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!

Three Pitfalls to Avoid When Benchmarking Your Customer Experience Program

When it comes to customer experience (CX), it’s obvious that solicited customer feedback is vital. But what if we told you that, on its own, that feedback is not sufficient to give you a thorough understanding of how your brand is delivering on experience? In fact you need a lot more. You need to understand how your employees view the experience. You need unsolicited feedback from social media and other sources. Finally,, you need to understand the greater market’s perception by benchmarking your customer experience program against competitors.

In the latest episode of InMoment’s “XI Expert Take” series, InMoment VP of Customer Experience Consulting and Insights Jeremy Griffiths takes a deep dive into benchmarking and why it’s so important for customer experience initiatives. We’ll be providing a few of the best takeaways in our article today.

Thinking About Benchmarking Your Customer Experience Program?

Before we get into pitfalls and best practices, let’s talk about why you should be benchmarking your CX program in the first place. Primarily, those of us who lead and leverage experience programs have two overarching questions to answer: 

  • How am I doing?
  • What do I need to improve to drive successful business outcomes?

So, we search for the answers in our customer and employee data. But to answer these questions fully, we can’t just look at our own strengths and weaknesses. We need to be able to see the wider context of the market to get a sense of how we compare. Only when we have that big-picture view can we be certain that we have all the necessary information to make effective, strategic decisions.

However, you don’t want to set out on a benchmarking journey just to get it done. To do it well and get the intelligence you need, there are a few pitfalls you need to avoid along the way. Here are the three benchmarking pitfalls Jeremy has seen most often in his career:

Pitfall #1: Using Benchmarks as a “Big Stick”

When Jeremy works with brands to start up or refresh their benchmarking initiatives, he often has to help leaders shift their perspective about their benchmarking scores. He says one of the most common challenges he’s seen is leaders who use their results as “a big stick to tell their team to ‘do better.’” 

The imagery here is especially effective and accurate. It’s easy to imagine that if a brand’s scores are low in comparison to competitors, a leader might use those benchmarks as a weapon to spur their employees into action. However, this can be incredibly harmful to morale in the moment and to long-term success. 

How? Let’s take a look from the employee perspective. Let’s say that your leader has just given you a talking to, assuming that you and your team are doing something  to negatively impact the experience. But what if you feel as though you’re doing the best you can? What if the real issue is something beyond your control, yet you’re still being made to feel responsible? You’d feel incredibly frustrated, devalued, and helpless. 

This is just one example of how the wrong perspective on benchmarks can negatively affect your business. As we all know, disengaged employees can lead to an increase in employee churn, and therefore, additional costs in the millions!

Pitfall #2:  Using Experience Benchmarks as an Excuse

The next pitfall Jeremy describes is directly related to the first. In fact, it’s the other extreme in terms of leadership perspective: leaders who use their benchmarks as an excuse to do nothing.

In contrast to our previous example, let’s consider a brand whose benchmarking scores are good relative to its competitors. If the leadership sees the numbers and thinks, “well, we’re obviously doing well. Why would we need to do anything differently?” there’s potential for harm to the greater business.

The reason why is quite simple: you shouldn’t let success make you complacent. In our fast-paced world, you can be ahead of the pack one second, and fall behind the next. If there’s one thing we can promise you, it’s that your competitors are competing on experience. If you’re not actively working to provide your customers with the next greatest, more convenient, more memorable experience, then the competition will surpass you—and your customers will flock to the brand with the best experience.

Pitfall #3: Being Too Focused on the Number

The third pitfall is really a cause (and effect) of the first two. Leaders either use benchmarks as a big stick or a comfort blanket because they are too focused on the number. And at the same time, they are causing their employees to focus on the number. 

The issue with this number-based focus is that it only allows you to measure or manage your experience. It does not open the door to actually improving your experiences and boosting your bottom line. To inspire these major benefits, you have to look beyond metric scores and instead focus on the “why.” Why are you performing this way? Why are competitors performing well? Why do customers choose your brand over others?

When you shift your focus from the numbers to the context, you create a proactive, inspired, and positive Experience Improvement (XI) culture that is always pushing forward. This culture inspires your employees to be problem solvers, to strive for better experiences, and to keep your customers coming back. And isn’t that why you’re benchmarking in the first place?

Moving Forward

Now that we’ve chatted about what to avoid when benchmarking, are you curious about how you should execute your initiative? Click here to watch the full episode, “How to Win with Experience Improvement in Your Marketplace,” to learn how you should design your benchmarks (from the samples to take to the questions you should ask), popular use cases, and more directly from the experts!

How Operational Excellence Now Leads to Experience Improvement Later

Operations have everything to do with both your business’s bottom line and its relationships with customers. This makes ops’ importance to Experience Improvement (XI) pretty self-explanatory.

However, as foundational as operational excellence is to a company and its experiences, there’s more that brands can do to build a bridge between operations and Experience Improvement. Today’s conversation focuses on that bridge’s two main elements: optimization and innovation.

Element to Connect Operations with Experience Improvement

  1. Optimization
  2. Innovation

XI Element #1: Optimization

Creating operational excellence isn’t a one-and-done. It’s a process that requires constant attention and tweaking. Your experience initiatives can help here by shining a light on systemic issues that might need a closer look. That spotlight can also be used to help come up with fixes for those problems. Of course, a tried-and-true process for identifying and then responding to problems like these is a must here.

Fortunately for brands and organizations everywhere, a lot of the optimizing work has already been completed by the time you hit a stride with your operational excellence! Being good at ops means skillfully gathering the deep analyses and intel your brand uses to be better. This means you’ll already have some idea of what your north star should be as you begin the optimization phase. Desiloing data and sharing it with every team in the organization is also key here.

XI Element #2: Innovation

Innovation is what optimizing your operations builds toward. It’s what allows brands to actually implement their proposed solutions, study how they go, and realize their benefits. Having operational excellence in place makes it easier for brands to forecast market trends and, ultimately, predict exactly what their customers will want. In other words, ops-fueled innovation keeps your company robust and ahead of the curve.

Staying ahead of the curve is a major part of Experience Improvement, and it can only be enabled by:

  1. Operational excellence
  2. Optimization
  3. Innovation

Anticipating what your customers want before they may even know goes a long way toward building the relationships that cause them to ignore the competition (and that let them know you care about them as people). Unstructured feedback, especially from Voice of Customer (VoC) programs, is one of the best sources of additional intel on how to stay ahead of the curve and keep pleasantly surprising your customers.

Click here to learn more about how operational excellence leads to Experience Improvement. Expert Jennifer Passini, Ph.D., goes over additional means of using ops to better your experience and how it all feeds into the grander goal of meaningful transformation for your bottom line and your customer relationships.

How Operational Excellence Can Drive Experience Improvement

Operations is a central part of brands’ day-to-day activities, as well as their aspirations to become industry leaders. “Operations” means something different to everyone, but in the end, ops seek to impact two things: your business’s bottom line and your relationships with your customers. 

Operational excellence can also allow organizations to tap into something more fundamental: Experience Improvement (XI), i.e., creating fundamental connections with customers that go deeper than just transactions. Today’s post covers how brands can steer operations toward Experience Improvement, as well as why it’s well worth their time to do so.

Table Stakes

Customers don’t usually expect the worst when picking a brand or product, but that doesn’t mean organizations shouldn’t track performance objectives related to being operationally effective. Aside from helping to prevent a bad experience, which is obviously important, operational excellence helps ensure consistency. No matter whether it’s employee teams or brand locations, organizations need to make sure that they’re being consistent with interactions and experiences. This approach further cements those fundamental connections with customers.

Another variable that brands need to be mindful of when it comes to operational excellence is customer expectations. As we’ve all seen in this digital age of ours, customer expectations are not just changing; they’re growing more complex. Meeting these ever-more complex expectations means closely measuring performance, which is another reason consistency is so important.

How This Relates to Improving Experiences

As we said earlier, brands that go about operational excellence in a certain way will end up achieving Experience Improvement, or at least laying a lot of the groundwork that makes XI happen. For example, consider a retailer that, as a matter of operational excellence, builds up its omnichannel strategy and tries to reduce customer friction wherever it can. Both of those elements help ensure the consistency we talked about earlier, but they also create opportunities for deeper relationships with customers.

What’s handy about looking at Experience Improvement this way is that the methodology is pretty much the same for any brand regardless of industry. Reducing friction, being more multi-channel, and desiloing data are all helpful for improving customer relationships (and your organization’s own view of your customers) no matter how or what you serve them. This is why it’s important to begin your Experience Improvement efforts with operational excellence—consistency creates connections.

Click here to read more about how operations fits into Experience Improvement (XI) in our latest article by experience expert Jennifer Passini, Ph.D. Jennifer reveals additional ways to leverage operations toward Experience Improvement, as well as other handy tips for creating stronger connections with your customers!

Moments That Matter in Customer Experience: Which to Focus on & Why

In our recent blog, we discussed how you can improve your customer experience (CX) strategy in five simple steps. Customer experience often relates to the long-term relationship between customers and the companies they do business with. It reflects the summary of experiences at different points along the customer journey—such as considering doing business with a brand, making a purchase and becoming a customer, receiving additional services, having issues resolved, etc— and includes multiple channels: phone, in-person, email, and so on. These various interactions along the customer journey—and, more specifically, those that have the most impact on the business—are what we like to call “Moments That Matter”  (MTM) in customer experience.

But are there some moments that matter more than others in the overall customer experience? And if so, how do we assess their importance?

Five Questions to Address

  1. What Are “Moments That Matter?”
  2. How Are “Moments That Matter” Determined?
  3. How Are “Moments That Matter” Measured?
  4. How Is the Importance of Each “Moment That Matters” assessed?
  5. Why Does the Technology You Use to Understand These Moments Matter?

Question #1: What Are “Moments That Matter?”

In the past couple of decades, it has become more clear that consumers are after more than just the “product” they purchase. Their choice to support a brand is more than just rational decision-making; it’s about emotions, too.   Today’s organizations realize this; so, they try to continuously improve the way in which they deliver those experiences. 

For example, many organizations measure call center experiences as a part of their CX program, which is a smart move. Service and support is a key element that defines customer experience, and it frequently generates memorable moments. But is the call center interaction all that matters for the customer?

Moments That Matter” are the specific interactions—like a particularly superior or terrible call center experience—that trigger customers’ feelings and leave lasting impressions. These are the specific experiences that stand out more than others and impact the customers’ long-term opinions about the organization overall. Additionally, they can likely lead to a make-or-break decision about their future relationship with the organization. 

Question #2: How Are “Moments That Matter” Determined?

A key step to identifying the “Moments That Matter” is understanding the customers’ journey throughout their relationship with the organization, from consideration and researching the product or service they need all the way through using said product or service. 

Mapping this journey starts with the organization’s knowledge of its key customer touchpoints. Next, customers provide feedback and further input to pinpoints those touchpoints most important to them. They also provide context about their best and worst experiences, wins, and pain points. This mapping helps brands focus on the key “Moments That Matter,” because, in reality, not every touchpoint and every experience is as impactful as others in creating healthy and long-lasting relationships.

Question #3: How Are “Moments That Matter” Measured?

After understanding what “Moments That Matter” are, the next step is to measure the brand’s performance at each of those moments. This is typically done using a survey format that first asks customers to evaluate their overall experience with the company. Then, it should ask which MTMs they have experienced and evaluate those they are familiar with.  It may also be effective to rate some MTMs on a battery of actional deep-dive attributes.

Question #4: How Is the Importance of Each “Moment That Matters” Assessed?

There are two general ways to assess the importance of each MTM: 

  • Ask how important each MTM is (so-called “stated importance”), or 
  • Mathematically derive importance from each MTM’s ratings and the overall experience with the company (“derived importance”). 

Derived importance has an advantage in that it does not require additional questions and simply uses respondents’ evaluation of each MTM they experienced. In general, the rating for each MTM is aligned with the overall experience rating, and the MTM that best follows the overall experience rating is therefore the most important. This type of analysis is called “driver analysis.” At InMoment, we use a technique called True Driver Analysis, which surpasses other approaches in quality of results. 

Question #5: Why Does the Approach You Use to Understand These Moments Matter?

Different statistical approaches can be used to conduct a driver analysis and assess the importance of each MTM: correlation analysis, regression analysis, structural equation modeling, and partial least squares, to name a few. The results of these approaches, however, may be biased in the presence of a strong relationship among the MTMs themselves (called “multicollinearity”). 

For this reason, InMoment uses True Driver Analysis, which is a technique designed specifically to avoid this type of bias and to assess the “true” relative impact of each MTM on an overall outcome metric. As an output of True Driver Analysis, organizations can identify the key Moments That Matter, focus their efforts, and be able to improve customer experience, loyalty, and ultimately, their bottom line.

With continuous experience improvement being a key enabler of happier customers and long-lasting customer relationships, it is most critical to identify and focus on the Moments That Matter in every experience delivered. 

To read more about a proven strategy for continuously improving experiences across your brand in five steps—as well as the brands who have found success with it—check out this article for free today!

Turn Market Research into Stories in 4 Easy Steps

Companies don’t have to look far for market research these days. In fact, most organizations are inundated with such data—operational intel, customer profiles, employee experiences, and more can all be harnessed in the blink of an eye. However, as good as it is to have all this info handy, it also presents a new challenge: making effective stories of it all.

Today, we’re going to provide a quick rundown on how your organization can carve effective, powerful stories out of your market research data, starting with four specific steps.

How to Turn Market Research Data into Stories

  1. Understanding
  2. Planning
  3. Discovery
  4. Communication

Step #1: Understanding

This step takes place before your research study even starts. It’s common for companies to begin a general study and just try to gather what’s out there, but taking time to understand pain points, stakeholder interest, and other areas of context will make your market research, and thus your stories, much stronger. In short, understanding business objectives and research needs is a must before starting any study.

Step #2: Planning

Designing with the end in mind is vital to any market research study or experience program. Establish every step of your study from beginning to end, and work with your team to figure out how the information you collect will help meet brand objectives. It’s a lot of legwork, but it will make your sampling frame and survey instruments not just better, but more intentful.

Step #3: Discovery

The discovery step is where your brand can start making stories out of its gathered data, and you’d be surprised how many organizations overlook doing so! You may dread the thought of sifting through a giant mountain of study reports, but the good news is that with discovery, you don’t have to. Rather than dive in headfirst looking for a story, work with your team to establish the story you need your research to tell first. Agreeing on that story before you sift will save you time and, frankly, result in a better narrative than whatever you might happen to find in that data mountain.

Step #4: Communication

This step is where your market research needs to stick the landing, which makes it the most important part of this entire process. Effective communication isn’t ‘just’ important for creating better customer experiences—it also helps your team justify your entire market research effort to the boardroom and build that connection to your business objectives.

The Next Step

Following these steps will make your market research both simpler and stronger, but how can your team best proceed from there? Click here to read our eBook on this subject, where we take a deep dive into the wider world of communicating powerful, effective stories with your market research!

How to Design an Effective Customer Recovery Strategy

Brands work hard to keep their customers happy and to create positive experiences, but the reality is that no organization can prevent every negative experience that might come a customer’s way. Whether it’s due to unforeseen circumstances or plain old human error, negative experiences are always a specter that brands need to watch out for.

Perhaps more importantly, organizations need to be prepared to recover at-risk customers when those experiences, for whatever reason, do occur. At the end of the day, a brand’s obligation to these customers goes beyond the bottom line—it’s part of creating a grander, positive, human experience that will not only salvage the relationship but also keep that customer coming back for more. Let’s dive in.

Before Problems Become Problems

The first step to an effective recovery strategy is to be as vigilant for negative experiences as possible. Proactive multichannel listening is key here—brands need to constantly meet customers where they talk about their brand interactions, then analyze their sentiments to make sure they’re not missing anything. Post-transactions surveys can be helpful here, but brands also need to pay attention to social media, phone calls, and every other medium their customers use to express how they feel about their experiences.

This strategy is effective for more than just one-time problems, too. The right experience platform can digest entire spectra of customer feedback, which helps brands spot recurring issues that they may not have even known about. Thus, companies can use this strategy to both save at-risk customers and fix deep-rooted problems that might be plaguing their wider goals and aspirations.

Closing The Loop

Paying close attention to customer conversations is important, but what happens when problems slip through that crack and put their relationship with your brand at risk? When that occurs, organizations must be prepared to close the loop with customers. In this context, closing the loop refers to assigning an employee to the customer, having that employee intently listen to the customer’s story, and rectifying the problem well enough to salvage that relationship.

While closing the loop seems pretty straightforward at the outset, there’s much more to this process than ‘just’ effective customer service. Closing the loop doesn’t end when a satisfied customer hangs up the phone—meaningfully rectifying that problem means reviewing how it occurred with the wider organization, creating a solution, and implementing it so that future customers don’t suffer the same issue. Looking at it this way means that the organization is actually closing two loops: the one with the customer (inner loop) and creating a more customer experience (CX)-driven culture (outer loop). Both are vital to customer recovery.

Making Things Right

There’s a common element to both of these strategies and to customer recovery in general, and it’s empowering your employees to do the right thing. Challenging employees to step up, involving them in the recovery process, and democratizing data to help them see the big picture are all great ways to ensure that your recovery strategy is working. There’s no better person to salvage an at-risk relationship than an impassioned employee, and no better way to instill passion in your teams than giving them the tools (and encouragement) they need to rise to the occasion.

By challenging employees to be proactive, paying attention to customers’ constant conversations, and by closing the loop when problems do arise, brands can ensure they’re doing everything they can to rescue at-risk customers. This approach allows them to create fundamentally improved experiences that both strengthen the bottom line and turn recovery situations into meaningful human interactions.

Want to learn more about how you can boost your customer retention through recovery methods and more? Read our full eBook on the subject, “How to Improve Customer Retention & Generate Revenue with Your CX Program” today!

How to Eliminate Friction in Your Customer Journey

“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.

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.

Understanding 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.

What’s more, brands 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.

Talking to Employees

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.

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. 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!

Three Paths to Understanding Why Customers Leave Your Brand

Retaining customers is one of the best ways to ensure that your brand is building a strong bottom line and an ever-improving experience, but keeping customer churn low is easier said than done. Customer churn is, unfortunately, an unavoidable fact of doing business, but that doesn’t mean that brands have to let it happen in vain. Today, we’re going to give you a quick rundown on understanding why customers leave your brand so that you can prevent future churn, retain loyal clientele, and continuously improve their experience.

Enabling Storytelling

One of the best ways to become aware of friction points within your experience is by letting customers point them out in their own words. We’re not just talking written survey answers, here; experience feedback programs that enable multimedia feedback are among the most powerful tools for learning about problematic or broken touchpoints in your customer journey.

Think about how much more human it is to see and hear customers express their concerns instead of just reading about them. Multimedia feedback empowers brands to understand customer concerns on a much more human level than surveys allow, which is also important for motivating employees. In short, empowering customers to express their concerns in their preferred format and sharing that frank feedback with the relevant teams is one of the best ways to motivate genuine improvement.

Seeking Disclosure

Receiving feedback from current customers is important, but what about past customers? What about the competition’s? The best customer experience platforms are sustained by the best market research, and brands that opt for the former can often receive the latter. Databases, customer panels, and other sources of market learnings are now available at the push of a button, and brands that want to understand their experience from all angles should seek this knowledge out as resources allow.

Once you have all of this feedback and intel from customers both inside and outside your brand, a handy next step is to feed all of that structured data directly into a real-time text analytics engine. This tool is incredibly helpful for brands because it can extract customer sentiment and reinforce organizations’ knowledge of customer churn’s root causes. 

Keeping Churn at Bay

Like we said earlier, brands can’t keep customer churn out of the equation, but they can do a great deal to prevent it with tools and methods like these. Reducing churn in this way is also great not just for churn reduction’s sake, but also for creating a more human experience, instilling greater loyalty in customers, and creating a stronger bottom line.

Want to read more on how you can improve customer retention? Our new eBook walks you through exactly how to build a holistic initiative and the math that will prove the value of your efforts! Check it out here.

3 Ways to Supercharge Your Employee Experience Program

We recently touched on the importance of employee experience (EX) programs and how your brand can get a powerful, effective EX initiative off the ground (or dust off an existing one). Starting your EX program is a big deal, but how can companies keep the momentum going once they’ve turned on the listening posts and gotten the first bits of employee feedback?

Today, we’re going to go over three ways to supercharge your EX program (and keep it that way) to help your brand’s experience be the best it can be:

  • Method 1: Stick to The Plan
  • Method 2: Lead Across Teams
  • Method 3: Take Action

Method #1: Stick to The Plan

It’s important to design your program with the end in mind before you even activate any listening posts. Designing with the end in mind means taking the time to consider which goals you want your program to accomplish—reducing employee churn by a given percentage, for example.

However, it’s just as important to make sure your team sticks to that plan after you activate your program. This isn’t to say you can’t consider new goals or aspirations if your feedback points to them; it just means checking in regularly to make sure your program is hitting KPIs, financial goals, and other hard numbers. That way, you can quantify your program’s success, which makes asking the ELT for additional resources much simpler.

Method #2: Lead Across Teams

It’s common for brands to leave EX programs solely in the hands of a dedicated team or the HR department. Both of those groups should be included, of course, but true EX success comes from sharing program ownership and leadership opportunities across the company. Encourage business unit leaders across your organization to collaborate with their teams and each other. This makes meaningfully acting on employee feedback much, much easier.

Effective program leadership also means continuing to involve the people to whom you reached out at the very beginning. Every experience program requires executive sponsorship, employee buy-in, and keeping those folks in the loop as your program matures. That responsibility can’t fade into the background once your initiative takes off.

Method #3: Take Action

Sticking to your program plan and encouraging your organization to collaborate on it are both powerful means of ensuring one thing: that action is taken upon your initiative’s gathered intelligence. When everyone is working together and your plan is hitting milestones at a steady drumbeat, your brand can create a meaningfully improved workplace culture and thus a better experience for all.

Successful EX Program = Successful CX Program

That better employee experience correlates directly with an improved customer experience. Although seamless transactions are important, customers seek emotion and human connections with their experiences. Employees who feel passionate and driven about their work can provide that, and it all begins with adhering to your plan, desiloing it across the organization, and taking action to transform your experience into something wonderful.

Want to read more about the importance of employee experience programs? Our expert Stacy Bolger has a new article out walking you through the foundations of a world-class program. You can read it here!

A Cheat Sheet for Mapping Out Your Brand’s Customer Journey

One of the most important elements of a customer experience (CX) program is a customer journey map. These maps serve as visual guides to the interactions customers have with your brand, including product purchases, talking to employees, and more. Customer journey maps can help brands hammer out the steps customers take on the road to a better experience and, just as importantly, do so from the customer’s perspective.

Today, we’re going to walk you through how to quickly create an effective customer journey map that touches on elements like key evaluation points, positive and negative experience components, and more. Let’s jump in.

A Certain Point of View

Though a customer journey map focuses heavily on seeing your brand’s experience through customers’ eyes, it actually starts with a different perspective: yours. The first step to building an effective customer journey map is considering that journey as your organization sees it. 

First, identify the key interactions that customers have with your brand. Are these interactions limited to one-step transactions, or are they a bit more involved? The answer to this question varies from company to company—it’ll even vary between the different stakeholders that you bring in to help just at your brand. This can make creating a shared framework a more involved process, but brands can’t build a truthful, effective customer journey map without it!

The Next Level

Once you, your team, and stakeholders from other departments have agreed upon your customers’ steps, it’s time to expand on every step by identifying some key elements. These elements include: the customer’s desired outcome; time or duration; attitudes and thoughts; emotional responses and needs; customer pain points; strong and weak areas; and the importance of and satisfaction with the step.

At first glance, hammering these details out for every step in your customer journey map may seem a bit overkill. However, similarly to getting everyone’s opinion on what those steps actually are, doing this legwork enables a more educated approach to your customer journey map. This, in turn, will give your brand a greater understanding of its experience, the strengths and weaknesses of that experience, and what you can do to meaningfully improve it.

Bridging The Divide

Now that we’ve talked about building out the customer journey and the elements of its every step from your brand’s point of view, it’s time to circle back to what we talked about up top: understanding the journey as your customer sees it. Starting with your brand’s perspective on the customer journey is important because it gives you a perspective to compare and contrast to your customers’.

The Value of Understanding the Customer Journey

In short, a customer journey map encourages brands to consider what makes their experience great while also giving them a means of seeing why customers may (or may not) agree. Brands then have a better chance of knowing how to bridge potential divides and work toward a more connective, meaningfully improved experience for customers, employees, and the organization itself.

Want to read more about uncovering the real customer journey? Check out our eBook on the subject here, where we break down the process in five simple steps!

3 Powerful Ways to Create Engaging Transactional Customer Surveys

Few elements of customer engagement matter more than well-designed transactional customer surveys. You need feedback from your customers and they deserve a chance to provide it. And a well-designed survey can help everyone achieve these respective goals. With that in mind, we’re going to take you through a few principles that can turn any survey from a questionnaire to a conversation. Let’s get after it.

  • Key #1: Design With The End in Mind
  • Key #2: Keep It Short
  • Key #3: Invitations are Everything

Key #1: Design With The End in Mind

A lot of brands out there believe that the best way to get information from their customers is to throw a bunch of questions at the wall and see which ones stick. That strategy may get you some intel, but it’s nowhere near as effective as designing with the end in mind. This strategy is all about considering what you actually plan to do with the info you want to collect.

For example, do you want to better understand why retention is looking a bit down this quarter? Maybe it’s time to assess how well your employees and locations adhere to company standards? Whatever business goal you have in mind, designing your surveys around specific objectives will make them far more useful to you and your customers. You can gather information vital to accomplishing your goals, and customers can alert you to problems and process breakages that a more general survey wouldn’t have picked up.

Key #2: Keep It Short

One of the reasons customers either abandon surveys halfway through or outright ignore them is because they’re too long. The funny thing is that a lot of brands don’t mean for surveys to become long-winded. They usually start out short, but slowly accrue too many questions from other stakeholders over time.

A good rule of thumb for any transactional survey is that it should take no longer than five minutes to complete. That limit is important to bear in mind as you decide which questions to include and which to cut. Additionally, save ratings-based questions for the most important parts of the experience.

Finally, consider what data you may already have from other systems and listening posts. If you’re asking questions related to those areas, consider cutting those questions out.

Key #3: Invitations Are Everything

Creating an enticing invitation is one of the most overlooked parts of survey design. Recipients pay a lot of attention to how well invitations are designed and factor that into accepting whatever it’s for. Thus, it’s never a bad idea to put some time into making your survey link or invitation look good. Whether it’s a beautiful design or a funny one-liner, think about what your customers might appreciate seeing in a survey invite and act accordingly.

The Benefits of Transactional Customer Surveys

Keeping these three principles in mind can supercharge any brand’s survey design and create a noticeable uptick in customer responses. Armed with that new intelligence, brands can be more aware than ever of their strengths, their weaknesses, and how to go about both of these elements to create a peerless experience for their customers.

Click here to learn more about survey design best practices from expert Dave Ensing.

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