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Technology Tools for Customer Feedback in Emerging Markets

By Guest Writer on March 20, 2013

Customer Experience relies on an ongoing conversation with your customer, and there are many ways that this can be done. Ideally, voice of customer (VOC) feedback should provide both quantitative and qualitative insights to improve the customer experience as engagement takes place.

You use this as part of customer experience design, and then also plug it into ongoing VOC monitoring that can serve as a source of metrics. You can use qualitative feedback to identify new solutions to ongoing customer issues, and can also go back to that customer to ask further questions. In emerging and frontier markets, this is just as important. Some methods need to be altered for these markets, and there also exist specific approaches that work well in these markets.

In-Person Feedback

I am Glen Burnett and I’d like to share a few approaches you might want to consider to get more information from your stakeholders. This is just a few of hundreds of different approaches you can use.

Employee/Customer panels
This is a classic, right? But you can change the focus of these panels to gain additional insights you might not have expected before. Bring together a group of employees or customers, and ask them to provide insights on the customer lifecycle.

Ask them what their pain points in working with you are, and how their ideal organization would engage them, and what is most important to them. If you can continue to meet with the same group over time, you can dig deeper into what was identified as a key issue in previous sessions, and you can also track the impact of changes you make to the experience over time.

Customer Satisfaction surveys
Inside of the VOC space, this is considered extremely valuable, but also a source of continuous debate. What should be asked? How should we ask it? How do we pick our respondent pool? These are all questions you have to ask yourself, but developing an ongoing CSAT is great for tracking results over time. Ideally, you want both a transactional CSAT that measures satisfaction at different points in the customer lifecycle, and an overall CSAT that can inform you of customers’ satisfaction with your entire experience.

Using this, you will be able to identify what has the highest impact on overall satisfaction, which is where you need to concentrate on providing the best experience. If you have a relatively simple approach to CSATs, you might try using an SMS survey to collect this information.

Suggestion boxes on steroids
It seems like every retail establishment and restaurant in the world has a suggestion box. And when you open it, it almost always seems to have one submission in it from 2005. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In some countries, suggestion cards are everywhere, and are almost expected to be completed and returned with a bill. But building up this culture in a place where your customers are not used to it, requires engaging your employees.

If you train your employees to seek out suggestions, and promote response cards in the establishment, you can gain real insights and value from them. If your customers are illiterate, you can make it a conversation, where your employees take a quick survey at the end of the engagement. This also can reinforce the experience for employees if you have them process these surveys at the end of the day, looking for areas of improvement.

VOC Ambassadors
Ambassador programs are used by many different organizations, including Barclays, Fidelity, and Walt Disney. But you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 firm to build a successful ambassador program. Typically, this is done by identifying employees who show a strong interest and understanding in what the customer wants and needs.

You then train them on how to collect customer feedback inside their function, and then empower them to engage other employees inside their function as well. Promote not only feedback, but ideas for innovation as well, and this becomes a great change management tool.

VOC Listening posts
Once you have feedback collected, you can use that information to educate your employees on what your customers are saying. Tape recorded conversations, summaries of comments, and videos of customer interactions are great ways to put the customer front and center in the minds of your employees.

Like I said, these are just a few starting points you can use. You may notice a trend: incorporating VOC feedback into the organization through your employees is a great way to also ensure a stakeholder experience is prioritized by everyone in the organization, which will help in creating a stakeholder obsessed operation.

facebook-like-dislike-stampRemote Feedback

In some frontier markets, customers are not very accessible for face to face focus groups. At the same time, companies have a tendency to focus on customer feedback from the capital city where they are based, and do not sufficiently gather insights from more rural populations. Although it is not always a preferable solution, technology such as SMS and social media can provide other ways of engaging the remote customer.

There are a few scalability issues that need to be considered here. If you are an organization with the budget for it, it is probably best (and easiest), to hire a firm to process the data for you. But most of the examples I list here have a free option, in case you need to process the data yourself.

Just about every country these days has a provider that can conduct SMS surveys for you. But if you don’t have the budget for that, Frontline SMS is a great resource. Download the program, hook it up to a SIM card with a worksheet of phone numbers for your customers, and you can start sending out texts that they can respond to. If you need help, they also have a ning-based social network to address your issues.

Jana used to be known as TXTEagle, and has a great SMS survey model as well, but you have to pay for their service. They have partnerships with telcos around the world, and pay survey takers in cellphone credit when they complete a survey you send via SMS.

You are either operating in a space where your customers use social media, or you’re not. The applicability of social media depends greatly on who you are targeting. That being said, Brazilians and Indonesians are some of the most prolific tweeters on the planet, and Facebook penetration has grown to include many people in the developing world who are on the network even though they don’t own devices to access it, so don’t assume that because you are in a frontier market, you can’t get value out of these resources.

Here are 3 ways you can use social media in this environment (there are more!):

  1. Track comments on social media sites that specifically refer to your organization or area of interest.
  2. Create a fan page on social media that allows customers to communicate with you and use it proactively to ask questions of your customers. This also allows you access to private conversations that they only have with “friends” that you would otherwise not see.
  3. Use a social media site to create a virtual focus group of customers that you may supply with the technology to access it (e.g. give your BoP customers cell phones and credit)

Facebook for every phone is a java –based application that allows feature phones to get on Facebook, but if you are targeting a BoP segment, they are going to be less likely to want to pay for communicating with you. This might be a way to conduct long distance focus groups: give a small group phones with the app, and then have them check in periodically to update their profiles regarding your experience. There are many ways to do this though, and Facebook is only one of many resources for community management.

Wisdom is a quick, freemium app in Facebook that allows you to identify affinity rankings for users in a given space. It will pull up user statistics based on the parameters you chose, or it can also tell you about fans of specific fan sites.

Tweetreach provides basic metrics on your tweet penetration. This is good to track who is reading what you write, and can give some basic metrics. Use this in conjunction with comment tracking.

The real way to use social media though, is to create a page that you can use it to interact with your customers, promote it with your customers, and respond when they comment. It is essential that you provide quick feedback so that customers will believe that you are listening and want to hear what they have to say.

There are plenty of private networks that you can set up and use as well, and community management solutions have exploded in the past few years. Whether you use one or another should depend on ease of accessibility for your customers, whether you can afford or need analytics support, and whether you are up to being a community manager.

These are just a few resources that are out there, and I will periodically include updates on other examples. If there is one you’d like to include, feel free to share!

This post was originally published as Voice of Customer Feedback in Frontier Markets part 1 and part 2.

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2 Comments to “Technology Tools for Customer Feedback in Emerging Markets”

  1. Majjorie Janet says:

    do you know of any customer survey system or software that can develop a web based customer survey system.