Interviews Aren’t Dead: How B2B Companies Can Learn More from Their Buyers

B2B purchasing decisions are complex. They’re financial. They’re political. But more than anything—they’re unpredictable. While B2B firms have more systems in place than ever to predict sales outcomes, they’re still blindsided when prospects choose another vendor.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! To avoid this fate, it’s critical to have a process in place for exploring, analyzing, and improving the buyer experience—win or lose. You might have already guessed it, but I’m talking about buyer interviews.

Using the Right Listening Technique

There’s no one right way to collect feedback. It depends on the audience, the timing, the circumstances, and ultimately—what you’re trying to learn. Whether you’re sending SMS surveys, analyzing social reviews, or conducting phone interviews, it’s about using the right listening technique for the situation to get the best results.

Following the methodology below, our own customer experience (CX) program (Elevate) is successfully getting feedback from upwards of 90% of closed sales opportunities in our best months—and the insights are invaluable.

Here’s what we’re doing and why we think it is successful. 

Building Human Connections

For our post-opportunity listening post, we’ve found that interviews are the most effective way to engage buyers. And the intelligence we glean from these “buyer interviews” is impactful across teams.

Interviews can either supplement or replace a post-sales survey. I’ve found that many buyers actually prefer spending 30 minutes on the phone with me rather than two-minutes completing a survey. 

Also, the suggestion of a phone call lets the client know that we’re willing to take the time to listen—that we care, we want to learn, and we want to improve. It’s all about building that human connection, and it is a great way to get sticky with new clients and show your investment from the start. 

Buyer Interviews Process

Now, I bet you’re wondering how we efficiently scale this largely manual process!

First, we conduct dozens of interviews each quarter. The open-ended nature of an interview allows us to ask all of the right questions and follow the conversation wherever the respondent takes it. And we use the robust insights to drive cross-functional action. Across all of our listening posts, I can confidently say buyer interviews have quickly become one of our most beloved data sources. 

The Insights

Here are some of the things we’ve learned—and the teams that have benefited—by rolling out our buyer interview program:

  • Pricing (sales ops)
  • Roadmap Investments (product)
  • Messaging, Packaging, and Competitive (product marketing)
  • Demos (solution consultants)
  • Presentations (sales directors)
  • Renewal Strategy (client success)

At a regular cadence, our “Experience Improvement Board” looks at the emerging themes, chooses projects and specific actions, and assigns an executive owner. This owner then forms a “tiger team” to research and tackle the project—and reports on progress each month! 

Time to Get Started!

If buyer interviews are not currently part of your post-opportunity strategy, they should be. They will not only increase your response rate, but will give you additional intelligence and insight into what your buyers expect from your company. It’s the most personal way to request feedback and build lasting relationships, win or lose.

I’m not done sharing the successes of our buyer interview program. In subsequent blogs, I will talk about some of the questions we ask during interviews, challenges you may face in your conversations (and how to overcome them), interview do’s and don’ts, how to build your “interview team,” and what sorts of insights you should specifically try to gain from interviews.

But in the meantime, if you have questions about launching or refining your own buyer interview program, I’d love to talk to you. I’m Josh Marans, Director Experience Improvement at InMoment, and you can find me on Linkedin.

How to Eliminate Friction in Your Customer Journey

What Is Friction in the Customer Journey?

When most folks think of friction, they probably think of middle school science class. But if you’re a customer experience professional, “friction” is probably a term you’ve heard whenever your teammates talk about reducing customer churn. Within that context, friction refers to points in the brand experience that can have a long-term impact on customers’ relationship with a business. Friction may even cause some customers to quit a brand altogether.

Why Is It Important to Reduce Friction in the Customer Journey?

Did you know that the average business today loses between 10-30% of its customers annually?

Additionally, research by Carlson Marketing shows that U.S. companies lose 50% of their customers every five years. Multiply the amount of churning customers by the lifetime value (LTV) of the average customer at your organization and losing customers at this rate means losing millions of dollars!

Because of this, it’s essential that brands have an experience program in place that can detect friction, help experience professionals understand the problem(s) creating that friction, and correct them. The result is both a meaningfully improved experience and saved customer relationships. So, without further ado, let’s go over how your organization can ensure it’s eliminating friction across your customer journey.

How Can You Eliminate Friction in the Customer Journey?

#1: Understand The Moments That Matter

Like we said earlier, an important part of reducing friction is knowing about and understanding the moments that matter to customers. Brands can achieve this understanding by mapping out a few of their most important customer journeys. Learning about key touchpoints is one of the best ways to become aware of problems as they arise.

One of the most impactful methods to identify these moments and then reduce friction across your customer journey is InMoment’s Touchpoint Impact Mapping. Touchpoint Impact Mapping is a innovative way of understanding the moments that matter to customers. It is unique because it is based entirely on comment data drawn from customer feedback, ensuring a more accurate view of the customer’s memory of their experience. This creates an emotional picture of the journey that highlights what is most important to customers and also allows our clients to prioritize those moments that matter most to their customers.

Click here to hear how banking giant, Virgin Money, leveraged Touchpoint Impact Mapping to identify a key friction point and then improve its customer onboarding experience!

What’s more, once you’ve identified those high-impact moments, you can use this strategy to immediately begin solving those problems and expediently reduce journey friction. Understanding touchpoints and their drawbacks enables organizations to come up with solutions, implement them, and listen to see how they’re working. Experience practitioners can then point to those changes, and their improvements, when proving their program’s worth.

#2: Talk to Employees

Research has even shown that a highly engaged workforce increases profitability by 21%! So, getting your customers’ take on an experience is clearly important, but many brands, in their rush to do so, overlook chatting with their employees about customer journeys as well. Employees, especially frontline ones, can provide extremely powerful and eye-opening intel about your brand’s experience. How can brands access and leverage that?

The best way for brands to get their employees’ perspective is by letting them constantly submit feedback and ideas in real-time. Rather than relying on, say, an annual survey, organizations should instead utilize experience platforms that give employees a constant voice. This also further allows brands to learn about, and act upon, problems as they emerge in real-time instead of too far down the road for the customer’s liking.

Want to learn more about how employees can help you decrease friction in the customer journey and grow customer loyalty and value? Check out this infographic!

#3: Keeping Tabs on Your Customer Journey

That notion of being constantly aware of journey friction as it happens is at the heart of keeping it suppressed as much as possible. Surveys are important, but this dynamic is another reason why they’re insufficient for reducing journey friction by themselves—a constantly possible problem demands a constantly active solution. Organizations simply cannot achieve that level of awareness otherwise.

Another element of getting a full picture of your experience is leveraging data sources outside of surveys. And that’s going to become crucial in the next few years. Why? Because only 19% of U.S. Gen Z customers are likely to complete a traditional survey.

Instead of relying solely on direct surveys, brands can do this by combining survey listening with other sources of data, like your employees’ perspectives, and putting it against a backdrop of financial and operational information. This approach creates a 360-degree view of your customers and experience, an understanding that your organization can leverage to reduce friction, boost retention, and create a meaningfully improved experience.

Want to learn more about improving customer retention? We just published an entire eBook on the subject—click here to check it out!

2022 EX Trends: The Top 2 Things Employees Must Have in Their Next Job

Even if you don’t work in the HR space, you’ve probably seen the term “The Great Resignation” cross your news feed at least once (or 100 times, more likely). At the very least, no matter what department you operate out of, you’ve seen the unprecedented level of churn the job market is experiencing right now. And that might leave you wondering: what employee must haves are convincing employees to leave their old jobs for new ones?

There’s a lot to unpack with The Great Resignation, but one of the core truths playing out here is that many employees aren’t getting what they’re looking for from their employers in 2022. We dove into that in our recent 2022 Experience Trends Report (you can check out the full findings here), but we’re going to quickly cover two of those things here for you today.

What Do Employees Want from Their Employers?

  1. Supportive Culture
  2. Connection to Customer Experience

Employee Must Have #1: Supportive Culture

It may sound like a no-brainer to have an employee-supporting culture in place at your organization, but if the amount of employee churn going on right now is any indication, far fewer brands have that scheme in place than you might think. A lot of folks believe that the COVID-19 pandemic was the starting line for employee churn, but the truth is that the pandemic only exacerbated a lack of employee support that had already been there for a long time.

This is why it’s so important for organizations to invest heavily in this employee must have if they haven’t already. The best ‘employee support’ is what EX experts call employee commitment, wherein companies roll up their sleeves and dig deep to learn how they can better drive transparency, trust, and communication. Much of the churn we’re seeing with The Great Resignation stems from employees feeling that these elements were absent at their previous workplace.

Whereas the traditional employee response model has been to react to problems only as they arise, it’s become pretty clear that that’s no longer sufficient for retaining talent. Helping employees feel a human connection to their brand has never been easy, and the specs of that mission vary from company to company, but investing the time and effort into identifying what that looks like for your organization will make all the difference when it comes to employee retention. Remember; employees don’t want you to react to problems after they’ve occurred. They want to feel a bold, human connection to your brand.

Employee Must Have #2: Connection to Customer Experience

As important as it is for employees to feel connected to their organizations, workplace connections are only part of the puzzle. There’s another element here that employees are actively seeking as they look for opportunities in 2022, and that’s a connection with the customers and clients that brands like yours partner with.

On the surface, this may seem like yet another no-brainer. Employees become more committed when they see how their work makes a difference in a customer’s life. The thing is, though, is that a lot of companies have committed to illustrating that difference only to frontline employees, when the reality is that every team, frontline or otherwise, works together toward that goal. 

With that idea in mind, it’s vital for brands to find ways to let even those non-customer-facing teams know how their work contributes to Experience Improvement (XI) among customers. This contributes to employees’ sense of value at your organization and reduces the risk that comes with the siloed feeling many non-customer-facing individuals may encounter during their work. Demonstrating that link will look different at each company, but organizations need to find a way to do so now more than ever. 

The 2022 Employee Landscape

All in all, employees are seeking two major factors in 2022:  a culture that commits to them rather than just reacting to issues after they occur, and a chance to see how exactly their work matters to customers no matter how far they are from the front line. 

These tasks are by no means easy to execute on, but if you put the time and effort into figuring out how, you’ll be able to retain your talent and continue building meaningful experiences for both your employees and your customers!

Improve the Customer Journey

If your products or services aren’t performing well, it might not be because of the product itself. Instead, there could be a problem with the customer journey. Your customers’ journey can drastically affect how your customers experience your company—and whether or not they eventually become loyal to your brand. And it’s because of this fact that improving your customer journey is vital to overall business success. Wondering how to get started? We’ll walk you through the first steps to optimizing your customer journey. 

What Is the Customer Journey?

The customer journey is the process a customer goes through from awareness to purchasing and beyond. To provide an exceptional customer journey, you need to  understand your customers—how they interact with your website and what they’re really looking for. It’s important to point out that the customer journey is different from the customer experience (CX). Customer journeys are what your customers are doing, while the experience is how they’re feeling. A fully optimized customer journey can help improve your customer experience. 

While the exact steps in the customer journey can vary, these are the six most important parts of the journey: 

The Problem

First, customers need to realize they have a problem, a need, or a want that must be solved. Once they recognize a problem, they can begin looking for solutions, which should hopefully lead them to your company. 

Awareness

During this stage, the customer is gathering information, researching, and looking for options to solve the problem. Hopefully with your marketing efforts and channels, the customer will come across your company and become aware of your solution to their problem. They’ll still be weighing options and researching what suits them best, but this stage is a great place to use content to showcase your brand. 

Consideration

During this stage, your customer will be considering using your product or service. They may be deciding between you and another option and debating pricing options, prioritizing features, and weighing drawbacks. When a customer is considering, brand recognition is crucial. Having a trusted and well-established brand could be what sways a customer toward your product during this stage. 

Purchase

The customer decides on your product and makes the purchase. Even once they’ve purchased your product, companies benefit from reaching out to customers and acknowledging the purchase. 

Retention

Once a customer has bought a product or service, it doesn’t mean they will return to your company again. A key part of the customer journey is retaining the customer for future purchases. Providing support is important for retention. You want customers to come back again and again and to look for your product or service when faced with a problem. 

Loyalty

Once your customer comes back to you a few times, they’ll start to develop loyalty to your brand. Loyal customers will almost always come to your company if they can because they trust your products, services, and customer experience. Getting to the loyalty stage takes effort, but loyal customers are the goal of every company. 

A Customer Journey Example

Let’s walk through what the customer journey could look like. A hypothetical manager at a finance company recognizes an ongoing issue with managing data for customers. She starts looking for a data management solution. Her friend in the industry recommends the data management solution he uses while another networking contact recommends a different one. She also uses internet searches and reviews to find more. Targeted ads on Google and company social media also bring in a few more options. She pulls together a comprehensive list of all of her options for high quality data management solutions. 

Using reviews and priorities, she whittles her list down to two companies. Once she has her two favorites, she then uses the companies’ software demos and pricing packages to consider each one. She makes her selection based on which one works best for her company and is the most affordable. Once she purchases the data management software, the company acknowledges and thanks her for her purchase, which helps her feel valued as a customer. 

A few months later, this same manager is looking for data architecture solutions that will provide security and big data management. She remembers her experience with the data management company and starts her search on that particular website. When she sees they offer software for her needs, she spends less time in the consideration stage and moves quickly into purchasing. She also begins recommending the company to other people in the industry when they’re looking for similar products. Someday, this manager could be loyal to this company and go to them for all of her data needs. 

The Importance of Improving the Customer Journey 

Understanding how your customer moves through the customer journey and planning for it is important to gaining and retaining customers. The Aberdeen Group did a study on the use of formal customer journey improvements in companies and discovered some key benefits: 

  • 18 time faster average sales cycles
  • 10 times improvement in customer service costs
  • 5 times greater revenue from customer referrals
  • 54% greater return of marketing investment

Overall, this study shows that companies that focus on customer journeys can benefit in revenue and profitability. Optimizing the customer journey also helps decision makers at the company to stay focused on customers. It also helps improve the customer experience and your brand. A well-optimized customer journey makes the purchasing process easier and more enjoyable for the customers, which improves their experience. 

Optimizing Your Customer Journey 

Improving your customer journey is crucial to improving customer experience and benefiting from increased revenue and profitability. These are some of the best ways to improve your  customer journey: 

Understand Your Customer

To fully understand how to improve your customer experience and journey, you need to know who your customers are. There are many ways to go about understanding your customers: analytic research, informal qualitative research, carefully crafted personas, and more. These methods will help you know what your customers want, what they need, and what your brand can provide. 

Identify Touch Points

Anytime a potential customer interacts with your brand, you have a touchpoint. Your touchpoints could be ads, your website homepage, a physical storefront, reviews, newsletters, phone calls with sales, or emails. Once you identify all the touchpoints, you can then find the obstacles that might make the journey difficult or cause potential customers to drop off. A broken website link, no set-up voicemail, or unclear ads could cause unnecessary difficulty and lose you customers. By keeping track of your touchpoints, you can optimize them to keep your customers moving through your customer journey seamlessly. 

Create a Customer Journey Map

Customer journey mapping involves visualizing the journey your customer takes through the process of gaining awareness of your product to purchase. This map will illustrate how your customers move through their journey for your company and on your website. Using customer research and touchpoints, you can map out exactly what steps a customer takes and what you can do to make it simple. Creating this map will give you greater insight into where your potential customers are falling away and where your company can fill needs. 

Improving your customer journey will help your customers learn about your company, products, and services. It will also help you keep your customers moving seamlessly through to the purchasing stage. But ultimately, your customer journey can help you improve your customer experience. Your customers can enjoy the ease and support your company offers them. 
To improve your customers’ journey, you’ll need tools to understand your customers and to utilize your touchpoints. InMoment CX solutions provide feedback and active listening tools to help you understand where to tighten your process and bring more customers to your brand. Improve your customer experience with InMoment.

How Targeted Surveys Help Improve Your Customer Experience (CX)

One tool is practically synonymous with the customer experience (CX) industry: surveys. Since the inception of the industry, targeted surveys have been seen as a foundational listening and research tool that leverages strategic questions to collect data from a specific group of customers.

Sending out a targeted survey is the first step to improving customer experiences, employee experiences, and even the bottom line. Once a targeted survey has collected the desired data, a top-notch Experience Improvement platform mines that data using advanced analytics to uncover actionable insights. And once an action plan is made and carried out, businesses can improve their practices and processes in a way that helps them to acquire new customers and employees, retain existing ones, identify cross-sell and upsell opportunities, and eliminate extra costs.

All that starts with a targeted survey. But what are the best practices for creating a targeted survey? How do you get started? Well, that’s what we will break down today!

Picking Your Audience 

The first step to a successful targeted survey? Selecting a target audience! Ask your team, “Who are we trying to appeal to? How do we want to improve their experience?” The audience in question should be one that is crucial to your strategy, so be sure to examine sales data, demographics, and other analytics to inform your decision. 

For instance, let’s say that you are a fast casual restaurant looking to launch a new menu item in a specific region. Your target audience would then be customers from that region who are regulars at your restaurant. That would be helpful to gauging interest in your new sandwich combo!

You can also leverage other, more general surveys that ask broader questions in order to identify more specific populations to survey. Additionally, it’s possible that your company already has the data you need! Check other relevant data or research that may have already been done on your desired subject. If the insights you need are already in your possession, this can help you avoid the dreaded survey fatigue in your customers (and employees).

Four Principles for Building a Good Survey

At InMoment, we often get questions like, “What is the best way to design a survey?”, “What questions should I include?”, and “What rating scales should I use?”. The quick answer to those questions is that it depends on both the type and the topic of the survey.

Principle #1: Design with the End in Mind

This principle is also referred to as the “Backward Research Process.” When you design with the end in mind, you must first think about the decisions you want to make and actions you want to take based on the information you collect. 

Are you focused on increasing customer retention by identifying customers who had a poor experience? Do you want to “grade” your outlets or employees on their ability to serve customers? Do you want to assess which specific customer-handling processes are and are not working? The content of your survey should be guided by your answers to these questions. And since you’ve already identified your target audience, you’re ahead of the game!

Principle #2: Generate Hypotheses When Designing Your Survey

While designing the survey, it is often helpful to generate some hypotheses about how you think the results might turn out. This exercise can help you define what information you need to either collect or append to your survey data.

Principle #3: Ask the Right Questions

Don’t ask all the questions. Ask the right questions. Depending on your desired outcome, you might use a variation of these question types:

  • Multiple Choice Questions
  • Text Entry Questions
  • Quotas and Qualifications

Principle #4: Don’t Forget About The Survey Invitation

One of the most neglected parts of the survey design process is the survey invitation. Often, it is designed as an after-thought. You need to design your email invitation to maximize the likelihood that customers will receive it, notice it, open it, and click the survey link.

Email Targeted Survey Invitation
A well-designed, branded targeted survey experience is key!

Learn from the Data

You’ve zeroed in on your audience, chosen strategic questions, and sent out an optimized invitation—now the data is rolling in! This is the most exciting part of the process, because that feedback you’re receiving will be the basis of your next major improvements to the customer experience!

Your Experience Improvement (XI) tools (such as our Active Listening Studio)  will be able to ingest that data, and not only reveal insights, but will pinpoint the moments that matter (or the interactions, channels, and touchpoints that most impact your business). Prioritizing those moments helps you to take swift action to improve not only experiences, but also your bottom line.

After you’ve taken these actions toward Experience Improvement, you can also send follow up surveys to identify the effectiveness of your improvements and fuel continuous efforts toward experience excellence.

How InMoment’s Active Listening Studio Can Help

InMoment’s Active Listening Studio is a one of a kind listening suite that gives you the control to gather feedback at every touchpoint, allowing customers to tell you what matters most to them without bombarding them with survey after survey. Active Listening Studio includes:

  • DIY Survey Creation
  • Our AI-powered Engagement Engine™
  • The Rapid Resolution Engine™
  • Our Eligibility Engine™
  • Social Monitoring
  • Multimedia Feedback

Leveraging these tools allows you to create a more effective targeted survey, optimize your listening strategy, and ultimately prove that you’ve improved experiences and your business. One of our global retail clients was even able to increase survey response rates by 37% and response length by 38%!

Want to learn more about how InMoment can help you conduct a better targeted survey—and improve your customer experiences, employee experiences, and beyond? Contact our team today and we’d be happy to explore the right options for your business!

Do Companies Recognize the High CX Value of Employee Advocates?

This article was originally posted on CustomerThink.com

Do companies recognize the high customer experience (CX) value of employee advocates? Shouldn’t they want to cultivate the kind of behavior advocacy represents?

That’s my belief. And, because of dramatic, behavior-shaping trends in the world of talent and skills availability, significant and lasting disruptions in the way people work, and the greater independence of today’s employees, I’m convinced they should both recognize and cultivate it.

The EX/CX Connection

Employees are the key, critical common denominator in optimizing the customer experience. Very often, either directly or indirectly, they are at the intersection of customer/vendor experience. Making the experience for customers positive and attractive at each point where the company interacts with them requires an in-depth understanding of both customer needs and how what the company currently does achieves that goal, particularly through the employees. That means that companies must seek to understand, and leverage, the impact employees have on customer behavior. Further, and equally important, they must focus on optimizing the employee experience.

Supporters of employee satisfaction and engagement programs, research and training techniques, with their focus on retention, productivity, and fit or alignment with business objectives, have made some broad, bold, and often unchallenged, assertions with respect to how these states impact customer behavior. Chief among these is that, beyond skills, everyday performance, and even commitment to act in the best interest of their employers, employees have natural tendencies and abilities to deliver customer value, fueled by emotion and subconscious intuition.

Though on the surface this sounds plausible, and even rather convincing, a thorough examination of how employee satisfaction and engagement link to customer behavior will yield only a tenuous, assumptive and anecdotal connection. In other words, there is much vocal punditry, and even whole books, on this subject, but little substantive proof of connection or cause.

Powerful and advanced research can generate insights which enable B2B and B2C companies to identify current levels of employee commitment, and it provides actionable direction on how to help them become more contributory and active brand advocates. Employee advocacy, as an advanced EX core concept and research protocol, was designed to build and sustain stronger and more commitment-based and rewarding employee experiences and also improved customer experiences, driving the loyalty and advocacy behavior of both stakeholder groups, and in turn increasing sales and profits.

It is often stated (especially by corporate CEOs) that the greatest asset of a company is its employees. Emotionally-based research has uncovered specifically how an organization can link, drive and leverage employee attitudes and behavior to expand customer-brand bonding and bottom-line performance. This is advanced EX, some might even say it is revolutionary! Employee advocacy research can be combined with existing customer and employee loyalty solutions to provide companies with comprehensive and actionable insights on the state of their employees’ attitudes and action propensities, and how those may be affecting customer behavior.

Employee advocacy identifies new categories and key drivers of employee subconscious emotional and rational commitment, while it also links with the emotional and rational aspects of customer commitment. At the positive and negative poles, these employee-focused commitment categories include:

Defining Employee Advocates (And Employee Saboteurs)

– Advocates, the employees who are most committed to their employer. Advocates represent employees who are strongly committed to the company’s brand promise, the organization itself, and its customers. They also behave and communicate in a consistently positive manner toward the company, both inside and outside.

– Saboteurs, the employees who are the least committed to their employer. Saboteurs are active and frequently vocal detractors about the organization itself, its culture and policies, and its products and services. These individuals are negative advocates, communicating their low opinions and unfavorable perspectives both to peers inside the company and to customers, and others, outside the company.

In any group of employees, irrespective of whether they are in a service department, technical specialty, or a branch office, there will be differing levels of commitment to the company, its value proposition and brands, and its customers. If employees are negative to the point of undermining, and even sabotaging customer experience value and company or brand reputation, they will actively work against business goals. However, if employees are advocates, and whether they interact with customers directly, indirectly, or even not at all, they will better serve and support the organization’s customers.

Employee Advocates are Essential to Customer Experience—and Overall—Success

Where customer experience is concerned, it is essential to remember that organizations and brands looking to succeed in today’s competitive climate have successfully embedded CX into their cultures, from the C-level executive to the frontline employee. They prosper by using insights generated from a variety of channels and touchpoints, including employees, integrated with customer data from multiple sources, mined by sophisticated text analytics technologies, and then channeled to steer and guide every corner of their businesses.

The more successful the brand and organization, the more evident that the approaches taken are both bottom-up and top-down. This helps ensure a more strategic and real-world view of stakeholder behavior. Truly effective organizations have wisely invested key resources in the stakeholder experience. and at every level of the enterprise. Their leaders, likewise, focus on both individual and collective accomplishment.

This kind of achievement and fulfillment requires that experiences be optimized for all stakeholders. It’s a simple, basic premise, but it works – now and for the future. Ideally, there should be a direct linkage back and forth between the leader, the employee, and the customer. This is where employee advocacy, like the edelweiss flower, can bloom and grow.

The Secret to Improving Your CX Survey Response Rates

It is a fact that CX survey response rates have been declining. Additionally, we are being surveyed more and more every day about every mundane thing in our lives. Even the federal government is in on it—an executive order in 1993 directed federal agencies to gather public feedback on how well they delivered services and to strive to offer a comparable level of customer experience with private companies. Orders similar to that one have continued into the present day.

But, with surveys being the lifeblood of nearly all customer experience (CX) programs, what is a CX practitioner to do to improve their CX survey response rates? Much has been written about the tactical things a survey owner can do: list hygiene,  fatigue or quarantine rules, visual appeal of the invitation, subject line, formatting, time estimates in the invitation, etc.  And while these elements can have some impact, they are temporary band-aids for the over-surveying problem.

The Secret to Improving CX Survey Response Rates Is…

I’ll let you in on a secret: if you truly want to improve and sustain your response rates, look to your CX program (specifically your closed loop processes). There are two critical things any company can do to improve its response rates, and they tie back to the inner and outer loop concepts described in the Net Promoter SystemSM.

You’ve probably heard that it’s vital for organizations to close these loops, as doing so can help you achieve everything from Experience Improvement (XI) to enhanced customer retention and sustained business growth. That’s true!  But effectively closing these loops also provides an incentive and opens a door for continuous feedback from your customers or members.

The Inner Loop

The inner loop refers to the systems, processes, and teams that organizations use to respond to customers one-on-one to address negative feedback. Having an effective inner closed loop process is of obvious importance to any company that wants to keep its doors open, let alone create a differentiated and meaningful experience for customers. Fail to close the inner loop, and you open the “leaky bucket.”

However, if you can build a system that allows you to receive customer feedback, analyze it for actionable insights, and respond both meaningfully and expediently, you’ll have a much easier time retaining customers and extending their lifetime value. You will learn more about their individual preferences and may even potentially cross-sell or upsell them to additional products and services.

There is also plenty of research that demonstrates that customers whose complaints have been successfully resolved tend to leave higher review scores than customers who never had a complaint in the first place! Finally, by responding to customers when they have complaints, you demonstrate that you have listened and acted on their feedback, giving them a strong incentive to provide feedback again in the future.

The Outer Loop

The scope of the outer loop is considerably wider than that of the inner loop and requires more organizational resources, cross-silo cooperation, and team coordination.  Rather than focus on individual customer interactions and complaint resolution, the outer loop is about the actions your organization takes on the collective feedback you’re receiving to drive Experience Improvement and communicate those improvements back to a much broader segment of customers (if not your entire customer base). The one-on-one interactions that comprise the inner loop are certainly important, but the outer loop is all about incorporating those into a cumulative group effort to drive sustained Experience Improvement.

This improves your CX survey response rates by demonstrating to all customers that your organization truly does care about feedback and attempts to take action to improve the overall customer experience. This provides a feedback incentive even for customers who may not have shared it in the past, as they see the direct benefit.

Widening Focus

Click here to read my full-length Point of View on how focusing on your CX program will actually help you achieve better outcomes. In the meantime, take advantage of anything you might have learned here to meaningfully improve your inner and outer loop processes. I promise you you’ll see a difference.

5 Things Brands Need to Know About the Gen Z Customer Experience (and Employee Experience)

If we were to sum up what brands need to know about Gen Z customer experience preferences (and employee experience preferences) in a few words, it would go something like this: they’re different. Revolutionary even. This may seem like an oversimplification, but when you think about it, Gen Z grew up in a world that is more connected than ever, has more access than ever, and accomplishes everything faster than ever. It makes sense, then, that their standards for customer and employee experiences would be higher than ever, too.

Because Gen Z makes up 26% of the global population, their preferences should already be playing a significant role in your business strategy—and their influence will only grow! That’s why we put a magnifying glass over these emerging consumers and employees in our recent 2022 Experience Trends report, to give you the intelligence you need to create a positive impact with Gen Z, whether you’re trying to convince them to become loyal customers or recruit them to be engaged employees. 

Here’s what you need to know according to our data:

What Is Most Important for the Gen Z Customer Experience & Employee Experience?

Tip #1: Seamless and Efficient Experiences Are a Must

We’ve spent a lot of time on the InMoment blog discussing the importance of a seamless experience. It doesn’t matter what channel or touchpoint, your customers and employees should have a sense of consistency every time they interact with your brand. And for Gen Z, seamless experiences are table stakes when it comes to maintaining their loyalty. Gen Z shops both online and in store, so it’s imperative that they are able to experience the same level of convenience, personalization, and general experience excellence across the board.

Tip #2: Gen Z Is Unlikely to Complete a Traditional CX or EX Survey

Get ready for a mic drop moment: Gen Z is simply less likely to fill out a traditional survey. In the course of our research we found that:

  • In the US:
    • Only 19% of your emerging customers (Gen Z) are likely to complete a traditional survey
    • Only 22% of your emerging employees (Gen Z) are likely to complete a traditional survey
  • In Canada:
    • Only 28% of your emerging customers (Gen Z) are likely to complete a traditional survey
    • Only 41% of your emerging employees (Gen Z) are likely to complete a traditional survey

So what feedback collection methods should you be using if you want to gauge the Gen Z customer experience? We suggest  Microsurveys, social media and review sites, and live chat to gain the intelligence you need to compete for Gen Z’s loyalty.

Thinking of adapting your approach to customer experience surveys, and customer feedback in general? Our experts have derived a four step process to help you leverage all of your data, and only send surveys when they’ll be most effective. Check it out for free here!

Tip #3: Social Media Influencers Have Significant Reach

Gen Z’s first exposure to your brand is likely via social media, and more specifically, through social media influencers. We asked Gen Z consumers about whether they used an influencer code to make a purchase in 2021, and if they are likely to use influencer discount codes in the upcoming year. Here’s what they told us:

  • One of three emerging Gen Z customers had used a social influencer code in 2021
  • One of three emerging Gen Z customers were planning to use a code in 2022

From these numbers, it’s clear social media influencers will continue to, well, influence the emerging consumer. If you haven’t considered leveraging influences to acquire new customers, then it’s time to start!

Tip #4: Strong Brand Values Are Make-or-Break 

Gen Z has high standards when it comes to the brands they support, and even higher standards for the brands they work for. When looking into a possible employer, our research found that Gen Z is looking for three primary values. Here they are as explained by Gen Z:

  1. Culture: “[I] am likely to choose a [company] that allows me to express myself […] and [get] creative with mentorship and support.”
  2. Diversity: “I’m looking for [a company] that bring in diverse [experiences and] talents that can challenge one another.”
  3. Connectivity: “I believe that success [means] bringing everyone together […] we all [want] to be part of the equation [not just our executives].”

To successfully recruit this value-driven generation, brands should take care to emphasize these core values in job descriptions, internal messaging, and beyond.

Tip #5: Gen Z Has Little Tolerance for Bad Behavior

We’ve all seen the news stories: customers in store or aboard flights displaying outlandishly bad behavior when confronted with mask policies or low stock of desired items, and taking their anger out on employees. We were curious about what Gen Z thought of these displays and whether it affected their perception of the brand involved.

We asked, “What would you think if you witnessed a customer acting aggressively toward an employee at a place of business?” Gen Z responded with overwhelming compassion for the employee in the situation, and even mentioned that “I would interject […] No one should be treated that way.” 

What Are You Doing to Prepare for the Next Generation of Consumers & Employees?

As Gen Z becomes an even more prominent customer and employee segment, their CX and and EX preferences will become even more important to your business. So what are you doing today to emphasize and enable Gen Z customer experience expectations? How are you connecting with them? How are you collecting feedback from them to understand how they perceive your brand?

You need to have a strategy in place, and our experts are here to help. Learn how our XI Platform can support your efforts to create optimize Gen Z customer experiences by reaching out to us here or in the chatbot at the lower right hand corner of your screen.
You can also read more from our 2022 Experience Trends Report here!

2022 Experience Trends: What Employees & Customers Think About Evolving COVID Safety Measures

It’s never been more important to stay tuned into employee and customer experience trends. In the past few years, businesses have had to pivot countless times in order to adapt the experiences they provide customers, employees, and the greater market. But keeping up with quickly evolving employee and customer expectations is easier said than done.

This is where InMoment’s newest report comes in. The “2022 Experience Trends Report: Four Trends That Are Changing Customer & Employee Experiences This Year” just dropped, and we wanted to give you a sneak peek! But before we dive into the data, we wanted to tell you more about how the report was created.

About the 2022 Experience Trends Report

InMoment’s Strategic Insights Team collected data from both consumers and employees of brands across North America from 11 different industries including retail, financial services, entertainment, grocery, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, restaurants, and more.

Previous InMoment Trends Reports have focused primarily on the customer experience (CX), but today, businesses have more experience stakeholders than ever before—including your employees and even the folks who may not have made a purchase, yet have an impression of your brand. 

This report encapsulates the perspectives of all of these experience stakeholders so you can use these trends to shape your strategies for customer experience, human resources, digital, marketing, and more!

Using InMoment’s Market Pulse™, the team asked strategic questions around three key topics: 

  • The future stakeholder journey: Customer and employee expectations for 2022; what are the new drivers of loyalty, retention, and acquisition?
  • The ‘new’ world of experience: Understanding how brands across industries need to adapt the digital and in-store experience.
  • Emerging internal and external personas: What will emerging customers and employees look like? How can brands meet their needs?

The report also includes insights from both indirect and inferred data to provide a holistic view of the state of customer and employee experiences. It also cross references data from previous iterations of InMoment’s previous annual trends reports.

So without further ado, let’s dive into the findings of the first of the four trends we revealed in the 2022 Experience Trends REport!

Trend #1: Experience Standards Are Changing… Again

A Word About COVID 

We know: everyone is tired of talking about the novel Coronavirus. But if we didn’t mention it, we’d be remiss, especially since mask mandates and other safety measures are still common. What we wanted to know is how experience stakeholders feel about the possible loosening of these protocols.

We found that 1 in 2 consumers and employees were comfortable with the possible reduction of COVID restrictions and precautions in the coming year.

2022 CX Trends: What customers and employees think about evolving COVID measures

And when we dove deeper, it became clear that both consumers and employees were excited at the prospect of COVID becoming less of a factor in their experiences, especially compared to a year ago.

Check out the differences in the comments from the beginning of 2021 versus the end of the  year:

2022 CX trends report shows adapting attitudes of employees and customers when it comes to COVID-19

How You Can Take Action

Now that you understand the changes that are coming to your experiences, we have a few actions you can take to adapt and succeed next year:

Adapt Quickly and Early

It seems like “agility” has been the MVP in the past few years. With ever-changing restrictions and safety measures, you’ve had to keep your finger on the pulse to meet customer and employee needs. But don’t stop now! With journeys evolving at a fast pace, you need to avoid a “set it and forget it” mentality. Make sure you are continuously coming back to your customer and employee feedback so you can keep up with their expectations.

Above All, Be Human

If we’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s that your customers and employees need you to truly care about their experiences, and even moreso, the role your brand plays in their lives. Customer response to options like “buy online and pickup in store” are great examples of this; brands understood that safety was the number one priority for customers and provided safe ways to engage. This kind of understanding is essential for moving forward.

Want to read more about the trends impacting the employee and customer in 2022? Click here to review more findings in our interactive report!

Digital Customer Experience: The Value of “Slamming” Your Assumptions

In the world of experience (especially when we’re talking about digital customer experience), we’re constantly making predictions or hypotheses about what the customer is expecting from their experience. And whether we’re making a change to the website, opening a new store, or debuting a new product, that prediction will either be right or wrong. 

When we’re wrong, or surprised, it can be easy to feel like we have failed. But in reality, these moments are really opportunities to slam our assumptions, dive into our feedback data, and improve experiences.

This is exactly what we discussed at a recent event with InMoment client Julie (JB) Booth, Head of UX/CX at Columbia Sportswear. In that presentation, JB walked us through how she and her team put their beliefs about in-person and digital customer experience expectations into perspective, use CX tools to dive in and test assumptions, and finally create a culture with an opportunity mindset.

In today’s post, however, we’ll walk through the steps of an exercise JB calls an “assumption slam,” so you can take this process back to your team and use it to test any assumptions of your own. Let’s get started!

How to “Slam” In-Person & Digital Customer Experience Assumptions

You know the old saying, “If you assume, you’re making an ‘a**’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.” And it’s true! If you are assuming you know exactly what the customer expects out of their experience, you are not truly serving them. Instead, you need to operate on the theory of falsification: to have a great hypothesis, you need to be willing to prove yourself wrong. And that’s where an “assumption slam” comes in handy.

Step #1: Gather Your Team & Select a Topic

The first step in an “assumption slam” is to select a specific topic. If you were to select a broad topic such as “the digital customer experience,” it would be hard to create a thorough list. That’s why JB suggests a more specific theme, like how a specific customer segment navigates your website. 

Step #2: Give Your Team Permission to Assume

Next, you need to give yourself permission to assume. Oftentimes, it can feel embarrassing to believe something based on instinct, without having looked into whether that belief is qualified by any data. That’s why it’s so important to let the team know there is no pressure to back up any claims they speak. This kind of behavior is most effective when modeled by team leaders; if the leader is willing to be vulnerable and talk about their assumptions, it gives the rest of the team permission to do the same.

Step #3: List Out Assumptions

Grab a white board and start listing out any and all assumptions! Don’t feel the need to be neat and organized yet—that will come later. Right now, you are primarily trying to get all the assumptions about the in-person or digital customer experience out in the open. You might even find that multiple team members have been operating under the same assumptions. 

Step #4: Map Out Assumptions by Risk & Testability

Now it’s time to get organized. Draw two intersecting axes, labeling one “risk” and the other “testability.” Once you’ve done that, as a team, map each assumption along the axes. This allows you to gauge priorities. Those assumptions labeled as “high risk, high testability” will be the first you want to dive into. 

Step #5: Dive into Assumptions with Impact

You’ve identified the “high risk, high testability” assumptions your team has about your focus subject, but what do you do now? Well, you get testing! Start with the assumption with the most risk and highest testability and develop a plan for how your team can test that assumption. Then you can work your way down your list until you no longer have assumptions—until you have concrete facts about the way your customers behave and what they expect from their in-person and digital customer experience.

Testing Your Assumptions—and Acting on the Results

Want to learn more about how you can take the results of your assumption slam and then take action to improve your experiences? You can watch the full webinar with helpful tips and tricks here! 

The Employee & Customer Experience Improvement Framework You Need in 2022

Every holiday season, we at team InMoment like to look back and reflect on what we’ve learned about employee and customer Experience Improvement, and then put those top learnings into a “cheat sheet” of sorts for our readers. And let’s be honest, that refresher is exactly what we all need after the holiday break.

So, are you looking for some inspiration to start your experience mindset off on the right foot in 2022? You’ve come to the right place!

The Continuous Improvement Framework

Your Path to Employee & Customer Experience Improvement Success

The key to a successful experience program is to move beyond merely monitoring employee and customer feedback. Instead, experience professionals need to focus on using that feedback to inform action plans. Customer narratives are a goldmine for companies looking to eradicate superficial and deep-seated problems. Their feedback allows you to identify issues, define remedies that positively impact the bottom line, and ultimately create more meaningful experiences.

Brands can achieve all of this by sticking to a simple, five-step framework that we call the Continuous Improvement Framework: define, listen, understand, transform, realize.

Continuous Improvement Framework for employee and customer Experience Improvement

Step #1: Design

When folks start up their employee and customer Experience Improvement programs, they’re often tempted to start listening right off the bat. However, it is absolutely essential that experience professionals design their programs before they launch listening posts. 

Here are some notes from InMoment expert Andrew Park on the subject:

“Listening to customers is obviously an integral part of any well-built experience program, but it isn’t enough on its own, especially when brands don’t truly know what they’re listening for. Listening broadly can be helpful, but far more useful is the capability (and the willingness) to listen purposefully.

There are mountains of data out there, and the only way for companies to own the moments that matter (when business, customer, and employee needs intersect) and thus achieve transformational success is to figure out how to listen purposefully. That’s why it’s important for brands to design their experience program’s goals, objectives, and other factors before turning the listening posts on.”

Want to read more from Andrew? Click here to access “Why ‘Just’ Listening to Your Customers Isn’t Enough”

Step #2: Listen

Now that you know what you’re listening for, you can start setting up your listening posts. And whenever most of us think about employee and customer listening, we tend to also think about surveys. But what are the best practices and philosophies successful listening programs follow?

Here’s Andrew Park again:

“Traditional forms of listening usually involve long-winded surveys that focus on single points within brand channels. These surveys may also take a spray-and-pray approach, asking about everything the brand cares about—but that customers may not. Finally, brands may also spend too much time focusing solely on solicited customer feedback, which results in fragmented data. Fortunately, brands can be more versatile when it comes to collecting feedback.”

Want a succinct look at how to achieve meaningful survey listening? Get the four steps you need to follow in “How to Achieve Meaningful Listening Through Surveys”

Steps #3: Understand 

You’ve collected data at strategic touchpoints using best practices. Now it’s time to leverage analytics to get to the actionable insights in your data. That’s when text analytics come into the picture. 

Text analytics are vital to your brand’s ability to understand your customer and employee experiences. You can have listening posts across every channel and at every point in the customer journey, but if you don’t have the best-possible text analytics solution in place, your ability to derive actionable intelligence from that data is essentially moot. And your ability to create transformational change across the organization and drive business growth? That’d be a non-starter without effective text analytics. Without them, all you have is a score, not any context or information on what actually went well or needs improvement.

It’s obvious that text analytics are vital, but in an industry full of jargon, claims about accuracy, and a huge amount of conflicting data, how can you tell what solution attributes will be the best for your company?

Learn everything you need to know about text analytics in this eBook.

Step #4: Transform

In our experience, we’ve found that the hardest step for programs to conquer is going from insights to action—and therefore, to transformation. This is also arguably the most important step on the path to employee and customer Experience Improvement. 

Transformation is an important step of the process not just because brands can actively improve themselves, but also because it’s what your customers expect is happening. Customers wouldn’t provide feedback if they didn’t expect brands to do something about it, so bear this in mind when working toward providing the best experience for them.

So how do you go from insights to transformation? Learn the process in this article.

Step #5: Realize

This is what you’ve been building toward all along: realizing employee and customer Experience Improvement. But what does true success look like? How do you prove it to your business stakeholders? 

Here are some thoughts from InMoment XI Strategist Jim Katzman:
“Realizing success occurs when you can evaluate how well your program is hitting goals and when you can quantify the results. Even if you don’t hit a homerun against all your goals, evaluating what you have achieved—and what you haven’t—still gives you a great idea of what exactly about your program might need tweaking.

There’s another, more profound way to evaluate your experience program’s impact on the business, and that’s through the lens of four economic pillars. The handy thing about our model is that it’s broad enough to be of use to any company regardless of size, brand, or industry while also giving experience practitioners a foundation from which to evaluate additional financial metrics.”

Want to learn about the four economic pillars and other ways to quantify program results? Read Jim’s full piece here.

A World of Possibilities

With the right mindset and a proven framework for success in place, the possibilities for your employee or customer Experience Improvement initiative are truly endless this next year.

With that, we’d like to say happy holidays from our team to yours!

InMoment’s Modern Market Research and Data Analytics Approach Ranks in Top 50

In the latest 2021 Insights Association Top 50 Market Research and Data Analytics report, InMoment ranks in the top 20 established industry reports and market research or market experience (MX) brands, alongside other powerhouse brands such as JD Power, Gartner Research, and Forrester Research Services. 

About InMoment’s Market Research and Data Analytics Approach

With the help of our industry-leading data and research science capabilities, we’re able to help brands go beyond collecting data to reveal actionable intelligence that leads to Experience Improvement (XI). Our “full-service professional CX approach designed to continuously improve the customer experience and deliver business outcomes to an impressive list of clients that includes 90 percent of the world’s automotive companies: 8 out of 10 of the top banks, nearly 20 percent of the top 50 retailers, 40 percent of the top hospitality companies, and 4 out of 5 of the top insurers.”

And this isn’t the first time we’ve been ranked on this list. In fact, InMoment has endured the test of time to be ranked on this report regularly over the past two decades. Here’s why: InMoment goes beyond a traditional approach to pursue what we call modern market research. So what’s the difference and what does it entail? Keep reading to find out.

The Difference Between Traditional & Modern Market Research

The difference between traditional market research and InMoment’s modern approach is that we focus on providing brands with access not only to insights, but to actionable intelligence that opens the door to concrete change. Too often traditional approaches fail to go beyond observing and reporting trends. How can brands expect experiences to improve if the research insights aren’t being used to create actual organizational progress?

How InMoment’s Approach Enables Action

So if part of modern market research is taking action, what does that look like? By focusing on stakeholder engagement and journey mapping, businesses can become more proactive about utilizing their research. Having buy in from your executive boardroom allows research teams to develop projects related to organizational goals and drive their insights into action. And understanding how the customer and employee journeys interrelate can guide that collaborative process into a more honed business strategy.

What Modern Market Research Strategy Looks Like

But what about the research strategy itself? Modern market research combines marketing science and research consultancy to make the most out of data. After journey mapping and capturing customer insights, InMoment supplements that data with financial, operational, employee, social media, etc. data. This new approach means reaching for multiple sources of insights and synthesizing that information to allow organizations to take practical action.

InMoment is dedicated to continuing to be a leader in this space because we believe these initiatives are essential to creating deeper experiences between our clients and their customers. 

Learn more about the InMoment XI difference and our market research and data analytics solutions here.

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