Satisfaction is Based on Expectation: 7 Steps to Closing the Gap

Do you know what your customers expect when they walk into your location?

It’s a simple question, though for most the answer to that question can be quite difficult. That’s unfortunate because in many ways the level of success that a business can achieve is limited by how close they can get to truly delivering on those customer expectations.

I was listening to a radio presenter introducing singing sensation Adele recently, what he said stuck with me:

“There’s nothing quite like the feeling, when you’re listening to a song, written by someone you don’t know, who you’ve never met, who somehow manages to describe exactly how you felt at a particular moment in your life…”

What a wonderful introduction to a great artist, and in the context of business a simple yet lofty goal to strive for. As a business, is it possible to have such a deep understanding of your customers that you can create and deliver an experience so exceptional that it feels almost as though your store or restaurant was created solely for them? Segment leaders seem to be able to deliver experiences for their customers that are so in tune with expectations that the vendor/customer dynamic achieves an almost emotional level.

It’s this ability to separate oneself from the competitive pack with truly exceptional experiences that has started to put business leaders in all markets on notice. Products and services may become commodities, but fully satisfying a customer’s expectations can build a more robust level of loyalty. So the next question is how do I get there and where do I start?

When implementing CEM it’s important to think beyond simply the products and technology that will be in play, and look at what your brand is trying to accomplish from a programme standpoint.

I like to look at programme development in 7 steps:

1. Business success modeling

What do you really want to accomplish with the programme?

2. Questionnaire development

What are the right questions to be asking to gather the right data to make informed decisions?

3. Data acquisition

Gather customer feedback through whatever channels or technologies are most appropriate.

4. Report delivery

Report on the initial findings as a first phase of analysis.

5. Solution identification

Perform a deep dive analysis of what drives loyalty to your brand, and what factors can be adjusted to improve on this.

6. Solution implementation

Put the improvement plan into action.

7. Brand advocate mobilisation

Enable your best fans to share their great experiences.

Seven steps to help uncover the formula for delivering exactly what your customers are looking for.

Leverage Your VoC Program to the Fullest Potential

If I were a betting man, and Steve Wynn’s newest car indicates that I am, I would bet your organization is not extracting as much value as it could from your Voice of the Customer (VoC) program.

Too often businesses maintain an extremely narrow focus with their VoC efforts and utilize it purely for front-line performance management. While I would be the first to acquiesce that performance management should be a core tenet of VoC, I would also state that the program should be used for much more.

To give you a flavor of what I am talking about, ask yourself the following questions:

Does Your VoC Program Assist in Testing New Products?

A typical VoC program asks about how a business did today and omits the opportunity to gain insight into new products and services they could offer tomorrow. As a business leader, you should constantly be striving to learn and understand how your business could be adding more value to the lives of your customers. An easy way to begin this process is to simply ask your current customers a few different questions, such as:

  • “How could (insert your company name) be adding more value?”
  • “You currently use/have used our Product X. Are there any additional products or services we could offer to help you get more value out of Product X?”
  • “Please rate your level of interest in purchasing Service X (a new product) from us.”

The questions above are purely intended to kick start the hamster on your ‘idea wheel’, not specific questions that accomplish what I am suggesting. Additionally, I am not insinuating that adding a few questions to a survey replaces your existing R&D and market research efforts. If you test the waters with your customers and ask them what they want in existing VOC channels, you could potentially spur more rapid innovation and significantly enhance your forward thinking efforts.

Does Your VOX Program Inform Customers of Feedback-inspired Changes?

It boggles my mind when I learn about organizations that make fabulous improvements in their products or services based on customer feedback, and they fail to communicate to their customers that this was based on their feedback. Tell customers when you change something as a result of their feedback!

I frequently get asked, “How can I improve my survey response rates?” A simple way to increase your survey response rates is to demonstrate to customers that you are actively using the data they provide. Too often customers think that their surveys go into the ether, and for most companies, survey results do go into a vacuum. Be bold, be different, and celebrate the hell out of customer feedback and what it is delivering to your business. Customers will respond by giving you more feedback.

  • Put a brief prompt in your call center IVR telling customers what you did.
  • Put up signage in your stores.
  • At least do something!

Does Your VoC Program Understand the Context Behind Feedback?

Most often VoC program surveys will contain questions about individual employee or overall experience attributes. Such as:

  • “Please rate the knowledge of the individual that assisted you.”
  • “Did the associate take ownership of your issue?”

While those questions are good, unless you know the underlying customer perceptions and context of the response, the simple quantitative data they produce may be tough to coach on. For example, Mindshare met with a fashion retail organization that uses a knowledge rating question like the ones above. When we asked the VOC leadership team what ‘knowledge’ in bullet 1 referred to, and how they should coach their store associates on the scores, we received some very different answers. It means “knowledge of fashion trends” or “knowledge of the store’s inventory and product location” or even “knowledge of pricing” etc. All are “right”, but all have very different coaching steps and context associated with them.

If there was no alignment among the 4 people in the room, there was probably a disparity at the field and store management level as well. They needed to quickly get to the bottom of what type of ‘knowledge’ is most important to their customer base, and drive that out into their training programs. To accomplish this, we suggested an insertion of a ‘verbatim’ opportunity, an open-ended response where customers could describe what a ‘knowledgeable sales associate’ was to them. This question was live in their feedback system for a short period of time where Mindshare gathered massive amounts of data which we then utilized our comment analytics technology, and “Voila!” – Instant coaching bliss. They now understand exactly what ‘knowledge’ means to their key customers.

My point here is simple: make sure you understand the customer’s perception of any experiential attributes you are asking about in your VoC program. Without that underlying understanding, your coaching efforts could be a little off.

Continually Innovate on any VoC Program

This is just a sampling of some of the innovative things you can do with an existing VoC program. If you are only doing basic performance management, we need to talkor talk to your current VoC Advisor, Evangelist, Guru, or whatever their title isbecause you are not fully leveraging the power of your VoC program. You could also be leaving precious information and money on the table.

If implemented properly, these insights can be gained in very simple, tactical ways. You can potentially save your business massive amounts of money and provide the enterprise with phenomenal new data. You can avoid survey toxicity, enhance customer experiences, and we’ll all live happily ever after.

Learn more how VoC can help you build a friendlier, more customer-friendly business with InMoment today.

Mystery Shopping vs. Customer Feedback: Which is Better?

Thanks to the internet and mobile technology, it’s become a lot easier to gather valuable feedback from a larger sample of customers. So does that mean that more indirect, “old school” methods like using mystery shoppers has become passé? Not necessarily – but it’s probably not the best method of gathering customer experience insights, especially if it’s the only solution you’re using.

While mystery shopping can still be a part of your customer experience management activities, it plays a supporting role as an auditing of minimum service standards. A trained mystery shopper can tell you whether or not a product or service is being sold in the way it was intended. Is the sales staff covering off key points when describing the product? How hard are they working to close the sale? Is it being displayed properly in the store?  What you won’t learn is how the customer feels about the actual product or the way it was presented to them. What’s more, mystery shopping isn’t overly cost efficient. For every one observation you get in a month, you can get 30 more from actual customers using customer feedback – and while you might be able to chalk up one bad mystery shopping experience to a bad day, it’s harder to argue with a multitude of real customers who feel your store isn’t living up to their expectations.

That’s not to say that mystery shopping can’t serve a purpose for you. You can still use it to provide an audit of your customer feedback efforts that will provide a better understanding of your customers, their expectations and their interactions with your brand.  A focused campaign of mystery shopping on underperforming locations can help uncover the tangible problems in that store or restaurant.

If it’s a true customer reflection you’re looking for, direct customer feedback can provide you with more relevant and more accurate “in the moment” information.  In fact, it’s become the method of choice for companies who are looking to understand the voice of their customers. And the ROI on listening to your real customers who are emotionally invested in your brand is far greater than feedback that comes from someone who’s paid to make observations on pre-determined criteria.

Mystery shopping has historically helped organizations understand the difference between good and bad – but only direct customer feedback allows you to understand great and striving to be great is the only thing that will transform your business.

Learn more about Customer Experience Management solutions.

4 Keys to Keeping Your Job in Retail

I came across a rather thought-provoking quote the other day. It was from Sam Walton, founder of Walmart:

“There is only one boss. The customer.  And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

It’s a thought that most would consider common sense. It’s obvious that with no customers to buy your goods, then you’d have no business. Not only is it critical to have customers, but ensuring they keep coming back is even more important.

It’s interesting then, that according to Empathica’s consumer insights research this past May, we discovered that 58.5% of consumers agreed that customer service was getting worse. That’s an incredible stat that seemingly flies in the face of common sense. Why would you want to alienate close to two thirds of your customer base?

The result of this is, in today’s world of retail, the biggest opportunities for growth no longer lie in product innovation. Instead, as some have started to promote, the idea that exceptional service should be added to the list of products you offer.

Retailers need to tap back in to the emotional connection that consumers can build when brands are able to deliver on an exceptional experience and compelling promise. But where does one start? Or rather, how can I define a path to improvement? At a brand level, and at a location level.

That’s where customer experience programs come in.

The reality is that customer experience management is not a new concept. However, customer behaviors are changing and the expectations they carry have changed as well.  That’s why at Empathica, we see four keys to building a better customer experience.

  1. Identify the key touch points in the customer journey
  2. Orchestrate a memorable and unique retail brand experience
  3. Build an emotional connection and link the shopper + brand + lifestyle + associate + product equation
  4. Build customer advocacy

Building that memorable experience for your customers can give them a sense of ownership and emotional connection to your brand. In today’s retail climate this is the only way to grow your business in a sea of commodity products.

If Sam Walton where still around, he might even tell you it’s the only way to keep your job…

Your Voice Analytics Strategy & the All-Important “Now What?” Test

When creating your Voice Analytics strategy, make sure your solution can answer the all-important ‘now what?’ test.

Let’s put this test to work against the most typical Voice Analytics solutions in EFM/VoC.

Here are a few common, yet less useful Voice Analytics scenarios:

  • “I know the top ten keywords used by my customers in phone survey feedback.” (Now what?)
  • “I am told I need to have a word cloud.” (Now what?)
  • “My competitors were mentioned 143 times by customers!” (Now what?)

See? It’s that simple. The above scenarios cannot easily and usefully answer the “now what?” question. While they are all very interesting factoids, what practical action steps do they drive? If you cannot take action with your Voice Analytics, why bother with it at all?

Contrast those with the following useful cases:

  • “My least satisfied customers complain about long hold times.” (Now what? Hire more contact center agents and/or reduce talk times.)
  • “When dissatisfied with order accuracy, my drive-thru customers most often use the phrase ‘missing … toy’.” (Now what? Change the assembly process and train employees to double check that toys are included in every bag.)

These Voice Analytics scenarios easily pass the test because they lead to actions that produce measurable operational improvements. When creating your Voice Analytics strategy, make sure your solution can answer the all-important “now what?” test.

Mindshare’s focus: Insights and Action

If you’re going to collect feedback, you need to act on it. Like Text Analytics, your Voice Analytics results should be actionable and drive decisions that result in operational improvements. All analytics must pass the “now what?” test. When you see Voice Analytics results, ask yourself, “now what?” The answer should be an action that drives measurable results for a Return on Investment (ROI).

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