life and one single misunderstanding can have a snowball effect and affect not just the harmony of the team but also the success of the project. One out of five projects misses its mark because of ineffective communication so if you want to be a great project manager, start here.

Contrary to popular belief, PMP Training isn’t just about understanding PM terminologies and concepts or applying global PM standards. It’s also about learning how to work with people, share ideas, listen to feedback, and communicate goals clearly, whether it’s face-to-face or via online collaboration tools. If you don’t have formal training in project management, we highly recommend that you sign up for a course. To a certain extent, you’re naturally inclined to be a PM, but you need formal PMP training to polish your skills, get certified, and unlock more career prospects.

Advertisement

Problem-solving

In customer service, problem-solving mostly refers to finding quick solutions to customer complaints and managing issues before they leave a bad review or change providers.

As a project manager, you’ll also have to know problem-solving techniques and learn how to manage issues both short and long term. This includes important steps such as identifying the problem and its cause (technical malfunction, human error, external event, etc.), mitigating its impact, and taking long-term measures so it doesn’t happen again in the future.

Project managers are often tempted to think that they don’t have enough time to analyze problems and get to the bottom of things and they tend to only apply quick fixes. However, that can be counterproductive. In an interview in Harvard Business Review, Corey Phelps, a strategy professor at McGill University, explains that even experienced managers make the mistake of jumping to conclusions and rush to find a solution quickly, without taking the time to research the problem first.

As businesses become more digitized and new technologies such as AI and Big Data make their way to day-to-day processes, even seasoned managers who have been working in issue management for years can make mistakes simply because the workplace is evolving. It’s therefore time to have a slower approach and spend more time researching and analyzing.

In 2018, the Word Economic Forum had already predicted that in 2020 jobs across all industries will require complex problem-solving as one of their core skills, so if you want to be a great project manager, work towards becoming a strategic problem-solver first. The Project Management Institute suggests a series of new “rules” for modern problem-solving:

  • The first objective of problem-solving shouldn’t be solving the problem but preventing team members from making additional mistakes.
  • Before engaging in any type of data-gathering process, team members must first agree on the root of the problem and the set of questions that need to be asked. Otherwise, data will only become confusing.
  • The entire team should work together to tackle the problem

Having a customer-oriented mindset

People who work in customer service are trained to do everything with customer satisfaction in mind. Throughout the whole interaction, the customer needs to feel that their experience matters and that they’re not just speaking to a machine.

But as a project manager, it’s easy to get sidetracked and forget that all PM activities are driven by the customer. You might get lost in worksheets, deadlines, and presentations and communicate only with team members and managers, but that’s a big mistake. For your project to be successful, you need to have a customer-oriented mindset: understand customer needs, include them in processes, and maintain customer satisfaction as the end goal.

Advertisement

There are several ways you can do this:

  • Speak directly with customers and ask their opinion
  • Conduct surveys to find out what customers think about the project and make changes if necessary
  • Track social network engagement and repeat purchases

Even if something sounds great in theory, you need to make sure it’s relevant to your customers and that the way you implemented the project generated a meaningful experience for them. When you work as a project manager, it is of course important to meet deadlines, respect scheduled costs, and optimize resources, but don’t forget that ultimately, it’s all about the customer.

If you work in customer service and are considering branching out to project management, then you may already have some of the vital skills needed to succeed. If you’re already a PM, consider focusing more on these customer-oriented skills or taking a course to perfect your knowledge.

Source

How to Design Customer Satisfaction Surveys

survey

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about running an effective customers satisfaction survey — which questions to ask, when to send them, and who to send them to.

Customer Satisfaction Survey

Customer satisfaction surveys are used to gauge how your customers feel about your company or a given experience with your company. These surveys can come in many different forms, and you can use these surveys to segment customers based on satisfaction scores, measure relative customer satisfaction scores over time, or find insights for customer experience improvements.

Customer satisfaction surveys measure customer satisfaction score, or CSAT, which is a basic measure of how happy or unhappy the customer was with an experience with a product or service, or with a specific interaction with the customer service team. 

Here’s a basic example of what a customer feedback survey might look like in your email inbox or within an app:

csat-survey

Why Customer Satisfaction Surveys Are Important

New companies are starting up every day, and competition is in abundance. One of the differentiating factors is what your consumers think about you. Big companies like Apple are thriving on taking their customer’s needs into consideration, and adding new and requested innovative features to their products.

Customers share good experiences with an average of 9 people and poor experiences with about 16 (nearly two times more) people — so it’s imperative you figure out customer issues and try your best to solve them before they go viral on Yelp or social media.

There are so many benefits of asking for feedback on customer satisfaction:

1. Customer feedback provides insights to improve the product and overall customer experience.

It’s imperative to find out what your customers think about your product. Listening is important to keep your customers happy. Taking their expectations into account increases their loyalty toward the brand.

2. Customer feedback can improve customer retention.

You are connected directly with the customers, thanks to their feedback. If your customer is unhappy, you can listen to them, work toward making the product more customer-friendly, and develop a deeper bond with them. In situations where a customer faces a problem with your product and gets it solved instantly, the customer becomes more loyal to your brand and is likely to stick around for long.

3. Customer feedback identifies happy customers who can become advocates.

After you offering customers with an experience that exceeds their expectations, you find your own marketers. Customers are likely to recommend your product/service to their friends or relatives, and this is a great way to stand out from your competition. Referrals are a free and effective way of marketing, thanks to word of mouth. Per research by Wharton School of Business, a referred customer costs less to acquire and has a 16% higher lifetime value.

There’s a term in psychology that explains the reasoning behind this: “emotional arousal.” Emotional arousal measures a combination of a physiological and psychological response to an experience.

As an example, think about the last time you gave a big speech or were anticipating an event (say in the last few minutes of a close game with your favorite sports team).

In these situations, your palms are sweaty and your heart is pounding, which are the same physiological reactions that occur when you’re scared or nervous (say, when you hear a weird noise outside your tent when you’re camping).

All of these are “high-arousal” emotions.

emotional-arousal-chart-1

Source: The Thinking Zygote

Now we can further separate these “high-arousal” emotions based on their “valence” — how positive or negative they are.

So the big game anxiety is a positive emotion, whereas the noise outside the tent or your anger after getting booted off your flight are negative valence.

All this is to say that your ideal scenario is one where your customers’ experience is at the same time high-valence and high-arousal. At least, according to academic literature, that’s the most likely conditioning for them to rate themselves a promoter and tell their friends about your company.

What you want to avoid is triggering high arousal and low valence experiences.

That’s when your customers give you a 1 or 2 on your NPS survey. If you can react quickly to these customers, you can mitigate the damage and even turn detractors into promoters

4. Customer feedback helps inform decisions.

Thanks to customer feedbacks, you get tangible data to make major decisions. These decisions are not based on your hunches, as you can gather insights on how your customers feel. You should use your customers’ opinions to guide your product’s future.

But if you don’t measure customer satisfaction at all, you’ll never know these things.

You’ll be (not so) blissfully ignorant, and you’ll risk these customers running to their friends and talking about what a wreck your customer experience is.

To avoid that, let’s dive into some specific examples and templates to get started.

Customer Satisfaction Survey Examples & Templates

Customer satisfaction surveys come in a few common forms, usually executed using a popular “one question” response scale methodology like:

  • Net Promoter Score® (NPS)
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
  • Customer Effort Score (CES)

Each of these customer satisfaction survey methodologies measures something slightly different, so it’s important to consider the specifics if you hope to use this data wisely.

Net Promoter Score

Net Promoter Score is a popular survey methodology, especially for those in the technology space.

It’s rare to see a company now that doesn’t use the famous question: “How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?”

NPS-survey-1

Ask your customers this question with HubSpot’s customer feedback tool.

While this measures customer satisfaction to an extent, it’s more aimed at measuring customer loyalty and referral potential. The way NPS is calculated, you end up with an aggregate score (e.g. an NPS of 38), but you can also easily segment your responses into three categories: detractors, passives, and promoters.

You calculate your Net Promoter Score by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters.

nps-calculator

In this way, NPS is useful both for aggregate measurement and improvement (e.g. we went from an NPS of 24 to 38 this year), but it’s also great for segmenting customers based on their score.

You can use that knowledge to inform customer marketing campaigns, expedite service to detractors, work on marginally improving the experience of passives, etc.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is the most straightforward of the customer satisfaction survey methodologies. It’s right there in the name; it measures customer satisfaction, straight up.

Usually, this is with a question such as “how satisfied were you with your experience,” and a corresponding survey scale, which can be 1 – 3, 1 – 5, or 1 – 10.

There isn’t a universal best practice as to which survey scale to use.

csat-survey-1

Ask your customers this question with HubSpot’s customer feedback tool.

There’s some evidence that the ease of the experience is a better indicator of customer loyalty than simple satisfaction. Therefore, Customer Effort Score (CES) has become very popular recently.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

Instead of asking how satisfied the customer was, you ask them to gauge the ease of their experience.

ces-survey-example

Ask your customers this question with HubSpot’s customer feedback tool.

You’re still measuring satisfaction, but in this way, you’re gauging effort (the assumption being that the easier it is to complete a task, the better the experience). As it turns out, making an experience a low-effort one is one of the greatest ways to reduce frustration and disloyalty.

Customer Satisfaction Question Types & Survey Design

Survey design is important.

In fact, it’s probably one of the biggest mistakes people make when conducting customer satisfaction surveys.

Just because you’re not writing a blog post or an eye-catching infographic doesn’t mean your survey still shouldn’t be engaging, relevant, and impactful. If the design is wrong, the data won’t be useful to answer your questions about your customers.

Without diving too deeply into the esoteric world of advanced survey creation and statistical analysis, know this: How you pose the question affects the data you’ll get in return.

There are a few different types of customer satisfaction survey questions.

I’ll go through a few of them here and include some pros, cons, and tips for using them.

1. Binary Scale Questions

The first type of survey question is a simple binary distinction:

  • Was your experience satisfying?
  • Did our product meet expectations?
  • Did this article provide the answer you were seeking?
  • Did you find what you were looking for?

The answer options for all of these is dichotomous: yes/no, thumbs up/thumbs down, etc.

The benefit of this is its simplicity. In addition, most people tend to lengthen survey response scales to find deltas that may not mean that much. As Jared Spool, founder of UIEsaid in a talk, “Anytime you’re enlarging the scale to see higher-resolution data it’s probably a flag that the data means nothing.”

This is also a great question for something like a knowledge base, where a binary variable helps you optimize page content. Take, for example, Optimizely’s knowledge base and their use of this question:

binney-scale-example

When you’re running an A/B test on an ecommerce site, you have a binary variable of conversion: you converted or you didn’t. We would often like to experiment similarly on knowledge base pages, but what’s the metric? Time on site? Who knows, but if you do a binary scale survey at the end, you can quite easily run a controlled experiment with the same statistical underpinnings as an ecommerce conversion rate A/B test.

Two cons with binary questions:

  • You lack nuance (which in some circumstances could be a benefit).
  • You may induce survey fatigue on longer surveys with many questions.

If it’s a long survey with many questions, customers can tire out and lean towards positive answers (this isn’t a problem when you just have one or two questions, of course).

2. Multiple-Choice Questions

Multiple-choice questions have three or more mutually exclusive options.

These tend to be used to collect categorical variables, things like names and labels.

In data analysis, these can be incredibly useful to chop up your data and segment based on categorical variables.

multiple-choice-example

For example, in the context of customer satisfaction surveys, you could ask them what their job title is or what their business industry is, and then when you’re analyzing the data, you can compare the customer satisfaction scores of various job titles or industries.

When proposing multiple choice questions on a survey, keep in mind your goals and what you’ll do with the data.

If you have a ton of multiple choice questions, you can induce survey fatigue which will skew your data, so keep it to question you believe have important merit.

3. Scale Questions

Here’s where we get into the meat of customer satisfaction survey design.

Almost all popular satisfaction surveys are based on scale questions.

For example, the CSAT score asks, “how satisfied with your experience,” and you may get to rate the experience on a scale of 1-5 (a Likert scale).

csat-survey

The survey scale could be comprised of numbers or you could use labels, such as “strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, and strongly agree.”

likert-scale

There are many pros to using scale questions.

  • It’s an industry standard and your customers will completely understand what to do when presented with the question.
  • You can very easily segment your data to make decisions based on individual survey response.
  • You can easily measure data longitudinally to improve your aggregate score over time.

There’s only one real disadvantage in my book: There’s no qualitative insight. Therefore, you’re left guessing why someone gave you a two or a seven.

It’s a best practice to couple survey scale questions with open-ended feedback questions to get the best of both worlds.

4. Semantic Differential

Semantic differential scales are based on binary statements but you’re allowed to choose a gradation of that score.

So you don’t have to pick just one or the other, you can choose a place between the two poles that reflects your experience accurately.

semantic-differential-example

Source: Explorable

These have a similar use case to survey response scale, but interestingly enough, if you analyze semantic differential scales they often break into two factors: positive and negative. So, they give you very similar answers as binary scales.

5. Open-Ended Questions

As I mentioned, the above survey questions don’t allow for qualitative insights. They don’t get at the “why” of an experience, only the “what.”

Qualitative customer satisfaction feedback is important. It helps identify customers’ value propositions, and helps learn about things most important to the customer — which you won’t glean from a numerical or multiple-choice survey.

It’s easier to skew qualitative data and cherry pick insights than you’d think, though, so be mindful of personal bias when you start deciding which questions to ask.

Getting qualitative responses helps you close the loop here, too.

Instead of simply reaching out in ignorance and concern about a low satisfaction score, if you ask (and receive) a qualitative question, you can respond with a specific fix down the line. Learn more about survey questions in this blog post.

When Should You Send Customer Satisfaction Surveys?

  1. As soon as possible after an interaction with customer support
  2. After a period of time has passed after a customer’s initial purchase (the length of time will vary depending on your product or service)
  3. At different stages of the customer lifecycle to measure how satisfaction evolves over the course of the customer journey

When to send your customer satisfaction surveys is another important question to consider.

When you pop the question also determines the quality of the data. While there are different strategies for conducting these surveys, ask enough experts and you’ll hear this common mistake: Most companies ask too late.

Companies might be tempted to use “the autopsy approach” to customer satisfaction: waiting until an event is over to figure out what went wrong with a customer. Instead, customers should be asked questions while their feedback could still have an impact.

Ideally, you’ll deploy customer satisfaction surveys at different times to get different views of the customer experience at different lifecycles stages.

So, your first directive is to align your survey points with points of value that you’d like to measure in the customer experience. The more touch points you measure, the more granular your picture of the customer experience can be.

When to send your survey also depends on what type of survey it is.

Specifically in regards to CSAT surveys, we recommend sending them as soon as possible after an interaction with customer support to capture the experience when it’s still fresh.

Customer Satisfaction Survey Best Practices

  1. Choose the right survey type.
  2. Choose the right survey questions.
  3. Send surveys at the right moment in the customer journey.
  4. Ask for customer feedback regularly.
  5. Limit the number of survey questions. 
  6. Consider different ways to ask questions. 
  7. Test your survey. 
  8. Follow up with respondents. 
  9. Put survey results to action. 

1. Choose the right survey type.

Before you start collecting customer feedback, it’s important to pick a survey type that best suits your team’s goals. Think about the information you’re trying to obtain and how you’d like to capture it. Are you looking for quantitative data? Or, qualitative feedback? 

If you’re looking for results that are easy to sort and can highlight major trends at a glance, then you may want to consider an NPS or CSAT survey. But, if you’re looking for more descriptive information outlining a customer’s experience, then you should use a CES survey. 

2. Choose the right survey questions. 

Another key to obtaining the feedback you’re looking for is picking the right survey questions. For this step, take your time and make thoughtful decisions because the type of questions you include will play a major role in the quality of feedback you receive. 

Additionally, don’t be afraid to use multiple question types within the same survey. Just make sure each type is grouped together so that the experience is more delightful for the respondent. 

3. Send surveys at the right moment in the customer journey.

With surveys, timing is everything. If you deploy your survey at the wrong moment, you’re not going to see successful results. 

This means you should isolate the most ideal touchpoints in the customer journey to ask people for feedback. Typically, these are times when your company has completed an interaction with the customer and has failed or succeeded to provide the need they’re looking for. For example, after a support agent closes a ticket with a customer is a great time to send a survey. 

4. Ask for customer feedback regularly. 

Customers are smart — like really smart. And, if you only send your surveys out after poor interactions, they’ll be reluctant to fill them out. That’s because they know that you’re only reaching out to keep their business, and not because you care about their satisfaction. 

Instead, you should collect feedback regularly to show that you’re constantly trying to improve customer experience. This demonstrates a long term commitment to customer satisfaction and building rapport with your customer base. Plus, this will give you more diverse feedback that’s not solely positive or negative. 

5. Limit the number of survey questions. 

If you’re new to surveys, determining the right length can be tricky for some businesses. Asking too many questions will cause customers to abandon your survey, but not asking enough questions spoils an opportunity to obtain information. Finding the right balance will optimize your survey’s completion rate. 

While there’s no universal standard for survey length, most research suggests that the ideal length should be between 10 and 20 minutes. If it takes longer than 20 minutes to complete, participants will lose interest and your abandon rate will start to increase. 

6. Consider different ways to ask questions. 

When you’re coming up with survey questions, pay attention to how you frame them. The language you use will impact how participants answer your prompt. If it’s biased or encouraging them to answer in a certain way, this will skew your survey results. If you’re not sure if your survey is biased, have a few employees or peers take it and ask for their feedback. 

7. Test your survey. 

Before you deploy your survey, you should test it with your target audience. Instead of sending it to every customer at once, send it to a small group and see what type of results you get. Follow up with these customers as well and ask for their feedback on ways to improve the survey experience. Once you feel comfortable that you’ve created an effective survey, then you should send it to the rest of your customer base

8. Follow up with respondents.

Now that you’ve got insights on your customer satisfaction levels, it’s important to close the loop and actually follow up with customers in a meaningful way. Why let the data lie dormant when there are so many proactive efforts you can take here?

It’s important to follow up with survey respondents. Closing the feedback loop with valuable customers that complete your satisfaction survey is simultaneously the most important and oftentimes most-ignored step in a successful customer satisfaction measurement campaign.

Making sure your team acknowledges and thanks anyone that completed the survey is critical to ensuring that customers will continue to provide you feedback — because it’s about building trust and showing them value.

You can’t always pivot and deliver on every piece of feedback that comes through — especially since some customer feedback just might not be of great value. But you can address every piece of feedback that comes through in some way — because providing a response, even if what the customer is requesting is not something you will do, is always better than no response at all.

9. Put survey results to action.

As with any form of data collection, one of the biggest mistakes is putting all that effort into collection and perhaps even analysis, but then coming up short when it comes to action. But that’s why we collect data: to inform decisions.

How you act on your customer satisfaction data will vary according to the company and the situation (as well as resources available and many other variables), but it’s important to have a plan of action. Ask yourself, “If I receive X feedback, what will I do with that information?”

Just asking this question will put you on a trajectory to improve your customer experience, as well as put you on a continuous customer feedback loop of better customer insights and actionable takeaways.

But it all starts with a simple survey, so start now by taking action and simply asking customers how their experience was.

Want more? Learn about the methodology behind customer satisfaction next.

Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.

Source