This guest post was originally published by Osama Hashmi in his Green & White blog, and it is being cross-posted here.

Companies in Pakistan are beginning to recognize the strategic importance of curbing customer churn. As a result, some of the leading companies are implementing interesting and new ways of getting Customer Feedback to get some data on customer experiences.While this discussion should generally be a market research conducted over hundreds of companies, lets analyze three approaches.

Disclaimer: This may not be the apples to apples comparison you expect, because I am not counting traditional approaches such as help lines, ticketing systems, etc. What I am analyzing are “innovative” new ways of getting customer insight that the three firms are using.

UFone’s Approach to Customer Feedback

You walk into their store to pay the bill or get something done — that transaction is entered into their POS / CRM / Billing / ERP system.

One day later Ufone sends you an SMS hoping your experience was well, and asking a simple question: “Was your experience satisfactory? Send reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ “.

Simple, and to the point.

Ufone Analysis
UFone’s approach is good in that it is a dead-simple feedback form — a Yes / No vote is easy enough that people might reply, and is also enough to form a very simplistic model of using that feedback to improve operations.

The costs of this approach, however, is that Ufone will not know why people
are not satisfied, and for this they will have to work closely with the
Line or Business Center managers as well as sort through reports of
customer service staff. Even then, they will skewed data — in today’s
customer experience world, skewed data can be hazardous to a company’s

The other major issue with UFone’s approach is that it is an
interruption based approach. If I get an SMS at an odd time, I wouldn’t
care if the SMS says “thank you for visiting our store”, it interrupted
me and hence has a chance to put me off.

Especially because UFone keeps sending an SMS every day until you give
up and reply! (It does that to me anyway — maybe they wanted me to
write about them).

Micronet Broadband’s Approach to Customer Feedback

MBL will send you a small feedback form with your next bill (in case you receive a bill) asking for feedback in return for some MB of free data.

The feedback form has three to four fields that you fill out.

MBL Analysis
On the other hand, MBL’s approach is a “permission” based approach. It bothers me only when I am choosing to be bothered by MBL anyway, and then presents an extra option to provide feedback.

The extra Data incentive might be great for some people, but then again
the amount of data they offer doesn’t mean much in the broadband world
anyway (maybe a day’s worth?).

The problem with this approach is that the total cost to a consumer for actually providing that feedback is just too much. Are they really asking a person with broadband internet (their corporate customers) to pick up a pen and write and then pack up the letter with the bill and send it, and then follow up with them regarding the extra data gift?

Too much work.

In addition to this, I dont think a form with 3-4 fields, especially with subjective fields, is an effective way of getting feedback. The data will be too skewed, and information entry and processing on MBL’s ERP system will be too costly for MBL.

In comparion, UFONE’s one-question survey still gives UFONE a standardized way of receiving feedback.

Union Bank’s Approach to Customer Feedback

You keep doing what you’re doing. They do nothing.

Then, one day, their branch managers get very detailed reports of Customer Experiences, including even the names of the employees who caused the problem.

Analysis of Union Bank’s Approach
For a leading international bank like Standard Chartered to decide to outright acquire Union Bank for more than $600MM, Union must be doing something better than them.

That something is clearly customer service. If you are a high-priority banking customer, walking into a bank takes up time you wont have. The least you want is to get your job done in the shortest amount of time.

Just a few extra “good morning sir, oh let me take care of that right away” and “sir, sit right there and leave it to us” makes a mile of a difference, and honestly, Standard Chartered (atleast in ISB) still has a lot to learn from Union in this area.

How does Union Bank get feedback? They invest heavily in Mystery Shoppers — professional feedback consultants from market research firms that pretend to be customers, walk into banks and secretly document everything about the bank.

Since this report is generated by an independent third party, its a brutal no-hands barred report on issues with the existing setup, which goes down to actual names and designations of the employees and recordings and tapes of behavior.

Since Union is paying these mystery shoppers to surprise them, the economic costs and gaps and incentive structure is also broken down and solved — they are professionally and contractually bound to give feedback.

I’m sure UFONE and MBL both also employ Mystery shoppers, and I’m sure both also listen to samples of conversations in their call centers, but it is the sweet spot of investment and report structure that Union has focused on achieving that makes them the most effective.