I teamed up with my colleague Bridget Stallkamp for this post. She’s a people-related insights guru and a wise friend who, like me, is on a quest for better customer experiences.

Surveys are everywhere. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of companies standing by to run your survey and compile your data. My clients generally offer surveys that are at least 10 questions long and are completed 20 or 30 (or more) times each day. That adds up to thousands of data points that can be cut in any number of ways. If you know how to analyze customer satisfaction data properly, you’ll be armed with invaluable insight regarding your customers’ opinions.

Most of the retail and hospitality executives I work with have a strong grasp of what the numbers mean. Once they receive new data, they typically filter it down the chain. As a result, managers hear about these numbers day in and day out, too. But do they know what to do with this information?

Do Your Managers Know How to Analyze Customer Satisfaction Data?

Let us tell you a secret: most of your managers have no idea how to analyze their data. They see numbers go up and down but have no idea how to replicate the ups or fix the downs. They’re sitting on a gold mine of information about how to better serve their customers in a way that’s personalized to those who shop, eat, or stay within their four walls. Yet they have no idea how to access it, analyze it, or engage their people in it.

Don’t take this to mean they don’t care about the data. They are looking at it. Most of them post it on a break-room wall or encourage their team to “get the numbers up.” The problem is, they’re overwhelmed! There’s so much data to sort and analyze and the system can often have filters upon filters upon tabs upon more filters. Your managers feel completely out of control.

Use Your Data for Success

Data only matters when you can see the story it’s telling and translate that knowledge into action. If you can’t, you’re not just flying blind – you’re also flying frustrated, which can be even worse, and you’re wasting all the time and funds the company is dedicating to gathering and compiling data. But there’s hope! Your highest-performing managers are succeeding because they have figured out how to use the data. They understand what the data is saying, which pieces of data matter most, and how to talk to the team about it. Sadly, the rest of your managers are muddling their way through and hoping you don’t ever ask enough questions to realize they don’t have a clue as to how to put the data to work.

A few years ago, we ran a pilot with one of our hospitality clients about routines that General Managers could use to drive guest satisfaction scores. One of those routines was to analyze customer satisfaction metrics. We sat in a room with five GMs and said, “Based on our research, you should be running these reports and asking yourself these questions about it. Does anyone need a refresher on how to run those reports?”

Not a single person raised their hand.

Then 24 hours later, one of them called us begging for help. When she was asked to look at the data – like her high-performing counterparts were already doing – she quickly found herself in over her head. After a little coaching and walking through the first week of data together, she was off to the races. By the end of the four-week pilot, her hotel had one of the best satisfaction score weeks they’d ever had. She said, “I feel like I have more control now. Before, I went by my gut feeling, but now I can really lay it out and show you the data [to support the changes I’m making].”

Four Tips to Analyze Customer Satisfaction Data

Here are four steps to take to set your managers up for success when they analyze customer data & feedback:

1. Be clear about the most important few metrics.

No team can focus on monitoring and improving 10 things at once. Help your managers prioritize the top three or four metrics that truly drive results for the business. Also, be clear on the most important ways to cut this data: by part of the day, by day of the week, by different loyalty membership levels, by demographic, etc. Again, be stingy with how many different ways you are asking them to look at the data – keep it to two or three per metric.

2. Help managers tell the meaningful story behind the data.

If two or three pieces of data tell a more significant story together than separately, don’t expect your managers to figure this out. Put the data side by side on the dashboard or report and train managers to connect the dots.

3. Create a clear, concise guide about how to access the data.

Feel free to offer screen shots for reference and provide real-time support in the beginning. The next time a District Manager (or the equivalent in your business) visits a store, have her sit with the manager so they can access and analyze the data together.

4. Create a short team huddle template.

Help your managers explore key data with their teams, too. Notice I said explore, not teach or tell. This should be a two-way conversation and should include:

  1. The reason the data matters to the business (Does it drive sales? Profit? Loyalty?)
  2. The current score
  3. The reasons why the score is what it is – Ask the team to recall the previous period: Who was on shift? What was happening? Did we do anything different? This isn’t about blame – for team members or customers. Instead, it’s about having an upbeat and engaged conversation about how the team can improve or build on momentum.
  4. The goal or benchmark
  5. Progress to celebrate
  6. One action to improve a metric (the team isn’t told this action – they come up with it together)
  7. A plan to hold each other accountable and follow-up

We’d love to hear from you! If you could only choose ONE metric for your managers and their teams to know, monitor, and talk about, what would it be?

May 17, 2017


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