Four Things to Consider When Leveraging a Customer Feedback Management Platform

I may be dating myself here, but does anyone else remember sitting in a conference room surrounded by sets of data tables and analyses so  you could then manually pull numbers, read through all the comments, and manually populate reports? And after all of that, you still had to manually tweak those reports for each audience!  It took days to complete a report. And when I look back on all that, I couldn’t be more grateful for customer feedback management platforms (also known as CFM platforms).

Boy, how times have changed! Customer experience (CX) technology has taken what used to be a days-long process and condensed it to minutes. However, there are two areas the technology hasn’t mastered (yet):

  1. How to service itself 
  2. How to tell a story with feedback. 

Yes, customer feedback management platforms are very good about providing both a high-level snapshot of feedback and a convenient way to drill down into that feedback, but an online dashboard can only take an organization so far. CX professionals need to know what to do with their feedback, tell a story with that feedback, and be able to adapt their approach to the customer experience as their business and the market evolve. And their ability to do that is directly impacted by the CFM vendor they partner with.

How to Choose a Customer Feedback Management Platform

Selecting a CFM platform partner should be about more than just price, “sexy” graphics, branding, etc. In our experience, businesses start the process by distinguishing which  of two primary approaches to supporting a CFM platform work best for their business:

 1) Full-service where the company that provides the platform manages all aspects of the technology (programming, analysis, change management, etc.,) or 

2) Self-service where a person or persons within the purchasing organization are responsible for all aspects of the ongoing technology usage.  

Of course, there is also a hybrid combination of the two that might be the best fit, but determining which structure is best for your organization depends on the answer to a few key questions.

  • What resources and expertise do you have in-house? Creating a best-in-class CX program requires expertise in dashboard and questionnaire design, governance to ensure alignment across programs, a structure that reduces the possibility of customers being over-surveyed, analytics, etc. Many organizations will have one or maybe two areas where they have some expertise, but very few have all the resources and expertise to successfully and smoothly execute a broad CX program.
  • What do you want your team to focus on? Would you prefer that your team take the time to learn the new software and then manage dashboards and program surveys? Or would you prefer they are focused on helping drive change within the organization? Sure, the former will reduce the fee paid to your CX technology partner, but how does that fee compare to the salary you are paying your employee for what might be a better use of their time?
  • How will you manage complex changes or requests? Every company will have unique branding, compliance, ADA, and other needs, and while there are many ways to accommodate these more customized requests, looking critically at how your organization has historically handled them will help inform how you may want to structure the support for your program. So, will you set aside hours in advance for support from the technology partner or will you prefer to use change orders when technology requests come up? The former may be a little more money upfront, but the latter will require getting contract teams involved for each and every request, and could create perceptions of ‘nickel and diming.’ 
  • What is your plan to keep your team current on technology? Your platform partner’s specialists work with the technology every day and are aware of the system’s nuances. And while most CX platform providers offer some type of training, there is always a learning curve for new users that may require more hands-on assistance, especially if the team doesn’t use the technology regularly. Likewise, if you dedicate one person to be your expert, what will your plan be if that person leaves the organization or takes on a new role? When these situations arise, you’ll need to reach out to your technology partner for help, but they will be unaware of what’s been built, which will require additional time to become familiarized.

Each organization will  answer these questions differently, but one thing that we have seen repeatedly is the need to set aside some ongoing service support hours with your CFM partner from the beginning of the relationship.  If you wait til after the program has started and certain aspects of the program have already been built, you’ll need to spend additional time to bring your partner up to speed. If they are there from the beginning, however, not only will they be able to assist more quickly, but they can also coach your team on the best practices for building a more insightful program in the most efficient way. Initially, having no service hours may seem ideal for your calendar, but in the long run, it can be less efficient, create staff frustration, and end up costing more money in the long term.  

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will apply to every organization but, on the brightside, there is a customer feedback management solution that will work for every organization, as long as you consider  the above questions. Although, I suppose we could go back to manually pulling all the information—I’ll be waiting for you in the conference room!

What Brands Should Do to Design More Inclusive Experiences

The road to more inclusive experiences is rarely straightforward, which is why it’s imperative for organizations to consider as many voices as possible along their inclusion journey. Whether it’s how quickly news travels via social media or how to have conversations with marginalised communities, the sheer myriad of variables for brands to consider can seem overwhelming. Recently, though, I had the privilege of participating in these conversations at our Inclusive Experiences Exchange, and what follows are the key takeaways I believe organizations like yours can (and should), utilise as you strive to design experiences that work for the wider customer community.

Mistakes Will Be Made

No matter where your brand is on its Inclusion journey, some amount of mistakes and missteps are, unfortunately, to be expected. Because of that, while it’s obviously great to have an experience team that’s both proactive and that has an eye for detail, it’s also important to focus on how to respond to mistakes when they occur. Quite simply, the key here is to accept that mistakes will be made and to be prepared to be both visible and sincere in how you respond. This will compel customers to forgive your mistakes and result in positive messaging for your brand.

The Speed of Social

There’s another factor to having visibility and sincerity in your mistake response toolkit, and it’s the speed at which social media can bring worldwide attention to company blunders. In this day and age, such missteps can spread like wildfire across review sites and related media, making it all the more vital for brands to be sincere in their responses. Acknowledging that a mistake was made and taking steps to meaningfully improve it, hopefully with the aid of an Experience Improvement (XI) framework, can help stem the tide of negative social media attention..

Don’t Shy Away from Conversations

Being able to learn from your mistakes is of obvious importance to Experience Improvement, but how else might you and your team learn about creating more inclusive experiences? Working directly with the people and groups you want to expand your tent for is the best practice here; never presume that you know best. Additionally, while it’s important to refrain from pigeonholing your customers and employees by the traits that make them marginalized, it’s also vital to acknowledge the challenges they face and to embrace those differences. This holistic approach to conversation will help your inclusion efforts as much as being gracious about mistakes.

Want more best practices for how you can craft inclusive experiences? Check out “Designing Experiences with Inclusivity and Accessibility in Mind. In this white paper, you will learn:

  • What inclusivity means for experience professionals
  • How seven steps will help you develop an inclusive and accessible strategy
  • What the principles of inclusive experience design are and how they benefit your organization

Luxury Retail: Three Elements to Closing the Physical and Digital Experience Gap

Black Friday is right around the corner and you know what that means. Shopping, shopping, and more shopping! But not just any kind of shopping. This once a year occasion means customers are looking for the perfect gift for someone special—and the best deals they can find for the best and most luxurious products on the market.

The thing is, any customer making a luxury purchase will have high expectations for not only the product, but the experience—whether it’s online or in store.Bridging that physical and digital gap is about as easy as finding a parking spot at the mall on Black Friday, and the need for an accessible online experience is only growing as customers prioritize ease and convenience. 

Here are three elements for luxury retail brands’ to consider when closing the gap and delivering that premium level customer journey!

Element #1: Let Customers Speak—and Listen When They Do

Just as you ask for feedback in store, provide those same opportunities for customers when they shop online. Physical and online shopping experiences are significantly different, so you need to collect and analyze feedback from both channels. 

Knowing what’s working and what’s not in each type of experience can teach you how to create a smoother and more connected experience for customers. And it’s most important to communicate back to your customers that you’re listening, you’ve acted, and change is quickly coming.

Element #2: Don’t Choose Online Retail Over Physical, You Need Both

Digital experiences aren’t meant to entirely replace physical ones. They’re meant to allow customers other options that might better suit their needs. Factors like flexibility and convenience influence how customers shop, but it doesn’t mean one experience is objectively better than the other. The best experience isn’t digital or physical. It’s one that fully matches the customer’s preferences. The goal then is to make physical and digital experiences work in harmony. 

Element #3: Keep Your Brand on Point to Tell a Consistent Story

Your digital and physical customer journeys must not only match in quality, but in branding as well. The way you communicate to customers along each digital touchpoint, whether it be a newsletter sent out by email or a personalized message on the website after they purchase something, should keep consistent with your brand’s style, messaging, and tone of voice.

It’s also vital that the digital experience adheres to human-like interactions as if the customer was actually in the store. And that comes through with a unique branding voice and character. Customers shouldn’t feel like they’re purchasing from a robot dispensing products and services, but a human being behind their screen.

Of course, we know that digital and physical experiences aren’t the only aspect of the customer journey that luxury retail brands need to pay attention to. Read this report if you want to learn more about bridging the experience gap and how to improve personalization and emotional intelligence in the new luxury retail age.

You Ask, We Tell: How Do I Increase Survey Response Rates? Should I Shorten My Survey?

I’ve been looking back over my 20+ years of various research consulting roles and during that time, I’ve continuously fielded questions from clients and others within the industry. In this blog, I’m going to focus on one question that continues to come up in conversations with CX practitioners and data analysts and my answer may surprise you.

How Do I Increase Survey Response Rates? Should I Shorten My Survey? 

My first instinct when asked this question is to ask, “are you really interested in only increasing your survey response rate, or are you interested in getting more responses?” Those are two different things. Survey response rates are the percentage of responses you receive from the survey invitations you send out. Responses are the absolute number of responses you receive, regardless of response rates. In many cases, you can actually increase the number of responses you receive while decreasing survey response rates by sending out more invitations.

In most cases survey response rates matter little in terms of your sample providing representation of a population. What’s most important is the absolute number of responses you have. For example, if I’m trying to represent the United States population of approximately 325 million people, I only need a little over 1000 respondents for a confidence level of +/- 3 percentage points. It doesn’t matter if those 1000 respondents are acquired from sending a survey invitation to 5000 people (20% response rate) or 100,000 people (1% response rate). 

The only caveat here is that a lower survey response rate may be an indicator that some sort of response bias is occurring: certain types of people may be responding more in comparison to other types. If that’s the case, it doesn’t matter how many responses you have. Your sample will still not represent the population. If you fear response bias, you should do a response bias study, but that’s a topic for another blog post.

Usually, when I point out to clients that they should be more interested in increasing the absolute number of responses they receive rather than just increasing survey response rates, they agree. 

Begin By Increasing the Number of Outgoing Survey Invitations 

You should begin your efforts to increase responses by deciding if it makes sense to send out more survey invitations. Below, I’ve identified three specific things you can do: 

  1. Consider Doing a Census: Some CX programs still engage in sampling instead of sending survey invitations to all eligible customers. If your program is sampling, consider doing a census. This will both increase the number of responses you receive and give you the opportunity to identify and rescue more at-risk customers.
  1. Scrutinize Your Contact Data: Are a significant portion of your records getting removed because contact information is either missing or wrong? If you obtain customer contact information from business units, such as stores, hotels, dealerships, etc., it’s important to look at sample quality at the unit level. It’s also helpful to examine the amount of sample records received from business units compared to their number of transactions. Units with low samples in proportion to their transactions probably need to focus on better ways to obtain customer contact information.
  1. Invite All Customer Segments: Are you missing some segments of your customer population? Not obtaining contact information for specific customer segments often has to do with information system issues. For instance, in the earlier days of automotive CX research most companies only surveyed warranty-service customers. They didn’t survey customers that went to a dealership and paid for the repair/service themselves (customer-pay events). The reason was simply a system issue. Companies didn’t receive those transaction records from their dealerships. Now, most automotive companies have remedied that issue and they survey both warranty and customer-pay service customers.

Next, Revise Your Survey Invitation

The next step is to look at your survey invitation process and the survey invitation itself. You should look for two general things. First, is there anything that might prohibit customers from receiving the invitation?

  • Are You Triggering Spam Filters? Sending out too many invitations in too short a time frame can trigger spam filters. Sending out too many invitations with invalid email addresses can also trigger spam filters or even get your project’s IP address black-listed by internet service providers. Therefore, make sure to check to see if email addresses are correctly formatted. If you’re really worried about the quality of your contact information, there are services available to pre-identify valid email addresses. 
  • Are You Sending Survey Invitations to the Wrong Customers? Outdated databases can cause you to send surveys to people that are no longer customers. Obviously, these people probably won’t respond to your survey, thus reducing response rates.
  • Are Your Customers Receiving the Invitations but Never Seeing Them: Most email domains use algorithms to sort emails into various folders such as Primary/Inbox, Promotions, and Spam. Keywords in your subject lines and invitation text can affect where your invitations go. Do some testing of your invitations to make sure they end up in the Primary/Inbox folder for the biggest email domains. Also, you need to repeat your tests periodically because sorting algorithms can change unexpectedly. An invitation that goes to the Primary/Inbox folder today will not necessarily go there next week or next year.

Second, is the invitation compelling enough that a customer or prospect will open it and take action?

  • Is the Subject Line of the Email Engaging to the Customer? The subject line is the first thing the customer sees. If it’s not engaging, the customer won’t open the invitation email. It’s helpful to test various versions of the invitation with different subject lines to determine which yields the highest open rates.
  • Does the Invitation Display Well on a Smartphone? Over half of InMoment’s survey respondents are now completing their surveys on smartphones. Make sure your invitation (and the survey itself) displays well on smaller devices. You should also check to see how well your invitation and survey display in all major browsers.
  • Do You Include a Realistic Time Estimate for How Long the Survey Will Take To Complete? This is especially important for shorter surveys, so that potential respondents know there will be only a small time commitment. It’s also a good idea for longer surveys because respondents will know what time commitment they’re getting into and they’ll be less likely to abandon the survey. If you are reluctant to tell the customer how long the survey will take to complete, your survey is probably too long.
  • Is the Response Option Visible? When a customer opens the invitation, is the link or button to respond to the survey visible (front and center) without having to scroll down? Remember, this should be the case on a smartphone as well as on a tablet or computer.
  • Is There a Call to Action? Your invitation should ask customers to respond and tell them why responding is important and what you’ll be doing with the information that will make their world and interaction with your product or service better. 
  • Are You Using Incentives to Increase Your Response Rate? Using incentives is complex and can be a bit tricky. But it’s always worth seeing if it is something that might work for you and your company. If you’re interested in testing it out, learn more about using incentives here.

Last but Not Least, Look at Revising the Survey Itself

Revising the survey itself may help increase responses. However, remember that revising the survey will only increase responses by reducing the number of people who abandon the survey after starting it. Typically, that number is quite small (about 5% for most CX surveys), so reducing abandonment probably won’t lead to a meaningful increase in the absolute number of responses. That being said, some of the things you should look for, in addition to the possibility that your survey is too long, are:

  • Is Your Survey Simple and Easy to Use? You should keep your survey focused on the topic it is intended to measure and avoid “nice to know questions.” In addition, avoid mixing response scales as much as possible, as this can lead to confusion for the respondent.
  • Does Your Survey Look Engaging? Your CX survey represents your brand. It should have the same voice and look and feel you use throughout all customer touch points-physical location, mobile app, website etc.
  • Is the Language in Your Survey Easy for Customers To Understand? Don’t use industry jargon. That turns off respondents and can lead to confusion. Be your brand, upfront with your requests, and transparent.
  • Does Your Survey Follow a Logical Flow to Walk the Customer Through the Experience Being Measured? This not only helps in reducing abandonment, but also helps customers recall the event accurately so they can give more thorough feedback.

When you want to increase the number of responses you receive, you should look beyond increasing your survey response rate and shortening your survey. There are much more effective ways to increase the number of responses that are often overlooked. 

Remember that we’re here with the latest tips and tricks to help you figure out the best way to listen to your customers (via surveys or other feedback channels like social media, websites, apps, reviews etc.), understand customer behaviors and wants and needs, and act upon what customers are saying to create better experiences and ultimately drive business success.

Want to learn more about how you can boost your customer experience survey response rate? Check out these InMoment Assets to learn more:

Three Elements That Make Traditional Market Research Inadequate for Experience Improvement

What do you think of when you hear the term “market research”? For many brands, it brings to mind putting together scorecards, reporting numbers, and a heavy emphasis on looking to the past. Those things are certainly important, but they’re insufficient for creating true Experience Improvement (XI) and getting your organization to the top of your market. Let’s get into greater detail about why those three elements alone don’t cut it for modern market research.

  1. Numbers
  2. Scorecard Reporting
  3. Living in the Past

Element 1: Numbers

Right up top, I don’t want to give you the impression that numbers are unimportant. They fuel your data and, of course, quantify shifts in the trends most important to your experience initiative. However, that’s about the only story numbers can tell. They can reveal whether a trend has fluctuated and in what direction… but they can’t tell you why. Therefore, relying solely on numbers means that your research is only telling part of the story. Identifying the root causes of the trends you’re seeing is the only way to actually make a difference with your experience program.

Element 2: Scorecard Reporting

This element dovetails somewhat with focusing solely on numbers, but it speaks to the importance of how you present your research findings to other teams and the C-suite. Scorecards can be a  handy way to quickly present your findings (especially to an executive with a more quantitative thinking style), but what about the C-suite members who are qualitative? What about the chance to present the impact of your research and your program in a more connective, human light? Illustrating your program with this kind of storytelling, not just scorecards, makes a huge difference.

Element 3: Living in the Past

Ideally, market research should be a GPS, not a rearview mirror. Unfortunately, a lot of research teams view their work solely in the context of the past. Being mindful of the challenges your organization has endured is helpful for looking to the future, but what if there was a way for research to be proactive about the future in real time? That sort of research process is incredibly powerful, and it can help you create the bolder, more human experiences you need to stay on top of your market.

The Path to Modern Market Research

If the elements I’ve discussed are insufficient for tapping into the true power of market research, what can brands do to supercharge their research efforts and make it an invaluable part of their overall experience strategy? Click here to read a full-length point of view document on the subject, where I discuss how to modernize your market research program for the Experience Improvement age. I challenge you to read on even if your research initiative differs from what I’ve discussed—some of my insights may still surprise you!

What Is the First Step in a Customer Experience Transformation Roadmap?

Whether your program is just getting started or has stagnated over the years, this post is for you! 

Every brand—across industries and around the globe—has a unique opportunity to overhaul outdated ways of managing customer experiences, and move toward actually improving experiences for customers and employees. Achieving this is no small task, and often requires customer experience transformation. At InMoment, we’re here with you every step of the way and ready to take on the challenge, together.

So, what is the first step in a CX transformation roadmap? Set up your program with the end in mind!

Whether you are taking on a program for the first time, or redesigning an old one, this is the most fundamental step of a customer experience transformation. For a lasting impact, we can’t emphasise enough how important it is to take the time up front to outline your CX vision, align it with your corporate objectives, and make a tactical strategy for how your CX program will ladder up to expectations. 

Three Ideas for Taking Action Toward Customer Experience Transformation:

Action Item #1: Outline Success

Decide what success looks like for your CX program in six months, one year, and three years. Without a vision to point to, it’s difficult to make any progress. An example of a program goal could be: 20% increase in customer retention, 10% reduction in cost to serve, +10% increase in revenue per store year on year.

Decide how often your team will check in to make sure you are still tracking toward your targets. As for the best cadence, plan to check in once a month with a program roadmap or visit these goals in quarterly board meetings—and don’t forget to schedule those calendar reminders!

Action Item #2: Consider Employees

Get super clear on how your customer experience program will impact employees. These frontline workers are your biggest resource to transforming customer experiences, and it’s important to help them understand what delivering success looks like in their unique roles. 

You should develop a solid comms plan to bring staff on the journey, co-design and embed processes and training for closing the loop, or perhaps train employees to reach out to happy customers with a personal ‘thank you’.

Action Point #3: Decide What ‘Solving For X’ Looks Like For You 

Decide which initiative you will tackle first—will it be customer retention, reducing costs, cross- or upselling, or customer acquisition? Pick one of these, which is your ‘X’, and make a plan for tackling financial linkage. 

Action Point #4: Settle on a Program Soundbite

Ensure you understand the business benefit of transforming customer experiences so that you can communicate far and wide across the business. Prepare a soundbite or elevator pitch so you are prepared to communicate why CX transformation is so important and what it means to people in their roles.

At InMoment, our team of experts are the best in the business for helping you design innovative, continually evolving experience initiatives. In fact, for three consecutive years, our clients have won the award for “Best CX Transformation” through the CX Awards! To learn the next five steps to an award-winning CX transformation, download the full guide here!

Three Steps to Align Your CX Program Goals with Business Initiatives

Has your customer experience (CX) program matured or just begun? Or is it somewhere in the middle? No matter where you’re at, CX program goals need consistent tweaking to be aligned to greater business initiatives. And with the proper alignment, your company can drive better decisions that will positively impact your customers, employees, and bottom line.

In our recent experience forum with Forrester, Goldilocks and the CX Paradigm: Too Little, Too Much, Just Right, we broke down the mystical process of melding a program and business together to work in harmony. It starts with three important steps:

Step #1: Develop a Strategic Plan

Okay, maybe you’ve been thinking, “this program’s been in the game for years, what do I do now?” or “I don’t even know where to start.” Do yourself a favor and take a step back. 

To develop a strategic plan, you need to zoom out so that you can focus on the overarching CX program goals that matter. What’s your company’s vision and how can this program play a key role? When you first identify the big-picture mission, the smaller decisions become easier. And then you can start to set trail marker goals that’ll push you towards the finish line. This will only work, however, if the CX goals you create are practical ones. Goals that are too aspirational will inevitably cause your business to lose organizational efficacy and buy-in. Make sure anything you set your program for is actually achievable. Remember: Quick wins build momentum for major buy-in in the long run.

Step #2: Establish Customer, Employee, and Stakeholder Essentials

Just because developing a strategic plan is step one doesn’t mean you’ll never have to revisit that strategy down the road. Your plan will need to continuously adapt according to several factors. Namely, who are your customers, employees, and stakeholders?

To flesh these core groups out, try analyzing the trends in your market from both global, regional, and local perspectives. What benchmarks does your CX program need to meet to stand against competitors and how will that fit into your company’s business plans? If that’s still not enough information, it’s also useful to look at how your specific industry (in terms of CX maturity) is evolving. Some industries are in the early stages and some have a long-established history. And that history makes a difference. 

Gathering these broader insights into the industry and market will help you to realize realistic goals and give better direction on how to move your CX program forward.

Step #3: Design & Assemble CX Leadership

You can’t have CX program goals without a CX team. There needs to be dedicated leaders consistently working on customer experience as your business initiatives and the business world changes over time.

One might think, “Why don’t I just have a few CX experts figure this out?” And you should let your CX pros do what they do best. But when customer experience exists in a vacuum, it ignores one crucial reality. Customer experience programs should be owned by and should encompass all parts of a business because it informs all parts of the business. Your program needs to be cross-functional to be truly successful and aligned with big-picture business goals. The more experts from various departments you bring in, the greater the perspective and outcome. The ideal CX leadership doesn’t look like a single team—it looks like multiple teams overlapping. .

If you’d like to learn more about aligning your CX program to business initiatives and how that helps you prove ROI for your initiatives, watch our recent Experience Forum with Forrester VP, Principal Analyst Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian here.

Who Owns Your CX Program? (Hint: It’s Everyone)

In my last post, we discussed the difference between interactions, engagement, and customer experience.  Now, I’d like to dive deeper into customer experience and the role everyone in your organization plays in delivering that experience. You heard me right: not one department owns the customer experience—it’s every department!

I often talk about customer experience lying at the intersection of communications, operations, technology, and employees.  Which really means it encompasses all aspects of your organization.  As Jan Carlzon, former CEO of Scandinavian airline SAS, once said, “If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.”

Every Team Owns Part of the Customer Experience

Marketing and Sales have to correctly position your products and services, and set proper expectations for how customers can use them and, more importantly, what benefit(s) they will derive.  Operations then has to deliver an experience that matches, or better yet, exceeds those expectations.  

All of these teams are supported by HR in terms of the people they hire and how they onboard and train them.  The org is also supported by IT and the technology platforms—such as apps and websites—that customers can use, as well as the internal systems that enable employees to deliver a great experience.  And of course, Customer Care is the safety net if something goes wrong along the way.  

Let’s Take a Closer Look at Revenue Management/ Pricing

As Mr. Carlzon suggested, there are also supporting functions that are in service to those who serve the customer. The one supporting function that I’d like to consider in terms of the role it can play in the overall customer experience is Revenue Management or Pricing.  

Recently, I was stuck in the middle of a prime example of how pricing can impact the customer experience when my family and I tried a new burger place in town.  The burgers, Cajun fries, and parmesan truffle fries that we ordered at the counter were outstanding.  But 4 burgers, fries, and drinks set me back $75 (and I don’t live in NYC, Los Angeles, or San Francisco).  It made me consider the role that price plays in my perception of value and more importantly, my overall experience.  We enjoyed the food, but at that price point, we are not likely to return, or at a minimum, it won’t be the regular Friday night meal after a long week.

CX Success Is One Motion

In my previous role leading customer experience for Hertz, I was also responsible for Voice of the Customer, CRM, and Loyalty.  This was intentional, as we wanted to closely tie together:

  • Understanding customer needs, wants and expectations (VOC)
  • Experience design to meet/exceed those expectations (CX)
  • Delivering the right message to the right customer at the right time (CRM)
  • Member acquisition, retention and frequency to drive business growth (Loyalty)

We also had a Customer Experience Council to engage the rest of the organization.  This governance component is critical to ensuring alignment and accountability in the organization around the customer experience.  Nearly all companies are organized around functional silos—sales, marketing, operations, pricing, finance, HR, IT, etc.  But the customer doesn’t care about your org structure, and managing the customer experience requires a shared understanding of customer expectations, and clean communications and executional handoffs between functions. 

At InMoment, our Continuous Improvement Framework has 5 stages: 

  1. Design
  2. Listen
  3. Understand
  4. Transform
  5. Realize 

Too many companies get stuck in the Listen and Understand phases because they are too focused on capturing and analyzing customer feedback and not focused enough (or organized properly) to take action on the data and then measure the ROI improvements from those actions. 

The organization component here is key. To make sure that you are facilitating transformational action across the org that will lead to tangible experience improvement, you must consider your internal communication methods and your organizational orientation and compare it to the customer experience.

Want to learn more about how you can put in place foundational tools that facilitate CX transformation? Check out Eric’s recent webinar “CX Transformation: The Key to a Truly Valuable CX Program” here and learn how to organize, action plan, and manage your portfolio for success!

3 Elements to Consider When Selling CX to Your Boardroom

Getting your C-suite onboard with customer experience (CX) programs can be a real challenge. If you’re reading this, chances are it’s the same story at your organization! While there’s no silver bullet for getting boardroom approval on more CX resources or program renewals, we’re going to break down three elements that can help warm the execs to your Experience Improvement (XI) initiatives. Those three elements are:

  1. Reporting Frequency
  2. Content Formatting
  3. Cross-Functional Teamwork

Element #1: Reporting Frequency

One of the most important elements to consider when speaking your C-suite’s language is its preferred reporting frequency. You can figure out how often your C-suite would like reports by considering each executive’s thinking style, as well as those of your teammates. Some leaders are quantitative, and may want numbers-heavy reports more frequently. Others are qualitative and more concerned with the aspirational elements of your program. Reporting frequency preferences vary wildly between brands, but understanding those preferences is crucial to winning—and maintaining—that support!

Element #2: Content Formatting

This piece dovetails with reporting frequency quite a bit, which only makes sense, right? Once you determine how frequently your executives want reports, it’s vital to press that advantage by figuring out how best to present them. Usually, this presentation takes the form of scorecards, but we challenge you to use something much more powerful if you aren’t already: customer stories! Executives love seeing their brand vision presented in a human light, and stories of how that vision creates genuine connections with people go a long way toward program approval.

Element #3: Cross-Functional Teamwork

This is a big one. If you want to make sure your program is presented from all its best angles, you need a cross-functional team to do just that. Identifying and recruiting the folks you need from other departments is never a quick or easy process, but it’s essential for so much more than ‘just’ more budget. In fact, desiloing program data and uniting your organization around it can provide everyone the exact same customer profile. And when everyone is working off of that holistic, united customer view, every experience you provide will be meaningfully improved. Powerful stuff for your next presentation!

Going Deeper

How else can your team speak the C-suite’s language when it comes to Experience Improvement? Asia-Pacific Managing Director David Blakers has written a full-length point of view on this subject that you can read by clicking here. Check it out to gain additional, powerful insights on how to speak to executives, gain the program approval you need for brand success, and maintain those connections over time!

A Winning Combination: Unstructured & Structured Data Analytics in Today’s Customer Experience Environment

Over the last few weeks, there have been several announcements from large tech players in the world of VoC (voice of customer) and CX (customer experience). My name is Melanie Disse and I have over 10 years of industry experience—most recently in a VoC role at Mercury New Zealand. I thought I’d spend a moment explaining what these announcements mean for those of us who are VoC, CX and Customer Insights professionals. Before we get started, let’s check out what I’m referring to:  

You might be thinking, so what? Should I be excited about this? Let’s look into it. 

What the Acquisition and Partnership Means in a Nutshell

In a nutshell, Lexalytics, and Tethr are data analytics platforms focusing on structured and unstructured customer data, as well as solicited and unsolicited feedback. With such acquisition/partnership, companies like InMoment strengthen their capabilities in the “text analytics” space, meaning their ability to analyze unstructured data and extract meaning and actionable insights. But also in a broader way to be able to connect unstructured and structured data sources to generate insights from within one platform.

The Humble Beginnings of Surveys 

Before I jump into the deep end, let’s start at the beginning. Not that long ago, if we wanted to know what a customer thought, how they felt about interacting with your brand (website, store, call center, etc.), or how loyal they are to you, we had to ask them. We sent a survey and asked them what we wanted to know. In fact, almost every company sent surveys, to an extent that customers got rather fed up with it. We ran into the problem of survey fatigue, which plagues many of us. 

But it’s not just survey fatigue that challenges the trusted old survey, it’s also the accuracy of insights we gain from it. We sometimes ask questions the customer may or may not know the answer to—for example, did we resolve your issue today? The customer is likely thinking “hmm, well I hope so, the agent promised me to fix it..” We also ask questions we should know the answer to, like “did you travel with us in the last 30 days?”  And finally, we ask questions that seem irrelevant or unimportant to the customer, but we want to know more about it, like “did you remember seeing any advertisements on your flight today?” So, we kinda capture the “voice of the customer”, at least on things that are important to the company, and from those customers that can be bothered to respond. 

In addition to that, we tend to look at survey results in isolation, and then look at things like financial results, churn reporting, or customer complaints data, in isolation as well. Depending on the data maturity level in your business, you may combine some of your data, but not all of it. You may analyze some of your data, but not all of it—which we know is limiting, as data is best utilized when combined with various sources, rather than analyzed in isolation. 

So that’s why I’m excited about the recent announcements. It’s not that I oppose using surveys—absolutely not. They are a great tool in our toolbox, but they are only one tool, not THE tool. 

Extracting Meaning from Unstructured Data 

There’s one resource that has long been underutilized for mining data—the contact centre! The contact centre is an absolute treasure trove of customer insights and has long been underutilized from a customer insights perspective. It’s an amazing source of customer feedback. We have agents on the phone, email, live chat, and social media messaging. We have bots, call notes, and so much more. So instead of sending a survey, we can now analyze the data we already have, and potentially supplement what’s missing with a survey. 

Conversational analytics is also powerful as we are no longer limited to low numbers of survey responses, or hearing only from those customers that take the time to respond. Analyzing the conversation that just took place between your company and a customer means we have 100% of the conversation to use to generate insights from. It means more volume, but also a deeper understanding of your customers’ experiences, as we “hear” from all customers that interact with us.

With acquisitions and partnerships, companies like InMoment strengthened their capabilities in this space, using ML (Machine Learning) and NLP (Natural Language Processing) to extract as much insight as possible from those unstructured data sources to tell us what the conversation was about, how the customer (and agent) felt about the interaction, and even predict what the experience was like (e.g. customer effort). Effort and ease, or CES (Customer Effort Score), is a super valuable metric to use in the interaction environment, as it tells us so much about how an experience went from a customer point of view, and is strongly correlated to customer loyalty. Based on unstructured data (the conversation that just took place between agent and customer) as well as operational data (e.g. call history, wait times, transfers, channel hopping) we can predict the level of effort the customer had to put forth to get their query resolved, all without a survey. 

Analyzing call or chat data helps us understand the conversation that took place, but also what it was all about. It allows you to narrow down on your customer “intent”, or reason for contacting. While we typically rely on agents to choose a “call reason” from a drop down menu, if you work in this space you probably know the accuracy levels of that data. That’s not just because an agent may opt to take a short cut and choose whatever option is right at the top of the drop down menu, it’s also limited to the options we provide, and one option only. Often calls may cover more than one reason, or the contact reason differs from the actual problem that needs to get addressed. Some telephone platforms now offer “intent recognition” and we can also get that information from our VoC platforms if we ingest that data. 

Beyond our contact centre data we can also leverage external sources such as social media or reviews. It’s another source of “free” customer feedback we can leverage to better understand our customers, their needs, and potential improvement areas. And again, we pull it into the same platform to have it in the same place as our other customer feedback data for enriched analytical capabilities. 

The Power and Limitations of Technology 

While those VoC platform announcements are super exciting, it’s not as simple as plugging them into our company tech environment and we have full access to all the shiny toys. You may end up with an (expensive) Ferrari in the garage, unable to drive it. The more data we can ingest into these VoC platforms, the better the quality of our customer and employee insights. However, which data we can share—from a policy, privacy, or tech point of view—determines to what extent we can leverage the tools. If you’re faced with a stack of legacy systems that don’t integrate easily, or can’t even connect the (data) dots between your systems, things become more challenging. 

Another incredibly exciting area is predicting experiences, or rather experience metrics. A word of caution here as well—we all know how unique and unpredictable we are as humans. A lot of testing is required before you have satisfactory accuracy levels for your particular organization (similar to intent work). So again, a great example of how we can leverage survey data to gain insights into customers’ perceptions of experiences. Expectations and perceptions make predicting experiences rather interesting. 

Wrapping Up

So to wrap up, from a conversational analytics point of view, we’re heading to a state where we know why the customer got in touch and what the interaction was about, what the experience was like from a customer point of view, how the customer felt (emotion and sentiment), and the impact the agent may have had. It’s pretty powerful to have that all in one place, but what do we do with this information? 

Firstly, we can enrich it even further with not “just” unstructured data from internal sources, but external sources like social media as well. We can also add key operational or financial data we have on the customer (e.g. call metrics such as handle time, customer tenure, value segments, churn risk, and others). 

Secondly, when we bring it all together we see a picture emerging on two levels, the operational level and the strategic level. 

  1. On an operational level we may gain insights to help us train our agents or uncover root causes that we can tackle. Those are typically limited to a specific area, e.g. a call center team, and smaller in nature. 
  2. On a strategic level we are able to uncover an end-to-end view of the customer experience, enabling us to look at company-wide experience improvement areas. Whether that’s overall, or broken down e.g. by specific journey stages. Again, effort is a great metric to use here as you can map out friction areas (aka areas for improvement) across journey stages by channel, or intent. You can also view this by e.g. product or specific services, overlay churn risk or value segments, the list is endless. It should give you a clear idea where to focus your improvement efforts and track performance over time. 

Many VoC tools can do parts of what I outlined here, but what we’re seeing now is a strong focus within our industry to mature our capabilities further, particularly in the conversational analytics space. It enables us to use the data we already have and use surveys only when we really need them. And that, in my humble opinion, is fantastic! 

Thanks for “listening”.

Thinking About Employee & Customer Journey Mapping? 3 Reasons to Dive In

There are a lot of elements to building a successful customer experience (CX) or employee experience (EX) program, but one of the most fundamental is employee and customer journey mapping. Journey mapping allows organizations to better understand the interactions and relationships that various audiences share with you, which allows you to create Experience Improvement (XI). Here are three quick reasons why journey mapping is essential:

  1. Optimizing Program Investment
  2. Expanding Your Program
  3. Figuring Out What Comes Next

Reason 1: Optimizing Program Investment

Understanding which touchpoints your audience uses and why they may or may not be functioning well is key to optimizing program investment. You can use employee and customer journey mapping to identify those touchpoints, listen in, and gather quantifiable data that proves your program’s success. The end result of this element is being able to go back to the boardroom with hard numbers, which goes a long way toward getting more funding for your program’s next cycle!

Reason 2: Expanding Your Program

When you map your journeys, you get a much better idea of which stakeholders need to be involved in your experience world. Employee and customer journey mapping is therefore a great way to rope new departments and teams into your program. This process also gives your entire organization a holistic, 360-degree view of your audience, which gives everyone a chance to work off of the same profile and create a more united brand mission.

Reason 3: Figuring Out What Comes Next

Sometimes, it’s good to stop and take stock of your CX program. If you’re not sure what the next stage of that program looks like, journey mapping can help tell you. This process gives everyone a full view of the customer or employee journey, which means that you can deduce what needs to come next in order to meaningfully improve your experiences.

With all of that in mind, how can organizations like yours start or refurbish the employee or customer journey mapping process? Click here to read Stacy Bolger’s full-length point of view on journey mapping. She’ll take you through more reasons you should journey map if you aren’t already, and some best practices on how to get started in the most beneficial way for you, your customers, and your employees!

Five Steps to a Successful, Anonymous Employee Experience Program

People are power when it comes to business. And taking the time to understand employee thoughts, feelings, and feedback can be a game changer. After all, your employees are the ones keeping the wheel running. And if they don’t feel supported in their goals, employees are three times more likely to be job hunting. A successful employee experience (EX) program, then, must be at the top of your priority chain—and a successful EX program is one that allows employees to remain anonymous.

Anonymity in your EX program primarily means ensuring that when employees are asked for feedback in any given manner, their identities are completely secure. Hence the phrase: anonymous employee experience/feedback. It’s extremely pivotal then that EX programs ensure employees feel safe and confident giving feedback so that the business can take action on that feedback and produce substantial outcomes as a result. However, reaching this gold standard status is no easy feat. So here’s a five step framework to lead you towards success:

  1. Design for Success
  2. Listen to Employees
  3. Understand the Data
  4. Transform the Company
  5. Realize Better Employee Experiences

Step #1: Design for Success

What does designing for success mean, exactly? Well, consider the work of a clothing designer. When they begin a new design, it’s often unique to a specific collection with a specific purpose. The same should go for your EX program. Every company is different, so designing for success actually means designing with your organization’s specific culture, feedback history, and technical capabilities in mind. And all of these aspects play into the level of employee anonymity needed to accrue genuine responses. Just remember that what will work for one business won’t necessarily work in the same way for another.

Step #2: Listen to Employees

Employee anonymity is non-negotiable. How can you get actionable, accurate feedback from employees if they’re afraid that if they use their voice, it will end in backlash? If you make it clear to the employees you’re surveying that their identities will be protected, you’re more likely to receive high quality feedback. And when employees feel comfortable giving feedback, you can focus more on deciding which listening channels are best to access critical intelligence.

Step #3: Understand the Data

Every six to twelve months, we recommend looking at the drivers of engagement, retention, and churn to see the change within your company. For example, noticing recurring themes for why employees are leaving can tell you about systemic organizational issues you may be having. Analyzing this data consistently helps you understand and eventually address what’s obviously not working in your program. And the crucial key to accessing data like that lies in assuring that employee respondents are unidentifiable. Which could mean hiding personal background information or using text analytics to avoid identifying someone through the way they write (in the case of a language barrier).

Step #4: Transform the Company

Before you take action, make sure that you’re transparent with your employees about your intentions. To address employee feedback effectively, you need to set clear expectations for how that feedback will contribute to transforming the company. Explaining that the information will be reported anonymously, what the information will be used for, and how exactly you plan on addressing their concerns allows for an honest conversation. If you speak and act truthfully first, employees are more likely to reciprocate.

Step #5: Realize Better Anonymous Employee Experiences

At last, it’s time to reflect on the benchmarks you set and act on the areas of opportunity for your program. Here are a few questions to lead you in the right direction toward EX program ROI:

  • How many employees are churning now compared to when the program launched? 
  • Are employees happier at work compared to program launch? 
  • And would more employees recommend working for your company (eNPS)? 

Based on how you answer, it’s time to move forward on realizing greater experiences for employees by prioritizing the security and benefits that come with employee anonymity.

The journey to an EX utopia is neverending, but returning again to this five step guide can help you reinvent your program closer and closer to that ideal. And if you’re interested in a more in depth guide to crafting the ultimate anonymous EX program, take a look at our white paper Just How Anonymous Is Your Employee Experience Program?

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