The Case for Combining Customer + Employee Feedback Systems

by Beth Benjamin for Harvard Business Review


In 2014, Michael Callahan, then head of customer experience at Hulu, had a mystery on his hands. When the big video streaming service surveyed customers who renewed subscriptions, it discovered, paradoxically, that some customers stayed with Hulu even when they didn’t necessarily have a positive perception of the brand overall.

It turned out that some customer service representatives of the third-largest player in the streaming video space were pushing fence-sitting customers too hard, said Callahan in a recent interview. Paid digital TV companies, which also include Netflix and Amazon Prime, face high churn. Like Hulu, they need to ensure positive perceptions among customers routinely up for grabs between the big players.

“We had a gut-check conversation to discover what it meant to truly serve customers,” Callahan remembers. “We wanted employees to act more authentically to achieve a better, more positive experience of the brand overall. We didn’t want them only thinking about retention.”

That’s when Callahan’s team took an unusual step: The team created and linked an employee feedback system to its customer feedback system, in order to flag interactions where customers and employees had different perceptions.

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