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In early 2014, a cross-functional group of Wheaton | Bekins employees redesigned the customer survey to gather more detailed and actionable data from customers. This survey was fittingly rebranded as the Customer Experience Report (CXR) and it now covers more customer touch points, gathers additional demographic and competitive information, and utilizes predictive analytics in combination with a survey structure based upon a hierarchical model of customer loyalty.
Stephanie Linville, Director, Market Intelligence, Quality & Training at Wheaton World Wide Moving | Bekins Van Lines, participated in a compelling Q&A with Loyalty360 to discuss the massive progress made by the company in terms of customer experience and customer loyalty.
How has the redesigned customer survey impacted Wheaton l Bekins?
We now know those interactions which have the most impact in shaping our customers’ experiences and driving their loyalty intentions. Prior to 2014, customer surveys were distributed exclusively via traditional mail upon the completion of customers’ moves. During this time, commendable response rates were achieved (e.g., fluctuating between 25%-30% each year) and tens of thousands of customers were surveyed.
Once the CXR survey was implemented, an email distribution methodology was utilized as well. Not only did this save significant printing and mailing costs, but response rates doubled to more than 50%. A strong customer engagement with our brands is attributable to these high rates of completion. When we are moving a family’s personal belongings across the country and developing relationships with these customers during what is often a very stressful time for them, it is understandable that they will want to share their feedback with us, whether that be positive or negative.
What are the biggest benefits you receive and challenges you face with surveying/listening to customers?
The benefits of Wheaton | Bekins complex sampling design allows for the gathering, analyzing, and tracking over time the performance data from our 350 agents and 1000-plus drivers. Since Wheaton | Bekins began collecting customer feedback, tens of thousands of customers have been surveyed and two key performance monitoring programs–the Total Quality Commitment (TQC) agent award and Driver Rating Program (DRP)–have been created. Both initiatives combine customer feedback with operational and financial data that reward service excellence with incentive compensation and public recognition.
More specifically, agents’ and drivers’ customer survey ratings, shipment estimate-to-actual accuracy rates, on-time delivery rates, safety records, and claims ratios are combined in a weighted formula to determine annual TQC and DRP rankings. Having years of this aggregated data allows us to track trends and identify improvement opportunities across our entire agent network and driver fleet. Our analysis has shown that our award-winning agents and drivers have significantly higher customer loyalty scores than lower performing agents and drivers. Lastly and most importantly, Wheaton | Bekins views its DRP as a positive differentiator in the marketplace as it competes for drivers.
The challenge with this type of large-scale sampling design is simply responding to the sheer volume of data collected. In addition, due to the severe seasonality of our business, the amount of customer feedback coming into the company is not steady due to the demand for household goods moving services which peaks in the summer months. This trend presents our agents, drivers, and corporate employees with the difficult task of delivering a consistent customer experience due to a significant amount of business coming through the system.
Our Service Recovery Team (SRT) is a cross-functional team of corporate employees that on a daily basis reviews any negative customer comments received via the CXR to determine what additional response is needed and who is the most appropriate person (from our customer service reps to department managers to various corporate executives) to follow-up with the customer and rectify the situation. Whether it be an operations, customer service or claims issue, the SRT is diversely staffed with the authority to offer resolution and closure to the customer’s problem(s) and then to effect change in the organization in response that customer feedback. While the SRT responds to an increased amount of customer feedback in the summer, the goal is to provide the high quality customer experience characteristic of Wheaton | Bekins during the off-peak months.
Marketers are tasked to be more data-centric that ever before, yet the challenge of creating actionable insight from data is more challenging than ever. What is your advice to marketers?
My advice to marketers when trying to make data more actionable is to have customers evaluate specific behaviors or traits which you require of your employees. In addition, it is important to tie customer survey data to other key performance indicators (KPIs) that are already being tracked. For example, if a call center already tracks wait time and call duration, it is beneficial that customer survey data also contain measurements that evaluate customers’ perceptions of their time on hold and the amount of time needed to get their issue resolved.
By having this information linked together, when performance levels fall below predetermined thresholds, specific training programs can be designed to improve upon those behaviors based on actual call data and customer feedback (both quantitative scores and qualitative commentary). Conversely, when performance levels are high, recognition can be awarded to those employees who are demonstrating those desired behaviors.
Simplicity was one of the major themes at our Loyalty Expo in April in Orlando. How does your company simplify its relationships with customers?
Analysis of our CXR data reveals that communications has the largest impact in shaping customer intentions to recommend our company. We have strategically focused on improving this fundamental aspect of our business. By simplifying the information given to customers in advance of their moves, providing an education about the moving process itself, and tailoring communication to the individual needs of the customer, we are truly personalizing the customer experience and demonstrating that we value the trust customers have placed in our company to handle and move their most treasured belongings.
Our actions can directly improve our customer’s quality of life by decreasing their stress and allowing them to focus on other things in their lives e.g., family members, new jobs, new homes, new cities, etc. Mostly importantly we offer our customers a delivery guarantee that provides peace-of-mind that we’ll get them to their destination on time. A genuine care and concern for our customers, their belongings and their time is what enables Wheaton | Bekins to enjoy a high level of customer loyalty.
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