Customer Health Score: Advice from Three Customer Success Experts

Customer success teams measure and track many key metrics. From SaaS platform usage to NPS, they are always analyzing data to maintain a pulse of customer health and happiness. Many of these stats will also go into an overall account metric known as Customer Health Score.

Wootric recently hosted the San Francisco Customer Success Meetup and the focus of the evening was Customer Health Score (CHS). Three experts shared their techniques for constructing and measuring this metric.  Loni Brown from Entelo, Jeff Johnson from Splunk, and Jon Turri from Raise.me offered several tips and insights to setting up a Customer Health Score program and the intricacies involved.

Interested in viewing the whole Customer Health Score panel session? Watch the video here

What is Customer Health Score (CHS)?

Customer Health Score is a metric designed to predict a customer’s likelihood to stay a customer  – or churn. Loni started by providing her explanation of what CHS is, “a metric that provides insight into what is happening in your customer accounts early enough that you can be proactive.” Formulations of CHS can be simple, but are often complex.

That description works well, but there isn’t an industry standard for Customer Health Score, which may be confusing and overwhelming for some customer success teams. The panel agreed that variables and the weighting formula for CHS vary based on the company and industry. It depends on what is indicative of success for your customers.

What Goes Into a Customer Health Score?

Each of the panelists has had to identify and gather the metrics available to them, then single out the most indicative numbers to create a formula for their score. This means the first iterations are often messy and need regular adjustment until the method produces results that are consistent with how CSMs see their accounts.

When creating your score, it’s good to isolate 4-6 indicators for CHS. Loni mentioned that the Entelo CHS score card includes eight different numbers, though she allowed that her formula is very comprehensive. Among other things, the Entelo CHS includes Net Promoter Score (NPS), the number of support tickets per user, usage of the tools on her platform, and success milestones. Entelo is a recruiting platform so in their case, success milestones include personnel hires their clients have been with the help of Entelo.

Jeff added, “Support cases are important, but they don’t always mean something is wrong” so you’ll want to keep that in mind if you add them to your formula.

The panelists discussed the subjective components of their CSH formula, suggesting that only 1-2 of your included metrics should be subjective, but that they can be quite important. For instance, Jon adds “Relationship strength is the highest weighted metric for us.”

After initially setting up your Customer Health Score formula, it’s important to give it 6-10 months without changes, or you won’t be able to track it accurately over time.

Tracking Customer Health Scores

A favorite tool for tracking CHS is Gainsight, used by 2 of the panelists. It imports metrics you’ve indicated as important and allows you to weight each parameter, culminating in a unique formula for your each customer’s CHS.

In Gainsight, you’ll see accounts that are Green, indicating good health. They could be an opportunity for an upsell or additional revenue. Yellow, which are accounts that might be experiencing a problem. Red accounts are in poor health and are at risk of churning.

Loni uses Wootric to track Net Promoter Score. She imports this NPS data into Gainsight via Salesforce for the benefit of her success team and her CHS calculation. (Having her NPS data in Salesforce benefits the sales team, too. For instance, if a client could be a potential advocate, exporting that to account and contact records in Salesforce makes it easily accessible to the client’s sales manager.)

Setting up your NPS program? Get the ebook, The Modern Guide to Winning Customers with Net Promoter Score. Learn eight ways SaaS companies are leveraging Net Promoter Score for customer loyalty and growth.

A good indicator that your formula is working is to check positive and negative accounts and be sure the metric matches what is happening with the client. For instance, if a customer hasn’t taken training, submits multiple support tickets, and hasn’t been successful with your product it makes sense they would be in poor standing.

Optimizing your CHS can be great for revenue opportunities. Loni stated “Sales can come to me and say ‘we are trying to make quota, do you have any accounts for us?’ and I can print out of a list of green accounts and hand them over knowing they are good prospects for upsells.”

When our host was asked by an audience member what impact panelists had seen on churn and expansion revenue, Jeff answered, “You’ll see an immediate impact when taking immediate action.”

Set Up Customer Health Alerts

Once you’ve chosen the metrics for your score, you’ll want to add alerts to your system that notify you if and when something happens. Jeff says “If anything should be a fire alarm, build it into your logic in Gainsight. Think about what those fire alarms are.”

Jon cautioned, “The CHS Scorecard won’t give you everything….you have to have an escalation process in place.”

For example, if your NPS for a particular account goes from promoter to detractor you’ll want to have a CSM address the account. This means the overall scorecard could be showing a positive account when there is a problem, so it’s still important to look at every metric on a client’s card to make sure it is in good standing.

Taking Action on Customer Health Scores

The next step after setting up your CHS alerts is to create playbooks to work from when there is an alert or an account drops from green to yellow or red. This gives CSMs valuable information to work through any problems and put the account in good standing when possible.

Jeff suggested that you focus efforts on getting yellow accounts to green. A healthy account is six times more likely to rebuy or upsell than one that is “okay, ” he says. The effort you put into getting an unhealthy red account to an “okay” yellow account may not be worth it.

As the company grows, your CHS program should as well. At Raise.me there are thousands of customers/students who use the program. Because of this Jon has learned to use segmentation. He tracks a CHS for new customers going through onboarding and a CHS for long term customers.

In one last bit of advice, Loni’s recommends to “Make sure the team and company are bought into the score or people won’t act on behalf of it.”

Thanks to our panelists, it’s clear how valuable and productive Customer Health Score can be for Customer Success teams. It can take effort to determine the right metric for your company, but the result can be an excellent program that decreases churn.

Retain more customers. Sign up today for free in-app Net Promoter Score feedback with InMoment.

Product Managers: Why You Should Include Customer Success Milestones In Your User Flows

As a Product Manager, you develop user flows to chart how customers move from signup to successfully using your SaaS product. Your colleagues in Customer Success are doing the same thing — mapping a flow of customer milestones to success.

But “success” can mean different things to PMs and CSMs. And, while both teams employ user flows (or customer journeys), what they put on them are very different, reflecting their very different goals.

You are responsible for making the product functionally work, with enough awesome UX so it’s relatively intuitive for the customer to use. For your team, “success” often means that the product works. It does what it says it will do, and does it well.

Customer Success is responsible for helping customers use the product to achieve their desired outcome. Most of the time, that desired outcome isn’t in the product – it’s outside of it. For example, if I purchase a budgeting app, my desired outcome is to save enough money to sun myself on a Caribbean beach, with a good-looking server to bring me fruity drinks with umbrellas in them. The Customer Success manager’s job is to get me there.

You might say it’s a conflict between focusing on the world inside the product and the wide, wide world outside of it.

And that conflict can bring about a deep divide between Product and Customer Success.

Yet, we’re all working towards the same goal: Creating a product people love, need and want more of.

What if you were to bring both user flows together, so the functionality inside the product meets the desired outcomes outside of the product?

The Customer Success Perspective

This is a basic Customer Success User Flow, riffing off of Lincoln Murphy’s mockup. This type of user flow shows how customers get to each successive Milestone – or the parts of the product that will take them to the next step towards reaching their Desired Outcome.

But this chart doesn’t show the most important part for the CSM: The success gaps between signup and that Desired Outcome.

It’s in these spaces that Customer Success does most of its work.

Success gaps are what stand between product functionality and success milestones or desired outcomes. My budgeting app might help me save money, but will it help me have an amazing Caribbean vacation? Of course not – the product isn’t designed for that.

But Customer Success content is designed for that. In e-books, blog posts, or social media ‘quick tips,’ Customer Success can tell me everything I need to know to successfully budget for my dream Caribbean getaway. This content can tell me things like “Don’t forget to include hotel taxes and airline fees in your budget,” or “When budgeting for vacation, experts suggest planning on spending $140 a day for food for two.”

Let’s take another example: Hubspot.

HubSpot’s product is an impressively integrated website, social media management, marketing, CRM and Sales platform. Their customer’s desired outcome is to build a successful online business. So, HubSpot’s Customer Success team created a Sales blog for salespeople, a Marketing blog for marketers, and the Hubspot Academy with certification courses in inbound marketing, email marketing, inbound sales, content marketing, sales software, marketing software, design for web and marketing agencies, contextual marketing, and HubSpot design.

They’ve created everything you could possibly need to succeed, in the real world, using their product.

HubSpot is an extreme example – most businesses don’t have the resources for anything so comprehensive. But the principle behind it is something we can all employ.

Give your customers the tools and information they need to do what they need to do.

And this is where Product comes in.

The Product Management Perspective

When you think of user flows, it is typically about what you want users to do next in the product – the functional completion of getting from A-Z.

In your user flows, you’ll see interactions within the product, with options for different paths users can take within the product.

And, once again, success gaps are between every single action.

This is often where you will insert in-app tutorials to cover the usability success gaps, but it’s not the PM’s job alone to think outside the product. That’s what Customer Success is for.

This is what I’ve been recommending to my clients

My clients often have user flows, ready-made, from their Product teams. They may or may not have user flows from their Customer Success teams – and if they don’t, I tell them to create one.

You have to, have to, HAVE TO know where your success gaps are!

Lately, however, I’ve recommended a new way to create user flows: By bringing Product Management and Customer Success to co-create a user flow together.

A user flow that shows what functionally needs to happen…

  • Onboarding/Acquisition/Retention stages
  • Success Milestones
  • Where to move from Freemium to Paid subscription
  • When to ask for Advocacy
  • When to Upsell
  • Markers indicating success gaps
  • Where customers will find their first value, next values, and desired outcomes

It’s a user flow that brings together success inside the product with success outside of the product. And, it opens the door to getting Product’s ideas on ways to close the success gaps from within the product, and Customer Success’s ideas on how to improve UX.

What does this look like?

Something like this:

Product + Success Perspective on Customer User Flow

Clearly, this is a greatly simplified version of a user flow. But do you see the two sides coming together? Do you see the potential within those success gaps for Product + Success brainstorming?

And, most importantly, do you see how this user flow can actually get the user – from a Product and CS perspective – to their Desired Outcome?

Think of it this way: Every success gap presents an opportunity for Customer Success and Product to design a solution to bridge it. Sometimes that solution will be entirely on CS’s shoulders, like creating informative content, how-to’s, or videos. Other times, that solution will require your expertise to create an in-app pop-up tip, milestone celebration, or alert – and, when the success gap is a little too wide for a quick fix, a new feature or expansion.

By mapping both perspectives at the same time, you’re building the customer’s success into your process from the beginning.

The bottom line is…

If you and your Product team are only talking about the functional completion of the product, then it’s time to add a few more chairs to the conference room table – and invite Customer Success in.  Your product will be stickier when the functionality inside the product helps customers achieve their desired outcomes outside of the product.

Start getting free in-app feedback on your product today. Signup for InMoment.

Maximizing the “Uncontrollable” in the B2B Customer’s Journey

For many business-to-business (B2B) companies, relationships with customers are ongoing, which gives these companies the opportunity to improve on relationships over time.  Typically, these companies first take the information they obtain from customer journey mapping to make internal improvements to their own processes with an eye toward making the customer experience better.

In addition to the experience that a company creates for its customers, journey mapping also uncovers dynamics that customers go through within their own companies during their journey.  Within the B2B space, there are many things your company can do to improve the customer experience drawing on customers’ internal dynamics. Doing so can be extremely powerful in cementing a client relationship.  The ability to do this will provide a means for your company to differentiate itself from competitors who struggle to use this type of information.

What We Often Learn About the Customer’s Internal Struggles

MaritzCX’s experience in customer journey mapping indicates that the following dynamics within B2B customers’ own companies tend to be the most likely to make their journeys more difficult:

  • Unclear communication with end users: End users can be in a variety of departments, e.g., production, research and development.   Sometimes end users do a poor job of communicating what they want, and thus the person charged with making an order can be hindered by miscommunications.  This leads to wasted time and frustration on the part of the customer.
  • Dealing with angry end users when something is wrong with an order: Sometimes a company shipping an order or fulfilling a service will get it wrong. This can create internal chaos for the customer and his end user.  The customer will expend more time and energy, and the end user may well unload his or her frustrations on the ordering individual.
  • Dealing with accounting and purchasing departments: The individual charged with ordering typically has to deal with accounting and purchasing departments that have very specific requirements about how things must be done.  This can result in the ordering individual having to work with a vendor to make adjustments to their typical protocols to satisfy his or her accounting and/or purchasing departments. This can be very challenging because of the extensive communication it sometimes takes to get things right.
  • Leaving the ordering individual out of communications with the company from which they are ordering: When someone within the customer’s organization reaches out to the company from which the ordering is taking place and leaves the purchaser out of the loop, this too can result in internal problems, including the ordering individual repeating tasks already done, contributing to even more confusion, and feeling usurped.

Using Internal Customer Challenges to Improve the Customer Experience

Most companies have had to deal with customers who had the kinds of internal challenges just described.   Though you cannot ever eliminate all these situations, we believe that a B2B company can work with its customers to better understand these challenges, and help them in managing the internal difficulties they encounter.  Doing so will not only provide your customer with a better experience, but provides you with the opportunity to develop a stronger relationship as you help them to work through their problems.

MaritzCX’s experience with customer journey mapping has led us to recommend the following strategies for aiding B2B companies in better understanding and helping their customers to deal with difficult internal dynamics.

  • Proactively ask your customers what their biggest internal challenges are. By asking this question, you are indicating you have empathy for and understand the challenges your clients face. This is how the sales force can begin to form stronger relationships with customers.  The more the salesperson knows, the more potential problems can be averted.  If a customer has an end user who is not providing clear direction, proactively deal with this ahead of time by helping your customer to clarify matters with their end users. If you know your customer has an anxious end user, don’t be afraid to communicate frequently to ease the situation.  In short, find out what the problems are and help your customer to find a solution.
  • Learn about your customers’ accounting and purchasing departments’ needs and the formats in which they use. You can then work with your own accounting department to produce documents that will line up perfectly with your customers’ purchasing and accounting needs.  This will make both the salesperson and customer’s lives much easier because everyone will save time in the long run.  Your customers will particularly appreciate it.
  • Close the loop with customers that have been left out. Further, if a salesperson becomes aware that both they and their customer are being left out of the loop, the salesperson needs to communicate that. The salesperson should encourage anyone within his own company to let him or her know that someone from a client organization has reached out to them.

A Prime Differentiator

Learning about the internal dynamics that get in the way of customers having an easy and pleasant customer journey puts the company in the best position possible.

When an organization completes a journey mapping exercise, it should not draw the conclusion that it will not be able to use the information on the customer’s internal challenges during the customer journey.  Far from it.  In fact, the organization can use this type of information as a tool with which to build solid relationships with the customers.

The ability to help your B2B customers with their own internal problems in the customer journey can also work as a prime differentiator between you and your competition.  Many companies make the faulty assumption that they can exercise virtually no influence over their customers’ internal dynamics.  By failing to recognize that they can accomplish much in this area, they allow companies that use this type of information to thrive and often become industry leaders.

How SaaS Companies Do NPS: Learning from Customer Success at HelloSign and Optimizely

There is a thriving Meetup group of Customer Success professionals here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Customer Success is a new and evolving field, so each monthly gathering is packed with Customer Success Managers from SaaS (Software as Service) companies around San Francisco who want to learn the latest insights from experienced Customer Success leaders. (Note: If you don’t live in the SF Bay Area, you can still benefit from the expertise shared at these monthly meetups.  Whenever possible, Junan Pang and the other organizers post a video of the event on their meetup page. )

In January, the group met up at Rainforest QA to explore a topic that is a big part of every Customer Success organization but may not always get the right level of focus…Net Promoter Score (NPS)!

Running an NPS survey program is easier than ever. No more annual NPS email survey campaigns or analyzing data in spreadsheets. A modern Net Promoter Score platform will survey your customers in real-time, start collecting data, and do the analysis for you.

Can’t get much simpler than that, right?

Actually…

There’s a lot more to NPS than what you see on the surface and every CSM knows it.

Maranda Ann Dziekonski, VP Customer Operations at HelloSign  and Jennifer Ruth, Sr Director of Customer Success at Optimizely shared how they approach Net Promoter Score and tips for getting the most from this metric including whether it should be anonymous, how to improve it, and how an enterprise company should handle feedback.

For starters, the experts shared what NPS is and how to calculate your score. While most tools will automatically calculate it for you, it’s good to know what goes into this important number because it has such a significant impact on your company.

Setting up an NPS program? Get the ebook, The Modern Guide to Winning Customers with Net Promoter Score. Leverage customer feedback and drive growth with a real-time approach to NPS.

What is Net Promoter Score (NPS)?

NPS is a one- question survey that asks: “How likely are you to recommend our product to friends of colleagues?” It is generally followed by a single, open-ended question, like “Care to tell us why?” that gives your customer an opportunity to elaborate on the reason behind their score.

Two Step in-app NPS Survey by WootricNPS delivers a board-level metric and the “one number you need to grow.” The survey “metricizes” customer loyalty. It is the most important baseline metric for driving improvement in customer experience. NPS stands above CSAT (customer satisfaction) and customer health scores because it is meaningful and understood across all departments. Your NPS indicates precisely how happy your users are with your product/service, so it holds everyone accountable for customer centricity.

Why does Customer Success use NPS?

One reason Customer Success departments in particular pay close attention to Net Promoter Score is because a low NPS can be an indication of potential churn.

How is NPS calculated?

Customers rate their likelihood of recommending your company on a scale of 0-10. Survey answers 9 & 10 are considered promoters, 7 & 8 are passive, and 0-6 are detractors. You take the percentage of detractors and subtract it from the percentage of promoters to get your score. Here is more on the concept and formula.

NPS scale

NPS = % Promoters – % Detractors

What is an average NPS?

Everyone wants to know — how does my NPS measure up to the competition? In the tech industry, Maranda Dziekonski suggests that a score of 25-50 is average.

Why use the NPS survey?

One reason is that the non-intrusive one-question NPS survey is customer friendly, especially when compared to the user experience of traditional “This will only take 10 minutes” multi-question surveys. As a result, NPS surveys garner much higher response rates. And you want to be hearing from as many customers as possible because, as Dziekonski of HelloSign says, “80% of your detractors are tweeting complaints on social media, 80% of your promoters are those who will contribute to expansion revenue.” Knowing how they feel can help you engage with them in the right way. 

Who should own NPS in your company?

Both experts agreed that the NPS point person should be customer-facing. For example, the NPS champion should be on the customer success or support team. In their experience, other departments such as marketing are less likely to take the key step of closing the loop with the survey respondents. CSMs, on the other hand, will reach out and learn how they can keep the customer as a promoter.

What about Net Promoter Score within enterprise businesses?

Marketing, Product, Sales, Education, Service/Support, and the C-Suite are all stakeholders in the Net Promoter Score program you create. All of them benefit from NPS data. While every department should get the information, only one should own it and drive motivation for improvement. That department should also regularly track what is being done to impact and improve NPS by all departments.

How often should you ask your customers the Net Promoter Score question?

Both experts agree that no customer should be asked more frequently than every six months. However, that doesn’t mean you only execute the survey every six months. For example, if you survey a new user after she completes the on-boarding process and then survey her again every six months, you will have a constant pulse of NPS data coming in all the time from various users. However, you’ll have to decide how often works best for your company.

In-app or Email NPS Surveys?

“I get more responses from in-app users. Where with email, it gets lost in the shuffle. However, if your customers or stakeholders don’t log in to your SaaS product, then in-app won’t work and email is the way to go,” said Maranda Dziekonski.

How often should you run other surveys?

The experts agreed that CSAT should run after every contact with support. However, it’s important to schedule out how often a person will be targeted for feedback; you don’t want to over-survey customers and risk annoying them.

In addition to NPS and CSAT, HelloSign does an annual marketing survey.  Jennifer Ruth said that when she was at Adobe, they sequenced NPS with other surveys and supplemented that data with Customer Advisory Board feedback.

Therefore, it’s important for companies to have one person or function create a centralized customer feedback plan. When other departments need feedback, they can do it through that point person. There is nothing worse that overwhelming customers with too many surveys, and having a gatekeeper and a plan ensures that doesn’t happen.  “Come up with an approach that minimizes customer burden,” said Jennifer Ruth.

On Choosing the Right NPS Platform

You’ll want one that can quickly scale as you grow. Multichannel NPS tool is best. It should be easy to reach customers on your website or in your SaaS, in your mobile app, and through email.

Your NPS platform should handle sampling for you and help you analyze the data for deeper insight. For instance, you can run in-app surveys in your SaaS product and have your NPS platform automatically resend the survey to customers every six months. You might want to analyze data by certain groups — Enterprise versus SMB users, for example — and the right NPS platform will help you do this.

It is also important that your tool integrates with other platforms like Mixpanel, Intercom or Salesforce, so you can easily automate sending the survey based on customer “events” such as use of a particular feature, or a support conversation. Integrations also mean the feedback can be pushed to platforms that you and the other departments are in regularly. For example, when NPS scores and feedback are pushed into Salesforce, account managers can have more informed conversations with customers. They will know before the call if the account might be primed for upsell or need some TLC.

Should NPS surveys be anonymous?

Jennifer Ruth of Optimizely shared that at one company she worked at, the company did maintain customer anonymity. The thinking was that customers would be more honest if they knew they were not identifiable.

Most companies, however, feel that it is critical to know who the survey response is coming from. This is for two reasons. First, and most importantly, it  allows you to respond directly to the customer. You can thank them for their feedback and hopefully addressing any concerns they have. You can also invite happy customers to advocate for your brand. When customers know that their input is valued, they are more likely to respond to future surveys.

Second, knowing who responded enables deeper analysis of NPS data.  Companies often segment responses by persona, plan or other properties for deeper insight into the “Why?” behind the score.

How do you improve NPS?

Several ways to improve NPS were discussed.

The first, and the easiest way to do it, says Jennifer Ruth, is by reading through the open-ended feedback given, identifying the customer’s issues, notifying and working with the departments involved to address the issues of individual customers.

Another approach involves segmenting data –deeper research to understand which cohorts are happy or unhappy, and specifically working on strategies to respond to their input and improve their loyalty. HelloSign segments their NPS data by salesperson, CSM, and product line to thoroughly understand any trends and where there are issues with customer happiness. Since their feedback scores are not anonymous, they can also have CSMs connect with those who are detractors (0-6) to find out why their score is low and help them be more successful with the product.

Improving response rates

Everyone wants to hear from as many customers as possible. HelloSign uses this approach: Before they send an NPS survey via email, they reach out before hand and let users know how important the NPS survey is. Their users know their responses will be reviewed. They also reach out after the survey is sent to remind and encourage response.

Including a deadline for the survey has also helped encourage feedback. They found that getting the email addresses of the people who use the product — not just the person who installed it — and surveying them was critical to getting relevant responses. (In the past, HelloSign noticed that engineers who regularly install their product don’t respond to the survey requests.) 

How do you follow up with Passives and Detractors? 

The good news is that if Detractors responded, they are engaged. Do your research — look at all tickets, analytics before you reach out to the customer. Be direct and be human. People will respond to that authenticity and will give you feedback and tell you how you can help.  Make sure the customer feels empowered.

The NPS survey system is a powerful, yet streamlined way for customer success teams and companies to metricize customer loyalty and work to improve it. A Net Promoter Score program can help you keep customers happy, prevent churn, and improve your product.  

Retain more customers. Sign up today and get started with free Net Promoter Score feedback with InMoment.

Wootric launches Net Promoter Score for Salesforce on the AppExchange

Wootric, the Net Promoter Score platform for boosting customer happiness, has launched the Wootric Net Promoter Customer Feedback survey application on the Salesforce AppExchange. Designed to bring the full power of Net Promoter Score (NPS) data to Salesforce users, the integration was created with input from Salesforce customers and NPS power-users like Zoom.us, Entelo and Percolate.  

Download the Wootric-Salesforce integration from the listing on the AppExchange.

With the Wootric-Salesforce integration, day-to-day users of Salesforce —  customer success, sales, marketing and service/support — can improve retention, upsells and customer experience from within Salesforce. The application enriches contact and account records with the Net Promoter Score (NPS) metric and Voice of the Customer (VOC) feedback comments in any language. Surveys can also be triggered from within Salesforce.

Highlights of the Wootric Net Promoter Score integration on the AppExchange

Features of the integration today include:

  • Net Promoter Scores and feedback in Contact Records
  • Account level Net Promoter Score and feedback roll-up
  • Seven (7) Net Promoter Score Reports that auto-populate the Wootric Dashboard in Salesforce
  • Ability to trigger NPS surveys from within Salesforce using workflows
  • Direct install that takes minimal developer resources to configure.

Future plans include a similar integration for Wootric’s new Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES) surveys.

Account Level Net Promoter Score (NPS) Data in Salesforce

See more Screenshots on Wootric’s AppExchange listing.

Easy Installation, the Right Features

“As I spoke with customers about the features they wanted in a Wootric-Salesforce application, I quickly learned that it is a challenge for Salesforce users to find a customer feedback app that is genuinely easy to install and use,“ said Jessica Pfeifer, Chief Customer Officer at Wootric. “So we took time to build an integration that is both useful and painless to install.”

Wootric customers are already benefiting from sharing Wootric NPS data across the company through Salesforce. “The Wootric integration came with out-of-the-box reports that are great. Because the fields exist within Salesforce objects, we were able to setup automated alerts to account owners for easy follow-up. We’re able to view average scores at any scale: across company, industry, account size, etc,” said Caitlyn McCormick, Marketing Manager at Percolate. “If you’re looking for scalable NPS reporting and transparency across your organization, I recommend Wootric’s Salesforce integration.”

The real impact of customer feedback in Salesforce

When critical Voice of the Customer data collected by Wootric is accessible in Salesforce, it can align teams around boosting customer happiness.

Customer-centricity improves when customer experience data is available to Salesforce users

This year, 89% of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator. Now that CMOs are spending as much money on technology as CIOs, companies that use Salesforce are looking for the technology stack that will help them win on the customer experience battlefield.

Wootric’s sophisticated yet light-weight approach to customer experience feedback management is the choice of companies in over 70 countries around the globe. Now, by integrating Wootric with Salesforce, marketers can share customer insights and feedback across functions to improve CX.

An easy win for Sales & Success teams: Knowing exactly what the customer is thinking today

With the Wootric-Salesforce integration, Net Promoter Score data sits at the end-user record, buyer record and account level, so it is visible to sales and success teams that are having onboarding, upsell and renewal conversations. Did a user just rave about your new product, or are they disgruntled? How has account NPS been trending since the last call with the buyer? Business intelligence transforms the sales conversation.

Improve customer service and onboarding with triggered surveys

Asking for feedback after a support interaction or at a key journey point is now possible by triggering Wootric surveys based on events in Salesforce. This enables Customer Support or CX teams to assess and improve interactions with people and product.

Zapier vs. Salesforce Integration

Some Wootric customers currently utilize Zapier to move NPS data into Salesforce.  The advantages of using Wootric’s Salesforce integration instead of Zapier include: out of box VisualForce pages for Contacts and Accounts, Account level roll up of NPS, out of box reports and dashboard, workflow and survey triggers, and  historical data migration (which can be costly and difficult with Zapier.)  Using Zapier will continue to be a cost-effective option for companies that do not need these features.

For a more information and a free trial of the Salesforce integration, please contact sales to learn more

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12 Steps to Create a Memorable Dealership Experience for Women

There are basically two categories of vehicles currently driving the greatest profits for automakers and their retailers, trucks and SUVs. A majority of truck sales come from men while SUV/Crossover sales are driven mostly by women.  Some even go as far as to say that SUV sales are being driven particularly by single women.

It is easy for the mostly male retailer front line to connect with male customers. The matching of the two similar “natures” is obvious.  But what about engaging with women?  Women and men  have different wants, needs and desires when it comes to vehicle purchasing and service.  And they generally communicate those wants differently.

Perceptions are the Problem

In my first post for the Maritz CX Cafe, I spoke of the historic disconnect between women customers and the auto industry. In the same post, I made the case for a more gender-personalized CX experience.  Automakers are paying a lot more attention to women customers these days, but mainly via their marketing. So why are we still reading articles, both past and present, stating that a substantial number of women still feel disrespected and misunderstood when buying and servicing vehicles at the dealership? Many of those “perceptions” result from past “experiences”. But OEMs, including auto retailers, know that women customers are critical to the future of the industry. Drew Harwell makes an excellent case for this in his Washington Post piece titled, “A Tension for America’s Auto World: Winning Women Behind the Wheel”.

Too many women still enter the dealership with the perception, or maybe even the  misconception, that she is in dangerous territory. Is it deserved? Who cares? Because perceptions eventually evolve to reality if they are not diffused by a “memorable customer experience”.  As Customer Experience Manager for a large Buick GMC service center, I believe that most retailers are doing a better job of delivering satisfaction to all customers, including women. But, in my opinion, it really doesn’t matter how we are doing with women these days with “satisfaction”.  We have to do better with women in order to combat those nagging perceptions from the industry’s past. Besides, in the future, delivering “satisfaction” will only provide a “chance at bat”. The hits and home runs will come from memorable experiences.

A Change in Behavior is Required

How do we deliver more memorable “experiences” for women customers? First, I believe we need to assume that women and men usually communicate on different channels. Therefore, it might benefit the (mostly male) retail front line to begin to differentiate the way they communicate with women customers from their male customers.

I made the case for a more Gender-Personalized CX Design in my first CXCafe post. But design is easy compared to changing the behavior of the mostly male retailer front line. However, when it comes to modifying behavior, 12-step programs have a solid track record. Here are my suggestions, after almost 2 decades of monitoring this challenge.

“Traditional” Decision Steps

  • Step 1– Assume that men and women communicate differently, until you learn differently on a customer by customer basis. Learn to accept** that a substantial number of women assume that they are not going to be treated as fairly as men, even before they enter the dealership. And that perception/misconception will evolve into a reality unless she has a memorable experience.

** they say that if you can’t accept the first step…the rest of the steps are much less effective

  • Step 2– Make a commitment to learn more about how women communicate differently from men. Most experts agree that they do.
  • Step 3– This one is for management. If you don’t believe that the differences between how men and women communicate are real, your crew won’t either.

Action Steps

  • Step 4– Eye contact always.
  • Step 5– Interruption guarantee. Count to 3 before responding to women customers. (my wife & daughters say I need some help here)
  • Step 6– Suggestions…not solutions. By nature, most men tend to rush to the bottom line. Staying in a “suggestion” mode will differentiate you dramatically with women.
  • Step 7– Explain to them how it works…explain the process in their terms…break down the steps…mange the expectations.
  • Step 8– Nod your head to affirm you are listening. And remember, when women nod their heads positively…. it’s not necessarily a closing signal. Quite often it means “tell me more”.
  • Step 9– Make an extra effort to seek referrals from women. It’s a proven fact that women refer more than men, when they have a great “consumer experience”.

Maintenance Steps

  • Step 10– Continue to practice steps 4-9.
  • Step 11– Assume difference with women customers until you find out otherwise. In addition to a more gender differentiated communication style, safety, personal security and practicality are generally of more interest. And be prepared to provide expanded information.
  • Step 12– Having worked all of these steps, you’ll come to realize that when you meet the expectations of women customers, you exceed the expectations of every other customer group…men, multi-cultural, millennials, etc.

Now is the Time

There has never been a more critical time for the retail front line to connect better with women on their channel. Why? Because women, in addition to millennials, are the world’s fastest growing audience. Whether it’s a reality or a perception from the past that women perceive a disconnect with auto retailers really doesn’t matter.  If retailers are going to be successful with SUV/Crossover owners, they better change their behavior with women customers.

There is a Correlation between CX and Revenue Growth – and Here’s the Data to Back It Up

“Our conclusion: superior CX drives superior revenue growth.”
Harley Manning, Forrester

“Customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experiences”
Peter Kriss, Harvard Business Review

There is a lot of chatter happening in business circles about customer experience (CX) as a growth engine. It’s almost intuitive – you and I both understand how having a great experience affects us as customers. We all have businesses we love, products we’ll follow to the ends of the earth (in hopes they’ll finally go on sale), and websites we follow with almost religious fervor.

As CMO, VP of Success, or Head of Customer Support, you are constantly advocating for customer experience within your company. After all, from the very first moment the second blacksmith’s shop appeared in the village, creating competition for the first blacksmith’s shop, customer experience has been a deciding vote for who gets the business – just as much as price and quality. But as a business owner, or a professional marketer, you can’t afford to go with your gut. To win resources you need data to back up your argument that CX is the future (you know it is).

There is a correlation between CX and revenue growth, and we’ve compiled the research to back it up.

Why the effects of CX have been tricky to track

Customer experience has been treated as a ‘soft’ discipline, and I have a theory as to why. 

We’ve grown up with it. Whether watching Santa send Macy’s store shoppers to competitors in Miracle on 34th Street, or walking into Nordstrom’s shoe department to be followed around by suited young men carrying piles of boxes to the nearest padded chair. We recognize great CX when we experience it ourselves.

However, it’s inherently subjective. Subjective issues – anything based on opinion or emotion – tend to be hard to track. One person’s “helpful” is another person’s “pushy.” Your “attentive,” might be my “stalker.”

Modern tools now quantify CX

But online buyers’ journeys are different than the sales experiences most of us grew up with. With modern tracking and customer surveys, you can tell (often in real-time) whether your efforts are coming off as too much, or too little. You can identify problems and preferences, which allows you to fine tune the end experience for your target customer.

Most importantly, for the first time in human history, we have the tools to track the actual, absolute effect that positive customer experience has on a business’s bottom line. This is transforming the discipline of customer service into the science of CX.

The science of CX starts with measurement. Read the article, A Primer on the 3 Most Important CX Metrics – NPS, CSAT and CES, and start measuring CX today.

It’s no longer just “the right thing to do,” it’s an engine for measurable growth.

“CX is no longer just a discipline; it is the basic ingredient for growth”
Winning on the Battleground of CX, Forrester

Data that ties CX to Revenue

Transaction-based v. Subscription-based CX

“What we found: not only is it possible to quantify the impact of customer experience – but the effects are huge.” – “The Value of Customer Experience, Quantified,” Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review looked at the revenue data from two global $1B+ businesses – one was a transaction-based business, the other was a relationship-based subscription business.

We looked at two companies with different revenue models — one transactional, the other subscription-based — using two common elements that are relevant to all industries: customer feedback, and future spending by individual customers. To see the effect of experience on future spending, we looked at experience data from individual customers at a point in time, and then looked at those individual customers’ spending behaviors over the subsequent year.”

Transactional business models rely on frequency of customer return and how much they spend per visit. Modcloth would be a good example – they want you to come back every day and buy (or at least Save to Wishlist), and come up with ingenious ways to incentivize that behavior.

Subscription-based businesses include Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), or even those recipe kits from Blue Apron. No matter what they’re selling, the model is the same. It relies on retention, cross-sells and upsells.

The results?

After controlling for other factors that drive repeat purchases…

  • Transaction-based: Customers with the best past experiences spend140% more than those with the poorest past experiences.
  • Subscription-based: Customers with the best past experiences have a 74% chance of remaining a member for at least another year; customers with the worst experiences have a 43% chance of being a member one year later. In fact, those who gave the highest CX scores were likely to remain members for another six years.

CX Effects Across Multiple Industries

On Harley Manning’s Blog at Forrester, Manning (Forrester VP and research director) discusses two studies, conducted one year apart, that compared five pairs of publicly traded companies “where one company in each of the pairs had a significantly higher score than the other in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index during the period 2010 to 2015.”

The Customer Experience Index measures each brand on a scale from “Very Poor” to “Excellent” in these six categories:

  • Effectiveness
  • Ease of use
  • Emotion
  • Retention
  • Enrichment
  • Advocacy

Then, Forrester looked at the businesses’ revenue data and built models to calculate the compound annual growth rates for each of the ten companies over those five years.

The results:

The publicly traded companies studied ran the gamut of industry types, from cable to retail to airlines. But in terms of the CX effect, industry didn’t seem to matter as much as the reported CX scores each company received.

In two industries, cable and retail, leaders outperformed laggards by 24 percentage and 26 percentage points, respectively. Even in the industry with the smallest spread, airlines, the CX leader enjoyed a healthy 5 percentage point advantage in global revenue. And when we compared the total growth rate of all CX leaders to that of all CX laggards we saw that the leaders collectively had a 14 percentage point advantage.” – Harley Manning, Forrester

Unlike the Harvard Business Review’s study, Forrester did not control for outside influences that could have driven revenue growth. But, they did conclusively determine that “customers who have a better experience with a company say they’re less likely to stop doing business with the company and more likely to recommend it.” They also observed that companies with superior CX saw increased growth in customers.

And, as Harley Manning points out, “Both of those factors should drive increased growth in customers and, in turn, increased growth of customer revenue.”

Essentially, as CX rises, so does revenue growth.

But there’s another interesting correlation that Forrester’s Customer Experience Index research uncovered. The top performing brands, including USAA, Barnes & Noble, Etsy, QVC and Zappos.com, “achieved a 17% compound average growth between 2010 and 2015 – which is no small feat with many of them already in the top revenue percentiles in their respective industries.” (Salemove.com)

Compared with the brands at the bottom, who only saw a compound average growth of 3%, that is a very wide gap.

To put a possible dollar amount on this, consider: “a one-point score improvement in the CX Index can lead to an increase of $65 million in revenue in the upscale hotel industry,” according to Forrester’s Harley Manning.  

CX spending is on the rise

You may think companies still seem to feel more comfortable spending money on things that do not have a direct impact on customer experience, or that Support and Customer Success teams can still be the last area to receive investment. Think again. Per Forrester research, 71% of business and technology decision-makers reported that improving CX will be a high priority for spending in the next year.

Ready to join the CX revolution?

Now with modern survey platforms, companies of all sizes can measure and improve customer experience at scale.  Forrester’s CX Index measured six attributes of experience and probably took months to collect, analyze and report. However, a lightweight approach to CX improvement using metrics such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) can get you 90% of the way there and not break the bank. 

The key is to start small. Determine your “north star” metric. Get customer feedback, take action, repeat.  Consistently repeat this process. As your company’s customer experience improves, so will your bottomline. 

Start measuring Net Promoter Score for free with InMoment

CX Lessons from 2016 (And Why You Should Stay Curious in 2017)

Earlier this year I shifted my priorities and focus, and chose pleasure and purpose over other engrained habits and needs.

I was so “busy being busy” that I had forgotten the evident importance of slowing down and taking stock. The basic need to actively listen and properly connect with the various voices and opinions available to me had been neglected. As someone who delights in identifying patterns, sharing theories, and having an opinion, I had found myself too often recycling old narratives. I was running the risk of becoming stale or too comfortable with my long established talk track.

I needed to set some new goals, and decided to set deadlines that would force me to both focus on freeing up time to learn, and also create the right environment to get energised, so I decided to create regular “industry sessions” for my colleagues, where we could discuss the hot topics of the day.

Out of this year’s sessions came some very intriguing stories and lessons from the customer experience (CX) industry. Here are just a few that I’d like to share with you.

Personalisation

Often seen in relation to targeted marketing, we as consumers have appreciated brands’ efforts to personalise our experience. And brands know that establishing a connection (friendliness, trust, being made to feel valued) drives customer satisfaction, loyalty, and increased spend.

But being “personal” has also created some opportunities to strengthen important links, even if not always executed perfectly. Starbucks—as a global brand—is the antithesis of local, and yet they tapped in to the importance of being valued in a unique way through the “Can I have your name?” approach. At first disruptive and peculiar, it is now hard for other brands to copy.

My local train station has a Starbucks franchise, and whenever I approach the counter they know I want a flat white. Unfortunately, despite having tried on a number of occasions to tell Eddie that my name is not Matt, that is the name that appears on the cup. Despite being wrong, my “Britishness” can only allow it roll on now, and secretly I enjoy the regularity of this wrong. It is human and therefore wonderfully imperfect, and in many ways more effective than communication based on algorithms.

Emerging Labels And Transparency

We have perhaps already grown a little weary of contemplating millennials, and are now seeing more articles hypothesising on Gen Z (“the hyper millennials”), and what they will bring to the party. How different will their customer expectations be to us Generation X-ers? Are they really that much more sensible?

A requirement for authenticity, and brands doing the right thing may however be the needs that bond us all together, less XYZ and more Generation C (more connected to each other through social reviews than ever before). In the space of a few months two hip brands saw the polar effects of how quickly word of mouth can kick in.

Airrbnb was impacted by the news that customers who had left part way through their stays were seeing their reviews cleansed as they were being treated as having been cancelled. Their spokesperson described these as “isolated incidents.” In contrast, Patagonia’s promise to donate all of its Black Friday sales to local environmental causes not only swelled their tills, but boosted awareness and equity as the positive word spread.

Language Shifts And Meaning

Back in April we were debating FOMO (fear of missing out) and how brands use this emotion to drive increased traffic—and paranoia—amongst their competitors. I doubt many of us saw, however, “post truth” (apparently the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year) coming up the rails.

The definition of post truth is, “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

When the Temkin Group labeled 2016 as the year of emotion, I doubt they expected System 2 parts of our brain (slow, effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, conscious) to be so heavily defeated by System 1 (fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, subconscious).

I should probably out myself here as a Guardian-reading, Radio-6-listening type, but I was certainly not the only person to view the recent UK and USA votes in a state of disbelief. Out of this darkness the team was at least able to properly understand two things:

1.    Negativity Bias: Humans are significantly more likely to remember the negative experiences, and far more people pass on a bad experience than a good one—so reduce the chances as well as you can, and don’t under estimate how motivating anger can be.

2.    Confirmation Bias and our manufactured echo chambers: This is a description of the situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an “enclosed” system, where different or competing views are censored, disallowed, or otherwise underrepresented. The moral being to listen to your electorate/ customers / colleagues, and don’t ignore feedback that simply does not match your own take on the world. It could well come back to bite you.

Story Telling And Journeys In Experience

Finally, something that we have further built on is our love of stories, a recognition of their importance, and how best to narrate ideas to connect with an audience.

For example, we have agreed on the right structure for delivering meaningful communication. Set up the situation that we, or our customers, find themselves in; share the catalyst that requires a change; explain the purpose and the central question that you will be answering; give your answer; provide the evidence; summarise and provide the call to arms.

Part of the reason that story structures work so well to get a message across is that this is how our brains have evolved to take in important messages. And looking at experiences from a behavioural science perspective also provides learning for how to structure any interaction for greatest effect. Get the difficult things out of the way early (but try not to churn), spread the pleasure, and end on a high.

We can all benefit from taking care of our opportunities to communicate.

Before I conclude, for all those commentators out there who take the time to share and contribute to the mix of opinions and learning available to those willing to listen, I thank you.

We should all continuously remind ourselves that CX does not exist in a bubble. Where my team originally started looking at more CX-specific emerging topics, such as a focus on customer effort metrics, we soon felt diverted and started to explore the outer reaches of behaviour and motivation in general. And this is because we recognised that many factors can influence a brand’s ability to deliver against its customer promise, its employees’ capacity to deliver this proposition consistently, and indeed its customers’ appetite to appreciate and be motivated by these efforts.

My resolution for 2017 will be to stay curious, but contribute more. I will therefore leave you with a message that resonated with me this summer. It wasn’t from the usual sages, but the English RFU as part of their Level 1 Coaching course. Whilst aimed at how we work with young rugby players, and their development, the argument works for all of us who are in a position of influence:

“Our players have the capacity to outgrow us if we stand still. We may restrict them from achieving their full potential if we fail to recognise the need to continue our own development.”

CX Lessons from 2016 (And Why You Should Stay Curious in 2017)

Earlier this year I shifted my priorities and focus, and chose pleasure and purpose over other engrained habits and needs.

I was so “busy being busy” that I had forgotten the evident importance of slowing down and taking stock. The basic need to actively listen and properly connect with the various voices and opinions available to me had been neglected. As someone who delights in identifying patterns, sharing theories, and having an opinion, I had found myself too often recycling old narratives. I was running the risk of becoming stale or too comfortable with my long established talk track.

I needed to set some new goals, and decided to set deadlines that would force me to both focus on freeing up time to learn, and also create the right environment to get energised, so I decided to create regular “industry sessions” for my colleagues, where we could discuss the hot topics of the day.

Out of this year’s sessions came some very intriguing stories and lessons from the customer experience (CX) industry. Here are just a few that I’d like to share with you.

Personalisation

Often seen in relation to targeted marketing, we as consumers have appreciated brands’ efforts to personalise our experience. And brands know that establishing a connection (friendliness, trust, being made to feel valued) drives customer satisfaction, loyalty, and increased spend.

But being “personal” has also created some opportunities to strengthen important links, even if not always executed perfectly. Starbucks—as a global brand—is the antithesis of local, and yet they tapped in to the importance of being valued in a unique way through the “Can I have your name?” approach. At first disruptive and peculiar, it is now hard for other brands to copy.

My local train station has a Starbucks franchise, and whenever I approach the counter they know I want a flat white. Unfortunately, despite having tried on a number of occasions to tell Eddie that my name is not Matt, that is the name that appears on the cup. Despite being wrong, my “Britishness” can only allow it roll on now, and secretly I enjoy the regularity of this wrong. It is human and therefore wonderfully imperfect, and in many ways more effective than communication based on algorithms.

Emerging Labels And Transparency

We have perhaps already grown a little weary of contemplating millennials, and are now seeing more articles hypothesising on Gen Z (“the hyper millennials”), and what they will bring to the party. How different will their customer expectations be to us Generation X-ers? Are they really that much more sensible?

A requirement for authenticity, and brands doing the right thing may however be the needs that bond us all together, less XYZ and more Generation C (more connected to each other through social reviews than ever before). In the space of a few months two hip brands saw the polar effects of how quickly word of mouth can kick in.

Airrbnb was impacted by the news that customers who had left part way through their stays were seeing their reviews cleansed as they were being treated as having been cancelled. Their spokesperson described these as “isolated incidents.” In contrast, Patagonia’s promise to donate all of its Black Friday sales to local environmental causes not only swelled their tills, but boosted awareness and equity as the positive word spread.

Language Shifts And Meaning

Back in April we were debating FOMO (fear of missing out) and how brands use this emotion to drive increased traffic—and paranoia—amongst their competitors. I doubt many of us saw, however, “post truth” (apparently the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year) coming up the rails.

The definition of post truth is, “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

When the Temkin Group labeled 2016 as the year of emotion, I doubt they expected System 2 parts of our brain (slow, effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, conscious) to be so heavily defeated by System 1 (fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, subconscious).

I should probably out myself here as a Guardian-reading, Radio-6-listening type, but I was certainly not the only person to view the recent UK and USA votes in a state of disbelief. Out of this darkness the team was at least able to properly understand two things:

1.    Negativity Bias: Humans are significantly more likely to remember the negative experiences, and far more people pass on a bad experience than a good one—so reduce the chances as well as you can, and don’t under estimate how motivating anger can be.

2.    Confirmation Bias and our manufactured echo chambers: This is a description of the situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an “enclosed” system, where different or competing views are censored, disallowed, or otherwise underrepresented. The moral being to listen to your electorate/ customers / colleagues, and don’t ignore feedback that simply does not match your own take on the world. It could well come back to bite you.

Story Telling And Journeys In Experience

Finally, something that we have further built on is our love of stories, a recognition of their importance, and how best to narrate ideas to connect with an audience.

For example, we have agreed on the right structure for delivering meaningful communication. Set up the situation that we, or our customers, find themselves in; share the catalyst that requires a change; explain the purpose and the central question that you will be answering; give your answer; provide the evidence; summarise and provide the call to arms.

Part of the reason that story structures work so well to get a message across is that this is how our brains have evolved to take in important messages. And looking at experiences from a behavioural science perspective also provides learning for how to structure any interaction for greatest effect. Get the difficult things out of the way early (but try not to churn), spread the pleasure, and end on a high.

We can all benefit from taking care of our opportunities to communicate.

Before I conclude, for all those commentators out there who take the time to share and contribute to the mix of opinions and learning available to those willing to listen, I thank you.

We should all continuously remind ourselves that CX does not exist in a bubble. Where my team originally started looking at more CX-specific emerging topics, such as a focus on customer effort metrics, we soon felt diverted and started to explore the outer reaches of behaviour and motivation in general. And this is because we recognised that many factors can influence a brand’s ability to deliver against its customer promise, its employees’ capacity to deliver this proposition consistently, and indeed its customers’ appetite to appreciate and be motivated by these efforts.

My resolution for 2017 will be to stay curious, but contribute more. I will therefore leave you with a message that resonated with me this summer. It wasn’t from the usual sages, but the English RFU as part of their Level 1 Coaching course. Whilst aimed at how we work with young rugby players, and their development, the argument works for all of us who are in a position of influence:

“Our players have the capacity to outgrow us if we stand still. We may restrict them from achieving their full potential if we fail to recognise the need to continue our own development.”

CX Lessons from 2016 (And Why You Should Stay Curious in 2017)

Earlier this year I shifted my priorities and focus, and chose pleasure and purpose over other engrained habits and needs.

I was so “busy being busy” that I had forgotten the evident importance of slowing down and taking stock. The basic need to actively listen and properly connect with the various voices and opinions available to me had been neglected. As someone who delights in identifying patterns, sharing theories, and having an opinion, I had found myself too often recycling old narratives. I was running the risk of becoming stale or too comfortable with my long established talk track.

I needed to set some new goals, and decided to set deadlines that would force me to both focus on freeing up time to learn, and also create the right environment to get energised, so I decided to create regular “industry sessions” for my colleagues, where we could discuss the hot topics of the day.

Out of this year’s sessions came some very intriguing stories and lessons from the customer experience (CX) industry. Here are just a few that I’d like to share with you.

Personalisation

Often seen in relation to targeted marketing, we as consumers have appreciated brands’ efforts to personalise our experience. And brands know that establishing a connection (friendliness, trust, being made to feel valued) drives customer satisfaction, loyalty, and increased spend.

But being “personal” has also created some opportunities to strengthen important links, even if not always executed perfectly. Starbucks—as a global brand—is the antithesis of local, and yet they tapped in to the importance of being valued in a unique way through the “Can I have your name?” approach. At first disruptive and peculiar, it is now hard for other brands to copy.

My local train station has a Starbucks franchise, and whenever I approach the counter they know I want a flat white. Unfortunately, despite having tried on a number of occasions to tell Eddie that my name is not Matt, that is the name that appears on the cup. Despite being wrong, my “Britishness” can only allow it roll on now, and secretly I enjoy the regularity of this wrong. It is human and therefore wonderfully imperfect, and in many ways more effective than communication based on algorithms.

Emerging Labels And Transparency

We have perhaps already grown a little weary of contemplating millennials, and are now seeing more articles hypothesising on Gen Z (“the hyper millennials”), and what they will bring to the party. How different will their customer expectations be to us Generation X-ers? Are they really that much more sensible?

A requirement for authenticity, and brands doing the right thing may however be the needs that bond us all together, less XYZ and more Generation C (more connected to each other through social reviews than ever before). In the space of a few months two hip brands saw the polar effects of how quickly word of mouth can kick in.

Airrbnb was impacted by the news that customers who had left part way through their stays were seeing their reviews cleansed as they were being treated as having been cancelled. Their spokesperson described these as “isolated incidents.” In contrast, Patagonia’s promise to donate all of its Black Friday sales to local environmental causes not only swelled their tills, but boosted awareness and equity as the positive word spread.

Language Shifts And Meaning

Back in April we were debating FOMO (fear of missing out) and how brands use this emotion to drive increased traffic—and paranoia—amongst their competitors. I doubt many of us saw, however, “post truth” (apparently the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year) coming up the rails.

The definition of post truth is, “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

When the Temkin Group labeled 2016 as the year of emotion, I doubt they expected System 2 parts of our brain (slow, effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, conscious) to be so heavily defeated by System 1 (fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, subconscious).

I should probably out myself here as a Guardian-reading, Radio-6-listening type, but I was certainly not the only person to view the recent UK and USA votes in a state of disbelief. Out of this darkness the team was at least able to properly understand two things:

1.    Negativity Bias: Humans are significantly more likely to remember the negative experiences, and far more people pass on a bad experience than a good one—so reduce the chances as well as you can, and don’t under estimate how motivating anger can be.

2.    Confirmation Bias and our manufactured echo chambers: This is a description of the situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an “enclosed” system, where different or competing views are censored, disallowed, or otherwise underrepresented. The moral being to listen to your electorate/ customers / colleagues, and don’t ignore feedback that simply does not match your own take on the world. It could well come back to bite you.

Story Telling And Journeys In Experience

Finally, something that we have further built on is our love of stories, a recognition of their importance, and how best to narrate ideas to connect with an audience.

For example, we have agreed on the right structure for delivering meaningful communication. Set up the situation that we, or our customers, find themselves in; share the catalyst that requires a change; explain the purpose and the central question that you will be answering; give your answer; provide the evidence; summarise and provide the call to arms.

Part of the reason that story structures work so well to get a message across is that this is how our brains have evolved to take in important messages. And looking at experiences from a behavioural science perspective also provides learning for how to structure any interaction for greatest effect. Get the difficult things out of the way early (but try not to churn), spread the pleasure, and end on a high.

We can all benefit from taking care of our opportunities to communicate.

Before I conclude, for all those commentators out there who take the time to share and contribute to the mix of opinions and learning available to those willing to listen, I thank you.

We should all continuously remind ourselves that CX does not exist in a bubble. Where my team originally started looking at more CX-specific emerging topics, such as a focus on customer effort metrics, we soon felt diverted and started to explore the outer reaches of behaviour and motivation in general. And this is because we recognised that many factors can influence a brand’s ability to deliver against its customer promise, its employees’ capacity to deliver this proposition consistently, and indeed its customers’ appetite to appreciate and be motivated by these efforts.

My resolution for 2017 will be to stay curious, but contribute more. I will therefore leave you with a message that resonated with me this summer. It wasn’t from the usual sages, but the English RFU as part of their Level 1 Coaching course. Whilst aimed at how we work with young rugby players, and their development, the argument works for all of us who are in a position of influence:

“Our players have the capacity to outgrow us if we stand still. We may restrict them from achieving their full potential if we fail to recognise the need to continue our own development.”

How to Tell a Story with Market Research Data

The insights offered by neuroscience have taken the research world by storm and companies have developed both neuro- marketing and neuroscience research to implement a new way of thinking. As business professionals, our lives often involve one or more research reports every week, if not every day, providing an onslaught of facts and insights. Most of us have experienced the fatigue and boredom brought about by too many facts and too little learning. So, how can we implement what we learn from neuroscience to deliver effective market research reporting and communication of information and insights?

The Importance of Storytelling

The most critical ingredient of effective market research reporting comes in the shape of stories. Storytelling is rarely given the attention it deserves. If research is both art and science, we need to blow the dust off the art elements including writing, presenting, persuading, visual arts, theatrical arts, and the art of storytelling.

For the last few decades, with the dramatic increase of data and information availability, the users of information frequently find themselves in a tough place to make any meaningful conclusions. Especially in the marketing research industry, the research buyers have been identifying the lack of “a story” in the delivered reports by research suppliers. The users of research cry that they do not want just scores and statistics, rather they want a story that tells “what happened” or “why is that important” based on those scores and statistics.

Telling Stories in Reporting

It is necessary to use a set of principles to find insights and then outline steps to successful communication of market research results to business end-users. Consider this method:

  1. Understanding: Context is everything. Before designing a research study, it is critical to understand the business’s objectives, current environment and situation, pain points, the stakeholders’ interests, and the use of information. Researchers gather context about the business and the research needs through the clients, their organization, and other outside sources before planning and designing the study.
  2. Planning: Design a research study with the “end in mind” and look at the process from the end to the beginning. First, focus on the business objectives, then design the way to deliver the information to meet those objectives, then design the analytic plan to provide this information, and finally design the survey instrument and the sampling frame to collect the data to be analyzed.
  3. Discovery: When the data is collected, an essential step is to review the data and discover the story hidden in it. It is a common failure of many market research studies that the researchers deliver a long report of results from the study, basically a dump of information, question by question, without focusing on a story to answer the specific research and business objectives. Instead, a discovery phase needs to occur, where the data is reduced to a coherent story that will answer businesses’ research questions.
  4. Communication: Finally, now that the data is reduced to a story, how do you tell that story in the most effective way? This is the last and most important element of delivering research results, as only effective communication of results will accomplish the goal of meeting the business’s research objectives.

There are many ways of making the communication of research story effective, but we will focus on three of those ways here to share some best practices we implement for effective business reporting: Use of visuals, colors, and dashboards.

Use Graphics and Charts

In research reporting, visual components are the centerpiece. A busy reader will often flip through and look at the main diagrams and charts in a report, much the same way that someone flips through a magazine or newspaper and looks at the pictures (and maybe reads the captions). To get your point across in a report, make sure that the visuals are conveying the point—don’t hide your conclusions in the accompanying text. Moreover, neuroscience tells us that recall is also better when accompanied by visual elements—something to which the reader can attach ideas.

Visuals in research reporting are generally either “graphics” or “charts.” Generally, charts visually plot the size of data, while graphics show the relationship between concepts/objects or the ow in a process. This distinction matters because graphics are useful for helping show the structure of the story we are telling, while charts are useful for clearly showing the evidence that backs our story. We utilize these graphics to tell a clear and concise story. Graphics “show” in one complete picture these connections, whether it is a chronological order, a cause-and- effect relationship, or an organizational structure, in a simple pictorial way, making it easier to comprehend and recall. While graphics narrate the story and provide a way to visualize the story, charts fill in the details and support the points we are making.

The traditional style of research reporting often fails to engage the attention and therefore the brain of the reader, resulting
in a lack of processing, memory and recall. There are ways to combat this problem, using editing and data density.

  • Editing refers to the process of cutting distracting content. Review the chart for repetition, for non-results, for unnecessary text that does not provide additional information, and for relevance to the main objectives. The editing step reduces long, repetitive charts.
  • Data Density refers to the quantity of data points that are shown in a given space. Instead of using repetitive charts to display multiple data series, we can use the idea of data density by combining multiple series on the same chart to improve the flow and interpretive richness of the report. When data elements are far apart in the report, insights can be missed. The human eye and mind are more adept at noticing patterns than we give it credit for, so dense data displays play to this strength of the brain and keeps it engaged.

An important step in creating better charts is focusing on the key elements and deleting the rest so as not to clutter the charts. Another way to increase data density is through interactivity. Interactivity means allowing the user (either a reader or a presenter) to interact with the data by making choices about what they want to see.

Convey the Story Quickly and Accurately

With increased amount of information available through various sources, it has become a major challenge for marketing research professionals to reduce the vast amount of data into meaningful messages for audiences. Many audiences find themselves flooded with just ‘data’ and ‘information’, overwhelmed with statistics and facts, and left without true insights that should inform marketing and strategic decisions. To overcome this challenge, the key is to tell a story from the data. A coherent and clear story that is relatable to the audience will be more successful in capturing the audience’s attention, and will succeed in communicating the message by creating curiosity in the audience’s mind and engaging them in thinking.

Use of visuals is critical in presenting a successful story, but visuals need to be selected and constructed carefully to create the best effect on the audience. Editing and data density are key ways to improve the readability and effectiveness of reports. Interactivity uses the reader’s working memory to help them see localized patterns in the data. These tools together make the evidence provided by the charts more powerful and relevant to the story. Understanding how people perceive and compare shapes in charts allows us to construct visuals that accurately and quickly convey the story.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Emotion to Drive Customer Loyalty

Emotion is coming to the forefront of Customer Experience (CX) management, not because it’s warm and fuzzy, and not because leveraging feelings is devilishly manipulative, but because when you use emotion to drive your CX efforts, it becomes a powerful differentiator.

More companies are getting better at the functional basics of customer experience, like responding in a timely manner to questions, streamlining the purchase process, and smoothing out onboarding (not to mention creating a decent product) – which means they need something unique to offer that separates them from their competition.  

What is the most unique, even unforgettable thing you can offer? The way you make your customers feel. It’s for this reason the bar for CX is inching up.

The fact that understanding and influencing emotion is a vital ingredient for business success is not surprising — it has been the heart and soul of brand efforts. It is also the foundation of the emotion-recognition techniques (measuring physiological responses) currently in pilot for some retailers and old-school ethnographic research. – Forrester 2017 Predictions: Dynamics That Will Shape The Future In The Age Of The Customer

Emotion not only carries the ability to define your company in a sea of competitors, it can also inspire viral word of mouth marketing from people who love you and want to express that to a large audience, whether because they’re influencers with their own followers, or reviewers.

Bad things are worse than good things are better

We are hardwired as human beings to be more sensitive to negative events than positive events. And this sensitivity only increases when we’re in a heightened emotional state – focusing on the negative becomes even easier.

As odd as it may sound, this is good news for those of us in the business of relieving pain points. You’ll get more appreciation from your customer by removing pain than creating delight. So, if a customer comes to you with a problem, you can expect them to be in a heightened emotional state, which means not only should you tread carefully, you’ll do well to relieve their most urgent pain points as soon as possible!

As a species, negative consequences take an enormous toll on us. In fact, we’ll go farther out of our way to avoid negative consequences than we’d go for positive results of equal measure (it’s called “Loss Aversion”). This behavior is predicated on the emotional truth that something bad feels worse than something good feels better. Losing $20 might wreck your day. Finding $20 may make you happier for an hour.

How does this translate to CX?

Vanguard, one of the world’s largest investment companies, was getting ready to redo its site, and rather than just considering customer acquisition, or lead-generating instruction, they studied how people felt about investing. They looked at whether their target audience was new to investing, had been investing for a while, and what their emotional baggage might be around the topic of investing in general. They discovered that, new or experienced, most people feel overwhelmed. Now, if you visit Vanguard’s site, their design is very simple, even sparse. They knew that visual clutter would only enhance the feeling of overwhelm. Their new design reduces it.

Delta airlines also makes a point to reduce customer pains. They set up their phone systems so that if you call in response to getting a text message saying your flight was canceled, their automated phone system will put you straight through to the appropriate person rather than route you through a dozen exhausting options.

United Airlines has been working diligently to improve its public image by tackling some of its thorniest customer experience pitfalls, like lost luggage. The airline recently introduced a service that lets fliers follow their luggage on the United smartphone app, and get text message alerts if their bags miss their destination. Instead of being angry and frustrated by lost bags, passengers are calling this “Amazing” customer service. As one passenger told the Huffington Post:

After I arrived, I received a text message alert that one of my two bags did not make it and would be delivered to my address within 24 hours,” she says. “I also received an email where I could track my bag, see who was delivering it and at what time. At no time did I have to wait in line or on hold for them to rectify their mistake. They simply took care of it and kept me informed every step of the way. To me, that was amazing customer service.

Amazon offers one of the most loved customer experiences, some argue, because it provides “an unparalleled sense of emotional satisfaction.” How do they do that? Not through being especially warm and fuzzy, but by reducing pain points with features like multiple wishlists, a save-for-later area, an easily accessible cart, and even more easily accessible price comparisons, along with shipping cost reduction and the nearly instant gratification of Prime. If and when a customer does have a problem, returns are easy and customer service gets top marks.

A lot of bad customer experiences are ‘death by a thousand cuts’ annoyances. Avoid exacerbating pain in an already painful situation, and the better the customer’s perception of their experience will be.

Emotions lead to loyalty – the key to growing SaaS businesses

Emotion is linked to loyalty (and CX is linked to emotion). In the hotel industry, which has the largest percentage of customers that reported feeling “valued” one study reported, 88% of the “valued” people will advocate for the hotel brand, and more than 75% will stay with the hotel brand.

The TV service provider industry, unsurprisingly, has the largest percentage of customers who report feeling annoyed. Only 8% of these annoyed people express willingness to advocate for the TV service provider, and just over 1 in 10 intend to keep their existing relationships with the provider.

For the SaaS industry, retention is a key metric for profit and growth – you can’t afford to annoy, disappoint, or frustrate your customers. Essentially, customers are 5 times more loyal when they feel valued, than when they feel annoyed.

The most important emotions for loyalty in the U.S. are, in fact, feeling valued, appreciated, and confident.

For example, there’s something about Slack that makes you feel confident (and a bit cool) that you’re part of something that’s on the leading edge. That’s not just because Slack is relatively new – they engender this feeling on purpose with Slack release notes (which are hilarious, self-deprecating, and charmingly relatable) that make updating the app a pleasure. Not only do they manage to keep everyone up-to-date, they remove the significant pain of updating an app and replace it with a positive emotion.

Note: Positive emotions that drive behavior like repurchases and advocacy differ by country and culture, even by customer base. In the UK, Germany and France, for example, the top three loyalty-inspiring emotions are slightly (yet significantly) different.

Positive Emotions that drive behavior
Source: Forrester

Loyalty weakening emotions differ by country and culture too. U.S. customers share their loyalty-weakening emotions with their U.K. friends.

Emotions that weaken customer loyalty
Source: Forrester

Be sure to understand the emotions of your specific customer base rather than make assumptions.

Interestingly, customer loyalty itself comes in multiple flavors. Loyalty can mean retention (the customer will maintain existing business), enrichment (a customer will buy additional products and services), advocacy (the customer will recommend the company).

Do you know how your customers feel about their experiences with your business?

How to Measure Emotion in Customer Experience

Most CX measurement programs don’t quantify customer emotions – they focus more on metrics that reflect a rational or cognitive evaluation of experiences. Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian, senior analyst at Forrester, says businesses can begin measuring emotion in CX by first defining metrics that measure critical emotions in influential experiences (the ones with the highest impact on customer relationships).

Yes, that means you’re making it up as you go along. You have to figure out for yourself which metrics effectively measure emotion for your customers, in your context. One way to do this is by tracking sentiment in Voice of Customer data – people convey a wide range of emotions with the words they use. Some companies, like Lenovo, use text analysis software to measure changes in sentiment scores, alerting when sentiment falls below a certain threshold.

Using a sentiment analysis tool, you can track positive or negative themes and dig into specific words most often used by your customers to describe how they feel. You can also mine customer feedback and questions, or any other written message from your customer to you. Of course, the most straightforward way to get Voice of Customer data is through surveys, and if you time your surveys right (and ask in the right channel), you can begin to tell what events trigger which emotions.  

Whichever method you choose to get your emotion metrics, the goal is the same: to define the emotional context customers have around your product, industry, and specific touch points in your sales funnel, onboarding process, and usage. From there, you can identify and alleviate pain points, gain loyalty, and win brand advocates.

Prove the value of emotion to yourself first

Emotion is a relatively ‘wooey’ topic. It’s still considered soft. It’s not taken seriously by many. So make it your mission to prove the value of emotion early on in your program by first targeting the highest-emotion touch points, and developing experiments for how to improve customers’ emotions around those experiences. Then track your success rates.

But remember, emotion is contextual, and you don’t have control over the entire context of a customer’s experience. That said, companies who value customer loyalty are willing to go to creative lengths to keep customers feeling good about their brand. Join them.

Win customers for life. Start getting Net Promoter feedback today with InMoment.

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