10 lessons Learned from 10 Years Improving Customer Experiences

Over the 10 years working with leading global brands, we’ve learned that sometimes it’s executing the basics well that allows brands to break through to new levels of success. Here are some of the key lessons we’ve taken from our retail and hospitality programmes on improving customer experiences:

1. Customers are eager to connect with businesses they frequent

85% of consumers are willing to provide feedback to the retailers they frequent. The challenge is ensuring their feedback is acknowledged and acted upon. Sadly, the same study showed that only 29% believe this feedback is used to improve the customer experience.

2. Drive response rates to ensure an appropriate sample size

Insights are only as good as the data sample being analysed. While many customers will be proactive in providing feedback, some will need added incentives like discounts or a sweepstake entry.

3. Customers vary – so should feedback mechanisms they are offered

Whether it’s younger customers consolidating all their communication on a mobile device or an older person wanting to use a landline telephone, feedback programmes need to take into account customers’ technology preferences.

4. It is often the little things that define the best experiences

It’s often the subtle factors that lie just beneath the surface of the obvious drivers of satisfaction that separate merely good experiences from truly great ones. Understanding those is key to moving experiences from good to great.

5. A survey shouldn’t be an interrogation

Feedback starts with asking the right questions. The right questions should always be personal to both your brand and your customers. You need to focus on your own brand strengths and exploit competitors’ weaknesses.

6. Commitment and focus are the first steps in driving change

All employees of a brand need to be engaged and accountable. The real key is in changing the behaviour of front line staff to prioritise the areas that will have the most impact, focus on specific improvements and follow through with a tangible level of commitment.

7. Delivering great experiences is a marathon, not a sprint

It’s only with that consistency built up over the lifespan of the customer relationship can lasting loyalty be built – the type of loyalty that can translate into advocacy.

8. Brand insights can reveal the keys to future success

Customer feedback can serve to answer three basic questions: How are we performing as a brand in the eyes of our customers? What is broken or needs improvement in how we are executing? Where should we be headed next, to stay top of mind with customers?

9. Multiple channels, one experience

Brands must provide a consistent experience, delivering the same brand promise at each point of their customers’ journey. Feedback programmes can ensure each channel is consistent with the desired brand experience, enabling businesses to maintain a strong brand identity across what may be disparate parts of their operations.

10. Drive advocacy by engaging the social consumer

Once brands have invested in a customer experience management programme, it is important to convert loyal customers into brand advocates by making it easy for them to share their positive brand experiences via social media platforms.

In Summary

Customer feedback programmes have at their heart a simple goal – connecting brands with their customers whose support is their lifeblood. By opening up this vital channel of communication not only can brands get a view into how they are delivering in the eyes of their customers, but also unlock their own formula for ensuring they can sustain their success on an ongoing basis – at every location, in every department, on every shift.

To find out more about delivering great customer experiences, read our whitepaper: “10 Lessons Learned from a Decade Spent on Improving Customer Experiences”

Download Whitepaper

Persuasive Survey Design

fogg behavior model chartWhile browsing entertainment options on a 10-hour trans-Atlantic flight, I spotted a “feedback survey.” Included in the survey was my seat number, a valuable piece of information that could reveal more information about me. I wondered if and how the airline would use this content to gain insights and find patterns.

The airline was off to a great start by engaging me when I had time to ruminate and provide honest feedback. Unfortunately, the feedback process quickly went downhill with too many clicks, questions I did not understand, and a lengthy feedback form.

The designers of the form had failed to consider the feedback process from the respondent’s perspective. In my chapter Persuasive Survey Design in Allegiance’s book, Delivering Customer Intelligence, I discuss in detail how good survey programs designed from the respondent perspective can lead to higher response and completion rates and provide a more engaging, user-friendly experience.

My survey experience made me think about what key factors grab consumer’s attention and keep it. I immediately thought of B. J. Fogg, a leading proponent of respondent psychology at the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab who developed the “Fogg Behavior Model (FBM)” to help our understanding of human behavior and how it can be applied to survey design.

According to the FBM, in order for a person to perform a target behavior, he or she must be sufficiently motivated, have the ability to perform the behavior, and be triggered to perform the behavior—all at the same time. Core motivators include sensation (pleasure/pain), anticipation (hope/ fear), and social cohesion (acceptance/ rejection). These are essential for perceived respondent experience.

For example, surveys that include awards increase motivation and the likelihood that respondents will complete the survey. Also, the simpler a survey is, the more likely people are to respond. Once you have persuaded the user to fill out your survey, you should use the FBM throughout the three key stages of the feedback process—invitation, response and post response.

The target behavior for the invitation is to inspire the respondent to click on the link within the email or the feedback button on your site. One way to motivate users to respond to your survey is to tell them how their feedback will benefit them, such as improved products and services, rewards and coupons. For example, the airline I used during my recent trip could have motivated me more by giving away a few extra miles for survey completion and re-wording the button as “Give feedback, earn 1,000 bonus miles.”

Bottom line: Using respondent psychology and the Fogg Behavior Model to create simple, engaging surveys leads to higher response and completion rates. It involves keeping the survey objective and respondent experience in the forefront during the entire design process.

Tulsi Dharmarajan is Director of Product Management & Design for Allegiance

Score a Touchdown with Customer Experience

The cooler autumn weather and the children returning to school signal one thing for many households in America… the return of NFL football.

It’s also around this time that many football fans begin to exhibit some interesting behavior. Premature championship celebration. After only a handful of games many fans are already preparing their Superbowl celebration party. However if there is one lesson I’ve learned as a lifelong football fan it’s that a handful of early season games is rarely a good predictor of the future. A full 16 game season can be long and it’s usually not the fast starting teams who win it all, but the most consistent.

The phenomena holds true when it comes to customer experience as well. Launching new products or seasonal marketing campaigns might prompt a temporary spike in great customer experiences for a retailer, but ultimately the best brands are the ones who are able to deliver on their promises day in and day out, from one location to another. Front line staff needs to be fully engaged and accountable each and every day to do so. Great store managers know this, and they understand that the real key to maintaining great experiences is in changing the staff behavior for the better. Behavior that drives exceptional in-store experiences are the catalyst for advocacy.

There’s a simple four step process to helping make this happen:

1. Start with helping location managers focus front line staff on specific areas that can have the biggest impact and doing so in a consistent manner.

Focusing on doing the right things shouldn’t be a onetime event, it needs to be an ongoing philosophy. One way to ensure ongoing improvement is to leverage the power of your own internal community through social sharing. Let location managers learn from each other, to provide support and best practices.

2. Create a program where you ask for commitment to making improvements.

Committing to those focus area improvements is a significant emotional step and encourages a more meaningful level of engagement for location managers with their customer experience programs. Commitment and engagement also provide a different kind of measurement for area and regional managers to have conversations with local managers about improvement rather than blame.

3. Once the commitment is made, then it’s all about driving actions.

Providing location managers with action plans to encourage the right behaviors at the right times for all their employees. These actions can be built from brand best practices, and they can be enhanced through the power of social sharing and the knowledge of other managers across the brand. This living library of actions ensures that local improvements aren’t a onetime activity but are an ongoing part of your brand’s culture.

4. On a regular basis location managers should have an opportunity to reflect back on what worked and what needed improvement for next time.

This ongoing cycle of action and review provides location managers a powerful tool to reflect back on what worked and what to focus on moving forward.

Whether the goal is to win the Superbowl or to build a winning retail brand, the key is consistency. While not every NFL team has access to the same player talent and fan base, all retail brands today have access to the modern tools and programs to ensure their front line staff is fully engaged and delivering every day.

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