What Makes You Different? How to Get Strategic Insights from Feedback

We live in an age of information. More than just an interesting sounding catchphrase, businesses today are sitting on vast amounts of data, more than any other point in history. Data tracking internal processes, data tracking supply chains, and data tracking customers amongst others.

Naturally, customer feedback is a part of that. While a simple feedback survey seems quite straightforward from the outside, when you think about the amount of data that can be generated through a typical customer experience management (CEM) program, the numbers can quickly become quite impressive. Most programs will receive 30 or more responses per month per location. For a brand with 250 locations that means close to 100,000 customer surveys each year. If you consider that most surveys will be made up of 20 or more questions, then suddenly if you’re a customer experience program manager you’re looking at 2 million individual points of customer feedback.

The question is – What insights are locked inside all of that data?

Some are obvious, location comparisons, average performance, overall scores, trending etc… answers to those questions have always been the biggest values of a CEM program. In fact if a program is well designed and the questions asked are of an appropriate nature, these are exactly the type of insights that can drive great brands to continue executing on a day-to-day basis.

But 2 million points of data are a lot. What else might be hidden in that data? Sometimes there’s more to the data than just the surface level trends, it just takes a bit of deeper analysis to get to it. Today’s technology tools allow anyone with a deeper level of curiosity to dig deeper and discover some of the additional layers of nuance within pools of customer survey data.

Some more nuanced questions that can be answered with customer survey data would include:

  • Which factors in the experience hold the most weight when measured against overall satisfaction?
  • How overall satisfaction is perceived across different demographic segments?
  • How different product categories impact satisfaction?
  • How can I measure a cross section of all of these questions looking at products and their impact against satisfaction across different demographics?

The challenge is being able to segment the data appropriately and easily. That’s where a flexible data analysis product can come in handy. Rather than having to rely on external resources program managers should be empowered to be able to quickly slice out interesting segments of customer feedback to make informed decisions. Or at least be able to use these slices of data to be able to follow a single train of thought through to some kind of conclusion or hypothesis.

In today’s world having data is no longer enough. We need to be able to harness the power of actually using it, to be able to effectively drive change.

What Jeremy Lin Can Learn from Customer Experience Management

With a fresh NBA season kicking off, one of the story lines I’ll have my eyes on is the progression of Jeremy Lin’s career. Like many sports fans I became quite caught up in the #Linsanity phenomenon last season and am looking forward to seeing what he can do in his starting role in Houston.

When it comes to how he will do, I think most people have two questions when it comes to his basketball potential.

  1. Can he play in the NBA?
  2. Can he play at the level he played at last year for a full season?

If #Linsanity proved one thing , the answer to question number one is a yes. Question number two is trickier and requires the young point guard to be able to sustain a consistent level of performance for a full season, perhaps the playoffs, for many years to come.

Variations of these two questions are what retailers are asked of when it comes to business success.

  1. Does a retailer have a unique offering that addresses the market?
  2. Does a retailer offer a consistently great experience that can scale their growth?

Like the young point guard most, if not all, retailers can answer an unequivocal yes to question number one.  After all defining a unique offering is the first paragraph of most business plans. The trickier part is question number two. Particularly in a fast growing brand, maintaining a level of consistent execution can be a challenge. But brands that are successful, the ones that separate themselves from the pack and reach iconic status, are the ones who have this operational consistency.

There is help out there for brands who want to achieve consistency but aren’t quite sure how. Today’s customer experience management (CEM) programs are focused on helping brands to first uncover what elements are most important to a great experience, and also help brands with action driving tools to make sure those key elements are delivered on in a consistent manner.

These programs work by focusing on location excellence and help location managers to do their jobs better by:

Providing program accountability to local managers

Customer experience programs don’t work if locations ignore them. A CEM program should turn complex customer feedback into simple, relevant insights and clear actions.  This goes beyond reporting and allows location managers to take increased ownership of the experience delivered at their locations.

Help ensure consistency across all locations

CEM programs can help ensure that all of your local managers understand the key elements of a brand promise and what factors they control to ensure they are delivering it. One of the most valuable assets multi-unit brands have is their top performing locations.  Not only are they big contributors of profits but decoding their formula for success can be a key to brand growth.  Location focused CEM programs have the ability to raise the performance of all locations by providing local managers with insights on best practices from top locations and how best to apply them.

Coach local managers on what to fix and how to execute

Today’s CEM programs eliminate wasted time spent reading and interpreting reports.  Instead, local managers are focused on the most important area to improve and spend their time ensuring the correct front line execution.  Locations control an action plan based on best practices to tailor the execution to the needs of their specific teams.

Whether on the basketball court or in the game of retail, consistency is often the key to rising above the competition. The good news for retailers out there is there is help available. A well thought out CEM program can be the key to ensuring a recipe for retail success is within reach. As for Jeremy Lin, we sports fans will have to wait and see if he can rise to challenge put in front of him.

The Importance of Customer Experience Management During the Holiday Season

The kids were barely back to school before the first ‘Celebrate Christmas for £9.99!’ posters started to appear, and with November now upon us, consumer appetite for all things festive is going to start accelerating.

The Christmas party market is currently believed to be worth around £1billion, so even in challenging financial times, there is a huge opportunity for operators with a strong offer. While competition is tougher than ever and the market is unlikely to grow this year, there is certainly a chance to increase market share.

For a customer experience management (CEM) professional like me, it’s not only this commercial potential that is exciting, but also the huge amounts of intelligence that will be collected over the Yuletide period, which will provide pointers for quick fixes this year, as well as more strategic planning for 2013.

A great CEM programme will deliver insight into which elements of hospitality have a link to customer loyalty and thereby repeat business. However, at Christmas, your regular guests might have a very different agenda from their regular visits and what is usually important may go out of the window.

  • Food quality might not be as important as ‘ease of ordering’ for a party of disparate work colleagues who would never normally break bread together (I am not describing the Empathica Christmas party here…).
  • Whoever is the office party organiser will want things to run smoothly and keeping it simple may well pay off.
  • Budgets may be tight but a classic Christmas dinner with all the trimmings – and no washing up – could well be worth paying for.

Learning from past years across the sector, three interesting areas to monitor are:

1. Server attitude underpins the experience

You may have hired plenty of seasonal staff to support the rush, but if they are not happy dealing with customers, you may have made things worse, not better. How are you going to ensure that they are supported by experienced team members to deliver a level of service that is your customers expect?

2. Menu design can have unexpected effects

You have differentiated your brand’s Christmas dinner with a delicious chestnut stuffing, which people loved in your test kitchen. Have you tested it in a real kitchen? If not, are you sure that its unique preparation process won’t put the kibosh on everything else? We have seen organisations scrap dynamite new ideas after a couple of days because their service speed scores are so badly affected. Make sure you’re watching this closely.

3. The festive spirit

Even the most abstemious of us enjoy a drink at Christmas. Are your team switched on to taking the maximum number of drinks orders, and upselling? There are lots of people to serve, but taking the time to take a drinks round can make the difference between a good and bad office party, and future loyalty. And turning an order of a couple of bottles of wine into a couple of bottles of prosecco can make your guests’ evening and increase your take (done responsibly, of course). Have you got measures to enable you to monitor availability and upsell?


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