Interviews Aren’t Dead: How B2B Companies Can Learn More from Their Buyers

B2B purchasing decisions are complex. They’re financial. They’re political. But more than anything—they’re unpredictable. While B2B firms have more systems in place than ever to predict sales outcomes, they’re still blindsided when prospects choose another vendor.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! To avoid this fate, it’s critical to have a process in place for exploring, analyzing, and improving the buyer experience—win or lose. You might have already guessed it, but I’m talking about buyer interviews.

Using the Right Listening Technique

There’s no one right way to collect feedback. It depends on the audience, the timing, the circumstances, and ultimately—what you’re trying to learn. Whether you’re sending SMS surveys, analyzing social reviews, or conducting phone interviews, it’s about using the right listening technique for the situation to get the best results.

Following the methodology below, our own customer experience (CX) program (Elevate) is successfully getting feedback from upwards of 90% of closed sales opportunities in our best months—and the insights are invaluable.

Here’s what we’re doing and why we think it is successful. 

Building Human Connections

For our post-opportunity listening post, we’ve found that interviews are the most effective way to engage buyers. And the intelligence we glean from these “buyer interviews” is impactful across teams.

Interviews can either supplement or replace a post-sales survey. I’ve found that many buyers actually prefer spending 30 minutes on the phone with me rather than two-minutes completing a survey. 

Also, the suggestion of a phone call lets the client know that we’re willing to take the time to listen—that we care, we want to learn, and we want to improve. It’s all about building that human connection, and it is a great way to get sticky with new clients and show your investment from the start. 

Buyer Interviews Process

Now, I bet you’re wondering how we efficiently scale this largely manual process!

First, we conduct dozens of interviews each quarter. The open-ended nature of an interview allows us to ask all of the right questions and follow the conversation wherever the respondent takes it. And we use the robust insights to drive cross-functional action. Across all of our listening posts, I can confidently say buyer interviews have quickly become one of our most beloved data sources. 

The Insights

Here are some of the things we’ve learned—and the teams that have benefited—by rolling out our buyer interview program:

  • Pricing (sales ops)
  • Roadmap Investments (product)
  • Messaging, Packaging, and Competitive (product marketing)
  • Demos (solution consultants)
  • Presentations (sales directors)
  • Renewal Strategy (client success)

At a regular cadence, our “Experience Improvement Board” looks at the emerging themes, chooses projects and specific actions, and assigns an executive owner. This owner then forms a “tiger team” to research and tackle the project—and reports on progress each month! 

Time to Get Started!

If buyer interviews are not currently part of your post-opportunity strategy, they should be. They will not only increase your response rate, but will give you additional intelligence and insight into what your buyers expect from your company. It’s the most personal way to request feedback and build lasting relationships, win or lose.

I’m not done sharing the successes of our buyer interview program. In subsequent blogs, I will talk about some of the questions we ask during interviews, challenges you may face in your conversations (and how to overcome them), interview do’s and don’ts, how to build your “interview team,” and what sorts of insights you should specifically try to gain from interviews.

But in the meantime, if you have questions about launching or refining your own buyer interview program, I’d love to talk to you. I’m Josh Marans, Director Experience Improvement at InMoment, and you can find me on Linkedin.

How to Eliminate Friction in Your Customer Journey

What Is Friction in the Customer Journey?

When most folks think of friction, they probably think of middle school science class. But if you’re a customer experience professional, “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.

Why Is It Important to Reduce Friction in the Customer Journey?

Did you know that the average business today loses between 10-30% of its customers annually?

Additionally, research by Carlson Marketing shows that U.S. companies lose 50% of their customers every five years. Multiply the amount of churning customers by the lifetime value (LTV) of the average customer at your organization and losing customers at this rate means losing millions of dollars!

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.

How Can You Eliminate Friction in the Customer Journey?

#1: Understand 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.

One of the most impactful methods to identify these moments and then reduce friction across your customer journey is InMoment’s Touchpoint Impact Mapping. Touchpoint Impact Mapping is a innovative way of understanding the moments that matter to customers. It is unique because it is based entirely on comment data drawn from customer feedback, ensuring a more accurate view of the customer’s memory of their experience. This creates an emotional picture of the journey that highlights what is most important to customers and also allows our clients to prioritize those moments that matter most to their customers.

Click here to hear how banking giant, Virgin Money, leveraged Touchpoint Impact Mapping to identify a key friction point and then improve its customer onboarding experience!

What’s more, once you’ve identified those high-impact moments, you 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.

#2: Talk to Employees

Research has even shown that a highly engaged workforce increases profitability by 21%! So, 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.

Want to learn more about how employees can help you decrease friction in the customer journey and grow customer loyalty and value? Check out this infographic!

#3: 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. And that’s going to become crucial in the next few years. Why? Because only 19% of U.S. Gen Z customers are likely to complete a traditional survey.

Instead of relying solely on direct 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!

3 Reasons Human Expertise is Essential to Experience Improvement

A lot of companies and organizations have gotten a very specific idea of how experience programs and human expertise work into their collective minds these last 20 or so years. The impression is this: experience programs are fully autonomous solutions that can pretty much be set and forget. They can automatically gather data and use that information to solve your business challenges, build better relationships with customers, and help you achieve Experience Improvement (XI).

There’s a good reason this impression is so prevalent: it’s a pretty accurate description of a lot of the experience programs and vendors you’ll find out there. The catch, though, is that technology and data alone can’t actually address any of the factors I laid out in the preceding paragraph. There’s a gap between tech and outcomes that many vendors gloss over in their rush to provide reaction-based, purely DIY solutions, and that’s human expertise. 

What follows are three reasons human expertise is vital to actually bridging that tech-outcome gap and creating Experience Improvement for your customers, employees, and marketplace:

  1. Best Practices
  2. Problems and Priorities
  3. Marketplace Intel

Reason #1: Best Practices

When you boost your experience program with human expertise, you’ll have armed yourself with countless best technology practices. It’s true that technology has produced some extremely powerful tools, such as sentiment analysis, but you need human expertise and consultancy to help identify which sentiments are most relevant to your Experience Improvement goals. 

In other words, even a tech engine needs a driver. Putting a consultant or thought leader in that seat will make a world of difference for your experience program’s effectiveness. Take time to consider which goals you need your experience program to help realize, design that program with the end in mind, and keep someone at the helm who can make sure your initiative doesn’t stray from the path. 

Reason #2: Problems & Priorities

Another reason that fully autonomous experience solutions often fail the brands that use them is that they lack dynamism. They’re programmed with a specific set of parameters and will barge ahead even when problems arise or priorities shift. That’s another reason human expertise is invaluable in a CX setting; having someone handy who can identify problems when they arise or read new writing on the wall can feed that insight directly into your experience program, supercharging its effectiveness.

Even if some of the DIY experience tools out there allow users to tweak for factors like these, doing so without the aid of an experienced practitioner can still leave you open to mistakes. On the flip side, arming yourself with that expertise can make you aware of larger trends and deeper problems than a few cursory adjustments to program parameters can account for. 

Reason #3: Marketplace Intel

There’s a market research element to human expertise that can help take your experience program (and your brand) to the very top of your vertical. Experience initiative success stems from a few places, like successfully closing the loop and implementing meaningful transformations, but it also comes from a deep knowledge of your brand’s marketplace landscape. This means understanding customer segments, knowing where to find unsolicited data, and identifying new and emerging trends.

A versatile and powerful Experience Improvement platform can eventually come to account for factors like these, but only when guided by human experience and insight. It takes that expertise to identify audience segments, unsolicited data sources, and more. These experts can then help pour that context and insight directly into your platform, allowing your experience team to furnish specifical, meaningful solutions to your business challenges. It’ll also enable you to do something no DIY program can do: create bold, human, and meaningful relationships with customers that will stand the tests of time and competition.

Creating Experiences, Not Just Numbers

How else can human expertise help shape Experience Improvement success, and how best can brands combine their tech with expertise to create better outcomes for customers, employees, and their marketplace position? To learn more, click here to read my point of view document. I go into greater detail on the nature of human expertise and how intersecting that with technology the right way will help you realize the goals outlined here.

5 Simple Steps Retailers Can Take to Build Stronger Relationships with Customers

Customer loyalty has become more elusive in the past few years. As customers seem to shop solely based on the best deal, it can be difficult to build customer loyalty in retail, which leaves many brands wondering if customer loyalty is even worth the effort.

However challenging it may be for retailers, developing a loyal customer base is essential to maintaining an active, healthy brand. A loyal customer is valuable to retailers in a multitude of ways. Many studies show that repeat customers are likely to purchase more frequently, spend more money, and pay a premium for a product. In addition to generating more income from their own purchases, loyal customers are more likely to refer new customers to the brand, furthering the cycle of customer retention.

As a retailer, how do you build these types of relationships with your customers? Read below for our five best tips.

5 Ways to Build Customer Loyalty in Retail

Step #1: Personal Experience

Your frontline staff play a large role in converting a customer from an occasional shopper to a brand advocate. Train your employees to go above and beyond to provide your customers with helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable service to create an experience your customers will remember. Work toward a culture of centered on employee engagement and provide your staff with regular training, feedback, and incentives to encourage consistently excellent performance. Simply put, investing in employee engagement saves you money.

Step #2: Store Experience

Is your retail store an inviting place for customers to spend their time? If you design your store to provide an appealing experience, customers will be more likely to visit your store as an activity or a destination. Your store should be clean, attractive, and easy to navigate. In addition to the physical design and layout of your store, pay close attention to your inventory. Customers expect stores to be well-stocked with high-quality merchandise.

Remember that retail purchases are intertwined with a shopper’s life, image, and identity. Your store experience and aesthetics should affirm to customers that your brand is a good fit with their lifestyle and personal identity.

Step #3: Price and Value

Retailers often mistakenly think that customers will only buy the cheapest product available, regardless of the brand or retailer. While this may be true in some markets, many consumers are willing to pay more if they feel the price matches the product’s quality. Price your products so that the perceived value is high. Sales, coupons, and promotions can also help customers feel like your brand offers a good value.

Many customers will pay slightly more to shop at a store that provides a better experience and that treats their employees well. As you improve your brand’s personal and store experience, your perceived value will increase.

Step #4: Marketing and Communication

Once you’ve fine-tuned your brand experience and product pricing, you can begin to promote customer loyalty through marketing campaigns. Your marketing and communication efforts should positively reflect your brand. As you plan your marketing strategy, prioritize brand voice and consistency across all of your channels (e.g. social media, email marketing, online advertising, and in-store promotions). If you have customers who enthusiastically promote your brand online, engage with them and encourage their behavior.

Again, consider that loyal customers will consider purchases from your brand as an extension of their personality and lifestyle. Use this to your advantage as you build customer relationships through your marketing campaigns.

Step #5: Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are a great way to incentivize customers to visit your store more frequently. Discounts and promotions that are tied to a loyalty program can help customers feel that you value their business. The data generated by loyalty programs is also very valuable. When implemented correctly, you can use this data to help customers find products they’ve purchased in the past or return an item without the hassle of a receipt. On the retailer’s side, this data can also be used to learn more about customer purchasing habits and establish net promoter score. As always, use and protect customer data appropriately and with discretion.

As you harmonize the touchpoints of your retail brand, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by improved customer relationships and a stronger bottom line. InMoment’s products are designed to help retailers create a positive brand experience and to cultivate lasting relationships. Learn more about our products and services for retailers.

3 Tips for Insurance CX Programs Looking to Collect Valuable CX Data

Insurance brands have a unique set of challenges to overcome in order to find the valuable customer experience (CX) data they need to improve experiences. Insurance customers are buying into a long-term relationship, which means building brand trust is extremely important to keep customer retention rates high. And for insurance CX programs, customer data is a key source of information that can help insurance companies cultivate a growing trust with their consumers. 

So how do you collect the most valuable feedback from your customers? We have three tips for you to apply to your own CX strategies:

Tip #1: It’s Time to Rethink the Voice of Customer

For insurance CX programs, listening to the voice of customer shouldn’t mean collecting as much data as possible. Instead, the goal should be to collect the data that matters. For example, many insurance CX programs survey with metric-based questions and get consistently high scores from customers. But what they’re not receiving is actionable feedback to improve further. This can be solved by focusing more on unstructured questions to allow customers to actually express what they’re thinking about. 

Another important thing to consider when listening to the Voice of Customer is when your CX team is listening along the customer journey. That can matter just as much as the type of questions you’re asking. So think about the different touchpoints that pose potential for valuable CX data. 

Insurance CX programs commonly hone in on claim submission with their surveys, but it’s actually rare for a customer to do so in the first place. On the other hand, paying bills is a much more frequent action that customers take and could give your program greater access to the Voice of Customer. 

What kind of questions you ask and when you ask them in the customer journey can make a big difference in the data you’ll collect.

Tip #2: Are Traditional Surveys Really Your Best Bet?

The next question you have to ask is, “are surveys really the best way to engage customers?” Traditionally, surveys have been a core part of CX programs for insurance brands but it’s time to move beyond that. In our 2022 Experience Trends Report we discovered that Gen Z customers and employees in the U.S. are about 19-22% likely to complete a traditional survey.

This doesn’t mean we should discard survey methods for the rest of time, however. It just means we need to evolve with customers’ expectations. Providing channels other than traditional surveys for customer feedback—like video, microsurveys, or speech—can help your insurance CX program reach a wider range of the customers you’re trying to cater to. 

Tip #3: Remember, CX Data Is for Proving ROI

Executives in insurance companies have a specific language they speak—and communicating with them effectively is the best way you can prove Return on Investment (ROI). The CX data on its own isn’t enough, you need to translate numbers and comments into meaning. When you speak your C-Suite’s language, your executives will be onboard with your program and you’ll have more opportunities to build that high level of trust with customers. 

This is especially crucial since insurance customers are in it for the long run. If they don’t believe your business is improving customer satisfaction efforts overtime, then their loyalty will dwindle. If your insurance brand has customers who have been with you for years, it’s in your best interest to make their voice heard among your executive board.

Want more tips on how to improve your insurance brand’s CX program? Check out this video about understanding customer expectations from InMoment Client, Aegon!

Customer Experience 101: 7 Common Types of Surveys

Surveys are a way to compile data from a group of people, but they can be more than that. Surveys are also direct insight into your customers and information about how they feel about your company, products, and services. How did your customers perceive your most recent product launch? How do they feel about your company’s social media presence? Surveys are a direct line to find out and glean valuable information about your customers and your company. 

But not all surveys are the same, and different types of surveys can provide different insights. There are many types of surveys your company can choose from, and it can be hard to determine which one would be the best for your needs. So to help you figure out the right type of survey for your needs, we’ll walk you through the most common survey types, the benefits of using surveys, and how to get started today. 

The Most Common Types of Surveys

There are so many survey types, but we’ll explore 7 types of surveys in depth since these are the most common and beneficial for most companies. 

Online Surveys

Online surveys are one of the most popular types of surveys and for good reason. Online surveys are easy to create, disseminate, and gather responses—challenges many other survey types face. Using an online survey platform, your company can create a survey easily and quickly—often with a wide range of question types—and send it out to customers within seconds. Your customers can then answer the survey at their convenience and send their responses back to you instantaneously. 

In addition, online surveys are beneficial for companies that have a wide reach and customers around the world. Online surveys are accessible by anyone anywhere with only the click of a button. You can reach a wide audience with this type of survey. 

But like any survey type, online surveys do have their cons. Online surveys could be accessed anywhere, but the survey recipient has to have internet access. There are parts of the globe and some households that don’t have internet access (or easy access to public internet) that could be valuable contributors to your survey. In addition, online surveys can provide a wealth of information, but they fall short in some depth. There’s no organic way to ask follow up questions or to probe deeper into an answer when you want more insights. 

Paper Surveys

Paper surveys are sometimes looked at as old fashioned, but they do still reach an audience that can’t access many other forms of surveying. Many audiences—like senior citizens or those without internet access—are far more likely to respond or far more comfortable with paper surveys than online surveys. Plus paper surveys are often easier to read for many since they’re printed in large fonts with black text on white paper. 

But one major con of paper surveys is that they can be pricier. Paper surveys have to be printed off, sometimes in large quantities, to reach your audience. That can add up if you’re trying to reach a large amount of people. In addition, paper surveys aren’t the most environmentally friendly way to survey. 

Mail Surveys

Mail surveys are one of the most traditional surveying methods. While some people may look at them as old fashioned, there’s a reason this method has been around for so long: it feels authentic and offers you access to an audience that may be less inclined to respond online. Those demographics who are less likely to answer an online email survey are often familiar with mail surveys and will be willing to respond. In addition, mail surveys also have a wide geographic reach since most places are accessible by post. 

When it comes to mail surveys, there are a couple of things to plan for in advance. First, creating the surveys can often be simple, and you do only need to print them off to distribute. But you should keep in mind that your response rate will often be lower if you don’t pre-paid return envelopes for the participants. One drawback of mail surveys is that they require some extra work on the part of the survey participants—something that often lowers response rates. You’ll want to reduce that level of work as much as possible by providing return envelopes that simply need to be dropped in a mailbox. 

That brings up the second con of mail surveys: they can cost your company a little bit more. The cost of printing, envelopes, and postage can add up—but could be worth it for the responses you receive. Second, when it comes to response rate, less is more. Mail surveys have a better completion rate if they’re short. Try to keep your survey to about a page. Not only will that increase your chances of completed responses, short surveys also reduce printing and postage costs. 

Telephone Surveys

Telephone surveys are another more old fashioned method of surveying that has been around since landlines. Now that nearly everyone carries a phone with them or has one at phone, telephone surveys are alive and well in surveying methods. For a telephone survey, a real live interviewer will ask a series of questions and record responses. With modern technology, it’s easy for interviewers to insert responses directly into a computer system to chart and track data. In addition, telephone surveys let interviewers add a personal touch to the conversation that isn’t possible for online, mail, or paper surveys. The chance to ask follow-up questions can give the interviewers a chance to probe for deeper insights and emotions. 

Telephone surveys still face a few cons. These surveys may be cost effective, but they should be kept short. Fifteen minutes is the cap for an effective phone survey. In addition, phone surveys run the risk of looking like a telemarketing call or being ignored. With the saturation of telemarketing calls, many cell phone users don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Some even block all unknown numbers. While telephone surveys can be effective, your team of interviewers will first have to be ignored a decent amount. 

In-Person Surveys

While paper and online surveys lack a personal touch, in-person surveys excel at that. With these surveys, interviewers are able to directly interact with a respondent and to ask follow up questions that really delve into the nuances and intricacies of a response. These surveys provide accuracy and profound insights. In addition, in-person interviews are a great way to collect responses from audiences with low literacy—something that may hinder groups from participating in other methods. 

While the insights gleaned from these surveys can be immensely valuable, there are still some cons to consider. In-person surveys can be time consuming. Your team will need to prepare a venue, schedule interviews, and spend the time actually performing the interviews. It’s a very hands-on process the entire time. In addition, in-person interviews run the risk of interviewer bias or inexperience. The interviewer is crucial to getting usable insights, so you will need to spend the time and money training or hiring one. Even a well-trained interviewer can still lead to interviewer bias skewing your information. 

Panel Surveys

Panel sampling is when you select a group of people to survey repeatedly over a period of time. Your respondents will be randomly selected from your target audience, and they’ll respond to several surveys over a determined period of time. Longitudinal studies are a great example of panel surveying. These surveys can provide long-term insights and show in-depth understanding of a target audience. In addition, your company could use a third-party research company to perform a large bulk of the research and to ensure it’s done at a high level of quality. 

But panel surveying takes time and preparation to make them effective and usable. In addition, some participants may choose to stop responding to surveys part way through the study, leaving you with gaps. Your company may need to provide incentives to encourage participants to follow through with the entire surveying process.  

Focus Group Surveys

Focus groups are a variation of in-person surveying methods that includes a panel of 6–10 people that represent the target population. All of these people will answer questions and hold a discussion, moderated by a professional who attempts to keep everything on track and as unbiased as possible. These surveys can reveal personal attitudes and perceptions for a sampling of your entire target population—something that can be very valuable for market research. 

The cons of focus groups, though, include the costs of preparing a moderator and participants. It can take time to select just the right panel of participants to make sure you are accurately exploring your target audience. You may also need to pay for the travel expenses and time of an effective moderator. Oftentimes you may also need to survey your focus group participants a second time to gather quantitative data, and that takes additional time and preparation. 

Benefits of Using Surveys

If surveys take time, preparation, and work, why do companies keep turning them for market research? Aren’t there easier ways? Well, there may be, but there are few ways that can give you such insight into your target populations and how your brand is performing. Surveys provide strategic benefits based on customer feedback that can help improve CX and improve brand loyalty.

Here are some other key benefits of using surveys: 

  • Large sampling size. Surveying can reach many customers in many locations or with many limitations. With a variety of surveys, you can reach people all over the world, people who don’t use the internet, and people who can’t normally participate in other marketing research methods. 
  • More cost-effective. Even the pricier types of surveying are fairly cost effective when compared to the valuable insights you can gain. 
  • Reliable and usable information. Surveys can give you information and insights that are a reliable reflection of your audience, especially of how they feel toward many parts of your brand. In addition, this information can actually be usable (with the right analysis) to improve your brand, customer experience, and, ultimately, ROI. 
  • Improve the brand experience. Your customers deserve a brand they trust and have a positive experience with. Using surveys, you can get real feedback from your customers and improve your brand experience in meaningful ways. 

How InMoment Can Help

If you’re ready to get started with surveying, InMoment can help today. InMoment’s Active Listening Studio provides your company with the tools you need to create strong surveys that will reach your audience and provide your team with the insights you need. InMoment surveys are conversations designed to reduce survey fatigue while ultimately capturing every customer story, so you can design products that will benefit them. 

Once you have survey data, the next step is to analyze it and thoroughly glean insights from the responses. Being able to make sense of information is where you’ll be able to create opportunities to increase revenue. InMoment’s analysis can help your company find actionable insights and feedback. 

Overall, surveys come in every shape and form—each one offering your team a new way to understand your customers and improve your customer experience and brand loyalty. With InMoment’s solutions, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the benefits of surveying and really understand your customers and be able to use that for actionable insights and informed business decisions. Conduct surveys and improve your customer experience with InMoment today. 

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Create More Inclusive Employee & Customer Experiences

Diversity and inclusion initiatives have become front and center for many organizations in recent years. It’s important for brands to create diverse and inclusive customer experiences (CX) and employee experiences (EX)—not ‘just’ because being more inclusive is the right thing to do, but also because organizations have a lot to gain from accommodating greater diversity in every experience they create.

Of course, an organization stating diversity and inclusion goals is a good start, but how can brands like yours translate such goals into tangible Experience Improvement (XI) strategies and tactics that create more inclusive customer experiences? There are many, many opportunities here, but the most important thing to do is to just get started. 

So, here are three quick thoughts you should apply right now to create more inclusive employee and customer experiences.

3 Keys to Creating More Inclusive Customer Experiences

  1. Key #1: Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
  2. Key #2: Engage New and All Audiences
  3. Key #3: Apply What You’ve Learned

Key #1: Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

It’s understandable for organizations to be intimidated by the prospect of making mistakes while attempting to accommodate and include new audiences. Such mistakes can quickly become viral via social media, review sites, and other tools, creating headaches both for brands and the customers (or employees) at the heart of such events.

Though this worry is certainly a valid concern, it’s better to accept that mistakes might be made and press forward with your diversity and inclusion efforts than to allow timidity to outright impede either. These are the growing pains of becoming more inclusive with your customer and employee experiences, and facing them head-on will also give your team an opportunity to consider how best to handle such mistakes and learn from them. 

Experience shows that both customers and employees accept that mistakes inevitably occur and are a result of activity. Being passive is not an option when trying to create more inclusive customer experiences. Overcome the fear of making mistakes and concentrate on a transparent and authentic way to deal with them when they occur.

Key #2: Engage All Audiences

If you’re still concerned about how best to connect to audiences you haven’t consistently talked to before, this is the section for you. For many years now, the big idea behind CX and EX programs has been to simply gather as much feedback as possible from as many people as possible. However, before turning any listening posts on, you should sit down with your team and design (or reorient) your experience initiatives with your end goals in mind. You must ensure that you give all audiences you want to hear from the opportunity to provide feedback. 

In this case, if your goal is to create more inclusive experiences, you should consider which audiences you need to reach out to and how to do so. This means doing some legwork to find out how those audiences communicate, what their preferences are, and bringing all of those insights to bear when meaningfully improving your experiences to accommodate diversity and inclusion. 

Also, don’t forget: You need the right tool to collect feedback from all audiences as well as to disseminate that information to all members of your organization. Make sure you are using accessibility tools like screen readers, larger font sizes, higher contrasts, etc.

Key #3: Apply What You’ve Learned

You can and should apply the above mindset to any experience goal you have across the entirety of your business. Applying it here will give you the intelligence and landscape map you need to achieve Experience Improvement (XI) for new audiences. 

However, intelligence and roadmaps are only half the battle; taking action is imperative to actually making your experiences more inclusive. The work is ceaseless and oftentimes difficult, but if your team is ready to continue making an effort, you can be assured that the audiences you need to reach will respond.

As you continue to take action on what those audiences tell you, you’ll be able to meaningfully transform your business and realize your goal of a more inclusive experience. Being more inclusive is an invaluable component of marketplace leadership, but it’s also what will set your organization apart from your competitors in your customers’ eyes. The result is a mutually beneficial, meaningfully improved experience that will demonstrate to all your organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion as well as faster revenue growth and higher profitability.

Click here to learn more about the importance of diverse and inclusive experiences in my full-length point of view article. I take a closer look at the topics explored here and go over a few other best practices you might not have had the chance to read about elsewhere.

3 CX Goals that Create Experience Improvement, Not Just More Data

It’s a commonly held belief among many brands—and the customer experience (CX) vendors that partner with them—that all it takes to solve your business challenges and meet CX goals is to turn on as many listening posts as possible. The idea behind this approach is to gather a mountain of ‘big data’ and thus be armed with every possible piece of information about your customers, your employees, other audience segments, and all their preferences.

The truth, though, is that there’s a gap between data and business challenges that just having data isn’t enough to bridge. A lot of CX vendors and programs fail to account for this gap, and thus many of these initiatives fail to make a difference. The secret to making a difference? A principle called designing with the end in mind, and connecting your CX program to quantifiable goals before any listening posts are even activated. I’m going to take you through three such goals that will help your CX program be the best it can be. Those goals are:

  • CX Goal #1: Customer Retention
  • CX Goal #2: Cross-Selling/Upselling
  • CX Goal #3: Customer Acquisition

CX Goal #1: Customer Retention

Given how much more expensive it is to onboard new customers than to keep existing ones, customer retention is a goal that permeates most every department of most every organization. A lot of brands want to use their CX program to retain customers, but they usually end up gathering a mountain of data and then trying to manually carve insights about their existing audience out of it.

It turns out that using this approach means that you’re working backwards. Rather than try to gather actionable insights only after accruing data, it’s far better for brands to dedicate at least part of their program design phase to figuring out which goals they need to achieve for their customer base. Which audience segments do you need to listen to? What channels do they use? Building your program around these questions will end up saving not ‘just’ customers, but a great deal of time and effort on your part.

CX Goal #2: Cross-Selling/Upselling

Once you’ve established which audience segments and channels suit your business goals, you can dive a bit deeper by identifying cross-selling and upselling opportunities within your customer base. This work requires nuance, but you can use the same design-with-the-end-in-mind approach here as with retaining your customers to unveil new revenue sources without having to onboard new customers. 

This goal ends up being something that a lot of brands overlook, but it should be a core driving ethos of your CX program. You should also make room within this goal for cross-shoppers and customers who transacted with you in the past but aren’t currently. With a well-designed CX program, the sky here is the limit.

CX Goal #3: Customer Acquisition

Acquiring new customers can be expensive, but everyone knows it’s a necessary goal to shoot for to sustain growth and market share. You can use the same audience segment and channel identification ethos here as with customer retention; the result will be the ability to find where new business lives and be there for it when your competitors can’t or won’t. In fact, researched properly, you can arm yourself with an idea of what these new customers will want before they themselves know!

Bridging The Gap

These three goals form a solid foundation for any customer experience program, and designing your program around them before activating your listening posts will enable you to actually bridge the gap between your big data and achieving Experience Improvement (XI). Knowing your audience and your marketplace landscape are integral parts of market experience (MX).

To learn more about how market experience shapes CX program goals and how best to get the lay of your marketplace landscape, click here to read my full-length PoV on using a combination of tech and market research to find and grow audience segments. Achieving an MX perspective takes time and effort, but the brands that master it are the masters of their verticals far more often than not.

3 Most Common CX Metrics Questions (And Their Answers)

Customer experience (CX) metrics are a CX program’s bread and butter. NPS, CSAT, and CES have historically been the main tools every program utilizes to have a systematic way of establishing a voice of customer (VoC) source and leveraging those findings to improve customer experiences. But it’s not easy—a CX metric score alone can’t create transformation.

CX metrics aren’t one-size-fits-all. Certain CX metrics are more fitting for specific industries—and even then your brand might not need to use the same metrics as your direct competitors. Case in point, there’s no one golden method to measuring CX metrics, which is actually why many businesses struggle to create a success framework. 

In our decades of experience helping brands to build programs (and the success frameworks that accompany them), we’ve noticed there are a few common obstacles companies face. Here are the three most common CX questions we get all the time: 

CX Metrics Question #1: What Metrics Can You Use to Determine Industry and Organizational Maturity?

Before you can answer this question for your company, there are three things you should answer first:

  • Are you measuring a customer experience—and is it satisfaction or NPS—or a metric that aligns with the goal you have?
  • What are you doing with it? How are the metrics of field services, retail, call-center, first-contact resolution, etc. used?
  • From an employee perspective, are you doing something beyond a basic employee engagement study? Or do you have an employee pulse metric by division, region, or queue?

There’s no one-size-fits-all metric that determines maturity—and should there be? Instead, you need to focus on where your company is on the journey toward your specific goals. Success, then, is determined by how close you are to achieving that goal, instead of a set of objective metrics that may not even relate to your business.  Truly mature organizations are aligned on specific business goals and have metrics directly attached to those individual goals. They frequently check in on those metrics and take action to move the needle and tie that success back to their experience programs.

CX Metrics Question #2: How Can You Tie Metrics Directly to CX and VoC Programs Versus Other Internal and External Factors?

The important thing is to look at your organization and how they talk about success—and learning to speak that language. Are you a finance, operations, or retention-focused organization? And how are you integrating operational, technical, and financial data with customer survey data?

Organizations that are technically or engineering focused often look for an extreme amount of precision. But survey data doesn’t always lead to one answer—or the answer you expect. The real question is, “how do you pull information together and communicate that collectively?” As much as the mathematical connections are crucial, so are the practical ones.

Ultimately, metrics can be tied either statistically or practically, but the latter is much more realistic for a business. For example, the broader benefits when enabling an entire organization is hard to quantify but there could be specific benefits your program has contributed to make a project more successful. Maybe the insights your program provided can take accountability for 10% of the project’s effects. Then you can say, “it wasn’t all from our VoC or CX program but we get credit for that 10%.”

Want to learn about the 4 areas where we see CX practitioners tie their efforts to the bottom line most successfully? Check out this infographic!

CX Metrics Question #3: When It Comes to Survey Analysis, What’s the Best Practice to Analyze Which Attributes Are Affecting NPS?

Let’s say your organization leadership is focusing in on NPS—where you are, what drives it, and so on. So, you try structural equation modeling, key driver analysis, or heavy duty analytics. That approach is equatable to killing a mosquito with a sledgehammer. Instead, you want to break methodology down to core factors—using statistical analysis or text analytics—to see what themes come out and categorize them according to where your organization is.

Now, at an executive level, you might not want to communicate the “R-squared” of the modeling. Usually, executives just want answers to the questions, “what’s driving NPS?” and “what should I do with it?” Your job is to articulate the answers in a clear and simple way throughout the organization. That will drive your success from the top down. But of course, you should still have in-depth analyses prepared in your back pocket if you encounter someone who is statistically oriented.

Wrapping Things Up

You probably still have a bunch of questions of your own. Like, “what are the best practices to make sure you’re appropriately capturing feedback across the customer journey?” Or, “how do you focus on the experiences that make the biggest impact to the bottomline?” 

If you’re looking for more resources and insight into CX metrics and ensuring your CX program delivers business value (ROI) to your organization, watch this webinar with third-party analyst firm, Forrester, to learn the answers.

Four Tips for Using Customer Data to Improve the E-Commerce Experience

E-commerce is one of the fastest growing industries of this decade. Thanks to COVID, digital roadmaps across industries have quickly accelerated. If you weren’t yet online, it didn’t take long for brands to adapt when brick and mortar businesses across Asia Pacific were forced to shut down in 2020 and 2021.  

It’s not been easy for e-commerce brands. After a whirlwind of COVID-spurred digital transformation, rapid brand expansion, and supply chain woes, consumer expectations and their relationships with e-commerce brands have changed before our eyes. So what can these brands do to get ahead of customer expectations? The key is to dive into your customer data. And we’re here to help.

Tip #1: Rethink the Digital Customer Journey

Because of the rapid growth that businesses have undergone, e-commerce brands have not had an opportunity to slow down and evaluate the experience they are delivering. The acceleration of digital roadmaps during the pandemic has meant that many elements might have been half-baked. Now that the “new normal” is underway, e-commerce brands should rethink the digital customer journey.

Tip #2: Invest in Customer Care

A lot of businesses had to scale back their customer care teams during the pandemic because they couldn’t cope with the sheer amount of call volumes enquiring about updated delivery processes and updated policies. We saw in these times of crisis that much of customer care is related to the digital journey. When customers have an inquiry, you need to find ways for customers to self-serve or use technology to reduce the number of enquiries that need to involve your care team.

Tip #3: Upgrade Your Technology

Advanced technology is now available to intercept customers browsing on site, and ask them questions to understand their current experience. InMoment’s Digital Intercept solution has the ability to capture rich data from logged in users when they’re taking a survey. 

You can also integrate InMoment’s Rapid Resolution Engine, which is designed to analyse customer verbatim in real time. The technology uses tags that are customised to your businesses to provide helpful links, ultimately resolving concern and complaints,  or “solve in survey,” before customers have to call into the contact centre. 

Tip #4: Collect All Pieces of Data Possible: Explicit + Implicit + Operational

Most brands are proficient at collecting explicit data like NPS scores and customer verbatim. But have you considered layering implicit data over the top of it? Implicit data points like customer sentiment, emotion, cursor movement, and more can help you paint a more accurate picture of the customer experience. As a final step, adding in operational data like customer value and  segmentation will allow you to be really targeted to the best place to trigger a digital intercept along the customer journey. 

For more on upgrading customer experiences in e-commerce, check out this eBook “4 Digital Quick Wins” 

Quality, Not Quantity: Strategic Customer Listening for Experience Improvement

For many years now, conventional wisdom has held that the best way to listen to as many customers as possible is to turn every customer listening post within your customer experience (CX) program on and simply capture all insights that come your way. This strategy makes a simple kind of sense on paper; if you’re listening to as many people as possible, you’re bound to hear something pertinent to your CX and organizational goals, right?

The answer to that question is more complicated than conventional wisdom would have you believe. While it’s true that this approach will gain you a lot of data, a large portion of it may be wholly irrelevant to the CX goals you’re trying to achieve. At the same time, you may miss out on highly relevant data when you focus only on customer listening posts while leaving other signals, such as behavioral and operational data, aside. 

So, is there a better, more efficient way to find data pertinent to what you need your program to achieve? As it happens, the answer is yes, and we’re going to get into it right now!

Where the Drive for Data Came From

If there’s a more targeted approach to gathering the data and insights you need to achieve Experience Improvement (XI), why is the standard approach to simply gather as much data as possible? To answer this question, we need to remember that over the last 20 years, the word “data” has been seen by many organizations as a prescription for any business, technology, or marketplace problem. At the same time, the cost to capture and analyze data has also gone down significantly.

But don’t be under any illusions;  just turning listening posts on and gathering as much data as possible does not translate directly to actionable business and experience solutions. Frankly, in most cases where CX programs are not focused and use all kinds of listening posts but rarely all relevant behavioral, operational, and contextual data, the resulting insights frequently leave brands with an endlessly tall mountain of white noise. That’s the state of affairs for far too many experience programs, and it’s why a lot of them fail.

A Better Approach

Rather than begin by flipping every light switch on and inhaling as much data as possible, brands should take a further step back when activating or refurbishing their experience program. They must, quite simply, design their program with their end goal in mind before any listening posts are even activated and before deciding which other data to ingest. 

Taking time to design with the end in mind also allows you to consider which audiences are most relevant to which goals, as well as the approaches you need to take in order to connect to each one. This is a more targeted methodology than simply lying in wait for a large lake of data, and while it requires more initial legwork, the end result is a wealth of actionable intelligence that by and large curates itself.

Starting with clarity on intended outcomes and getting company-wide agreement on key performance indicators (KPI’s)  gives your team concrete, quantifiable goals to connect your initiative to. It lays the basis for the management support and corporate buy-in you need to be successful.

Applying What You’ve Learned

Whether you’re intending to strengthen loyalty and grow your business with existing customers or to make efforts to win new ones, the approach I’ve laid out here makes all the difference when it comes not ‘just’ to ensuring the success of your CX program, but also creating Experience Improvement for your customers and employees that drives business outcomes. Patience and forethought will save you time that you’d otherwise spend attempting to connect data to business outcomes.

And, don’t forget to design your customer listening posts (and, consequently, your products and services) in an inclusive way. This is imperative not only from an ethical perspective, but also key to making your Experience Improvement initiatives truly effective from CX and EX standpoints.

Click here to read my full-length PoV on how customer listening with diversity and inclusion in mind can make the methodology I’ve detailed here even more beneficial for your customers, your employees, and your bottom line.

Improve the Customer Journey

If your products or services aren’t performing well, it might not be because of the product itself. Instead, there could be a problem with the customer journey. Your customers’ journey can drastically affect how your customers experience your company—and whether or not they eventually become loyal to your brand. And it’s because of this fact that improving your customer journey is vital to overall business success. Wondering how to get started? We’ll walk you through the first steps to optimizing your customer journey. 

What Is the Customer Journey?

The customer journey is the process a customer goes through from awareness to purchasing and beyond. To provide an exceptional customer journey, you need to  understand your customers—how they interact with your website and what they’re really looking for. It’s important to point out that the customer journey is different from the customer experience (CX). Customer journeys are what your customers are doing, while the experience is how they’re feeling. A fully optimized customer journey can help improve your customer experience. 

While the exact steps in the customer journey can vary, these are the six most important parts of the journey: 

The Problem

First, customers need to realize they have a problem, a need, or a want that must be solved. Once they recognize a problem, they can begin looking for solutions, which should hopefully lead them to your company. 

Awareness

During this stage, the customer is gathering information, researching, and looking for options to solve the problem. Hopefully with your marketing efforts and channels, the customer will come across your company and become aware of your solution to their problem. They’ll still be weighing options and researching what suits them best, but this stage is a great place to use content to showcase your brand. 

Consideration

During this stage, your customer will be considering using your product or service. They may be deciding between you and another option and debating pricing options, prioritizing features, and weighing drawbacks. When a customer is considering, brand recognition is crucial. Having a trusted and well-established brand could be what sways a customer toward your product during this stage. 

Purchase

The customer decides on your product and makes the purchase. Even once they’ve purchased your product, companies benefit from reaching out to customers and acknowledging the purchase. 

Retention

Once a customer has bought a product or service, it doesn’t mean they will return to your company again. A key part of the customer journey is retaining the customer for future purchases. Providing support is important for retention. You want customers to come back again and again and to look for your product or service when faced with a problem. 

Loyalty

Once your customer comes back to you a few times, they’ll start to develop loyalty to your brand. Loyal customers will almost always come to your company if they can because they trust your products, services, and customer experience. Getting to the loyalty stage takes effort, but loyal customers are the goal of every company. 

A Customer Journey Example

Let’s walk through what the customer journey could look like. A hypothetical manager at a finance company recognizes an ongoing issue with managing data for customers. She starts looking for a data management solution. Her friend in the industry recommends the data management solution he uses while another networking contact recommends a different one. She also uses internet searches and reviews to find more. Targeted ads on Google and company social media also bring in a few more options. She pulls together a comprehensive list of all of her options for high quality data management solutions. 

Using reviews and priorities, she whittles her list down to two companies. Once she has her two favorites, she then uses the companies’ software demos and pricing packages to consider each one. She makes her selection based on which one works best for her company and is the most affordable. Once she purchases the data management software, the company acknowledges and thanks her for her purchase, which helps her feel valued as a customer. 

A few months later, this same manager is looking for data architecture solutions that will provide security and big data management. She remembers her experience with the data management company and starts her search on that particular website. When she sees they offer software for her needs, she spends less time in the consideration stage and moves quickly into purchasing. She also begins recommending the company to other people in the industry when they’re looking for similar products. Someday, this manager could be loyal to this company and go to them for all of her data needs. 

The Importance of Improving the Customer Journey 

Understanding how your customer moves through the customer journey and planning for it is important to gaining and retaining customers. The Aberdeen Group did a study on the use of formal customer journey improvements in companies and discovered some key benefits: 

  • 18 time faster average sales cycles
  • 10 times improvement in customer service costs
  • 5 times greater revenue from customer referrals
  • 54% greater return of marketing investment

Overall, this study shows that companies that focus on customer journeys can benefit in revenue and profitability. Optimizing the customer journey also helps decision makers at the company to stay focused on customers. It also helps improve the customer experience and your brand. A well-optimized customer journey makes the purchasing process easier and more enjoyable for the customers, which improves their experience. 

Optimizing Your Customer Journey 

Improving your customer journey is crucial to improving customer experience and benefiting from increased revenue and profitability. These are some of the best ways to improve your  customer journey: 

Understand Your Customer

To fully understand how to improve your customer experience and journey, you need to know who your customers are. There are many ways to go about understanding your customers: analytic research, informal qualitative research, carefully crafted personas, and more. These methods will help you know what your customers want, what they need, and what your brand can provide. 

Identify Touch Points

Anytime a potential customer interacts with your brand, you have a touchpoint. Your touchpoints could be ads, your website homepage, a physical storefront, reviews, newsletters, phone calls with sales, or emails. Once you identify all the touchpoints, you can then find the obstacles that might make the journey difficult or cause potential customers to drop off. A broken website link, no set-up voicemail, or unclear ads could cause unnecessary difficulty and lose you customers. By keeping track of your touchpoints, you can optimize them to keep your customers moving through your customer journey seamlessly. 

Create a Customer Journey Map

Customer journey mapping involves visualizing the journey your customer takes through the process of gaining awareness of your product to purchase. This map will illustrate how your customers move through their journey for your company and on your website. Using customer research and touchpoints, you can map out exactly what steps a customer takes and what you can do to make it simple. Creating this map will give you greater insight into where your potential customers are falling away and where your company can fill needs. 

Improving your customer journey will help your customers learn about your company, products, and services. It will also help you keep your customers moving seamlessly through to the purchasing stage. But ultimately, your customer journey can help you improve your customer experience. Your customers can enjoy the ease and support your company offers them. 
To improve your customers’ journey, you’ll need tools to understand your customers and to utilize your touchpoints. InMoment CX solutions provide feedback and active listening tools to help you understand where to tighten your process and bring more customers to your brand. Improve your customer experience with InMoment.

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