Giving Customers a Voice

It is one of the oldest adages in business — “the customer is always right.” While this is true in most circumstances, there is also the missing other side of that statement that holds true too — “customers want to be heard.”

This is supported by the consumer insights research that we do here at Empathica. Interestingly we have found that most customers are willing to provide feedback to the brands they frequent in some manner. In fact, a recent consumer insights study we ran showed that up to 85% of consumers are willing to provide feedback to the restaurants and retailers they frequent.

That same research also uncovered an interesting disconnect however. Of those same consumers polled, only 46% believe their feedback is used to improve the customer experience.

This shows on one hand a real desire from customers to become a more active part of the brands where they shop and dine. On the other hand, the current perception consumers have is that brands do not share a desire to listen to the feedback being provided.

Brands can do a lot to change this perception by adopting some simple habits in how they build dialogue and connect with their customers. Here are some of our tips that may be helpful to you and your business, gleamed from Empathica working with leading brands for over a decade:

Creating a dialogue is not only asking for feedback but also acknowledging that you’re listening and using your customers’ voices to improve.

Everyone can relate to the frustration of feeling as though you’re not being heard. CEM programs at their core are all about using customer feedback to improve your business. Make sure you’re using the most of your customer feedback and actually making improvements with it and not just allowing it to collect dust.

Upset or at risk customers can be acknowledged and helped, and delighted customers should get a chance to tell the world through social media.

Acknowledging customers directly who have either very good or very poor experiences can be a powerful way to build loyalty through direct interactions. Well thought-out CEM programs should have the ability to allow managers to intervene when a customer has a very poor experience, as well as allowing very positive experiences to be shared with staff as a motivational tool.

Feedback can also be shared in a more public manner.

Some brands have even gone so far as to publicly share their feedback scores on corporate websites and other assets. For brands that are successfully running advocacy programs, why not embed those messages directly into your website or other only marketing activities to truly turn the voice of your customers into your marketing message.

It doesn’t need to be said but customers really are the lifeblood of any business. For brands to acknowledge this fact and make them feel a part of your growth and success requires that businesses of all shapes and sizes do a better job of listening to them. That’s where a well thought out customer experience management program can play a role. After all, customer feedback is all about better listening.

Data Evolution: Arriving at Action

DATA: Facts & Statistics

What is data and why would I want it?

I remember learning the secret of what “data” means and being very unimpressed with what I learned. I was in a business information systems class when the teacher put this definition up on the board:

Da•ta noun: 1. Facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.

My teacher then went on to confuse me by saying data is useless. Well, it took me a while to care enough to figure out why data is useless, but I get it now: You don’t want data; you want information.

INFORMATION: Data with Context

Information is data with context. Context, in this case, means clarifying elements like date, time, location, etc. These bits of contextual reference change data into information. What my teacher said makes sense, then—who would want data when they can have information!

But there’s still such a thing as “information overload” (turns out it’s not actually all that helpful to go from “too much data” to “too much contextual data”). Even once we’ve transformed our piles of data into piles of information, we still can’t make decisions. We still can’t act!

BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE: Information Organized

The next evolution arose from this inability to make decisions. Business Intelligence (BI) is the industry’s attempt to manage the information overload. BI systems are designed to process huge amounts of information in a way that helps get you closer to a decision.

When I think of a BI system, I envision a bunch of technicians in lab coats working around a giant machine (think Wizard of Oz). Despite the fact that these technicians are neatly organizing your information, the main problem persists:

You aren’t being led to a final decision! You are still only being shown a more refined form of data. Why? Because the people researching the questions are not the people who need the answers. The disconnect between the researcher and the end user is the problem.

To get to the solution, it takes one more evolutionary step. The person with the question must be empowered to find answers, make decisions, and act!

ACTIONABLE INTELLIGENCE: BI Distilled to a Decision

Actionable Intelligence (AI) is the distillation of complex Business Intelligence down into its salient pieces. For a store manager or a call center manager, this translates to direct and predictive recommendations about specific problems.

Mindshare’s Local Dashboard (Coach™) is an example of an AI system for your people at the point of service (customer service representatives). Wherever the rubber meets the road—that’s where AI excels. Give the right information at the right time, in a format that can be acted on by the person who can make a difference. That’s what Actionable Intelligence is all about.

Mindshare Technologies works with various predictive technologies that can manipulate huge amounts of Business Intelligence, distill it, and distribute it as Actionable Intelligence. Check it out!

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