Reducing Customer Churn: Do You Need Prediction, Interpretation, or Both?

Customer behaviour prediction—including customer churn prediction—is at the top of our clients’ agenda—and for good reason. Who doesn’t want to be able to predict the future for their customers, employees, and business? 

What Is Predictive Modelling?

In the world of customer experience, predictive modelling means using data to predict the future needs, wants, and behaviours of your customers and employees. 

My name is Ton Luijten, and I’m a Customer Success Director for InMoment, as well as the Data Science Lead for the APAC region. I’ve come across many interesting case studies that show how predictive models can be really powerful when trying to sell products or services to your consumers. However, when it comes to actually improving the experiences of your customers, it becomes more complex. 

In order to take action and make the right improvements to your CX, it’s vital to understand why something will happen. If you do not have those actionable insights, you will know what or who to target, but you don’t know how best to target them. In this post, I’ll take you through why you need both prediction and interpretation to make the best business decisions.

What’s the Difference Between Prediction and Interpretation?

Let’s take a step back and talk about the difference between prediction and interpretation. In data science, there’s a trade off between prediction accuracy and model interpretability. We have very flexible approaches that tend to come with great prediction accuracy, we’ll call these “black box” models. We also have more restrictive approaches that lend itself to better interpretation, which we’ll call “white box” models. While at first glance it might be appealing to always go for black box models (i.e. the flexible approach with the higher prediction accuracy), you might want to opt for white box models, which leave room for greater interpretation.

To Decide Which Prediction Model, Identify Your Goal

The best model for your business will depend on what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re in a situation where you just want to be able to predict who will buy your products or services, then you don’t really have a need for interpretation, because you just need to target that audience with your ads. However, if you need to have a conversation with a customer that’s very likely to churn, it might be useful to understand why they’re going to leave, so you can have a more relevant conversation.

Bringing Employee and Customer Churn Prediction to Life

The most common use case for predictive models in CX and EX tends to be employee or customer churn, which means customers or employees are intending to leave your brand. Of course businesses are motivated to retain their customers and employees, as it takes time and money to replace both customers and talent. 

When we build predictive models for churn, I typically create at least two—one black box model, where I use a flexible approach that tends to achieve good prediction accuracy and a white box model that provides more insights. When we do this, it becomes very easy for clients to understand why it’s important to have interpretation alongside your prediction accuracy.

Recently we went through this exercise with one of our clients and the black box model provided a great fit, however the only output it provided was relative importance of the variables. In this case it showed tenure as the most important driver. Now this might not be a surprise for most of you, as tenure tends to be quite important when it comes to churn. It’s also not very useful and just throws up more questions; the key question would be at what tenure do my clients start to churn

Taking Action Post-Churn Prediction

The most important part of predicting churn is taking action on those insights. Churn prediction won’t give you all the answers to why customers or employees might be leaving, but it will direct you where to focus. You’ll need to identify the best way to avoid the churn—and there are right ways and wrong ways of actioning your churn insights. 

The wrong way of taking action might look like contacting your at-risk customers and explaining why they shouldn’t leave, or perhaps explain how easy it is to use our product or service. It’s also a bad idea to call at-risk customers to confirm they are leaving, then try and talk them out of it. 

These approaches are highly problematic and could cause customers or employees who weren’t actually going to leave to consider doing so. After all, some customers or employees are not looking to leave but are also not very engaged or loyal, so these types of actions could make them rethink the relationship.

The right way to take action on churn insights is to think broader and make a proactive plan. From the “white box” approach, we could actually see that there were high churn groups across the tenure range. At one end there was a group with very low tenure (less than 1 year) who never really used the service and on the other end we have clients who had been with the company for many years and had done many transactions, but they never bothered to use certain services, which made the service harder to use. 

Now this obviously gives us a much better idea of how to take action and reduce churn. For new customers, you might consider introducing incentive programs to start using the service when they sign up, while for customers with a longer tenure, you could intervene and make them aware of the services they could take advantage of to make their lives easier.

So, Do You Need Prediction, Interpretation, or Both?

When it comes to Experience Improvement, we need both prediction and interpretation. We want to be as accurate as possible when we predict churning customers or employees but we also want to understand why they’re leaving—and this is not just a one size fits all. 

Different segments might be leaving for different reasons and have different propensities to leave. Having insights into why customers or employees might be leaving gives you a better idea of what to do about it. Of course, this might lead to a slightly less accurate predictive model, but the trade off is worth it, because what good is an accurate prediction if you cannot take effective action on the back of it?Want to learn more about how you can reduce employee and customer churn with your experience program efforts? Check out this eBook, “How to Improve Customer Retention & Generate Revenue with Your CX Program”

What the Supply Chain Crisis Means for Your Customer Experience

The ongoing global supply chain woes have created massive headaches for both customers and the brands that serve them. One of the many products of lingering COVID uncertainty, the supply chain crisis has resulted in steeper prices, logistics chaos, and a markedly lower supply of everything from video game consoles to garden furniture. Today’s discussion covers three factors brands should be aware of as they consider supply chain issues within the context of customer experience (CX).

3 Supply Chain Crisis Factors to Consider for the Customer Experience

  1. Manufacturing
  2. Logistics
  3. Commodity Prices

Factor #1: Manufacturing

The manufacturing gap is not the only cause of the supply chain’s current state, but it’s certainly one of the most important. As I’m sure you remember during the early days of the pandemic, COVID lockdowns weren’t restricted to offices and restaurants—many manufacturing facilities were also closed due to a combination of quarantine guidelines and falling demand. Now, as the world reawakens after what is hopefully the worst of the pandemic, the manufacturing sector is struggling to match the speed of reemergent customer demand. As a result, many brands find themselves with insufficient stock to actually meet that demand, which poses an obvious threat to customer experience.

Factor #2: Logistics

We’re all hopeful that manufacturing will eventually catch back up to demand, but production capacity is, unfortunately, just one reason the supply chain is currently creaking. The second factor to consider here is logistics, and how both shipping queues and an enduring truck driver shortage are preventing what goods can be manufactured from actually reaching store shelves. Many ships find themselves idling in harbors the world over, which of course increases shipping prices, while the aforementioned driver shortage is an outgrowth of the mass-quitting phenomenon the media have dubbed The Great Recession. Both problems further complicate acquiring stock and providing the experiences that your customers expect.

Factor #3: Commodity Prices

This is a more subtle element than the previous two, but no less important to understanding the supply chain. As it turns out, the higher prices that coffee, sugar, wheat, and other staples command right now aren’t strictly a byproduct of shipping or manufacturing problems. Rather, the reason they’re so high is because, to put it simply, customers bought and cooked with them all while stuck at home! This phenomenon feeds directly into the higher prices you’ve no doubt noticed while grocery shopping, and, of course, brands’ ability to purchase and make use of those same staples for their customers.

How Your Brand Can Respond

The problems I’ve touched on represent significant obstacles for any CX programme. Almost every industry is somehow being affected by the supply chain crisis, and though we all hope that things will improve soon, it’s imperative for your brand to take meaningful action in the meantime. Taking action will help you not just make the best of this problem, but will also help protect your customer experience and to maintain the connective relationships you’ve worked so hard to create. This is what the supply chain crisis means for your brand: action is more important now than ever before.

Click here to read my full-length point of view document on how best to take action against supply chain problems. I go into each of the issues I touched on here (and The Great Resignation) in more detail, followed by solutions that will allow you to continue creating powerful experiences and achieving meaningful change even in these uncertain times.

4 Reads That Will Help You Prove CX ROI

At the end of the day, investing in customer experience (CX) is about more than just the score. Sure, it’s great to see a boost in CX metrics like NPS, CSAT, and CES, but what really drives impact? Creating tangible value for your business—and that means proving that sometimes elusive CX ROI. 

Historically, CX practitioners have struggled to assign a dollar amount to the value of their programs. And if that sounds familiar to you, that’s okay! Throughout our decades of experience helping the world’s top brands craft memorable, business-powering Experience Improvement (XI) programs, We like to call them the four economic pillars of customer experience (or the four pillars of CX ROI for short).

Curious about the pillars and how they support a foundation of bottom-line value? Look no further! We’ve packed this blog with information on each pillar, examples of programs who have found success in that area, and assets you can leverage to mirror that success in your own program. Let’s dive in!

Four Ways to Prove CX ROI (and Assets That Show You How)

  1. Customer Acquisition
  2. Customer Retention
  3. Cross-sell & Upsell
  4. Cost Reduction

#1: Customer Acquisition

A well-built voice of customer (VoC) program enables organizations to anticipate what new customers are seeking in a brand and thus be ahead of the curve. 

For example, a major athletic company sought to capitalize on acquisitions by optimizing its surveys to find new types of customers. By targeting respondents between the ages of 18 and 35 with specific questions, the company was able to understand this demographic and expand to new cities and demographics.The practitioners who ran this initiative were able to prove CX ROI by tracking the new customer acquisition, increases in unique customers, and market share growth that it generated.

In “Four Customer Experience Tools That Fuel Your Customer Acquisition Strategy,” we highlight four CX solutions you can add to your tool box that will help you bring new customers through your doors. They include Key Driver Analysis, Competitive Benchmarking, Microsurveys, and Multimedia Feedback. You can read the full piece here!

#2: Customer Retention

Organizations should never underestimate the power of service recovery—70 percent of customers who have a situation resolved in their favor will return to a brand, while a 10 percent increase in customer retention can grow a company’s value by 30 percent. Truly customer-centric companies can easily reach and maintain these percentages.

For example, America’s largest cable and home internet provider leverages VoC technology in their regional customer care centers (and are able to prove millions in CX ROI). They discovered that 3% of all respondents requested callbacks, meaning the brand had 1,000 customer recovery opportunities a month (or a whopping 12,000 per year). By combining this insight with customer lifetime value, the company was able to identify $23 million in recoverable revenue—directly resulting from customer retention! 

Our eBook, “How to Improve Customer Retention & Generate Revenue with Your CX Program” is an all inclusive guide to everything you need to know to make your program a customer-keeping machine. Read it here!

#3: Cross-sell and Upsell

Given that it costs 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, brands stand to gain a lot from finding new cross-selling and upselling opportunities.

Organizations can leverage CX listening tools to identify what about a brand spurs trust and loyalty from its customers and take action to make those offerings even stronger. After all, nearly 50 percent of customers are willing to spend anywhere from 11 to 50 percent more with a brand they feel they can trust.

An example of this is a large cafe group that was able to capture feedback from its existing customer base, analyze their sentiments, and make fundamental menu changes accordingly. As a result, the cafe group saw a noticeable revenue bump that it was able to link directly to their program insights and subsequent menu changes.

Curious how your CX program can help you identify opportunities for cross-sell and upsell? Check out our white paper, “Understand and Predict Your Customers’ Needs with Customer Journey Analytics,” you’ll learn more about understanding your customer journey, identifying what matters most to your customers, predicting customer concerns and behaviors, and how that information helps you to drive business growth. Get your copy here!

#4: Cost Reduction 

Organizations can use CX feedback and employee feedback to both save money within operations and to simplify their provided experience. Are there ineffective processes that are costing more than they’re worth? Eliminating such costs can save companies time, resources, and revenue. (After all, training one employee can cost an average of almost $1,100!)

A top-tier mattress retailer used CX tools to install an exit survey for departing employees, giving them a greater understanding of employee sentiment. After implementing the necessary changes to reduce turnover and new hire training costs, the company was able to establish a clear link between its CX strategy and the ROI it helped to generate.
This infographic, “3 Ways Your CX Program Can Save You Money” lays out three areas where you can cut costs, lower cost to serve, and still deliver the same great experiences. You can access it here!

The Difference Between Customer Interactions and Customer Experiences

Recently, a client asked me what we at InMoment thought defines a “customer interaction,” as there had been some debate on the subject within his team. I pondered the subject and brought it back to my colleagues. Quickly, we were asking ourselves not only about the characteristics of an interaction, but beyond that, what falls under the larger umbrella of customer experience? Is there a difference? Today, we’ll be diving deeper into these questions.

What Is a Customer Interaction?

Webster’s defines “interaction” as:

  • Mutual or reciprocal action or influence
  • To act upon one another

From this definition, we see clearly that two or more parties are required for an interaction; for example, a company or brand and a prospect or customer.  

What Is a Customer Experience?

Harley Manning, VP, Research Director at Forrester, once defined customer experience as: How customers perceive their interactions with your company.  He went on to define an interaction as when you and your customers have a two-way exchange.1

Neither Here, Nor There

So what does that mean when a prospect or customer browses your website but does not make a purchase? Or a customer clicks a link in your brand’s email, but does not go any further? According to the definitions above, those are not interactions.  But there are a lot of people in companies working very hard to get these actions to happen (click through rate and time on website/app are very common marketing and ecommerce metrics).  

If they are not interactions, what are they? I would classify them as engagements.  A customer has engaged with your brand, but there was no interaction, because it was only unilateral. Thus, not all engagements are interactions.

And here is where it gets interesting.  If the examples listed above are not interactions, but engagements, are they considered part of your customer experience? You better believe it.  

The Intersection Between Customer Engagements and Customer Experiences

Customer experience is generally held to be the sum of all interactions someone has with your brand and the resulting feelings they have about your brand. But are experiences limited to interactions or engagements? Do customers have to interact with your people, products, services, or digital properties for their engagement to fall under customer experience?  

Today, a company’s policies regarding diversity and inclusion, for example, or the politics, causes, and charities they choose to support have an impact on people’s feelings about the brand. I would argue that these are part of the customer experience as well.  There are prospects out there that will choose to never do business with your company based on these issues and other customers who become more loyal for the same reasons.

Returning to the Question

To return to the original question, I would like to suggest that customer interactions and customer experience are concentric circles. An interaction is a subset of engagement, which in turn is a subset of experience.

Customer Experience versus Customer Engagement vs customer Interactions

And companies have to be attentive to all of the ways customers experience their brands, products, and services. Whether or not an engagement ever advances to the level of interaction is an integral piece of the CX puzzle.

Want to hear more from Eric about customer interactions, engagements, and experiences? Stay tuned for the next post in the series!

How to Humanize Customer Experience & Drive Meaningful Customer Relationships

There’s a problem with how many businesses view customer experience (CX) data: human beings cannot (and should not) be distilled down to numbers. For many years, experience programs have hailed numbers as a sort of holy grail, but the reality is that numbers are no substitute for genuine human connection.

None of this is to say that metrics aren’t important, but companies should remember that they can only reveal so much about why customers may be experiencing an issue or even why they remain loyal to the brand. With that in mind, we’re going to dive into a few things to bear in mind while creating more human and more connective customer relationships!

Numbers Alone Can’t Tell a Story

Before we get into how to humanize and improve customer experiences, we first need to understand why structured data can’t give us all the answers. For instance, it’s common to send out Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT/OSAT), or Customer Effort Score (CES) surveys after a customer interacts with a brand, but what do these scores actually tell us? A higher ease-of-use score, for example, doesn’t necessarily mean you made the customer happier or that you improved that customer relationship. You can speculate about numbers, but they don’t reveal the exact, organic reason why customers feel one way or another.

So, how can companies compensate for this lack of context? The answer lies in unstructured data and the Experience Improvement (XI) solutions that can turn it into actionable intelligence. That actionable intelligence, in turn, gives brands the chance to create a more organic, more connective, and more human customer experience.

How to Humanize and Improve Customer Experiences

Only when a business listens to human feedback can it respond with a more human customer experience. This means tapping into the voice of the customer by allowing customers to express feedback in their own words. 

Consider platforms like Instagram, Yelp, and YouTube. People can use these platforms to freely (and frankly) express themselves in a way that numbers cannot allow. The result is a form of unstructured feedback that your brand can not only use to trace the root causes of experience breakages, but also to empathize with your customers.

After accumulating enough unstructured data, the next step is to analyze and act on what you’ve learned. However, that’s easier said than done, especially if your CX resources are limited. That’s why it’s important to desilo data and share customer intelligence with your entire company. Then, you can get multiple departments to collaborate and act on their role in humanizing the customer experience (this approach also creates a single, holistic view of the customer for your organization).

If your brand can offer experiences that are far more human, that’s far more valuable than achieving any high metric score. And it goes hand in hand with customer loyalty. When a customer feels empathized with and known as a person, that customer will return to your brand—even if there’s a lot of competition—because their relationship with you has transcended mere transactions. This is the heart of Experience Improvement—answering customers’ search for meaning while strengthening both your bottom line and your marketplace leadership!
To learn more about what makes doing business so dehumanizing and why brands need to challenge themselves to humanize and improve customer experiences, watch this video!

InMoment Acquires Lexalytics: Leader and Pioneer of Structured and Unstructured Data

Today, we announced that Lexalytics is joining InMoment. As the leader in Experience Improvement (XI) this is another step in our continued effort to bring the best and the brightest in technology and expertise to our customers. 

Wondering Who Lexalytics Is? 

Since 2003, Lexalytics has been the leader and pioneer in structured and unstructured analytics —translating text into profitable decisions. Their expertise focuses on delivering natural language processing (NLP), and machine-learning (ML) solutions for the world’s most customer-centric brands.

Why Lexalytics? 

Well, metrics can be limited in their actionability, and the world is moving increasingly beyond using just structured surveys into conversations and rich forms of customer, employee and market experience data. The complexity of doing this at scale, in multiple languages across a variety of data forms (short, long) with velocity is more important today than ever before. 

Superior text and unstructured analytics is core to the future of feedback. Together we can offer our customers even more in-depth unstructured analytics that includes the ability to handle social, call center, chat logs, reviews, and other unstructured data, more advanced machine learning models with context provided by industry, and the ability to deploy text analytics on premise for sensitive data. 

What Does This Mean to Our Customers?

It means we’re continually striving to bring world-class technology and expertise together to enhance the experiences that impact our customers’ customers and positively impact their business outcomes. 

We thank our customers, partners, and our team for their support and for choosing us for their experience improvement journey.  

Together, we will make 2021 and beyond the year of exceptional experiences. 

Read more about this exciting news here

3 Ways Financial Services Customers Are Changing—and How Brands Should Adapt

Technology factors into customers’ changing wants and needs across many industries—especially in the financial services (finserv) world. We’ve noticed a lot of big changes in this sector just in the last few years, which means that banks like yours need to keep up in ways that are meaningful to your customers. Customer experience (CX) programs are a big help here; so too is human expertise that can guide your program goals. With that expertise in mind, here are three major ways we’re noticing how financial services customers are changing and why it matters!

3 Ways Financial Services Customers Are Changing

  • Key #1: Accept the Difficulty of Long-Term Client Maturity
  • Key #2: Finance as A Lifestyle Choice
  • Key #3: The Search for Meaning and Shared Values

Key #1: Accept the Difficulty of Long-Term Client Maturity

One of the biggest changes traditional banks are seeing is that it’s suddenly much harder to mature customers as long-term financial clients. There are two causes at play here: the first is that digitally savvy customers are constantly comparing your bank to the competition. The internet has made it easy to constantly compare brands, which is why customers may up and leave your attempts at long-term client relationships the minute they feel another bank is better.

The other factor, of course, is the rise of small but incredibly agile challenger institutions, which is the bucket that things like financial apps fall into. These challenger brands benefit from being able to offer customers quick, one-stop financial products that many larger banks simply haven’t developed yet, which has changed customers’ perceptions of what a financial product or service should be. The first step to staying ahead of this curve is to accept this paradigm shift.

Key #2: Finance as a Lifestyle Choice

Customers enjoy financial apps for their speed and lower prices, but there’s another element that these challenger brands have tapped into: the idea of specific financial lifestyles. A lot of larger, older banks see selling financial products as just that: a sale. However, the game has changed. More customers than ever before see financial products in a lifestyle sense, not just a monetary one. They want something that speaks specifically to their lifestyle identity, which means that banks must provide.

Turn to your CX program to see what customers are saying about your bank within this context. Understand what they find valuable about the products and services they provide, then think of ways to make your offering more personable. Capital One, for example, leveraged this process to create its novel Capital One Cafes, having learned that this was a feature that would make their brand more personable. Figuring out how to make your own brand more personable will make customers see you as a lifestyle institution, not ‘just’ a banking one.

Key #3: The Search for Meaning and Shared Values

We’ve discussed how finserv customers are constantly looking for the perfect bank, as well as how brands across the financial world must constantly strive to make themselves personable to those customers. This idea of a constantly perfect fit taps into something more fundamental than competing on price or turning your bank into a cafe: the notion of Experience Improvement (XI) and its vital importance to building mutually successful relationships with customers.

The truth is that, even though customers are much harder to retain than they used to be, they’re still looking for the brand whom they feel knows them as people. Couple that with the fact that these smaller challenger brands tend to focus much more on individual transactions than long-term relationships, and the result is an opportunity for larger banks to compete on customers’ search for meaning. This means creating a CX program tied to specific financial goals, uniting customer data from across your organization, and executing on that intel in a way customers will appreciate. This will allow you to build meaningful relationships in a way that challenger apps cannot while retaining and strengthening your book of business.

Click here to learn more about how the finserv customer has changed and what your bank can do to not just stay ahead, but thrive in this digital age. Senior Vice President Ashley Goode takes a magnifying glass to all the changes we’ve seen in recent years and how your brand can succeed with Experience Improvement!

Why You Haven’t Been Able to Take Action on CX Feedback

One of the questions I am often asked by organizations is, “how do other companies use customer feedback?” Fortunately, the answer to that question is simple: most organizations use customer feedback to create PowerPoint reports or Excel spreadsheets to track performance. Then, they might tie results to compensation or be used to coach front-line employees. These are all good uses of customer feedback, but in many cases, they lead to chasing a score versus driving organizational change.  The real question, then, should be, “how do other companies take action on CX feedback?” 

The difference between “use” and “act” is subtle, but important. Taking action on customer feedback is not necessarily a more complex question to answer, but because there are many factors at play that need to be aligned to sustain action, it is more difficult to bring action to life.  In my twenty-plus years in the CX consulting industry, I’ve found the organizations that are best at taking action with customer feedback have five things in common.

5 Keys You Need to Take Action on CX Feedback  

Key #1: Senior Level Support  

One of the challenges many organizations face is gaining the support and influence to allocate both human and capital resources toward being customer-focused and action-oriented.  Thus, the critical foundation for all successful CX programs is a senior-level sponsor who embraces customer feedback and drives a customer-focused culture throughout their team.  

The role of a senior-level sponsor is most successful when they do more than just kick off the initiative and serve as a figurehead, but instead are an active participant in the process and ensure resources are allocated accordingly. When there are conflicts of interest, it is the senior level sponsor that should redirect focus toward the solutions that best align to the customer-focused strategies and, subsequently, provide sufficient firepower to allow people to maintain that focus.

Key #2: Cross-Functional Engagement

Some organizations, I find, build teams to drive action, but those teams are entirely composed of people from a single area—like marketing or corporate strategy.  Truly successful organizations will build their teams to include individuals from customer channels, product lines, leadership, technology, and the front-line.  

This cross-functional view will provide insights into how each group operates and, thus, how they can work together to push the organization’s customer-focused initiatives.  Additionally, a cross-functional team reduces the perception that any initiative is “corporate driven” and instead helps build advocates and spokespeople for the initiative across the organization.  

Key #3: Design with the End in Mind  

Consider the projects you may be currently involved with. Do you have a clear line of sight to who uses the information, how, and why?  How many times have you delivered a report or feedback to a mass email list, not knowing if people are actually looking at what you’ve produced?

The fact of the matter is that anyone can collect customer feedback, but collecting the right customer feedback is what best-in-class organizations do. Organizations who do not know their end goal, what hypotheses they are trying to test, who is going to use the information, or how they intend to measure the success or failure will have a difficult time gathering the input to drive action within an organization.  

“Designing with the end in mind” is about more than just determining how best to capture customer feedback. You also need to consider how you are going to get the feedback out to the organization. As part of the initial program design, organizations also need to think through how to get employees the right information in a timely manner.  This is where customer feedback dashboards—customized for each type of employee—can create transparency for how they are personally performing, as well as how the organization is doing against key metrics. If people do not know where they and the organization stand against goals, they do not know if what they are doing is driving the right outcomes or if they need to course correct.

Key #4: Hold People Accountable

 In a recent InMoment poll, we learned that 72 percent of CX professionals do not feel their programs are very successful at driving business outcomes. I am not surprised by this finding based on the several Action Planning sessions I have facilitated with organizations to help drill down into specific problem areas and identify strategies to address those problems.  

Often during these sessions, the energy level and intentions to take action are very high amongst cross-functional team members.  However, once people go back to their day jobs, the action steps and strategies identified frequently fall to the wayside.  

Successful organizations will not only encourage Action Planning sessions, but also hold people accountable for following through.  Typically, this is in the form of weekly check-ins with committee members and monthly and/or quarterly updates with senior leadership to keep the momentum moving forward and to change direction as needed.

Key #5: An ROI Story

Identifying what drives the customer experience most will help point an organization in the right direction. Action Planning can help identify the potential next steps, but management will want to know the ROI of focusing on a particular action item. This is not new, but the challenge is often the quality and accuracy of the customer information available within an organization’s database. Unfortunately, this is usually where the process breaks down because organizations will find themselves paralyzed in discussions about the accuracy of the available information.

In my experience, it is virtually impossible to develop an ROI prediction that is 100 percent accurate. Let’s imagine for a moment your database is 100 percent accurate (even though you and I know it’s not). Your ROI model might have the right inputs, but how are you going to control for what your competitors do, fluctuations in the stock market, the latest news, etc.? Creating an ROI story will require you to make some concessions and accept that your ROI calculation will never be perfect.  

I recommend organizations identify which internal metrics they feel most confident in and use those to create an ROI story. This can be done in a simple manner such as taking the average customer value and multiplying it by the number of customers who are at-risk to determine the potential loss should they actually leave. Or a more complex statistical linkage analysis can be developed that factors in multiple variables and data sources to provide more confidence in the ROI calculation. The former may take an hour or so of time, while the latter a few weeks. Either approach will give you and management some indication of the potential impact of a particular action—and all things considered, it is the relative magnitude of this impact that is most important.

Not as Easy as You Might Think

To sum it up, taking action on customer feedback is something all organizations should strive for, but it’s not as easy to do as some may think. While the factors above may seem intuitive, only the best-in-class organizations actually put these factors into practice. If you are not one of these organizations, I encourage you to revisit your CX program so that you can help your organization move closer to actually take action on your CX feedback.  

Want to learn more about how you can take action today to improve your customer experience (and your bottom line)?  Check out this eBook, detailing six specific steps you can take now to gain some CX wins!

New RG 271 Regulations Are Coming to the Australian Financial Services Industry: Is Your Customer Experience Program Ready?

The 5th of October of this year marks an important deadline for the financial services industry: there are new Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) standards and guidelines outlined in Australia’s RG 271. And for many companies, this is proving to be a difficult nut to crack. A lot of customer experience (CX) teams are being asked by the business to solve new problems for the first time. This marks one of the first times that many elements that make up a holistic CX program will dictate a financial services firm’s adherence to a legally enforceable regulatory requirement.  

There are two ways to look at this—you can take on the new regulations as a difficult inconvenience, or instead, there’s an opportunity for CX and insights initiatives to demonstrate ROI and start adding significantly more value to the wider business. Here at InMoment, we would advocate strongly for CX and Insights teams to see this as an opportunity.

RG165 Is Out and RG271 Is In. What’s Changing? 

  • The definition of ‘complaint’ now incorporates dissatisfaction expressed on social media. “It is the complainant’s expression of dissatisfaction (that meets the definition of ‘complaint’ in RG 271.27) that triggers a firm’s obligation to deal with the matter according to our IDR requirements, not the referral of a complaint to a specialist complaints or IDR team.” 
  • There is a reduction in deadlines for complaints, including superannuation complaints. Staffing numbers must be sufficient to deal with complaints in a fair and effective manner within maximum IDR timeframes. This includes resourcing the IDR function to deal with intermittent spikes in complaint volumes.”
  • There is updated guidance on the identification and management of systemic issues, including the role which the boards and the front line staff have to play in the process.  “Financial firms must also have robust systems in place to ensure that possible systemic issues are investigated, followed up and reported on.”  “Firms should analyse complaint data regularly so that they can: (a) monitor the performance of the IDR process; (b) identify possible systemic issues and areas where product or service delivery improvements are required;”

A key takeaway for CX and Insights teams—and what makes this such a difficult regulation to adhere to—is the blurring of the lines between unsolicited/unstructured feedback and a traditional complaint. Likewise the traditional strategic “outer loop” has now become a compliance requirement.

So how can CX and insights teams become compliance heroes? Here are three ideas for complying with new regulations while elevating your program at the same time:

Tip #1: Use Text Analytics to Uncover Implied Dissatisfaction

Implied dissatisfaction is an incredibly hard thing to identify, but is a key component of RG 271 compliance. Explicit dissatisfaction is as easy as someone giving you a low NPS score in your opening question. However, uncovering the true implied meaning in their responses requires a high level of technological sophistication. This is especially true at scale, where this process must be automated. There are several approaches to text analytics that can start to provide this insight, and they work in roughly the same way. That is, all verbatim (unstructured written or transcribed communication) is run through an analytics engine, and keywords and phrases that are used in the text then categorise the communication according to a predetermined set of rules (knowledge-based and/or machine-learned). In addition to determining categories, most text analytics solutions will also determine the sentiment associated with each category. Also, some advanced text analytics solutions will also determine what (if any) emotions are being expressed.

To make that distinction, we first need to define the difference between sentiment and emotion. 

  • Sentiment is essentially a 3 point score (positive, negative, and neutral (and/or mixed which indicates that both positive and negative sentiment are present)). 
  • Emotion, on the other hand, is a deeper expression of feeling that goes beyond simple positive/negative. 

At InMoment, we have a team of linguists and behavioural scientists who currently map verbatim into 14 different emotions, and this keeps growing. Just as multiple categories and sentiments can be expressed in a single comment, so, too, can multiple emotions. The difference between sentiment and emotion is important. Take for example the following phrase:

“As a customer we have received an abysmal level of service. On top of that the system is so complicated that it requires lots of effort to understand it and make sure I have not been invoiced incorrectly. Thankfully the person who helped me was very good, he had all the answers and my problem was sorted out quickly and professionally”

There is both positive and negative sentiment in this statement, and sentiment analysis would likely place this in a neutral/mixed basket overall, with negative sentiment associated with service and system, and positive sentiment associated with staff and problem resolution. However, if you look at the emotions, the first section expresses Anger, Confusion, and Dissatisfaction. The second part—although expressing positive sentiment about the staff and the problem resolution—does not really express any emotion.

Although sentiment analysis may pick up some implied satisfaction/dissatisfaction, customers are not binary, especially when ranting on social media. Human communication is significantly more complicated than a simple “positive, negative, or neutral,” and having emotional analysis can identify more complex customer expressions. 

Tip #2: Leverage Case Management to Manage IDR Complaints

Most financial services firms have both a complaint management system and a case management program running simultaneously. Even complaints management and customer advocacy often sit in different business units according to the team responding to detractors. 

RG 271, however,  has removed the distinction between the feedback and complaints. Where does “feedback” end and a “complaint” start?  We would encourage any organisation with a comprehensive case management system to look at combining the two functions and using the case management capability to help drive efficient resolution. The goal is to meet the reduced timeframes whilst trying not to increase the cost of management.

In order to manage the challenge, you need to be able to strategically disaggregate the responses. If you already know the problem the customer has, you can route their case to the right person automatically, and you can give your staff insight into the customer’s complaint straight away. This will allow you to streamline your processes and increase your ability to respond effectively and efficiently at speed.

However, most organisations’ complaints systems do not have the ability to pinpoint the drivers behind customer sentiment to understand what the root cause of the problem is. But many CX programs have the ability to run layers of text analytics at speed in order to provide immediate and accurate routing of cases.Likewise, a good case management system has many layers of rules in a hierarchy that automatically control the case routing to ensure that there is no overloading or double handling.  

Many communications can also be automated by leveraging a robust case management system. By reducing manual handling as much as possible, you increase the capacity of your team to deliver on the requirements of RG 271. More importantly, it allows you to deliver a better service to your customers.

Tip #3: Use Text Analytics to Uncover Systemic Issues

Text analytics is the tool of choice for deriving meaning from unstructured text. Most commonly, this involves categorising words and phrases to uncover key themes and trends in verbatim at scale. Now, not all text analytics is created equally and to be effective you need a high degree of accuracy, combined with other statistical analysis tools such as correlation analysis. 

If your organisation has a text analytics capability, it is likely that it exists within your CX and insights initiatives, and not the complaints management function (where one-to-one recovery is more of the focus).  Collating feedback data, complaints data, other unstructured data (social, webchat, etc.), and operational/behavioural data in one place, then applying text analytics to that data is the most efficient and effective way to uncover key systemic issues that are causing complaints.

The benefit to this approach is not just compliance to RG 271, but also is a fantastic way to identify fracture points, reduce cost to serve, and reduce churn, whilst maintaining compliance.

As an example, one of our health insurance clients tasked their CX team to address a critical pain point for customers—excessive contact centre wait times. The team had to figure out a way to reduce failure demand (avoidable call volume) rather than increasing available staff. 

To determine what was driving the greatest volume of avoidable calls, the client reviewed multiple data sets including call reason codes, agent call notes, NPS survey results, complaints data, agent feedback, and qualitative research. No individual data source delivered sufficient levels of insight into the underlying challenges, nor were they providing adequate coverage across all the calls they were receiving.

As a result, the client leveraged Natural Language Processing (NLP) powered text analytics, which was applied to 12 months worth of agent call notes. The subsequent analysis generated a custom text analytics category set incorporating 184 unique categories. Tens of thousands of call notes were then categorised at a phrase level with sentiment also assigned. Then each comment was married up to detailed operational data to enrich the analysis.

By addressing the pain points surfaced through the failure demand analysis, the client was able to reduce 20% of total calls coming into the call centre. The financial impact was very significant, saving the company millions of dollars in operating costs and ensuring that the business did not have to continue expanding its contact centre workforce in line with overall business growth. All of this without sending out a single survey!

Here at InMoment we strongly encourage the CX and insights teams to take ownership of this element of RG 271 compliance, as it is in alignment with one of the core capabilities that should already be embedded in their initiatives. Compliance also results in significant business value and further demonstrates the value of customer experience across the business.

Wrapping Up 

At a time when many organisations are struggling to demonstrate the value of customer experience, RG 271 has made a robust inner loop and outer loop a compulsory requirement. As long as CX and insights teams can keep control of these processes and continue to demonstrate compliance as well as business impact, then this is a real opportunity to move up the value chain.

Want to learn more from the experts at InMoment? Check out our InMoment Resources Page, which is packed with industry thought leadership, best practices, and more!

*All quotations are from this article.

How Business Leaders Can Navigate Staffing Challenges in a Post-COVID World

COVID vaccines have finally arrived after a year of anxiety and uncertainty, which means that businesses can begin to seriously think about the post-COVID employee landscape. Of course, the reality is that that landscape is already here, and it brought with it a host of challenging changes. Today’s conversation provides a quick rundown of staffing challenges and other employee related obstacles, as well as what brands can do to overcome them.

Why Many Employees Aren’t Returning

One of the biggest trends we’ve seen these last few weeks is employees’ seeming reluctance to return to pre-COVID careers. This is especially true for verticals whose turnover rates were high even before COVID, like hospitality and retail. Turning to our experts, we have discovered a few reasons for this reluctance to return.

First, from what we’ve been seeing and hearing, a lot of employees who were laid off at the start of the pandemic have spent the last year cultivating side gigs into sustainable (and profitable) sources of income. These side hustles are more personally rewarding for these folks than their old jobs, which is why they’re hesitating to come back even if a conventional position offers more income and benefits.

Second, a lot of employees across many industries have become accustomed to the COVID-era work/life balance, a phenomenon that one of our experts calls “time soup.” In other words, employees have gotten used to work and home life responsibilities mixing together; a lifestyle that is not so easily untangled. Thus, many employees are only seeking out companies whose positions allow that flexibility, a paradigm shift that many employers are struggling to contend with. 

It’s also important to note that some employees are reluctant to go out into the world because they or members of their family are not vaccinated. Though numbers are lower in the US, we aren’t quite out of the woods according to the CDC (or globally for that matter).

How Brands Can Respond to Staffing Challenges

Many organizations are having a hard time pivoting to this new employee reality, especially in industries where working from home is difficult or flat-out impossible. However, the post-COVID employee landscape is not a loss for brands; it’s a new set of conditions. Adapting to change isn’t easy, but we have a few ideas for tackling this challenge and being able to hire the talent you need to deliver meaningful experiences.

The first and most immediate thing brands can do here is to survey their employees. Conventional wisdom says to survey everyone, but we believe that this problem is best addressed by surveying new hires who’ve been with your organization 90 days or less. Ask your newer employees not just the usual questions, like how things are going so far, but what drove them to your brand so recently. If they’ve joined you as COVID is subsiding, that means your brand must be doing something correctly to attract new employees, right?

Once you have that intel handy, apply it to your hiring and messaging as soon as possible. Identifying your newer employees’ key drivers and values will give you a good idea of who else to look out for as you regrow your workforce. This tactic will also help you hone in on employees who will be great fits for your brand. Hiring the right people and delivering on the values that encouraged them to apply to your organization is a true win-win.

Another factor that brands should bear in mind about this new workplace reality is how much we’ve learned about remote work; specifically, that more jobs can be performed from afar than anyone thought before COVID. Your organization can take advantage here by hiring the best talent wherever they’re located. Sure, it’s nice when people can get together in person, but after the last year, it’s become clear that some teams can function effectively even when they’re entire time zones apart.

The Customer Element

If you’re reading this, it’s probably because the current staffing and labor issues we’re seeing are having an impact on your brand and, ultimately, its customer experience (CX). Fewer employees means that organizations are stretched thinner, which unfortunately increases the chance that customers will have longer wait times or other adverse interactions with your brand. We believe that time and additional research will yield other tools you can use to bridge this employment gap—until then, though, short-term methods like our survey suggestion are the best means of mitigating this issue.

The post-COVID employment landscape is challenging, and adjusting to it is no small task. But the brands that arm themselves with insights and feedback from newer employees will be better-positioned to not only adjust to this new world, but also to find the best talent for their organization and thus provide Experience Improvement (XI). 

In the meantime, you can be sure we’ll continue to monitor these changes and provide brands like yours with the best employee experience (EX) advice out there. Follow the InMoment XI Blog to stay connected and to take this post-COVID journey with us!

4 Success Stories from ROI-Focused CX Programs

It’s easy to get hung up in the metrics when it comes to customer experience (CX). In fact, terms like Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Effort Score (CES), and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) have become synonymous with traditional CX initiatives. But in this modern era, focusing on the score isn’t enough to move the needle. Today, the initiatives that are most successful are those ROI-focused CX programs that zero in on business outcomes. 

At InMoment, that is exactly the kind of program that we help our clients to design. In fact, in the recent report, The Forrester Wave: Customer Feedback Management Platforms, Q2 2021, our clients praised us for our “partnership and focus on delivering outcomes…[and] gave InMoment exceptionally high marks for enabling the ability to show the business impact and ROI of CX.” 

This is our mission, to help our clients improve experiences at the intersection of value—where customer, employee, and business needs come together. Ultimately, our clients are able to move the needle and go beyond managing their experience to actually improving it. With the right intelligence, businesses can empower the right people to take transformative, informed action in the most effective ways and drive value across four key areas: acquisition, retention, growth, and cost reduction. In other words, better results for the business and better  experiences for their customers and employees.

In today’s blog, we’ll walk you through four success stories from our clients who are moving the needle for their business. Let’s take a look!

Success Story #1: America’s Largest Cable and Home Internet Provider 

In an attempt to limit customer churn, a telecom giant partnered with InMoment to identify at-risk customers and immediately reach out to understand the issue and retain their business. The company installed InMoment’s customer listening technology within several of its regional customer care centers to enable immediate feedback following each interaction. 

Customers who give negative responses are asked if they would like to speak with a manager regarding their issues. Using real-time alerting, managers are notified of customer callback requests immediately. Three percent of all respondents request a callback, totaling 1,000 customer recovery opportunities each month (12,000 per year)

With the average cost of a triple-play package (phone, cable, Internet) being $160 per month, the average annual value of each customer is $1,920. Using this formula, InMoment presented the company with the opportunity to recover $23 million in annual revenue by implementing a streamlined process for identifying and rescuing dissatisfied customers.

Success Story #2: North American Fast Casual Giant

A fast-casual restaurant brand that has become a household name with it’s unique blend of quick, convenient service and mouth-watering menu items has seen tremendous success with it’s CX initiative. Since partnering with InMoment to get a better understanding of their experience and where they can take effective action to improve it, their OSAT score has increased by 34%. Additionally, the brand saw 4% revenue growth in just one year after implementing their new solution!

Success Story #3: Tesco

Tesco—a mammoth multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer—knows its customers want more than just a mundane, transactional grocery shopping experience. So it works to create a unique shopping experience for its customers by encouraging its 330,000 employees across the UK to give a little bit extra through a programme called, Every Little Helps. With this mantra at the core of the company’s mission, Tesco has grown to become the fifth largest retailer in the world with £48 billion in annual revenue and 7,300 locations in 10 countries.

Success Story #4: TELUS

Leading the telecommunications industry, TELUS is Canada’s fastest growing telecommunications company with more than 13.1 million customer connections. Whether it be personal, business, health, or security oriented, TELUS offers a full scale of innovative telecommunication products and services. To continuously improve their customer experiences, the brand partners with InMoment and focuses on and ROI driven strategy.

In just 18 short months, TELUS saw a $1 million dollar increase in annual savings, a 100% increase in customer feedback volume, best-in-class response rates, and a 1 in 3 recovery for customers that received a follow-up. Furthermore, by focusing their efforts to reach more customers with proactive recovery, they have seen a $5 million-dollar opportunity in churn reduction. TELUS can expect to see further increases in these areas due to their continuous attention to response trends.

The Importance of ROI-Focused CX Programs

According to third-party research firm, Forrester, 79% of VoC and CX measurement programs do not quantify the business impact of issues. This means that the programs who can successfully prove their value to both the business and the customer are leading the pack. 

Want to learn more about our outcomes-focused approach to experience? Take a look at The Forrester Wave:™ Customer Feedback Management Platforms, Q2 2021 here!

Digital Experience Strategy: What Drives Your Customers’ Behaviors?

As customer demands have grown more complex, so too has the idea of what to do about the customer experience (CX), especially when it comes to digital experience strategy. It was never enough to scoreboard-watch numbers and react to situations only as they occurred in real-time; if you want to forge meaningful connections with customers while strengthening your bottom line, you need to constantly be aware of what drives their digital behavior. This is one of the first steps toward Experience Improvement (XI), and it’s something brands need to implement if they want to not only retain customers, but make a difference with them.

The following are three quick methods brands can leverage to learn what drives customers’ online behavior, enabling them to begin or continue a cycle of continuous improvement:

  1. Challenge Your Assumptions
  2. Know Your Drivers
  3. Leverage All Your Data

Method #1: Challenge Your Assumptions

This is an important step to take no matter how well you know your customers. Like we said earlier, CX expectations are changing, which means that it never hurts to reevaluate your brand journey through your customers’ eyes. So, with that goal in mind, create some surveys, interview your customers, and map out your current journey. You might be surprised what you learn!

Once you’ve got your customers’ current expectations in mind, leverage those to get to know your clientele better as people. Being personable is its own reward, but customers will always prefer an organization where everybody knows their name. Besides, better knowing the people who sustain your brand causes employees to become more invested in the mission and vision.

Method #2: Know Your Drivers

It’s always a good idea to take a hard look at your customers’ behaviors; especially the ones that seem to correlate with growth, retention, and finding the moments that matter. When you find those behaviors, you’ve found the things that have the largest impact on both customers’ interactions with your brand and your business as a whole.

Knowing what these behaviors are can provide a ton of intel and context on how to brush up your customer touchpoints, map new segments of your customer journey, and how to reach those individuals for new products and services that you know they’ll love. This ties into the notion of future-proofing, i.e., knowing what your customers may want before they themselves even know, a foresight that will make your brand even more competitive.

Method #3: Leverage All Your Data

Knowing how your customers behave is great, but it’s only half the battle. The final step toward understanding what drives your customers’ digital activities is putting their behavior against a backdrop of other metrics. Financial data, operational information, and other contextual information belong in that backdrop. So too do sources like social, VoC, CRM data, and website/app data.

The Power of a Well-Executed Digital Experience Strategy

Pulling all of this information together can take time, especially if it’s siloed with multiple teams, but if you can pull it off, you’ll have a 360-degree view of your customer that goes beyond ‘just’ digital drivers. This holistic understanding allows your organization to not only build a hyper-accurate profile of your customer, but also unites your entire organization around it, enabling you to create meaningfully improved experiences that bring customers back, create a stronger bottom line, and boost your organization to the top of your vertical.

Looking to add to your digital experience strategy? Our latest eBook lays out four quick wins that will put some points on the board for you customer experience team in the best way possible! Check it out here.

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