I Buy, Therefore I Am: The Psychology Behind Why We Choose Our Favorite Brands

What do the shoes you wear, the coffee you drink, and the car you drive say about you?

In what ways do your favorite brands help create your personal brand? How do they contribute to fulfilling your individual needs? And how do your shopping dollars help craft—and confirm—your personal identity?

Over the past few decades, InMoment has collected and analyzed feedback from billions of customer experiences. We’ve proven—time and again—the direct connection between the meaningful differentiation of these experiences and the success of a brand’s CX objectives, such as willingness to return to, recommend, and, ultimately, promote a business. The customer stories shared at various touch points throughout the customer journey not only capture the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes within each unique experience, but confirm the congruence—or lack thereof—between customer expectations and the reality of the experience delivered.

So, Why Do Customers Choose Their Favorite Brands?

While the intelligence derived from this feedback is critical for an organization to create optimal, personalized customer experiences that drive business value, there is another salient factor that drives consumer behavior: customer-brand identity.

This concept is derivative of social identity theory and describes “an active, selective, and volitional psychological process in which customers compare their own identity to that of the company and identify with the company if it can fulfill one or more self-differential needs.” This connection between consumer and brand is much deeper and more meaningful than a singular experience; therefore, it has a greater potential impact on long-term loyalty, advocacy, and value.

A Few Examples from Best-In-Class Brands

Best-in-class brands know if they create a promise, product, and experience that evokes an identity worth aspiring to, customers will pay to align with and even promote it—increasing the lifetime value of the relationship.

Nike

For instance, professional athletes across the world wear Nike; however, the sweeping majority of Nike customers are not actually world-class and/or Olympic athletes. Yet, when a shoe represents something we identify with or aspire to attain, we’re drawn to it. The truth is, most Nike customers are just like you and me: casual athletes or city dwellers who are drawn to the aura of innovation and inspiration associated with The Swoosh. This is a perfect example of a co-created brand identity that satisfies customer needs while staying true to the brand’s promise.

Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany & Co. is another example. The blue box and white ribbon exude elegance, class, and sophistication, and therefore, the legacy luxury brand has both the benefit and challenge of living up to a well-established customer expectation. The exclusivity and allure of the iconic Tiffany Experience throughout the entire customer journey—advertising, web presence, in-store experience, packaging, unwrapping, and ownership (of both the jewelry and box!)—is about so much more than a brilliant piece of jewelry. It’s about how we see ourselves, what we aspire to, our connection with the brand, and our identity. And that’s where true brand loyalty is born.

Retail Pharmacy

The same philosophy rings true for more utilitarian industries, such as a leading retail pharmacy. While these entities are most commonly visited when people are feeling under the weather, this brand has not resigned itself to being just a drugstore. Instead, it has deliberately positioned itself as a center for wellness, from its on-site illness-prevention services to its comprehensive loyalty program (aptly named wellness+) to its online and in-store imagery and messaging focused on healthy families and happy lives. Yes, you can visit Rite Aid to buy diapers or have your prescription filled, but the company’s promise is to be a partner in long-term health and wellness that goes beyond a single interaction.

Becoming a Part of Your Customers’ Lives

Brands like Nike, Tiffany & Co., and others have moved beyond simple, transactional customer satisfaction (which has low self-referentiality), and have found ways to integrate how customers see themselves within the brand’s offering. It’s more than a product or even an experience—it’s an identity. All things being equal, self-perception and aspiration are often the prevailing factors in choosing one product or brand over another.

Creating a strong, enduring customer-brand identity is also a competitive inoculation strategy. It is evident that the more customers identify with a brand, the more resistant they are to competitive attempts at winning their business. In addition, as their identity with a brand strengthens, so does their intent to repurchase and willingness to pay more for goods and services (e.g., waiting all year for a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte or immediately upgrading to the newest Apple iPhone).

5 Steps to Becoming Your Customers’ Favorite Brand

So how does a brand integrate so seamlessly into a customer’s life? Creating a strong customer-brand identity that leads to fervent loyalty may seem like a tall order, only achievable by the most established brands. There are, however, steps organizations can take right now to begin building nearly unbreakable customer relationships.

Step #1: Listen to Your Customers (and Understand What They’re Saying and Feeling)

Most brands have formalized listening channels to track customer satisfaction in real time. And while guiding metrics like NPS and OSAT can serve as barometers for how well the company is meeting customer expectations, do not ignore customer stories (e.g., feedback, social reviews, and conversations) delivered through narratives, videos, images, and audio recordings. Customer stories, both solicited and unsolicited, speak the full truth about your customer-brand identity. For this, you need powerful analytics capabilities that can derive meaning from the explicit and implicit emotions that relate to identity, and arm your company with targeted insights, prescriptive recommendations, and predictive foresight.

Step #2: Understand Your Industry, Position, and Competition

Creating a strong customer-brand identity is also about offering a differentiated experience from your competitors. In addition to customer stories, competitive benchmarking can help your brand understand its position in the market; yet, going beyond simple rankings is imperative. As our team analyzes over one million pieces of customer feedback each day, we find that specific competitors are mentioned frequently—especially when an experience fails to meet expectations. These consumers often cite the reasons why a competitor fits better with who they are and why they may return to that brand despite past negative experiences. Understanding where you sit in your competitive universe is important, but unless you know the reasons why consumers choose products or brands, a clear and actionable path to meaningful customer experiences will remain a mystery.

Step #3: Engineer a Clearly-Defined—and Customer-Aligned—Brand Identity.

Understanding your customer base, and more importantly, what drives loyalty for your brand, is critical when crafting and delivering your promise to consumers. Your presentation and offering must be in line with their self-concept and aspiration—especially those with the highest lifetime value. Remember the Tiffany example? The customer-brand identity is at play throughout the customer journey, from research to purchase to ownership. Your brand’s identity must be omnipresent, continually feeding the customer-brand relationship.

Step #4: Create a Congruent Culture

Have you ever gone shopping and dealt with an employee who clearly did not want to be there? Of course you have. Likewise, it’s evident when employees are not only brand advocates, but likely, customers themselves. For example, at Cabela’s, the frontline staff (also known as Outfitters) are more than just salespeople and cashiers—they’re experienced adventurers with a passion for the outdoors. Further, Outfittersare experts in the department in which they work, allowing them to elicit each customer’s individual needs and give personalized advice. Employees are an extension of your brand, and trust me, your customers have taken notice. Creating products, processes, and a culture aligned with your brand’s identity is infectious. When leaders and frontline employees identify with and advocate for your brand, they will create experiences that exceed customer expectations.

Step #5: Connect Through Experiences

There’s no simpler way to build customer-brand identity and loyalty than through experiences that are meaningful and authentic to that specific, co-created brand identity. In the hospitality industry, nobody does this better than a major North American Quick Service Brand. This home away from home is modeled after a traditional Southern general store with a singular mission: pleasing people. So rather than waiting for your table in a sterile holding area or on a cramped bench, guests can browse aisles of delicious country goodness, creating a seamless retail + dining journey—nary found anywhere else. Experiences that are unique to your brand’s culture, are meaningful to guests, and show you care about your customers are worth their weight in CX gold.

Wrapping Things Up

Understanding the underlying psychological mechanisms that motivate consumers to choose, stay, and advocate for brands is a critical endeavor in creating competitive advantage. By moving beyond fulfilling customers’ basic, utilitarian needs and building an ecosystem where who the customer is—or wants to be—integrates with what the brand offers, companies can develop an identity that actualizes customers’ higher-order needs. Using the aforementioned strategies, it’s no wonder the world’s leading brands have outlasted their competitors—crafting products and experiences that fulfill the deep-seated psychological needs of their customers. If trends in CX continue on their current trajectory, the necessity of customer-brand identification will determine who wins in the marketplace.

How InMoment Assists with Regulatory Compliance

The challenges involved in regulatory compliance vary greatly between industries, countries, and companies. But many compliance tools lack flexibility or are missing key technologies for parsing complex structures in legal, medical and financial documents. That’s where InMoment comes in.

Leverage InMoment to Lower Your Regulatory Compliance Costs and Risks

InMoment helps you tackle compliance challenges involving text data through “semi-custom” solutions. We combine semi-structured data parsing, natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning with other features and technology suited to your specific problems. By working from our existing infrastructure through a staged Proof of Concept, we reduce your initial investment and deliver tangible results more quickly. 

We don’t “solve” or automate your entire industry. Instead, we help you improve existing compliance processes and scale your compliance teams more easily, resulting in lower costs and reduced risk across your organization.

Your Regulatory Compliance Technology Toolkit

Curious about the tech InMoment provides that will help you get the job done? Here’s an overview of your toolkit:

Natural Language Processing Features

  • Sentiment Analysis: Combine natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning techniques to assign weighted sentiment scores to the entities, topics, themes and categories within a sentence or phrase.
  • Theme Analysis: Use natural language processing (NLP) to break down sentences into n-grams and noun phrases and then evaluate the themes and facets within.
  • Entity Recognition:  Identify people, places, and things within a piece of text.
  • Categorization: Categorize customer reviews, support tickets, or any other type of text document into groups based on their contents.
  • Intention Extraction: Determine the expressed intent of customers and reviewers.
  • Summarization: Extract the most relevant sentences from each document so you can quickly understand the main ideas without spending valuable time reading the whole document.

Semi-Structured Data Parsing: A powerful tool for identifying and extracting text data from PDFs, .docx files and other “semi-structured” documents while understanding the structures and relationships of each element.

Machine Learning: Custom machine learning “micromodels” to tackle unique challenges in your data, such as entity recognition on ambiguous company names or classifying news articles into pre-defined topic lists.

Add-ons and Integrations: 

  • ​​Low-level NLP configuration
  • Custom user interfaces
  • Specific technology integrations
  • Feedback loops for model training
  • User and project management tools
  • Database/warehouse hookups
  • Upload wizards and connectors
  • …. And more

InMoment for Regulatory Compliance in Action: A Quick Case Study

InMoment has helped brands across healthcare, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, financial services, and more, but today we will share a financial services case study.

An Australian financial services firm needed help ensuring their compliance with federal disclosure mandates across hundreds of Statement of Advice (SoA) documents. Before, the firm’s auditors manually reviewed a subset, but this process was slow and unreliable.

InMoment focused on improving the firm’s existing audit process. First, we trained our semi-structured data parser to understand the underlying structure of SoAs. Then we configured our NLP to identify, extract and analyze entities within each section. Finally, we built a connector to structure and export this data into an easy-to-scan spreadsheet.

“InMoment’s solution for financial services disclosure compliance identifies, analyzes and structures key data from Statement of Advice documents for internal review.”

This solution substantially reduces the firm’s noncompliance risk by empowering regulatory compliance auditors to review hundreds of documents in minutes. Now they can quickly and reliably spot missing disclosures, suspicious recommendations, and other areas where advisors may not be working in their clients’ best interests.

To learn more about how InMoment can help revolutionize your approach to regulatory compliance, check out our dedicated website here.

Do Companies Recognize the High CX Value of Employee Advocates?

This article was originally posted on CustomerThink.com

Do companies recognize the high customer experience (CX) value of employee advocates? Shouldn’t they want to cultivate the kind of behavior advocacy represents?

That’s my belief. And, because of dramatic, behavior-shaping trends in the world of talent and skills availability, significant and lasting disruptions in the way people work, and the greater independence of today’s employees, I’m convinced they should both recognize and cultivate it.

The EX/CX Connection

Employees are the key, critical common denominator in optimizing the customer experience. Very often, either directly or indirectly, they are at the intersection of customer/vendor experience. Making the experience for customers positive and attractive at each point where the company interacts with them requires an in-depth understanding of both customer needs and how what the company currently does achieves that goal, particularly through the employees. That means that companies must seek to understand, and leverage, the impact employees have on customer behavior. Further, and equally important, they must focus on optimizing the employee experience.

Supporters of employee satisfaction and engagement programs, research and training techniques, with their focus on retention, productivity, and fit or alignment with business objectives, have made some broad, bold, and often unchallenged, assertions with respect to how these states impact customer behavior. Chief among these is that, beyond skills, everyday performance, and even commitment to act in the best interest of their employers, employees have natural tendencies and abilities to deliver customer value, fueled by emotion and subconscious intuition.

Though on the surface this sounds plausible, and even rather convincing, a thorough examination of how employee satisfaction and engagement link to customer behavior will yield only a tenuous, assumptive and anecdotal connection. In other words, there is much vocal punditry, and even whole books, on this subject, but little substantive proof of connection or cause.

Powerful and advanced research can generate insights which enable B2B and B2C companies to identify current levels of employee commitment, and it provides actionable direction on how to help them become more contributory and active brand advocates. Employee advocacy, as an advanced EX core concept and research protocol, was designed to build and sustain stronger and more commitment-based and rewarding employee experiences and also improved customer experiences, driving the loyalty and advocacy behavior of both stakeholder groups, and in turn increasing sales and profits.

It is often stated (especially by corporate CEOs) that the greatest asset of a company is its employees. Emotionally-based research has uncovered specifically how an organization can link, drive and leverage employee attitudes and behavior to expand customer-brand bonding and bottom-line performance. This is advanced EX, some might even say it is revolutionary! Employee advocacy research can be combined with existing customer and employee loyalty solutions to provide companies with comprehensive and actionable insights on the state of their employees’ attitudes and action propensities, and how those may be affecting customer behavior.

Employee advocacy identifies new categories and key drivers of employee subconscious emotional and rational commitment, while it also links with the emotional and rational aspects of customer commitment. At the positive and negative poles, these employee-focused commitment categories include:

Defining Employee Advocates (And Employee Saboteurs)

– Advocates, the employees who are most committed to their employer. Advocates represent employees who are strongly committed to the company’s brand promise, the organization itself, and its customers. They also behave and communicate in a consistently positive manner toward the company, both inside and outside.

– Saboteurs, the employees who are the least committed to their employer. Saboteurs are active and frequently vocal detractors about the organization itself, its culture and policies, and its products and services. These individuals are negative advocates, communicating their low opinions and unfavorable perspectives both to peers inside the company and to customers, and others, outside the company.

In any group of employees, irrespective of whether they are in a service department, technical specialty, or a branch office, there will be differing levels of commitment to the company, its value proposition and brands, and its customers. If employees are negative to the point of undermining, and even sabotaging customer experience value and company or brand reputation, they will actively work against business goals. However, if employees are advocates, and whether they interact with customers directly, indirectly, or even not at all, they will better serve and support the organization’s customers.

Employee Advocates are Essential to Customer Experience—and Overall—Success

Where customer experience is concerned, it is essential to remember that organizations and brands looking to succeed in today’s competitive climate have successfully embedded CX into their cultures, from the C-level executive to the frontline employee. They prosper by using insights generated from a variety of channels and touchpoints, including employees, integrated with customer data from multiple sources, mined by sophisticated text analytics technologies, and then channeled to steer and guide every corner of their businesses.

The more successful the brand and organization, the more evident that the approaches taken are both bottom-up and top-down. This helps ensure a more strategic and real-world view of stakeholder behavior. Truly effective organizations have wisely invested key resources in the stakeholder experience. and at every level of the enterprise. Their leaders, likewise, focus on both individual and collective accomplishment.

This kind of achievement and fulfillment requires that experiences be optimized for all stakeholders. It’s a simple, basic premise, but it works – now and for the future. Ideally, there should be a direct linkage back and forth between the leader, the employee, and the customer. This is where employee advocacy, like the edelweiss flower, can bloom and grow.

The Secret to Improving Your CX Survey Response Rates

It is a fact that CX survey response rates have been declining. Additionally, we are being surveyed more and more every day about every mundane thing in our lives. Even the federal government is in on it—an executive order in 1993 directed federal agencies to gather public feedback on how well they delivered services and to strive to offer a comparable level of customer experience with private companies. Orders similar to that one have continued into the present day.

But, with surveys being the lifeblood of nearly all customer experience (CX) programs, what is a CX practitioner to do to improve their CX survey response rates? Much has been written about the tactical things a survey owner can do: list hygiene,  fatigue or quarantine rules, visual appeal of the invitation, subject line, formatting, time estimates in the invitation, etc.  And while these elements can have some impact, they are temporary band-aids for the over-surveying problem.

The Secret to Improving CX Survey Response Rates Is…

I’ll let you in on a secret: if you truly want to improve and sustain your response rates, look to your CX program (specifically your closed loop processes). There are two critical things any company can do to improve its response rates, and they tie back to the inner and outer loop concepts described in the Net Promoter SystemSM.

You’ve probably heard that it’s vital for organizations to close these loops, as doing so can help you achieve everything from Experience Improvement (XI) to enhanced customer retention and sustained business growth. That’s true!  But effectively closing these loops also provides an incentive and opens a door for continuous feedback from your customers or members.

The Inner Loop

The inner loop refers to the systems, processes, and teams that organizations use to respond to customers one-on-one to address negative feedback. Having an effective inner closed loop process is of obvious importance to any company that wants to keep its doors open, let alone create a differentiated and meaningful experience for customers. Fail to close the inner loop, and you open the “leaky bucket.”

However, if you can build a system that allows you to receive customer feedback, analyze it for actionable insights, and respond both meaningfully and expediently, you’ll have a much easier time retaining customers and extending their lifetime value. You will learn more about their individual preferences and may even potentially cross-sell or upsell them to additional products and services.

There is also plenty of research that demonstrates that customers whose complaints have been successfully resolved tend to leave higher review scores than customers who never had a complaint in the first place! Finally, by responding to customers when they have complaints, you demonstrate that you have listened and acted on their feedback, giving them a strong incentive to provide feedback again in the future.

The Outer Loop

The scope of the outer loop is considerably wider than that of the inner loop and requires more organizational resources, cross-silo cooperation, and team coordination.  Rather than focus on individual customer interactions and complaint resolution, the outer loop is about the actions your organization takes on the collective feedback you’re receiving to drive Experience Improvement and communicate those improvements back to a much broader segment of customers (if not your entire customer base). The one-on-one interactions that comprise the inner loop are certainly important, but the outer loop is all about incorporating those into a cumulative group effort to drive sustained Experience Improvement.

This improves your CX survey response rates by demonstrating to all customers that your organization truly does care about feedback and attempts to take action to improve the overall customer experience. This provides a feedback incentive even for customers who may not have shared it in the past, as they see the direct benefit.

Widening Focus

Click here to read my full-length Point of View on how focusing on your CX program will actually help you achieve better outcomes. In the meantime, take advantage of anything you might have learned here to meaningfully improve your inner and outer loop processes. I promise you you’ll see a difference.

5 Things Brands Need to Know About the Gen Z Customer Experience (and Employee Experience)

If we were to sum up what brands need to know about Gen Z customer experience preferences (and employee experience preferences) in a few words, it would go something like this: they’re different. Revolutionary even. This may seem like an oversimplification, but when you think about it, Gen Z grew up in a world that is more connected than ever, has more access than ever, and accomplishes everything faster than ever. It makes sense, then, that their standards for customer and employee experiences would be higher than ever, too.

Because Gen Z makes up 26% of the global population, their preferences should already be playing a significant role in your business strategy—and their influence will only grow! That’s why we put a magnifying glass over these emerging consumers and employees in our recent 2022 Experience Trends report, to give you the intelligence you need to create a positive impact with Gen Z, whether you’re trying to convince them to become loyal customers or recruit them to be engaged employees. 

Here’s what you need to know according to our data:

What Is Most Important for the Gen Z Customer Experience & Employee Experience?

Tip #1: Seamless and Efficient Experiences Are a Must

We’ve spent a lot of time on the InMoment blog discussing the importance of a seamless experience. It doesn’t matter what channel or touchpoint, your customers and employees should have a sense of consistency every time they interact with your brand. And for Gen Z, seamless experiences are table stakes when it comes to maintaining their loyalty. Gen Z shops both online and in store, so it’s imperative that they are able to experience the same level of convenience, personalization, and general experience excellence across the board.

Tip #2: Gen Z Is Unlikely to Complete a Traditional CX or EX Survey

Get ready for a mic drop moment: Gen Z is simply less likely to fill out a traditional survey. In the course of our research we found that:

  • In the US:
    • Only 19% of your emerging customers (Gen Z) are likely to complete a traditional survey
    • Only 22% of your emerging employees (Gen Z) are likely to complete a traditional survey
  • In Canada:
    • Only 28% of your emerging customers (Gen Z) are likely to complete a traditional survey
    • Only 41% of your emerging employees (Gen Z) are likely to complete a traditional survey

So what feedback collection methods should you be using if you want to gauge the Gen Z customer experience? We suggest  Microsurveys, social media and review sites, and live chat to gain the intelligence you need to compete for Gen Z’s loyalty.

Thinking of adapting your approach to customer experience surveys, and customer feedback in general? Our experts have derived a four step process to help you leverage all of your data, and only send surveys when they’ll be most effective. Check it out for free here!

Tip #3: Social Media Influencers Have Significant Reach

Gen Z’s first exposure to your brand is likely via social media, and more specifically, through social media influencers. We asked Gen Z consumers about whether they used an influencer code to make a purchase in 2021, and if they are likely to use influencer discount codes in the upcoming year. Here’s what they told us:

  • One of three emerging Gen Z customers had used a social influencer code in 2021
  • One of three emerging Gen Z customers were planning to use a code in 2022

From these numbers, it’s clear social media influencers will continue to, well, influence the emerging consumer. If you haven’t considered leveraging influences to acquire new customers, then it’s time to start!

Tip #4: Strong Brand Values Are Make-or-Break 

Gen Z has high standards when it comes to the brands they support, and even higher standards for the brands they work for. When looking into a possible employer, our research found that Gen Z is looking for three primary values. Here they are as explained by Gen Z:

  1. Culture: “[I] am likely to choose a [company] that allows me to express myself […] and [get] creative with mentorship and support.”
  2. Diversity: “I’m looking for [a company] that bring in diverse [experiences and] talents that can challenge one another.”
  3. Connectivity: “I believe that success [means] bringing everyone together […] we all [want] to be part of the equation [not just our executives].”

To successfully recruit this value-driven generation, brands should take care to emphasize these core values in job descriptions, internal messaging, and beyond.

Tip #5: Gen Z Has Little Tolerance for Bad Behavior

We’ve all seen the news stories: customers in store or aboard flights displaying outlandishly bad behavior when confronted with mask policies or low stock of desired items, and taking their anger out on employees. We were curious about what Gen Z thought of these displays and whether it affected their perception of the brand involved.

We asked, “What would you think if you witnessed a customer acting aggressively toward an employee at a place of business?” Gen Z responded with overwhelming compassion for the employee in the situation, and even mentioned that “I would interject […] No one should be treated that way.” 

What Are You Doing to Prepare for the Next Generation of Consumers & Employees?

As Gen Z becomes an even more prominent customer and employee segment, their CX and and EX preferences will become even more important to your business. So what are you doing today to emphasize and enable Gen Z customer experience expectations? How are you connecting with them? How are you collecting feedback from them to understand how they perceive your brand?

You need to have a strategy in place, and our experts are here to help. Learn how our XI Platform can support your efforts to create optimize Gen Z customer experiences by reaching out to us here or in the chatbot at the lower right hand corner of your screen.
You can also read more from our 2022 Experience Trends Report here!

2022 Experience Trends: What Employees & Customers Think About Evolving COVID Safety Measures

It’s never been more important to stay tuned into employee and customer experience trends. In the past few years, businesses have had to pivot countless times in order to adapt the experiences they provide customers, employees, and the greater market. But keeping up with quickly evolving employee and customer expectations is easier said than done.

This is where InMoment’s newest report comes in. The “2022 Experience Trends Report: Four Trends That Are Changing Customer & Employee Experiences This Year” just dropped, and we wanted to give you a sneak peek! But before we dive into the data, we wanted to tell you more about how the report was created.

About the 2022 Experience Trends Report

InMoment’s Strategic Insights Team collected data from both consumers and employees of brands across North America from 11 different industries including retail, financial services, entertainment, grocery, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, restaurants, and more.

Previous InMoment Trends Reports have focused primarily on the customer experience (CX), but today, businesses have more experience stakeholders than ever before—including your employees and even the folks who may not have made a purchase, yet have an impression of your brand. 

This report encapsulates the perspectives of all of these experience stakeholders so you can use these trends to shape your strategies for customer experience, human resources, digital, marketing, and more!

Using InMoment’s Market Pulse™, the team asked strategic questions around three key topics: 

  • The future stakeholder journey: Customer and employee expectations for 2022; what are the new drivers of loyalty, retention, and acquisition?
  • The ‘new’ world of experience: Understanding how brands across industries need to adapt the digital and in-store experience.
  • Emerging internal and external personas: What will emerging customers and employees look like? How can brands meet their needs?

The report also includes insights from both indirect and inferred data to provide a holistic view of the state of customer and employee experiences. It also cross references data from previous iterations of InMoment’s previous annual trends reports.

So without further ado, let’s dive into the findings of the first of the four trends we revealed in the 2022 Experience Trends REport!

Trend #1: Experience Standards Are Changing… Again

A Word About COVID 

We know: everyone is tired of talking about the novel Coronavirus. But if we didn’t mention it, we’d be remiss, especially since mask mandates and other safety measures are still common. What we wanted to know is how experience stakeholders feel about the possible loosening of these protocols.

We found that 1 in 2 consumers and employees were comfortable with the possible reduction of COVID restrictions and precautions in the coming year.

2022 CX Trends: What customers and employees think about evolving COVID measures

And when we dove deeper, it became clear that both consumers and employees were excited at the prospect of COVID becoming less of a factor in their experiences, especially compared to a year ago.

Check out the differences in the comments from the beginning of 2021 versus the end of the  year:

2022 CX trends report shows adapting attitudes of employees and customers when it comes to COVID-19

How You Can Take Action

Now that you understand the changes that are coming to your experiences, we have a few actions you can take to adapt and succeed next year:

Adapt Quickly and Early

It seems like “agility” has been the MVP in the past few years. With ever-changing restrictions and safety measures, you’ve had to keep your finger on the pulse to meet customer and employee needs. But don’t stop now! With journeys evolving at a fast pace, you need to avoid a “set it and forget it” mentality. Make sure you are continuously coming back to your customer and employee feedback so you can keep up with their expectations.

Above All, Be Human

If we’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s that your customers and employees need you to truly care about their experiences, and even moreso, the role your brand plays in their lives. Customer response to options like “buy online and pickup in store” are great examples of this; brands understood that safety was the number one priority for customers and provided safe ways to engage. This kind of understanding is essential for moving forward.

Want to read more about the trends impacting the employee and customer in 2022? Click here to review more findings in our interactive report!

How to Write Email Survey Subject Lines That Increase Your Open Rates

Micro-surveys are the key to gaining the customer feedback you need to power your CX program, and many of these surveys are sent via email. The first step to receiving that survey feedback is getting your customer to open your email. 

When it comes to open rates, your email’s subject line is more important than you might think it is. Two helpful email stats drive this point home:

  • 69% of recipients will look only at the subject line before flagging an email as spam.
  • 47% of recipients decide to open an email based only on the subject line.

If you’re trying to figure out all the possible reasons why your survey emails aren’t getting decent open rates, it makes sense to start with your subject lines.

1. Establish the right tone

Effective customer interaction is super dependent on speaking your audience’s language. This doesn’t just refer to the words and terms you use in your emails, even though that is obviously also extremely important.

No, we’re referring to your “voice” here – where you pitch the subject line on the “familiarity” spectrum. On the one side of this spectrum is “ultra conversational,” and on the other side, “ultra professional.”

On the conversational side, you’ll use language that makes your recipients feel like they’re being asked a question by a friend or a trusted colleague. These subject lines should make the recipient feel comfortable because they have an approachable tone.

Here are some examples:

  • “A quick question for you”
  • “Leslie, got a sec? ”

On the professional side of the spectrum, you’re using language that builds trust in your brand’s ability to take your service seriously. You don’t have to come off pompous or like you’ve swallowed a thesaurus. Stick to the point, and treat the recipient like someone who appreciates professionalism in the workplace.

  • “We’d genuinely appreciate feedback on our performance.”
  • “Leslie, how can we make you more productive?”

There are quite a few things to consider when choosing the tone of your survey email subject lines. Your brand image is arguably the most important, but things like recipient demographics and the industry you’re playing in should also play a role.

Building buyer personas is a standard practice in digital marketing. Many successful businesses go through this process to understand exactly who they’re selling to. This data is invaluable when deciding on the tone of your survey email subject lines.

2. Go beyond basic personalization

According to Campaign Monitor, recipients are 26% more likely to open an email if the subject line has been personalized.

What you use to customize the subject line will obviously depend on the data you have on the customer. Using their name is an obvious starting point. However, you can also reference their most recent purchase if your CRM has logged it. Or a virtual event they attended. A modern CX platform can grab this info and personalize the subject line. 

If you’re online mattress retailer Zoma and you’re sending out a customer satisfaction (CSAT) survey email to find out how a support query was handled, if the shipping went well, or if the customer is satisfied with the quality of a recent purchase, you could take one of the following approaches:

  • “How did we do on your support query [#66456]?”
  • “James, how was the webinar with DocuSign?”
  • “How’s that Zoma mattress working out?”

Showing evidence that the email comes from a reputable origin (i.e., the actual company they interacted with) is critical if you want to maximize that open rate.

By using their name and referencing their purchase, you’re landing a one-two punch of credibility and massively increasing the chances of a response.

3. Talk about benefits

Let’s be frank here. When you send out a net promoter score (NPS) survey email, you’re basically asking an established customer to take time out of their day to reveal their feelings about your brand despite there being no immediate reward in it for them.

But that shouldn’t stop you from letting your recipients know that their feedback will result in long-term benefits for you and them.

Good feedback — both positive and negative — means improved service for everyone. A large number of honest responses will help you get better at designing new product features. Let your recipients know! Make them feel like their voice is important and that it benefits them to be heard.

Here’s an example. If you’re an energy services company like Ecopreneurist, and you’re sending out an NPS survey, you may want to try subject lines like these:

  • “Help us get even better at saving you energy.”
  • “Leslie, your feedback helps us save you money.”

Even though the email content will ask them a typical NPS question like “How likely are you to recommend Ecopreneurist to a friend?” the subject line can illustrate the eventual reward customers will experience by responding.

There’s a genuine correlation between improved service and receiving this type of information from customers. There’s no reason you can’t creatively leverage this relationship to create highly engaging subject lines.

4. Ask your recipients a question

A good subject line engages the recipient. You’ll want the subject line to make them think and feel something. Trigger their thoughts and their emotions.

A great way to do this is by asking a question. 

The right question can trigger introspection. It can make the recipient think about something they want to share with you.

A SaaS company like ShowMojo might employ a customer effort score (CES) survey to help them spot inefficiencies and/or improve in two areas:

  1. Onboarding. Good onboarding helps ensure “trial subscribers” see the product’s value and eventually become paying customers, and it’s a critical step in maximizing a subscriber’s lifetime value (LTV).
  2. Product features. A CES survey can gauge how easily customers are adopting a new product feature and help you optimize for improved adoption. 

In both cases, positioning the survey in question form is a great way to maximize open rates. For example:

  • “How hard was the migration to ShowMojo?”
  • “How easy was it to create a new rental dashboard?”

You can see in the above examples that the subject lines don’t even mention the survey. The two questions are directed at the customer and their experience. 

5. Keep it simple and short

You should keep your survey email subject lines to under 50 characters to be sure everyone sees it. The number of people opening emails using their mobile phones is increasing every year. And the limited amount of real estate on a mobile device means that subject lines are often truncated.

Yes, it’s hard to make a compelling case for someone to open an unsolicited email using so few words, so take your time writing. Constantly try whittling the number of characters and words down to an absolute minimum without compromising your core message.

Let’s take a look at some concise and effective customer survey subject line examples:

  • “Are we doing a good job, Leslie?”
  • “Where can we improve?”
  • “We’re always looking for honest feedback.”
  • “Give it to us straight; we can take it.”

A quick word on open rate benchmarks

What kind of open rates should you expect from your survey emails? Having a sense of benchmarks is critical if you intend to measure how effective your new subject lines are. 

According to our customers’ results, an open rate over 20% is solid, with only a small number of emails achieving a 30% open rate. If you see this level of engagement, you’re probably doing multiple things right. If it’s below this figure, realize there’s room for improvement and review your subject line copy against our recommendations.

Some final thoughts

Regardless of what industry you’re operating in, certain best practices will always be relevant when crafting email subject lines.

Here’s a summary of the most important things to bear in mind (along with a fifth bonus tip):

  • Personalize as much as possible.
  • Tell recipients about the benefits of completing the survey.
  • Ask a question.
  • Keep it short and to the point.
  • Try to keep your subject lines under 50 characters.
  • Avoid spammy words like “opportunity,” “offer,” “cash,” “discount,” or “click here.”

There’s little point in rethinking your subject line strategy if you’re not backing up your efforts with data on the success or failure of a new approach.

You’ll want to A/B test your survey emails. A simple way to do this is:

  1. Split your email recipients into two groups (Group A and Group B). 
  2. Target Group A with subject line A. “Welcome! How was the sign-up process?
  3. Target Group B with subject line B. “Answer one question and help us improve.”
  4. Measure each email’s open rate. If Group A gets a higher open, a post-onboarding greeting works well for your new customers.

By A/B testing your email subject lines over time, you gain valuable knowledge about the subject lines that resonate with your customer base. Not only will that information help you with your specific survey, but it can also help other CX-focused teams optimize their customer communications as well.

Start sending customer surveys today with InMoment.

How to Level-Up the CX Program at Your Growth Stage Business

You’ve been using Net Promoter Score in all the right ways, and now you’re looking to advance your CX program. Fear not, you’ve come to the right place!

The next level of CX for Growth Stage companies focuses on a few key things:

  • Taking a more holistic view of the entire customer journey 
  • Leveraging technology to listen to hundreds and thousands of customer comments
  • Employing robust analytics

We’ve previously explained how to quickly build your first customer feedback program with a single survey like Net Promoter Score in a single channel. Now we’ll combine surveys with behaviors and concrete numbers to see how CX impacts metrics like product use, retention, and sales. 

Yes, it’s time to level up your CX program!

Get the ebook, CX FOR EVERY STAGE: How to scale your Voice of Customer program from startup to enterprise. Learn how to improve user experience for product led growth and loyalty.

We’re sticking with the 3-step Listen, Learn, and Act model but upgrading each step’s activities from Early Stage to Growth Stage CX programs.

Listen Learn Act model for Growth Stage

Step 1: Listen 

In this step, you’ll gather information across the customer journey. Many people at the Growth Stage have already identified critical touchpoints in the customer journey that drive success, including:

  • Achieving first value
  • Support interactions
  • Using a new product or service

The Listen step focuses on asking the right questions at these touchpoints to help you optimize your CX. During the Early Stage, you offered up the Net Promoter Score survey. Now it’s time to move on to two other important CX metrics.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

The CSAT asks customers how satisfied they were with a recent interaction, like a support call. CSAT is the most popular CX metric for transactional interactions, and you use it to gauge how well these interactions are being handled.

How might you use CSAT? If you’re with an e-commerce company, you likely use it to get post-delivery feedback on a purchase. At SaaS companies, product teams use a CSAT variation called a Product Satisfaction survey (PSAT). It’s often triggered in-app to get feedback that helps product teams optimize the user experience.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

The CES survey asks, “How easy was it to _________?” CES is used to improve systems that may frustrate customers. It allows you to capture early feedback and discover ways to make sure the path to the all-important first value is smooth. 

Use CES surveys to measure how customers feel about their onboarding, which is the critical first step of the customer journey. It’s much easier to retain a customer who has had an excellent first experience with your product than win over a customer reeling from poor onboarding that missed the mark.

When you combine the information gathered from NPS, CSAT/PSAT, and CES, you can uncover previously hidden areas of the customer journey and understand how those affect overall CX. 

Step 2: Learn

You now have a plethora of customer feedback from your three surveys, and it’s time to extract actionable insights. The important thing to realize here is you’re collecting feedback from thousands of surveys. That amount of data quickly becomes hard to address at scale, and text-match tags won’t capture the wealth of information available. You’re going to need more advanced tools than what you used at the Early Stage. 

Customer insights through machine learning

The most insightful input from customers comes in the free-text portion of your surveys. To mine that rich data, you’ll need a tool that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP), a form of AI for real-time text categorization and sentiment analysis.

For many businesses, the wealth of customer experience data has become overwhelming. Artificial intelligence gives us the means to retake the initiative.

– Jessica Pfeifer  CCO, Wootric

Advanced tools for the Growth Stage Learn step share two essential elements:

Categorization in real-time

One of the reasons you’re not manually analyzing the text is you don’t want to wait weeks for insights, and your customers certainly don’t want to wait that long for action. Natural Language Processing allows computers to auto-tag, interpret, and analyze text data as new topics arise, highlighting any issues immediately so you can take timely actions.

Sentiment analysis

Simply put, sentiment analysis tells you why your customers do or don’t love you. NLP performs sentiment analysis on your customer and user feedback, taking you way beyond the traditional text-match tagging. Not only is every topic tracked over time, but NLP also tracks the positive and negative tone and tenor of the customer voice. In a quick review, you can instantly gauge whether a specific product touchpoint performs well for your customers. This lets you see how your business initiatives are affecting your users in real-time.

Auto-categorizing feedback is a powerful step in VoC, taken with the help of new technologies like Natural Language Processing. 

Link CX metrics to business outcomes

You can tie CX directly to business outcomes by linking customer survey data to business-focused metrics like purchases, conversions, churn, and sales.

Say you want to tie CX to churn through your mobile app. No problem! 

  1. Look at your post-survey 90-day churn metrics and see at what scores you begin to lose customers rapidly. 
  2. Compare that with your NPS. Let’s say your NPS shows you can tolerate some Passives and maybe even some Detractors scoring you at a 5 or 6. Cool, you can let those ride a bit if you’re resource light. 
  3. Detractors scoring you at a 0 or 4, however, could be at serious risk of leaving if they don’t receive the support they need to succeed. Put your resources there ASAP!

How else can you monitor the risk of churn? Well, if you’re a B2B business, you’re probably already looking at your Customer Health Score. Factor NPS and other CX metrics into your Customer Health Score and get even more insight with a system that takes into account behavioral metrics like the number of support tickets per user, usage of product features, and other engagement metrics.

Step 3: Act

You’ve listened, you’ve learned a lot, and now you’re ready to make an impact. But here’s the thing: CX is built by and affected by more than just one team at a company. So there are two critical parts to the Act step.

Get CX data into everyone’s workflow

A customer-centric organization relies on everyone having access to VoC data, so no individual or team at your company should ever have to search for it. All functions can drive better customer experiences and benefit from having CX data and analytics at their fingertips.

  • Sales needs CX metrics at the account level in Salesforce to prepare for an upsell conversation.
  • Customer Success uses Gainsight or other platforms for regular communications with customers.
  • Customer Support is in Intercom or ZenDesk.
  • Product may want data in their analytics platform like Tableau.
  • Analysts will want to pull CX data into their relational database.

By connecting your CX program to the applications and software used by other teams, you can destroy silos and create powerful interactions that delight your customers. Look for CX platforms with native integrations and open APIs to make these connections seamless.

Optimize your product with CX

It’s all good and well to gather and distribute essential data and insights, but a CX program’s real power comes from making your product and services better. 

Use your CX data to rank and address the things that matter most to your customers and thus to your business’ success. We recommend creating a dual-axis plan of attack to prioritize what you optimize. 

  1. Look at the number of impacted customers and their average score for each issue.
  2. Combine that number with a qualitative measure of the engineering and operational effort required to address the issue.

Close the loop at scale

Once you’ve taken actions to improve CX, don’t forget to communicate back to your customers who gave you the feedback to make those changes. Let them know you appreciate their input and that it made an impact.

You now have hundreds and thousands of customers giving your feedback, and you won’t have enough resources to call each one personally. Thus you’ll need a hybrid model to close the customer feedback loop.

  1. High touch. A customer success agent or account manager can reach out to their customers when they respond, even if just to say “Thanks!” This connection lets customers know you’re listening and appreciate their feedback. For a B2B business, this is the way to go if you have the resources. 
  2. Medium touch. Segment the list by survey scores. Sync with a platform like Intercom to trigger automated messages or schedule a weekly email campaign to each group. 
    1. Thank Promoters and possibly offer them an incentive to be brand advocates, perhaps by sharing their positive feedback on social media.
    2. Route Detractors to Customer Success or Customer Support. That team can devote time to understanding why the customer’s not happy — especially those who didn’t leave feedback — and make the CX and relationship better.
    3. Automate a reply to Passives who didn’t leave feedback, spurring a “What would make you LOVE us?” conversation.
  3. Low touch. Respond with information-sharing and transparency, such as a blog post or newsletter at the end of the month, summarizing the feedback you’ve received and stating your plans to address issues customers have raised. 

A growing company needs to grow its CX program. By expanding your view to the full customer journey, expanding the feedback you’re requesting, and then using more advanced tools to pull insights from the feedback, you’ll be ready to optimize the customer experience you provide and enjoy the success it brings.

Quickly Build Your First Customer Feedback Program for Powerful Results

While so many companies are pondering how to grow their customer experience (CX) programs, there are plenty of CX champions looking to start a CX program. We talk with plenty of companies that are just starting up, or as we prefer to call it: Early Stage. 

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not at all hard to get your Early Stage CX program started. With a little guidance, you can quickly build and implement a quality program that helps you:

  • Listen to your customers.
  • Learn from your data.
  • Act to optimize the customer experience.

As your business grows, you can expand your CX program with it. For now, however, you’re primed for the Early Stage option. So listen up; we’re going to get you started!

CX program fundamentals

CX programs center on Voice of the Customer (VoC) data — your customers’ feedback about their experiences and expectations for your products or services. 

The key to a successful program lies in how you gather that feedback, how you process and learn from it, and then act on it. 

This 3-step CX model is easy to understand, simple to get started and offers quick time to value.

Listen Learn Act model for first CX program

Step 1: Listen

Listening starts with strategic thought: 

  1. CX metric. What are you trying to learn?
  2. Survey process. How will you learn it? 

Start by defining the goal of your CX program. Maybe your priority is to optimize your software product or to improve the support experience. Knowing what you want to learn will inform your listening strategy. 

Have your goal set? Onward!

Get the ebook, CX FOR EVERY STAGE: How to scale your Voice of Customer program from startup to enterprise. Learn how to improve user experience for product led growth and loyalty.

Begin With Net Promoter Score (NPS)

It’s time to ask your customers some essential questions. We’ve bid good riddance to long, multi-question surveys. Because they’re tedious, their completion rates are dismal. 

To get customers to give you actionable feedback, you’ll want to use micro surveys. These single-question surveys: 

  1. Give you a score (aka metrics!) on customer loyalty or satisfaction.
  2. Give you deep insight by inviting the customer to explain their score in their own words. 

Because micro surveys are short, sweet, and to the point, more customers will answer them, meaning your response rates will soar.

There are three core CX surveys you should have in your toolbox: 

  1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  2. Customer Effort Score (CES)
  3. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) 

For your first customer survey, we recommend you begin with NPS. Net Promoter Score is the gold standard for measuring customer loyalty and will give you immediate insight into your customers’ stories.

Once you and your CX program have grown, you’ll likely need other survey types. But Early Stage programs can find out what they need to know with these three.

Choose Your First Survey Channel 

Alright, your question is at the ready. Now you need to decide how you will survey your customers. Each segment of your customer base probably has a preferred method of communication. Common options include: 

  • email surveys
  • in-app surveys inside a web or mobile product
  • SMS

If you’re unsure where to start, ask yourself this: Where here are our most important customers interacting with us?

If you’re still not sure, dive into this article about how to choose the best channel for your feedback survey. Here are some general trends we see with our customers:

  • SaaS business or mobile app: in-product survey
  • E-commerce business: transactional approach like sending an email survey a few days after delivery
  • Airline or utility (or other business already using texts or phone calls to communicate on customer mobile devices): SMS

Next comes the question of when to survey. Keep it simple. Ask NPS 30 days after a customer onboards, or whenever they will have had enough time to form an opinion about the experience you offer. The surveys are something you can “set and forget” and then just let the feedback roll in. A CX platform will survey a few users every day, so you have constant feedback coming in. Some platforms (like Wootric) offer a free plan for early stage businesses. 

Step 2: Learn

Here’s where things get exciting because your customer feedback is coming in!

The great thing about Early Stage is you can read and respond to every survey response. This will help you stay closer to the customer and develop a holistic view of your customer experience.

There are an art and a science to the Learn step that will allow you to take hundreds of pieces of feedback and make it actionable. To do that, you need to get busy.

Segment Your CX Data 

Even if your company provides only one service or product, your customers are not all the same. Categories of users have different needs and are bound to experience your company in slightly different ways. 

You’ve given the same NPS survey to all your customers. Your overall NPS score will let you know how you’re doing across every customer. However, your customers aren’t just one block of users. Our marketplace customers like GrubHub and Deliveroo have both consumers and restaurant owners using their app, and those two groups have different needs. By segmenting NPS, you’ll receive more actionable insights to optimize your product for the various user groups. 

Take our customer Homebase. They have two user groups for their SaaS product that streamlines employee scheduling: those who create schedules and those who receive schedules. Per CEO John Waldmann, “NPS has allowed us to segment out the feedback and look at how happy restaurant managers are with the product after the recent changes versus how happy the wait staff is. Are we skewing too heavily toward one side or the other? Do we need to spend some more product cycles to improve the employee experience?”

You can take a constant pulse of your CX program by reviewing the performance of your overall business and customer segment NPS scores over time. Tracking and metricizing customer sentiment over time is very helpful when you’re looking to make improvements. The bonus is you never miss a trend.

Identify Themes in Customer Comments 

While it’s interesting to read and respond to individual feedback, at some point, you will get more qualitative feedback than you can easily digest. Lots of feedback is a good thing — it means you’re growing!

Now’s the time to filter your text responses to understand the “why” behind the numerical scores. You’ll filter these responses for specific topics by using tags. Tags are associated with particular keywords you want to monitor, and they allow you to easily track the Share of Voice (SoV) of a topic. How much are people talking about price, performance, delivery, or a new feature? 

Setting up this categorization does a lot of things:

  • It helps you follow long-term trends.
  • It gives you insight into a topic’s trajectory.
  • It lets you know if you’re addressing your customer’s concerns effectively — or you still need to do more.

Step 3: Act

You’ve listened, you’ve learned, and now it’s time to make a difference by acting externally and internally!

Close the loop with customers

Every piece of feedback is valuable. While you’re hoping for promoters telling you what a great job you’re doing, it’s the detractors who care enough to let you know what needs improvement that can help you make the most significant business gains through your CX program. 

Close the loop, especially with detractors! 

Reach out via email or phone and address their concerns promptly. Passing your CX data to the system, you use to communicate with customers — like Intercom or Hubspot — can make this easy. Customers will appreciate that you took the time to listen and respond. You may even turn a detractor into a happy customer. 

Activate your brand promoters. When someone gives you praise in a survey response, ask them to write a review or give you a quote. These testimonials can be great ways to distinguish your brand from the competition. 

If you don’t have the resources to respond individually, write a blog post that summarizes what you’ve heard and the actions you’re taking and share it with your customers. 

Loop closing in practice

You may be thinking, “this sounds great in theory, but that’s a lot to expect from a new program.” Understood. Many people in the Early Stage of CX programs are also in their company’s early stage, with too much work and too few people. Our customer Albacross, a lead-gen software startup, automated closing the loop with its customers, which achieved program goals without taxing their resources.

Here’s what they do based on the individual NPS score:

Detractors (who rate their app low with a 0-6): They send two messages via Intercom asking for additional feedback. The goal here is to start a conversation and better understand why the customer is frustrated.

  • They send an email:

Albacross-Emails-for-CX

  • They send an in-app message that appears immediately after the user completes the survey:

in-app post-survey message from Albacore

Passives (who rate 7-8) receive an in-app email of gratitude, letting them know they appreciate the feedback.

In-app post-survey message from Albacore for passive NPS

Promoters (who rate 9-10) receive an email from the CEO offering gratitude and asking them to please review the company on a 3rd party review site:

In-app post-survey message for promoters

Evangelize CX data

You are trying to build a customer-first culture at your company. To do that, you need to communicate, communicate, communicate. 

Make sure everyone has easy access to CX information! From Customer Success and Customer Support to Product to Marketing and beyond, every person in your company has a part in creating your customer experience. Create a CX Slack channel and encourage the entire company to join. Put up wall-mounted dashboards that put CX metrics front and center with the newest feedback and the latest scores — report it right next to other critical business metrics at the next company-wide meeting. 

A single survey on a single channel offers significant customer insights. Like any new program, you want to start simply, optimize, and then expand. Once you have mastered the Early Stage program, it’s easy to move on to the Growth Stage and Expert Stage. 

B2B Now Feels B2C. Here’s How to Consumerize Your Enterprise Product

Customer expectations drive the value of CX. Continuously meet or exceed expectations, and delighted customers will return and even become vocal advocates for your product and brand. 

Don’t let the terms B2C (Business to Consumer) and B2B (Business to Business) confuse you. Your end-user is a human who spends a lot of time on Amazon. They’ve come to expect consumer-level digital experiences at work and play. 

Welcome to the consumerization of B2B; your customers have been expecting you.

Whether your company’s releasing an app as part of its digital transformation or it’s a digital-native SaaS company, CX pros need to understand the evolution of the B2B customer experience and make sure their products meet their B2B consumers’ expectations.

The B2B focus: from customer to end-user

B2B encompasses many types of different companies with varying levels of digital experiences. They’re all still dealing with some legacy ideas of B2B as they innovate and strive to keep one foot ahead of customer expectations.

In the not-so-distant past, B2B tech was big. Big machines, big decision-makers, big purchase prices, big buying time, and big onboarding. Tech salespeople wined and dined the VP and C-level buyers through the months-long decision process. Procurement got involved in making sure the tech worked at least “close enough” for the largest number of people at the company. Once the systems were in, they were in for the long-term, and user experience be damned.

Today, the tech is in the cloud, and it’s the little things that are important. Tech choices are researched and made by individuals and teams. Procurement may still get involved, but they come in to find so many people already happily using the software they just need to negotiate contracts vs. deciding “are we going to use Slack or not?” It’s one tech-savvy end-user after another replacing the big buying teams, and the app just needs to let that one person do their specific job faster and better. The sales process is digital, set up is easy, and customer service is a click away. 

The newer SaaS companies practicing Product Led Growth (PLG) have grown up in this digital age where everyone’s a consumer. If you are a workhorse platform, how can your digital experiences compete with these disruptors?  

12 ways to “consumerize” B2B customer experience

Think of your week’s worth of online consumer experience, and there are some overarching elements of a good CX. From Netflix to Uber, there are elements you need to pull into the B2B experience.

  1. Freemium or trial access. Appcues found 90% of users want to try a product for free. Can you design a lite but still valuable-to-the-user version of your product? If so, this can be a great lead generation channel. Give marketing adequate development resources and let them run it. 
  2. Fully digital. There’s no need for interaction with a live person to access and use the product. Users expect the app to understand their goals and take them step-by-step through the process to meet their goals. 
  3. Intuitive setup and use. No user wants to have to read an essay on how to get started; it should be one step clicks without confusion. There’s no need to look for what they need, no need to be trained by an admin — it’s right there.
  4. Quick time to value. The user wants to do their job faster, easier, and better — make that happen quickly before they find another option.
  5. Easy connections to existing tech. While you’re focused on the individual end-user, don’t forget your app needs to fit into the organization’s workflow, speeding time to value and allowing your power user to advocate for your app. Also, realize that while one user may need everything your app does, others just need to know the results. Make sure your app links to the app others work in the most. If others need the data from your app to work in Slack, then offer a single-click integration to send the data from your app to Slack.
  6. Simple vs. feature-laden. Keep the interface as decluttered as possible, so it’s easy for users to find what they need. Visual clarity poses a challenge for feature-ladened platforms, so design with a bias toward simplicity. And remember, there will be light users who don’t want to have to figure out, once again, how to run a report. You still need all the features for those power-user admins, but you must also prioritize the light user’s experience. 
  7. Mobile. The more people who adopt your app, the more mobile users you’ll have. While you don’t have to design to be mobile-first, you can offer a simplified version of your desktop platform, keeping all the features someone on the go will need when they’re away from their office. 
  8. Easy to share. People work on teams for the most part, and shared apps help complete shared work. Make it easy for your power user to evangelize and share your product within the organization with a one-click invitation. 
  9. Real-time issue resolution. Digital is fast, and users expect to solve any problems encountered in real-time. Offer help right in the product through a chat function. No one minds AI if it resolves their issue — they just want it handled now. 
  10. Easy to review. Purchase decisions today reflect the power of the end-user. Decisions are made based on word of mouth and 3rd party review sites, so make it easy for your promoters to evangelize for you. Use in-app surveys to identify your happiest customers and then automate the review to link to AppStore or G2 once the survey is completed.
  11. Seamless upgrade to paid. The freemium or trial offer will demonstrate value. When more functionality is required, make it an easy click to the premium product version. 
  12. Customer feedback. Build improvement and growth into your product by asking for feedback right in the platform and mobile app. Your buyers and end-users expect you to be optimizing your product, so make it easy for end-users to give feedback in the moment through simple NPS, CSAT, and CES micro-surveys. 

Designing your digital CX for the modern B2B customer means taking a B2C mindset. Your product isn’t serving a faceless company; it’s serving the individual people who use it. Where are your people? What are their expectations? How can you connect them to value most easily? By designing to help end-users meet their goals, you create a partnership with individuals whose success is based on your product. They will tell you how to improve your product and evangelize its use to develop new customers. Once in, they want to help you make your product better, and their feedback will light the way for your company’s success.

Wootric is CX management for modern B2B companies. Book a consultative demo today.

5 Industries Taking Advantage of Text Analytics

Text analytics, also called text mining, has countless applications. Businesses are taking advantage of text analytics to update their service offerings, improve compliance, get ahead of PR disasters, and more.

Here are 5 examples of the industries taking advantage of text analytics in 2021.

1. Hospitality

Hotels live and die by their reviews. Reviews are not only crucial to whether someone books a stay, but they also give valuable insight into what a business is doing well – or not. And while the hospitality industry has been decimated over the COVID-19 pandemic, the quickening vaccine deployment holds great promise for 2021 and beyond for the industry. Hotels use text analytics to get a deep understanding of where they excel and where they can improve, as well as what others are doing. Say some reviews mention poor wi-fi. A hotel can analyze these reviews deeper to nail down whether the wi-fi problem is a hotel-wide approach or just in some rooms. Once they’ve figured it out, they can make the fix, thank the reviewer for their feedback, and be on their way to improved reviews in the future.

2. Financial Services

The financial services sector is hugely complex. There’s an enormous amount of interaction, documentation, risk analysis, and compliance involved. Financial services firms are using text analytics to analyze customer feedback, evaluate customer interactions, assess claims, and to identify compliance risks. Take compliance. Staff can use an NLP-based text analytics solution to quickly and easily search internal legal documents for phrases relating to finance or fraud. This can save an enormous amount of time compared with doing so manually.

3. Medical Affairs and Pharma

Medical affairs specialists help move pharmaceutical products from R&D to commercialization. This involves an encyclopedic knowledge of drug body and government regulations, as well as drug compendia. Medical affairs specialists are using text analytics to parse each of these and automatically report back on changes. The specialists can then course correct depending on what these changes mean for the drug they’re developing. Using text analytics rather than human effort reduces the time spent on tracking these changes, and is more accurate and far-reaching as well. Download AI for Medical Affairs Whitepaper

4. PR and Advertising

Text analytics is brilliant at sentiment analysis – something that PR is all about monitoring. Text analytics can run in real-time to track the sentiment in mentions about a particular company, alerting them to potential brand reputation emergencies. In advertising, text analytics can help monitor the reach of a campaign and how it’s being received. For example, a leading provider of Media Monitoring and Social Influencing used Lexalytics’, an InMoment company, API to create custom dashboards to analyze its customers’ media relations programs in terms of sentiment, engagement, perception, and performance.

5. Retail

In retail, the customer is always right. E-eCommerce retailers in particular need to make sure that the customer experience is as positive as possible, and with the boon in online buying during the pandemic, this is more important than ever. A poor experience means a customer is unlikely to return – even more so than in physical stores that people frequent due to their proximity. Many e-tailers are turning to text analytics to curate, collate and analyze feedback that helps identify points of friction when using an ecommerce website or dealing with customer support.

Would you like to know how text analytics can help your business or industry? Get in touch

How & Why You Should Customize the NPS Follow-up Question

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a simple and highly effective way to determine the happiness of your customers. This one rating — how likely are you to recommend <company> — gives you valuable business insights from the need to fix specific issues quickly, to long-term trends. 

The more actionable insight, however, comes from the follow-up question where the customer is able to explain the “why” behind their rating with an open-text answer that gives you the good, bad, and the ugly of their experience. 

By customizing your NPS follow up question, you’re better able to gain the insight you need to improve your CX and increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). We have four simple ways you can approach creating the optimal follow-up question for your specific needs.

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