How well are Independent Schools communicating through their websites?

Over the past few months, lockdown has meant that we have all relied heavily on technology and the internet. From using video calls to working remotely to shopping on the internet, a strong online presence and messaging have never been more important.

With lockdown and social distancing impacting the ability of independent schools to conduct tours and host open days, the education sector is no different. This presents a huge opportunity for schools to use websites as a shop window to give parents and prospective students a flavour of what life will be like if they choose to enrol at the school.

At insight6 we wanted to find out whether schools were grasping the opportunity to demonstrate what they can do online. In June we asked our researchers to visit the websites of 71 independent schools to see what the experience was like. 

Positively, 72% of the websites offered future virtual events and open days showing that they have moved quickly to change their offering and adapt. As well as providing a new way for prospective students to find out more about the school, 60% had messaging on the website reaching out to current students offering them advice. Not only is this helpful for the current students but it also demonstrates their level of care to parents and prospective students. 

The messages on the homepage of a website can have a big impact on how the reader feels about an institution or business. Words and phrases such as ‘reassure you’ and ‘hope you are safe and well’ help to show empathy and ease any concerns that current or prospective students may have. During these times especially, empathetic messaging on your website homepage is crucial to show that you care. Our research showed that only half of all schools used empathetic language in the messaging on their website homepage. 

insight6 researchers also found that: 

  • 53% of schools had an up to date message on their website about Covid-19 
  • 24% of schools had never updated their LinkedIn profile and a further 24% had not updated it within the last 6 months meaning there was no messaging about Covid-19
  • 0% of the schools had a webchat facility on their website to provide a quick and easy way to communicate with them 

What are parents/prospective students looking for? 

Selecting the right school is a huge decision for parents. When viewing a school under normal circumstances parents will not just be thinking about the academic results, they are also considering the facilities, sports achievements and the values of the community they become part of when their child/children attend.  Although all of these things are important, when a parent financially invests in a school they are investing in their child’s future. They are making a decision on where their child will grow up and spend a vital time in their life. Importantly, parents are investing in a community where they need to feel valued and their children cared for.

The impact of Covid-19 has changed many things, including the way in which schools can offer tours but it has not impacted the importance of this decision for parents which is why the online offering is now vital.

At the end of the research, we asked our team whether based on their experience they would be likely to recommend the school. Overall, only 21% said that they would, however, there are three key things that schools can do now to change this: 

  1. Provide regular updates - this shows that you are constantly looking to adapt and take the best action for your students. It demonstrates to parents that the school is proactive and helps to keep current students in the loop.
  2. Use empathetic language in your messaging - parents and students want and need to feel reassured, especially during these times.
  3. Make communication as easy as possible - It should be very simple for parents, students or prospective students to get in touch should they have an enquiry. If it is hard for them to know who they should contact, or they can’t find the right email address they could choose to look elsewhere instead. 

50% of our researchers said that they would recommend the schools that successfully did all three of these things, highlighting the gap between those that had and those that hadn’t. 

Some very small changes can make a massive difference to your website and the way it makes visitors feel. Having someone with a fresh pair of eyes take a look at your site for the first time through the eyes of a prospective student or parent can be very beneficial and will help to pick up on things that you may not have noticed before when looking at it regularly. 

insight6 is here to support you. If you would like to talk with our experts about the messaging on your website, even if it is an informal chat over a (virtual) cup of coffee, then please leave us a message on the contact form below and we will be in touch.

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How well are UK colleges and universities communicating through their websites?

Over the past couple of months, businesses across the UK have had to find ways to adapt to the lockdown measures in place in response to COVID-19. The education sector is no different and we have already seen some major changes in the way colleges and universities are operating, including the decision by Cambridge University to run all lectures remotely for the 2020/21 year.

With an uncertainty about what education will look like within the next year, current students, new starters and potential new students alike will be visiting the websites of Colleges and Universities to seek out the information they need to know. The message that your website portrays to them is vital.

At insight6 we wanted to establish how well colleges and universities are communicating through their websites and so we asked our team of researchers to visit them through the eyes of a student. Across more than 100 college and university websites we discovered that:

  • Only 25% of the sites had a webchat facility despite, however according to the QS Domestic Student Survey 2020, 41% of students want this option
  • 94% of the websites clearly displayed their stance to COVID-19 however only 56% of the sites did this with empathetic messaging 
  • 14% of the websites left current students with no advice about any changes and 25% had no advice for students due to start in the Autumn 
  • 45% of the sites highlighted how their establishment is supporting key workers 

One of the most striking findings was that one in three of the universities and colleges were not advertising any future events or virtual open days. This leaves a clear gap between the establishments that have adapted and those that haven’t.

Selecting a college or university is a big choice for a student and so a virtual tour or event could go a long way in helping them to make their final decision on where they want to go.

Our six tips for communicating through your website: 

  1. It sounds simple but keep your website up to date with the latest information. You don’t want any of the messaging on the site to be out of date as this will cause confusion amongst students. If anything changes, make sure the website is updated to reflect this.

  2. Make sure someone with a fresh pair of eyes takes a look at your messaging for you. When our researchers viewed the websites they did it through the eyes of a student. It is amazing the small things you will miss, or not realise are important when writing it yourself.

  3. Regularly post updates through your social media accounts as students will be keeping an eye on these. It is a great way to keep students in the loop and then can then share these updates with other students.

  4. Don’t just think about the text, think about the colouring and the layout and how they might make someone feel. Words written in red text and using capital letters tend to make people feel concerned. Don’t fuel the anxiety that students may be feeling by highlighting negative outcomes in red.

  5. Make it as easy and as simple as possible for students to interact with you. If you are unable to have a webchat function on the site make sure it is clear what they need to do to get in touch, whether it is through a contact form, an email address or a phone number. If you can give them a couple of options this is even better.

  6. Current and new students could be feeling anxious at this time, especially if they are unsure what is happening with the exams they were supposed to be sitting, or wondering what university life might look like next year. Using empathetic messaging to reassure students that you are looking out for them. Language such as “we are here for you” will help to ease worries they may have.

insight6 is here to support you. If you would like to talk with our experts about the messaging on your website, even if it is an informal chat over a (virtual) cup of coffee, then please leave us a message on the contact form below and we will be in touch. 

Look out for our next research in the education sector later this summer, which assesses how straight forward "The Applicant Journey" actually is across universities and colleges in the UK.

Arrange a call with your local Customer Experience Specialist: 

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Alcohol sales are at an all time high but does your website tell your customers you are ready to trade?

Pubs may be closed, bars shut and beer gardens empty but the demand for alcohol remains. Alcohol focused stores have seen a 31.4% surge in the volume of sales over the past few weeks according to the Office of National Statistics. This comes as many shops shut their doors and retail sales reported their largest fall on record in March.

Consumers across the country are drinking at home, finding new ways to buy their favourite tipple and discovering new brands online. Many of us are turning to the internet to search out our drink of choice online. This presents a huge opportunity for breweries and distilleries to use their website as a shop window - but are they taking it?

insight6 researchers visited the websites of 90 different UK breweries and distilleries between the 22nd - 30th April. We wanted to know how well these sites were connecting with customers and how easy it was to buy from them.

We asked our researchers: ‘based on your experience of the website, how likely would you be to recommend the brewery or distillery to your family and friends?’ They scored each company on a scale of 0-10 to give us a Net Promoter Score. The overall score was -20 which indicates that after viewing the websites, our researchers were unlikely to recommend the companies.

Why did our researchers feel this way?

Incredibly, our research found that 64% of the websites made no reference to Covid-19 on their homepage leaving visitors unsure if the site was up to date. Any confusion for the visitor was further compounded by the fact that 46% of the websites did not make it clear on the homepage whether the company was still operating. This means that potential customers could be turned away early on in their journey, instead searching out a competitor with a clearer message.

There are some positive messages that companies could be sharing to reassure customers. Researchers found when digging deeper into the websites, 81% were offering online purchase and delivery and 27% were even offering free local delivery regardless of the size of the order.

Again, it was the messaging from the breweries and distilleries which caused confusion for our researchers as 17% of websites did not clearly explain the delivery and collection process. Customers want to be reassured that their safety is your number one priority when it comes to delivery and collection. Without a clear message about the process they may be unsure whether it is sensible for them to proceed with the order and result in lost sales.

Communication is the key

We compared the scores of the websites that our researchers said they would recommend and those that they said they would not. There was a very clear distinction in the communication levels.

The highly rated websites had amended their homepage to include:

  • Some reference to the Covid-19 crisis (with empathy)
  • A clear message that they are operating and in what capacity (with empathy)
  • Detail on their current delivery processes and timescales

22% of the sites communicated all of the above, resulting in a Net Promoter Score of 60. This means that visitors to these websites would be highly likely to recommend them to their friends and family, resulting in added exposure and greater opportunity for sales.

Empathy is a crucial factor and messages that start and end with phrases such as ‘we are here for you’ and ‘reassure you’ help to alleviate anxiety or concerns that potential customers could have.

Six tips to get your website messaging right

  1. We understand that not all organisations sell directly to consumers but there is nothing to stop you from helping them to buy your product elsewhere. If you are a large B2B organisation which doesn’t have a B2C offering, make that clear in your communication - for example. ‘Whilst we are not able to sell you our beers & ales via the website, we are working hard to ensure that they are available to buy from your local supermarket during lockdown.’
  2. Update your website to clearly communicate the current status of your business. Reassure your customers that they can still buy from you and tell them what you are doing all you can to keep them safe.
  3. Make it as easy and simple as possible for your customers to interact with you. Ensure that all the processes along the customer journey are clearly communicated.
  4. Ensure your messaging contains empathy and that it is written in the right tone. Messages that use words such as ‘reassure’ and ‘stay safe’ resonate with visitors who could be feeling concerned in the current situation.
  5. Have a fresh pair of eyes look over your website for you. It is amazing the small things that may be missed, or the details you may not realise are important when you are writing it yourself.
  6. Think about the look and feel of the website. It is not just the text that is important, think about the colouring and the impact it will have on the way your customers will be feeling. Ensure that you are not fuelling your customers' anxiety and concern by highlighting negative impacts in red, overdoing it with bold fonts or capital letters.

If you would like us to review your website, or if you have any questions at all, please leave a message in the form below. Your local Customer Experience Director will make contact to provide the support you need.

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How are business leaders handling the pandemic?

More than 75 business leaders from across the UK and Ireland have shared their advice thoughts and challenges on leading during the Covis-19 pandemic with us.

Fill in your details below to download this comprehensive study into how business leaders are feeling. By doing so you will gain access to:

  1. Understand how optimistic UK leaders are about the future of their businesses.
  2. The top ten core skills that leaders have determined are vital.
  3. The 50 top tips from the leaders themselves about how to get through this period and come out winning

Download your copy of the report by entering your details below:

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Are law firm websites getting to the heart of the matter?

It is often said that your website is your digital shop window but in reality it is more than that. Your website is the first place clients and potential clients will look for advice, someone to contact, the latest news, and to get an idea on what your firm can do for them. With the country under lockdown, forcing people to turn to digital communication, the importance of your website, and the message it portrays to its visitors is crucial. 

With this in mind, insight6 asked a team of researchers to review the websites of 85 law firms from across the UK. The research team visited the sites between the 7th and 15th April and once complete, we asked them: ‘‘based on your experience on the website, how likely would you be to recommend this law firm?’’

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) for this question was -37  which given the NPS range of -100 to +100, a “positive” score above 0, is considered “good”, above 50 is “excellent,” and above 70 is

considered “world class.” At the opposite end of the scale, -37 is poor and reflects that visitors are highly unlikely to recommend the firms. 

So why did the researchers score the websites this way? 

Despite lockdown having been in place in the UK for a minimum of 16 days when the research started, 19% of the websites still had no communication on the stance that the firm was taking to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

During the lockdown, home working has soared, including within the legal sector. Naturally, this could lead to uncertainty among existing clients as to how they should get in touch - will the phone lines still be working? Do they need to use a new number? Should they email instead? The first place they would look to find the answers to these questions is on the firms’ website. However, insight6 discovered that 20% of the websites did not explain how existing clients could access their team, rising to 22% for potential new clients. 

It has been well publicised that there is a lot of uncertainty about Covid-19 and the measures that have been put in place by the Government to try to help businesses and individuals. A number of people will turn to a law firm for guidance on initiatives such as the furlough scheme, information on what split families should do during lockdown, and help with agreements between tenants and landlords. When searching the websites for guidance on any Covid-19 related information, only 55% of the websites provided any detail in the form of blogs, news articles or videos, meaning 45% of sites did not provide the research team with the information they were looking for. 

Some of the other headline findings included: 

  • Only 11% of the websites offered a webchat service compared with the sector average of 30% 
  • 74% of the firms had referenced Covid-19 within their LinkedIn posts, 20% had no mention of the pandemic and the other 6% had no LinkedIn presence whatsoever and had never posted 
  • Whilst 76% communicated changes to their internal processes only 36% used empathy in their messaging 

Empathy is key 

The 36% of firms that did have empathy within their messaging achieved an NPS of +50, an incredible jump of 87 against all the websites combined. Going back to the NPS scale, +50 is an excellent score which demonstrates clearly the power in showing your clients that you care. 

To highlight this further, the 64% of firms that did not display any empathy on their site received an NPS of -74, an enormous 124 lower than those that did. 

Common words and phrases used by firms on the websites where empathy was displayed were, ‘reassure’, ‘please be assured’, ‘what’s right for you’, ‘still here for you’, and ‘stay safe’. The messaging was all very clear, supportive and reassuring to the visitor meaning they were left feeling as though they were important to the firm. 

The websites that did not display empathy often did not have any reference to COVID-19 or invoked a feeling of dread and concern with wording in red and phrases such as ‘do not attend our offices’, and ‘plunged us all into a period of deep uncertainty’ used. 

There was also a clear distinction between firms that communicated changes to their process (NPS of -25) and those that did not (NPS of -75), showing that clients would be left frustrated without clarity and far less likely to recommend the firm as a result. The firms that neither displayed empathy nor communicated changes scored -85. 

The results demonstrate the need for a balance between process and empathy. Getting this right is essential. The absence of both will have a negative impact on the perception that visitors to the website have of the firm but at this moment in time empathy can have the greatest benefit.

 

Our 6 tips to get your website communication right 

1. Start and end your message with empathy

As the research shows, empathy is crucial. The websites that perform best start and end their messages about Covid-19 with empathy. Clients could be feeling anxious and uncertain about what they need to do, a little bit of reassurance can go a long way. 

2. Get a fresh look at your website 

Ask someone to take a look at your website as though they were a customer. If possible, someone who is viewing the site for the first time as they will be able to give a truly unbiased opinion as though they were a potential new client. It is amazing the small things that you will miss, or the details you will not realise are important when you are writing it yourself. Getting that second opinion helps to pick these details up. 

3. Keep your message up to date 

The situation around us is changing daily and we all have to adapt as and when things change. Your website is no different. Make sure your message is up to date. You don’t want a client visiting your site and reading about how your business would respond to a potential lockdown more than two weeks after it was announced. 

4.  Think about the colouring and layout 

It is not just the text that is important on your website, think about the colouring and the impact it will have on the way your clients will be feeling. Do not fuel your customers anxiety and concern by highlighting negative impacts in red, overdoing it with bold fonts or capital letters. 

5. Make sure your website message and social media content is lined up 

20% of the firms we looked at that are active on LinkedIn had no mention of Covid-19 in the content they were posting. If you schedule content to social media in advance via a tool such as Hootsuite, make sure the content that is scheduled to go out is still appropriate for the situation to avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention online. 

6. Demonstrate your expertise 

One of the things that your clients and potential clients could be visiting your website for is to find out more information about Covid-19 related schemes and implications. Demonstrate the expert knowledge of your firm but producing news and blogs about some of the key things that your firm can help with such as help with the furlough scheme or advice for split families on adapting to the lockdown. 

insight6 is here to support you. If you would like to talk with our experts about the messaging on your website or other ways in which you can help to improve your NPS, even if it is an informal chat over a (virtual) cup of coffee, then please leave us a message on the contact form below and we will be in touch. 

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Six tips to help you lead during the crisis

Our worlds have changed dramatically over the last few weeks and it feels like nothing will ever be the same again.  The only certainty is that we will be in a place of the unknown for many more weeks and months to come.

There are dramatic differences in where clients find themselves on the spectrum – either clients have never been so busy, or they have lost 80% of their business. Every single person has been affected by Coronavirus both professionally and personally. Examples from our clients range from a farm shop whose sales have quadrupled in a week to a leisure attraction that is closed for three months and has to furlough all their staff. 

But how do you lead your team when there is so much chaos in the world? How do you find the motivation to get up, face another day and be a leader when all your team are remote workers or furloughed for the foreseeable future?

How do you transition from a leader whose major focus is on achievement and success to having to be the best communicator and look after the wellbeing of your team as a priority as a means to survival?

We have created six tips on how to be the best leader you can be at this time:

1. Be your best self

The qualities of the best leaders are still needed in difficult times – passion, authenticity, honesty, care, positivity, inspirational and treating others as you would want your child to be treated by the world.  We say child as we care passionately for our children, even more than we do ourselves.  Finding a way to be human, act with integrity and love for your team is enormously important at this time. This difficult time provides an opportunity for all of us to invest in what is important not only in our businesses but in our lives. 

An events business we work with had their order book cleared of all orders for the next three months.  With over 100 staff they had to make cuts to people’s pay and hours.  When making the announcement to the team the leader broke down in tears.  All of the team rallied and agreed to continue working 5 days a week but for the same pay.

2. Share and talk with others

There is never a more important time than now for sharing stories with your fellow entrepreneurs and business owners.  The more you share the more you realise we are all in this together and you are not alone.  As business leaders we all need support and if you have not had that in place up until now then now is the ideal time to find some.  Sharing allows you to access other people’s skills, creativity and approaches to problems very similar to your own.  There is no place for being proud at this time.  Showing vulnerability and being able to tell your truth in a safe place is so important in keeping your stress levels down and accessing untapped creativity in your own mind.  

For the last three weeks, we have been running daily 60-minute video calls for all of our Customer Experience Directors to come together and share their stories, worries and ideas for supporting our customers and each other.  Through this process we have created a free team survey and are currently putting together a Leader survey to help you too.  Finding the people you can work with and help you to get through this time will pay dividends in keeping you sane, motivated and in great shape to lead your team in the future.

3. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

We know that the most important part of maintaining any relationship is communication.  Having the right tools such as Zoom or Google Meet/Hangouts to be able to communicate virtually is extremely important.  Finding a way to continue with team, coffee and networking meetings is vital.  Communication needs to increase rather than reduce at this time.  The biggest concern about self-isolation and remote working is the impact on mental health and overall well-being – there are many aspects not least financial pressures.  How do you ensure that your team are ok?  That they have all that they need to work from home and remain motivated?  Providing a blend of communication from line managers, colleagues and senior leaders is critical to maintain an environment where colleagues feel listened to and supported.  Regular communication will provide the continuity and much needed structure for your team irrespective of the practical challenges.

We know from our recent free team survey results that communication has been plentiful up until now.  It is vital that you continue with a steady stream of communication that is supportive and motivating without it being distracting and interrupting the flow of work, especially with those who are working at home.

4. Culture is everything

It is now more important than ever to have a company culture which demonstrates how much you care about your team and their welfare.  Choosing to be ultra-supportive and treating your team well in times of adversity will create loyalty and productivity.  If you have had to furlough any employees or pause working with sub contracted staff members, they all still remain part of the team that will support and help you when the time comes to re-establish the business in the future.  As part of your ‘business family’ it makes sense to keep the culture of caring and support with this group of people. It is a two-way relationship!

A great example of this is a leader from a restaurant company who is producing an internal video blog to distribute to all their workers to keep them informed of where the business is at and any information that will help them feel like they still belong and they are part of a company that is on hold for the time being.  The intention of the vlog is also to have a positive influence on the roles and behaviours that the workers have in society at this time with regard to looking out for others as well as their neighbours, family and friends. 

5. Trust and faith in your team has never been more important

These extraordinary times have resulted in leaders being more immersed in the lives of their team by the very fact that your employee’s place of work is their home.  In addition, the employee’s home is also potentially a temporary school and a co-working space with their partner.  The pressure and ability to work remotely at home is extreme. Many employees may never have worked from home before and could be finding it hard to adjust to this new reality.  Our recent free team survey with client’s employees highlights that one in five reported that employees did not feel that they were properly set up at home to work. 

The complexity of managing your employees in this situation is beyond anything any leader has had to do before. There is now a lack of control in place in regard to your team, which perhaps was not realised before but is now plain to see. All of your leadership skills will be used to communicate, check in with your team and lead with integrity and you are relying on your team to do the same when you are not present or in the same building. 

Remaining open to changes in working hours, focusing on productivity rather than time worked will be vital to keeping your head and not becoming overly controlling.

6. Keep calm, be mindful and carry on

Our sixth most important tip for all leaders at this time is to do your best to remain calm, be mindful of the circumstances that surrounds each of your clients, your employees, and your suppliers and respond with sensitivity.  The world has changed, and selling is not a major priority right now as most businesses are not buying! Taking care means ensuring all your team are following the government advice. Feeling angry or frustrated when you can’t do or get what you want is no longer acceptable behaviour.  Encouraging new behaviours towards a more accepting society and a focus on looking out for others more in need than ourselves can help our overall wellbeing. 

Compassion for all the humanness we observe around us is the new order of the day and in the words of Robert McKee, author “True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature.”

We are here for you at this time, we have a free team survey to support you and your employees and we are in the process of creating a Leader survey that will be available next week to collect and share the wisdom of you and other leaders on how you are managing at this time. We will do everything we can to support you in whatever way we can.  Keep well, stay safe and if you fancy a virtual coffee then please reach out!

The 6 things your teams are telling us

What does good communication look like during Coronavirus?

What more do you need to do to take care of your home workers?

How can you look after essential workers who are taking risks beyond their job description?

What are the new responsibilities of team leadership?

Our FREE team survey reveals the answers to these questions and more……….

Over the last two weeks, we have been offering all our clients - past, present and future - the opportunity to participate in our FREE team survey.  The findings from the survey from 20 client’s teams reflect the biggest changes in the working and social environment that most of us have ever experienced.  To keep up with the pace of change we have created a second FREE team survey that will be launched next week– if you would like to participate then please follow the link here 

Here are six insights from the first team survey during the Coronavirus:

  1. 74% of employees who answered the survey were working from home at the time of the survey.
  2. One in five of those working from home do not feel they have everything that they need in order to effectively work from home.  This is a result of having to use personal computers and laptops for work or not having a device at all to do work in addition to a lack of IT support.
  3. With an average rating of 7.9 out of 10 - 47% feel that their colleagues are taking excellent responsibility to stay safe in the workplace but one in four feel that their colleagues are not taking enough individual responsibility to stay safe in the workplace.
  4. 57% think the communication by their employers about the current situation has been excellent with one in four feeling that their employers could do better.  
  5. Overall the excellent communicators have been praised for being transparent, open and considered given the circumstances.  This resulted in employees feeling supported, well informed and up to date.
  6. For those that felt communication could be better, there was a need for more information, keeping up to date with where people are at in terms of anxiety and maintaining levels of communication as the situation changed. 

Other areas identified that employees wanted to raise are:

    • Looking after all front line workers to do everything you can to prevent them from catching the virus.
    • Fears for themselves and members of their families becoming ill.
    • Communication being managed to avoid it becoming distracting and getting in the way of being able to do your job.
    • Fears about cyber security and working from home.
    • Keeping a regular communication channel open.
  1. Specific Communication is key to keep your team motivated, feeling cared for and safe, don't assume everyone reads and absorbs information, in the same way, keep things positive using factual and accurate information
  2. Physical and mental wellbeing is perceived to be the priority in life at the moment and ‘checking in’ needs to be included in all the communication with the team, Have you got a process for this?
  3. Ensure your team have all the bespoke resources they need to work effectively and create IT champions to offer support to those less skilled in this area.
  4. Create a colleague support structure so everyone can tap into this help when they are on the emotional rollercoaster that is part of all our daily lives right now. Listen to the facts not social media gossip
  5. Create a timed and routine communication structure so you can plan your day around this to reduce the levels of disruption from sporadic communication.  Publish a suggested daily routine for home working   
  6. Make it part of your communication plan to keep your team up to date on the government advice around self-management and responsibility to control the spread of Coronavirus.  This will lead to a collective reduction of fear, anxiety AND risk of becoming unwell. Publish best practice advice from the government that is relevant to your team.

 

insight6 have created a new team survey to review the needs of your most important resource which will be available next week.  If you would like to participate please follow this link. Please stay well and safe and if you would like to meet for a virtual coffee to discuss the findings please contact us.

How To Measure Customer Experience

What is Customer Experience Measurement, and why should you care about it?

The success of your business is reflected in the satisfaction of your customers. Increase of profit is dependent on great customer experience (CX), as the customer’s positive recommendation, digitally or physically, is a vital method of attracting new clients, as well as ensuring customer loyalty.

It can be difficult to know for sure precisely how successful your company was at delighting a client once the transaction has ended; sometimes, the true nature of the client’s experience is not recognised until a negative review appears much later. With reliable customer experience management software in place, your business can properly gauge the customer experience, and use the data to improve and grow.

Esteban Kolsky, CEO of ThinkJar summed this up with: “Only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain. The rest churn. A lesson here is that companies should not view absence of feedback as a sign of satisfaction. The true enemy is indifference.”

NPS alone isn’t enough

The most common tool used in customer experience measurement is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS is something you have likely experienced as a customer yourself, in the form of a post-transaction question such as:

‘How likely are you to recommend this company to a friend?’

The problem with NPS can be about timing - questions like these are not always applicable to the customer at the point in their journey that they receive them. For example, a customer that has an unresolved matter that keeps being bounced between departments would not feel an urge to give a glowing review of the company through an NPS given in the midst of the frustration. In some cases, simply receiving the irrelevant prompt can inspire the need to write a negative emotional response.

NPS can be a useful means of collecting valuable feedback from customers about the overall experience they have had with your company. Timing the NPS question at the end of the customer experience is ideal. Including an NPS in your CX measurement is simple, and a great jumping off point for businesses interested in measuring their entire customers’ journey.

In order to pinpoint the specific hindrances your customer might face, a wider arsenal of measurement tools is also needed to supplement the NPS question.

Build a comprehensive overview of the CX

The key to creating an accurate measure of your business’ CX is to ensure all aspects have been recorded and analysed. With a complete overview of the customer journey, you can then establish the ‘pain points’ and begin constructing a focused strategy to fix the areas that need most work. A smooth, frictionless customer journey is the ultimate goal, so it is vital that you have the correct system in place that can properly measure emotion in the customer as they move through your CX.

Know which parts of the CX you want to focus on

CX is a wide umbrella term for a range of different minute experiences a customer faces when interacting with a company. It is important to consider, before embarking on any type of measurement, what exactly you are hoping to find out, and how you will use the information to move forward.

Here are some examples of the metrics you can choose to measure:

Average Resolution Time: This involves making a note of the time a client first makes contact, and another at the end of the conversation that marks the close of the case. The information can be used to measure, on average, how long it takes to solve a problem for your client and help you to set a future goal to improve efficiency.

Customer Churn: This is the number of customers that decide to cease transacting with your business before completion. The purpose of this information is to determine the common areas in your CX where a customer might be persuaded to turn back. The way the churn rate is calculated is like this:

Exceptional Moments: With the rise of near-instant gratification in the customer service industry, customers increasingly expect an exceptional experience when purchasing a product or service. By asking customers for specific examples of your team giving an exceptional CX performance, you can access a wealth of illuminating information about the most enjoyable and successful areas of your CX. This data can also be a great motivator for your staff (e.g. an ‘employee of the month’ reward based on the best customer service).

Example: “During your time with us, were there any standout exceptional experiences? Please let us know!”

Customer Effort Score (CES): This data is usually collected through a scoring system provided to customers, asking questions such as:

“How straightforward was it to get from A to B when you engaged with this part of our interface?”

Customers would then be given a few options to respond with, such as a 1 to 5 rating. The CES can also be recorded using observatory systems like focus groups, where participants can be given a task that exists in your current CX, and the difficulty of their ability to tackle can be used to identify the customer’s feeling at that stage. The purpose of this data is to understand how the layperson interacts with various methods of CX systems, and consequently, how these systems might be altered to make the process smoother.

Mapping Customer Journeys

As we discussed in our previous blog post, insight6 give a great deal of credit to the correct plotting and implementation of a Customer Journey Map. When done correctly, the information gleaned from a map can help you to pinpoint exact areas of improvement that may not be obvious from inside the organisation.

As well as this, the Customer Journey Map can be used to figure out where might be best to prompt customers with survey questions or feedback opportunities. For example, if your map shows that a majority of customers encounter frustrations during phone-related enquiries, you could then ensure that all client calls are followed by an NPS question and track the progression of your efforts to improve the weak spot.

The methods you choose for measuring customer experience will vary depending on your business. It is important to consider the individuality between the ways your customers will engage with your business. Recording every client’s unique approach is known as emotion metrics; the collective build-up of emotion data allows you to create an ample impression of your company’s performance as a whole.

According to a 2018 study, “a consumer is 21 percent more likely to leave a review after a negative experience than a positive one.” This makes procuring a positive response from your client more of a challenge, as frustration and disappointment are more motivating emotions than mere satisfaction. These strong, negative emotions in customer experience can be harnessed through the correct measurement tools. This feedback can then be utilised to further develop the engagement with your clients and create a customer experience transformation.

A real transformation will be evident in your clients feeling happy, cared-for, experiencing a seamless journey from the first discovery of your website to the closing interaction with your team.

We would love to share more about how to measure customer experience with you and your team. Please contact me on 0800 970 8987 to arrange a customer audit call.

How much data do you have about customer experience?

How much data do you have about customer experience compared to the volume of data you have about the financial performance of your business?

This question is interesting because the finances represent the outcome of the state of the customer experience in most businesses and yet often, more is done to look after the finances than the customer experience! How can that make sense?

Our business is totally focused on facilitating our clients to improve their customer experience.

Over 25 years we have mastered and learnt from the specialist work we do with our clients on how to make an impact and improve customer experience.

THE most important aspect of our work is to measure customer experience. The reason measurement is a vital part of any customer experience transformation is because you need to know where you are before you start. All movement and change in life requires that you identify where you are and where you want to go; this process allows you to have a clear understanding of the gap between the two and what you need to do to get where you want to go.

And if you are still not convinced why you should measure the experience your customers have in your business, how about the old Peter Drucker quote "what gets measured gets done.”

So how do you measure something as individual, personal and emotional as experience?

An objective quality measurement tool that identifies where you are with customer experience, how far you have come and what you need to do to improve will enable you to focus on actions and not concern yourself with ‘how are we doing’ circular questions.

What we witness with clients, in the absence of an objective measurement tool is how easy it is to fall victim to confusion and frustration that results from listening to the subjective opinions of the last colleague you asked of ‘how you are doing?'.

There are a number of ways you can measure customer experience and all of them involve simply asking questions of your customers and your team, outlined below are our top tips to make it work:

1. Where do I start?

The simplest way to create questions that are relevant and help you understand how you are performing is to start with a customer journey map of your business (see last month’s blog). In a nutshell, map the questions around the customer journey map - the map identifies each of the customer touchpoints in your business which is what you need to measure.

2. What questions shall I ask?

In order to get to the heart of the customer experience the questions need to focus on how people feel at each of the touchpoints in the customer journey (https://www.insight6.com/what-is-customer-journey-map/.)

Skilful questions reflect that feelings follow thoughts, so it is easier for a customer to answer a question about what happened before they answer how it made them feel. Understanding consequences of circumstances on behaviour and feelings exposes the priority of what might appear to be perceived as a minor issue in a business to a full-scale burning issue.

For example, measuring the customer experience at a restaurant we could start the questions at the booking touchpoint and ask, "what happened when you booked a table at the restaurant y?"

Customer: “The online booking system would not accept my time and so I had to phone the restaurant”
Question: “How did that make you feel at the time?”
Customer: “Frustrated and annoyed - I was between meetings and didn’t have much time AND I had promised my wife I would book for that weekend”
Question: “What did you do as a result of this experience”
Customer: “I phoned the restaurant and they were engaged and so I booked restaurant x where it took less than a minute to book online”
Question: “How did this booking experience makes you feel about restaurant y?”
Customer: “We love the food at restaurant y and we still will continue to go there but nowhere near as much as the other restaurants we visit because the others are organised, make it easy for me to book and you know what the food is just as good - everyone I know has had the same problem with booking at restaurant y”

The above is a real-life example of a client’s experience and demonstrates at just one customer touchpoint how much insight can illuminate the consequences of a poor customer experience.

In this example, it is frustrating as a business owner to see that sometimes the customer’s experience of the human element of the business is great and it is the technology, that is intended to increase efficiencies, negatively impacts the overall customer experience. The identified weakness at the booking touchpoint is a threat to the sustainability of the business that needs to be addressed. ‘Wrapping technology with love’ is a challenge but something that every business in the 21st Century has to make a priority in order to create a real customer experience transformation.

3. How do I know what good looks like?

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is one of the most tried and tested methods of measuring a customer’s experience. Through NPS you can understand the likelihood that a customer will recommend your product and service to someone in their community e.g. friend, colleague or family member. We use the NPS question in all our methodologies to gauge how people feel about customer experience. With over 1000 clients we can therefore benchmark your performance against others in your sector or industry. What we have observed in our work is NPS will increase by x% as a result of starting a customer experience transformation and this typically translates to an impact on sales.

4. Who should I ask?

Whatever your business, not all customers perceive you in the same way. For example, you can have a ‘regular' customer, a ‘lapsed' customer that you have not seen for a while, and a ‘non-user’ customer that you have never seen but uses the competition. Asking all of the different types of customers how they experience your business is important to understand the different perspectives. To ensure all the hard work of collecting the data from customers is used to create the maximum impact in the business, the careful analysis of the answers needs to be carried out. This will allow you to differentiate between the needs and experiences for each of the customer groups. As a result, a clear action plan can be prioritised with the intention of removing the most customer friction in the business. Make it your priority to remove all the reasons why customers do not use you!

Asking the team the questions about the customer touchpoints will also create a deeper level of insight that will help you identify the gaps in perception between what the team feels is the experience and how customer feels about the experience. We use this process to enable you to create a training programme to plug the gaps

5. How should I ask?

There are four key methods we have perfected over 20 years to use and measure customer experience.

1. Online and face to face surveys
2. Telephone and face to face interviews
3. Focus and Listening groups
4. Customer Experience Reviews

Each method or combination of methods will create a rich pool of data that will allow you to focus on the areas that need to improve and continue to do all the things that deliver a great customer experience.

6. Why should I bother?

We are proud of the relationships that we have with our clients that result in us metaphorically ‘going on the customer experience journey’ with them. A key part of delivering consistently improving customer experience is to put in place a continual process that needs fresh and insightful challenges to stay ahead of the competition.

As Lucy Knight in Dorset, Bath and Wiltshire says “we were aware that customers were suffering from survey fatigue as the questions were not engaging and there were too many questions being asked. We have streamlined the surveys and the questions and as a result we have increased the number of responses and quality of the information"

In the words of our Customer Experience Consultant Phil Heaven “One of my most challenging projects was working with a multiple site Holiday Park, over four years we conducted a continued programme of team training, customer experience reviews which resulted in x increase in scores across the board, a complete change in job roles, recruitment and induction processes, a new bonus scheme - all of this aimed at customer experience transformation - the results are a total culture change”

The work that we carry out with all of our clients is vital to delivering the customer experience strategy. Our role is to measure that the team displays empathy and understanding as part of all their interactions and this is included as part of our measurement programme. We sensitively measure and report through our customer experience reviews how the team are doing so that they can learn from each other and build on their experiences and knowledge over time.

If you would like to know more about how customer experience measurement can help your business, please call us for a customer experience audit.

What is a Customer Journey Map and How to Use One to Improve Business

Your customer’s journey, from the starting point when they make the decision to reach out to your business right up to the resolution of the matter, is trackable. You can trace their steps to identify weak areas in your Customer Experience (CX). Through ‘journey mapping’, you can create a visual representation of your average customer’s interaction with your business, and pinpoint the various trials, delights, and frustrations they face.

Using a personalised customer journey map, you can then single out the areas where your customers might trip up and decide to back out before completing a transaction, and start implementing strategies to improve the experience. But how do you begin putting together a customer journey map, and how can you use it effectively?

Constructing an effective customer journey map

Many companies boast their use of customer journey mapping to improve their CX. The lack of proper know-how, however, often render journey maps essentially meaningless. Ineffective maps give no real indication of aspects of CX that require improvement, and therefore have no value to a business interested in forward progression. A good customer journey map is a true reflection of the customer, not a painting of the ideal one.

The best way to achieve an effective customer journey map is through gathering honest data from your customers as they are interacting with your business in real time. This can be successfully done through workshops with customers, where their progression through your company’s phone service, website, or face-to-face meeting, can be monitored and recorded as it happens, allowing for an accurate representation of the experience to be made. You will need a large group of people from your customer base to extract this data, and it will need careful planning; understandably, this could seem like a daunting, time-consuming prospect.

Luckily, at insight6, our experienced team is able to do the legwork of gathering the data for you, by posing as customers and recording the journey through your business’ customer interface. We then construct a detailed customer journey map with the collected data, highlighting the ‘pain points’ as well as the excellent areas of your CX. We then share the results with you, along with examples of easily implemented strategies so that in future, the customer journey will be far smoother.

What does a good customer service map look like?

The great thing about customer journey maps is that they are individual to you and your customers. Journey map templates exist, but to create a map that represents the nuances of your CX journey, you need to flesh it out with the specifics of your unique brand.

Here is an example from the globally successful taxi company Uber, where they have taken a basic example of a first time consumer’s purchase of a product or service, and translated it into the niche Uber experience:

As you can see, the customer’s positive and negative comments are labelled at various stages throughout the ‘journey’, with an explanation of what specifically made them feel that way. At the bottom of the map, there are practical solutions to all the problems customer ‘Jen’ picked up on, allowing Uber to visualise a future of their CX where Jen would feel less frustration, and repeat her business. The biggest problem Jen faced – not being able to tip her driver by card or within the app, creating embarrassment and frustration – prompted Uber to alter their system, and they have since updated their CX to provide an in-app option to tip alongside the fare.

Common mistakes in customer journey mapping

The key to avoiding mistakes when creating a customer journey map is to remember the purpose of the map in relation to the future vision of your company. The priority of any business should always be creating customers and improving conversion rates from enquiries to successful custom. This is done by identifying the points of your customer’s journey at which they encounter technical hitches, unexpected costs of time or money, or other frustrations. It is common for businesses to omit these pain points in order to avoid portraying themselves as ineffective in some way. If the journey map is created but any meaningful data is left off, its use is virtually non-existent in terms of stitching up any tears in the CX.

Here is an example of a self-congratulatory customer journey map that we will dub a ‘pat-on-the-back' map’:

Although the design is pleasing to the eye, and there seems to be a lot of information packed into the diagram, the beneficial output of this map is almost nil. All this map shows is the ideal path a customer would take through a public interface system if they didn’t encounter any bumps along the road.

When compared to the Uber example, there are obvious omitted details, such as the emotions of the customer at each stage, and their personal method of navigating your unique interface.

In the following video, digital customer interaction experts The Service Design Show list five mistakes to avoid when plotting your customer journey map, all of which insight6 take into account at each stage of the process when creating one. As the video explains, it is wise to remember that your customers, and your business, are constantly growing and changing as technological developments are integrated into everyday life. Voice command AI, for instance, is rapidly becoming more popular, meaning that certain information about a business is often heard aloud in Alexa or Google’s voice, instead of being read off a screen.

This alone can make a significant difference in how users absorb the information. Therefore, your customer journey map should be updated periodically, and make allowances for the progression of your customer’s interests, methods of interaction, and levels of patience for an underdeveloped CX.

 How to use the customer journey map moving forward

Proper analysis of your customer’s journey can allow small tweaks to your business that provide long-term, profitable results. These tweaks are sometimes known as micro-interactions - a term for a tiny feature, usually seconds-long, of User Interface (UI) that is designed to give the customer a quick pulse of delight. Uber once again demonstrate an example of exceptional micro-interactions with their holiday themed updates, changing the animated car tracking your taxi arrival to have a rainbow coming off the back during Pride, or a witch on a broom at Halloween.

Although simple, the user response is instantly positive, and often prompts users to share news of the micro-interaction through word of mouth, or across social media, gaining the company exposure. With your customer journey map, you can implement and track the responses to micro-interactions such as these, and see in real-time how users respond to the feature, and whether it improves the chance of them making a repeat purchase decision.

What to take away

You want your customers to be able to navigate easily through your in-person, over-the-phone, or online interface without encountering any difficulties. With correctly implemented journey mapping tools, you can polish the front line of your business.

At insight6, we construct effective, detailed, thought-provoking maps with personally collated data. With our help, you can transform your CX into a straightforward pathway from the purchase decision to the buying process, and ensure that your business is the primary choice for your customer’s future needs.