Customer Phone Interviews
A Better Way to Gather Customer Experience Feedback
Customer Experience Analysis Spectrum
A company can deploy numerous methods to gather customer experience feedback for their annual account reviews. The key is to use the methods that have the highest participation, gain the most amount of detail with the lowest amount of cost.
Low effort and high detail
• Phone interview (Actionable, interactive, easy participation)
High effort and high detail
• On-site interview
• Focus group
• Advisory council
Low effort and low detail
• Social media feedback
• NPS survey
• Help desk ticket
High effort and low detail
• In-depth survey
• Customer conference
Low effort: high participation, low cost
High detail: rich insight, actionable
Low detail: low insight, not actionable
High effort: low participation, high cost
Problems with on-site interviews
- Time: the effort it takes to meet every customer face-to-face drastically reduces the amount of time you have to effectively evaluate the insights you are given.
- Cost: Traveling to each and every customer for feedback can cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. The benefits of face-to-face meetings would have to drastically outweigh the cost.
- Candor: Distance can give a customer the freedom to be more candid in their responses. Sometimes, face-to-face discussions can cause the respondent to be more reserved in their responses.
Problems with NPS surveys
- The final score may be over-simplified, losing some of the nuance of the customer's needs.
- No background information regarding their reasoning for the scores.
- You can have a high Net Promoter Score and still have a low customer retention rate. In 30% of losses that our clients experienced, their buyers rated them a 9 or 10 (a "promoter" according to NPS) and yet their buyers still chose a competitor. NPS does not tell you why.
- Why phone interviews are better
- Low effort for the customer: 30 minutes of time with little prep time
- Low cost: No travel or accommodation costs. No loss of work time for travel needs.
- Detailed insights: When a phone interview is paired with an online quantitative survey completed prior to the interview, you gather the rating scores of your performance as well as the background information as to why a customer rated you the way they did.
Tips for a quality phone interview
A good phone interview is:
- Scheduled: Set up a formal time to speak with your customers, rather than having on-the-fly discussions. It ensures the discussion is not rushed and gives the customer a chance to prepare.
- Planned: Don't wing it or the moment you hang up, you'll think of 10 questions you forgot to ask. Take the time to think through a set of discussion questions you can use for all customers, knowing you can add more if the conversation shifts course.
- Conversational: You should stay somewhat neutral to avoid leading the responses, but that doesn't mean you have to sound alike a pollster reading from a script. The more the discussion sounds like a conversation, the more candid the feedback will be.
- Quantitative and Qualitative: You really need both question types. A qualitative question describes the situation, while a quantitative question can pinpoint exactly what the description means.
- Recorded: It's difficult to be an active listener when you're scribbling notes. A recorded call allows you to listen better, catch nuance, and share the recording with others so they can hear the true voice of the customer.
- Analyzed: Don't leave the feedback raw; put some structure around it through analysis. What are the major themes? What will likely drive a future purchase decision? Create concise, focused insights that can be shared throughout your organization so everyone can benefit from the discussion.
Best practices we follow with phone interviews
- Identify key experience drivers (or the things that are causing the customer to have a good or poor experience)
- Assess the benefits that customer is experiencing with the solution and compare that to the benefits they wanted from the solution
- Assess the effort the customer has to expend to realize the benefits
- Assess retention risk based on the benefits realized versus the effort required to realize those benefits (a more accurate way to assess retention risk)