You have casual lunches, formal dinners, the occasional phone call ‘just because.’ You think you have a pulse on how your customers—internal and external—feel about the work you are doing. But do you really? Are there concerns festering below the surface? A nagging pang of doubt?

Really, truly understanding customer sentiment has the potential to impact every facet of an organization. Great experiences are more than just quality, friendliness or responsiveness. They also include clarity of estimates, accuracy of invoices and access to leaders and decision makers with your organization.

In short, whether you work in accounting, shipping, sales, marketing or are perched in the corner office, creating great customer experience is your responsibility.

But collecting, analyzing and acting on customer sentiment isn’t always easy. There are countless templates and methodologies out there for understanding the voice of the customer. The trick is finding the right one that fits your organization and customers.

At AKHIA, that meant creating our own.

Introducing the Agency Service Index (ASI)

We are an organization that prides ourselves on service. It’s the cornerstone of our agency. “Do right by the customer and the rest will take care of itself,” as Jan says. We strive to bring strategy, passion, enthusiasm and care to every project and every relationship. How can you quantify that? How do you apply data to an industry that can be so subjective?

We set out to answer those questions and the Agency Service Index (ASI) was born.

ASI is more than a survey. It’s a rating system that allows us to do an apples-to-apples comparison of the experiences our clients have with AKHIA. But it can also be a great tool to see how prospects rate their current agency in the same areas and compare it to AKHIA’s scores.

How does it work?

First, ASI is designed to gather insights about more than the traditional services and experiences. We want to know how clients feel about every aspect of our business, including:

  • Anticipating our clients’ needs
  • Accessibility to leadership
  • Understanding our clients’ businesses and industries
  • Quality of our educational programs
  • Generating ROI
  • Providing meaningful analyses of data
  • Clarity and accuracy of our estimate

Responses to each question are calculated to generate a score from 0-100. And those scores are communicated back to the client and follow-up discussions are planned as needed to get additional one-on-one feedback to help us celebrate our strengths and act on areas we need to improve.

We think of the scores much like the rating system we are used to in school. Scores from 90-100 are an A and scores 80-89 are a B and so forth. And anything below a C is considered failing … because, let’s face it, none of us are C students here.

Tips for Enhancing Your Surveys

We just completed our second annual survey and have gathered incredible insights that are helping us continuously improve client experiences. Results are helping us streamline our processes, build loyalty and continue to live our mission to exceed client expectations.

And throughout the process we have learned a few important things that might help you as you consider your own customer sentiment programs.

  1. Keep it as simple as possible. You want the info you need, but you also don’t want to overtax your customer’s time. We tried to keep our survey at five minutes or less.
  2. Give it importance. For larger organizations, this can be trickier. But for us, we felt each client should receive a personal email from a member of our executive team. No HTML, no blast – just a personal connection.
  3. Follow up. Receiving a completed survey should only be the beginning. Email or make a call immediately after the survey is received. Take the opportunity to talk through the results and how concerns might be addressed. And then, make that call again in three months, six months, nine months … it’s a great way to open ongoing conversations between leadership and customers. And numbers can only tell you so much. Nothing replaces one-to-one engagement.
  4. Be transparent. You can’t make improvements unless the information is shared in your organization. And, it shouldn’t be just your sales and customer service teams. After all, customer experience is everyone’s responsibility.

Whether you are a current AKHIA client or working with one of the other guys, give ASI a try. Tell us how we are doing or simply see how your current agency stacks up. Take ASI.