Customer Success Operations Manager: Does Your Team Need One?

Customer Success teams are expanding – not just in size, but in scope. New roles are emerging as CS is maturing as a specialty, specifically roles like Customer Success Operations (CS Ops).

At early-stage startups, Customer Success Managers will find themselves covering this function, but as the company grows, it can be extremely valuable to separate this function into a dedicated role within CS to help scale up.

What does a Success Operations Manager do?

Think of “Success Operations” as a product that promises to optimize processes for its customers, i.e. the Customer Success Managers.

CS Ops managers establish a baseline of productivity using metrics like net MMR churn and how difficult it is to learn about new product features. They talk to CSMs to learn what pain points they face in their day-to-day responsibilities and observe how processes currently work.

They segment the current customer base to distribute the workload effectively among CSMs. CS Ops managers look for consistent issues across the whole Success team, break the issues down into manageable components, and create solutions with measurable results.

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter F. Drucker

Using the information they’ve gathered, CS Ops managers may build tools like custom dashboards, or establish automatic workflows among software platforms to make the CSM’s job easier and help them be more productive.

A CS Ops manager will “onboard” CSMs, teaching them how to use the new tools at their disposal, and check in frequently with their “customers”. In this sense, they are CSMs to the CSMs.

In short, Customer Success Operations managers are responsible for providing tactical support to the rest of the Success team, helping them improve their KPIs and their efficiency.

What does a CS Operations Manager need to know?

Customer Success Operations Managers should be familiar with:

  • Customer Relationship Management Software (e.g. Salesforce, Gainsight, Totango)
  • In-app messaging Software (e.g. Intercom)
  • Support platforms (e.g. Zendesk, FreshService)
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Customer Success

Each company will have a unique suite of different platforms that it uses, and CS Ops managers need to be quick to become fluent in most, if not all of them. This is crucial for the role since data silos are a major hindrance to organizational efficiency and detract from your customers’ experience.

Additionally, Success Operations Managers will need many of the same ‘soft skills’ that CSMs use. For example, CS Ops managers need to be able to actively listen to the struggles of the CSMs to come up with valuable solutions.

What does this role look like in real life?

For Feedvisor Customer Success Operations Manager Shachar Avrahami, he came into the company as the first “Professional Services team member.” As the team grew from a one-man operation to a multi-person team (and the company scaled up), Shachar’s manager asked him to create his own role – Customer Success Operations Manager, “and I became the first person to assume this new position and help define it.”

He says, “I am the owner of our team’s processes on a macro level, making sure all teams are aligned with the strategy for each part of the customer’s journey.”

How do you know if you need a Success Operations Manager?

Giving a concrete number at which you need to hire a CS Ops manager is difficult. It depends on the capacity of your current CSM team. As a rule of thumb, you will want to look into hiring a Success Operations manager after you’ve hired your fourth or fifth CSM.

For some organizations, the new role may be an internal promotion of a CSM. For other companies, it may be wise to bring in an individual with experience in a ‘project manager’-like position to help streamline Customer Success processes, aligning everyone under the common vision that is handed down from the C-suite and creating a more consistent experience for customers.

Like Robert S. Kaplan, co-creator of The Balanced Scorecard, says, “consistent alignment of capabilities and internal processes with the customer value proposition is the core of any strategy execution.”

How do you advocate for a CS Operations Manager role?

Understand that a CS Operations Manager’s responsibilities are nearly the same as those of a Sales Operations Manager. The justifications for the CS Ops role are similar.

The operations role increases the productivity of your customer-facing Success team members, who carry the weight of recurring revenue on their shoulders. Not only does this mean management can hire fewer individuals for the customer-facing roles, but each CSM’s key performance indicators will improve at rates that were impossible before this specialized role.

Having a CS Ops role also improves visibility into the Success team’s business outcomes, places for improvement, and what projects need to be prioritized for Customer Success.

For an excellent breakdown and comparison of the Sales and CS Ops positions, click here.

Operations For Smooth Scaling

There will always be growing pains as a start-up matures and finds success. Operations experts specialize in finding technical solutions for when people are stretched beyond their limits. Creating a Customer Success Operations position is an effective way to proactively combat capacity issues for the Success team and deliver a consistently positive experience for your customers.

Access Voice of the Customer insight in your system of record with InMoment’s native integrations, including Salesforce, Gainsight, & Totango.

Airport Series: JFK And Planning For The Future

Consider New York City: the tangy gradient of smells emerging from chocolate shops and beer halls between 18th Street and 14th Street; the dissonance of high heels and sirens pounding against the Upper West Side; plumes of steam on a cold night, seething from deep within the City’s crust. New York is the navel of civilization — a hub where all people meet. To this end, its primary ports of entry, its airports, are unique in their role as ambassadors of the City.

A business and an icon

In this series we’ve examined airports like any other business. But for John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), the delineations between retail space, transit hub, and cultural monument are blurred. Analyzing public comments on JFK’s official Facebook page, we found an uncanny trend of users equating the airport to the city as a whole. Unfortunately, the comparison rarely proved positive. This is true even for the locals: “I have lived in NYC for 12 years,” says one man, “this airport is an example of everything wrong in this great city.” So, how might such an airport remedy this reputation crisis?

Here’s to new beginnings

In January 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a $7-10 billion renovation plan for JFK International Airport. While a start-date has yet to be announced, the Governor’s office is accepting proposals. How might this portal to New York City respond to customer feedback? We uncovered some rich insights by mining and structuring thousands of free text reviews from travelers passing through JFK. The body overseeing the renovations, the Airport Master Plan Advisory Panel (AMPAP), might set some criteria based on these qualitative feedback.

Get connected

We ran this Facebook text data set though our web client, Semantria Storage & Visualization (SSV). By viewing Topics, which are query- or model-generated document classifications (in other words, known categories you’re actively looking for), we can see an immediate issue.

Figure 1: JFK topic sentiment polarity.

Notice Internet, the solid red column near the center of the visualization. What might be going on here? As we drill down we quickly notice something all too familiar to any regular at JFK: Wifi. Take it from one foreign traveler:

“How it is possible that one of The biggest airport [sic] of The world dont [sic] Provide free wifi???”

And, from a sardonic American:

“Get free wifi, this place is like a greyhound station ?”

There is, in fact, not a single neutral or positive mention of wifi in the JFK data set. It’s 100% negative. When planning future terminal renovation, AMPAP ought to consider network optimized architecture as well as sponsored, complimentary wifi.

Kindness is a universal language

A trend we’ve noticed across our airport experiment is the frequency of staff attitude. Staff attitude frequently plays first fiddle in the qualitative reviews.

This pie chart illustrates how much of the JFK data set is dedicated to customer-staff interactions.

Figure 2: Topic breakdown by volume.

All four variants — Attitude, Staff-General, Staff-General-Helpfulness, Staff-General-Attitude — constitute a volume nearly equal to the next 16 topics combined. Furthermore, we begin to notice a troubling situation when we compare this pie chart to the sentiment polarity columns from the first visualization. Frequently, customer-staff interactions result in negative feedback.

Figure 3: Detail of topic sentiment polarity for staff attitude.

For each of these categories, sentiment skews neutral-negative. Frequently, visitors mention how JFK appears understaffed, like this American traveler:

“Not enough staff, the staff you do have are rude, shouting at the public like they’re animals. I will never fly through JFK again. End of story.”

JFK is close to two competing airports, including Newark Airport. This means JFK’s non-aeronautical facilities, such as restaurants and retail stores, are especially susceptible to churn. A disgruntled guest, like the one highlighted above, can have a sphere of social influence encompassing hundreds of potential customers.

Hearing and addressing these concerns are the only way to ensure JFK retains a dedicated user base.

The road ahead for JFK

The AMPAP renovation project will cover a broad scope. But central to the mission ought to be the loud and colorful social media manifesto issued by JFK’s many customers. Staff attitude and wifi aren’t the only discussion topics. Hundreds of JFK reviews point to broken elevators, jammed jetways, confusing signage, and more.

Keeping a finger on these real time data streams will define the projects of the future while maintaining the facilities of today.

Soft Skills are Real Skills – In CX, You Need These 10

“Soft skills” have traditionally been undervalued, and that’s slow to change. But more companies are realizing their worth. And even if the skills themselves are difficult to quantify (how much more likeable is Job Applicant A than Job Applicant B?), their effects aren’t.

The soft skills CX professionals possess directly affect metrics like:

  • Net promoter scores
  • Customer satisfaction scores
  • Customer effort scores
  • Qualitative survey feedback on customer support interactions
  • Qualitative data gleaned from online customer reviews
  • Number of referrals and recommendations

Human-to-human interactions can make or break those scores, generate referrals or cancellations, and either fuel word-of-mouth growth or silence it.

But before you break out your old copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (a classic for a reason), I’d like to talk about why I’m reading more articles now on “soft skills” as they apply to customer service, customer success, and customer experience.

Because we need them more now than ever.

“So let’s uncomfortably call them real skills instead.

Real because they work, because they’re at the heart of what we need to today.

Real because even if you’ve got the vocational skills, you’re no help to us without these human skills, the things that we can’t write down, or program a computer to do.”

– Seth Godin, Let’s stop calling them ‘soft skills’, Medium

What Exactly Are Soft Skills?

Often referred to as “people skills,” ‘soft skills’ don’t have a hard definition. In fact, they’re remarkably hard to pin down.

If you try to define these skills with a list of what they entail, you’ll run into trouble. Everyone has their own set.

Some argue that part of the definition of ‘soft skills’ is that they are something you’re born with. But others, including Seth Godin, say that’s “crazy because infants aren’t good at any of the soft skills. Of course, we learn them.”

(When was the last time you met a baby with a good work ethic?)

Seth Godin calls for five categories of ‘soft’ skills: Self Control, Productivity, Wisdom, Perception, and Influence.

Others cite the ability to listen, accept feedback, and communicate effectively. Or qualities like charisma, empathy, friendliness, patience, and reliability. Problem-solving skills get thrown into the mix with teamwork and attentiveness.

I like this exhaustive list from the balance which offers 6 categories of soft skills with sub-lists of specific skills under each. Their categories are:

  1. Communication skills
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Leadership
  4. Positive attitude
  5. Teamwork
  6. Work ethic

But even those don’t make it into “The Five Soft Skills Recruiters Want Most” that made it into the eponymous Fast Company article. Those were: Problem solving, adaptability, time management, organization and oral communication.

In 2013, Google tested its hiring hypothesis that prioritized top grades from elite universities in STEM subjects. They found that, in practice, the eight most important qualities of Google’s top managers were:

  1. Ability to be a good coach.
  2. Willingness to empower, rather than micromanage.
  3. Taking an interest in people’s success and well-being.
  4. Ability to be productive and results-oriented.
  5. Communication and listening skills.
  6. Willingness to help employees develop their careers.
  7. Holding a clear vision and developing a strategy for the team.
  8. Possessing key technical skills that allow the manager to advise the team.

Technical skills came in dead last. The rest were ‘soft skills.’

For our purposes, I’d like to simplify the definition of these skills and stop calling them “soft” – period. Let’s call them “people skills.”

People skills are what you need to relate to people, be understood, and be liked. Likeability is one word that encompasses myriad characteristics, including charisma, reliability, empathy, and willingness to take a stab at solving problems. Above all, we’re talking about genuinely caring about people.

If you get that one thing right – you’ve already got the core soft skills you need.

Relationships Can Make Or Break a Business

Businesses are rising and falling based on the quality of their relationships with their customers – and employees.

For subscription-based services in general, and SaaS in particular, success metrics like retention, customer lifetime value and cost-to-acquire are all correlated with how well businesses relate to, and engage with, their customers.

These are people skills.

And as artificial intelligence is taking over so many of the human-to-human interactions businesses have traditionally had with their customers, the human interactions that do happen are coming under more scrutiny.

In Top Customer Service Trends for 2018 by Kate Leggett, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester, Kate points out the repercussions of increasing AI and self-service in customer service.

“With customers increasingly using self-service, there are fewer opportunities for engagement with agents who can lend a human touch.”

That means three things: Those fewer opportunities are under more pressure to produce positive results, human-to-human interactions will be reserved for bigger problems that AI can’t handle, and those complex issues will require both accurate diagnoses and empathy.

“These organizations will focus on the quality of interactions as measured by customer retention and lifetime value. Agents will need to be more highly skilled and better compensated. Old management principles that focused on efficiency must be relaxed. Ultimately, technologies such as quality monitoring should be replaced by customer feedback.”

As companies race to differentiate themselves based on customer experience, these interactions become vitally important.

“Forget about your company’s historical point of differentiation. Customer Experience reigns supreme today and you will either be rewarded or punished for how you are treating your customers.”

– Bill Carmody, founder & CEO of Trepoint, “Customer Experience is Your ONLY Differentiator. You’re About To Be Rewarded or Punished”, Inc.

With hundreds of “soft skills” listed, it might seem like a lifetime’s worth of study for anyone who isn’t confident in their natural gifts of gab. Yes, you can learn people skills. You can certainly improve them. And to really make an impact on CX, you and your customer support or customer success team may have to. So let’s concentrate on the skills that make the most impact.

The 10 People Skills You Need Most for CX

  1. A genuine willingness to help – Not only does a genuine willingness to help make customer support agents shine and customer success managers effective, this instinct to solve problems and make positive impacts bleeds into other areas as well. For example, a customer success agent who becomes aware of a problem through customer feedback can patch the issue – or the agent can investigate the problem and actively work with other teams to bridge that success gap for everyone, strengthening the product or service and the company as a whole.
  2. Empathy – Customer support professionals are often trained to “show empathy” by repeating phrases that come off as insincere at best: “I understand that this can be frustrating.” Empathy phrases can be incredible tools (this is a very good list), but only when used with discretion (so it doesn’t sound like you’re reading off of a card). But empathy is about more than the words you use. It’s the desire to really understand where someone else is coming from and what they need to thrive. That’s Customer Success 101, right there: Taking the time to learn about your customer’s business and challenges so you can understand your product from their perspective.
  3. Communication – Communication skills, the ability to listen carefully, explain clearly and treat kindly are must-haves in the People Skills toolkit, but there’s another type of communication customer service and success teams should have: Cross-communication. You’re at the nexus between your customers and your business which puts you in a unique position to gather data customer sentiment, use, and engagement that everyone else in your business needs. Make sure they get that info.
  4. Emotional Intelligence – Connected to empathy in that you’re aware of other people’s emotions, Emotional Intelligence also means you’re aware of your own. It’s self and social awareness of mood, emotional strengths and weaknesses, and potential underlying motivations behind behavior. In practice, this means knowing when to praise team members and how to constructively criticize. With customers, often it’s about understanding how your actions and responses can positively affect their moods to create memorable experiences.
  5. Integrity – Managing expectations by honestly telling customers what they can and can’t expect builds a tremendous amount of trust and sets customers up to have positive experiences when businesses don’t overpromise. Being able to set expectations also builds trust with internal teams.
  6. Problem-Solving – The best problem-solvers are the ones who jump in as soon as they see a rough patch arise and have enough confidence to figure it out if a solution doesn’t immediately present itself. Really, it’s all in the attitude. You don’t have to know the answer to everything to help. You just have to be willing to figure out the answer that’s needed.
  7. Stress Management – Dealing with people, even lovely coworkers and customers – is inherently stressful to most humans. The ability to manage that stress and not take it out on those around you is one of the best ‘People Skills’ you can cultivate. One bad day can lose a lot of clients when you think in terms of not just the client you’re speaking to, but all of the future clients they can bring in with recommendations.
  8. Listening Skills – This is one everyone in the company, from the Founder on down, needs to have, because listening to your customers effectively, focusing on their needs and desires (instead of your needs), is how great products and companies are built. More than that, though, is the willingness to listen internally as well – to people from different departments who often have valuable insights to add.
  9. Leadership – Once you uncover a good idea or customer feedback that requires action, it’s a real skill to be able to inspire others to follow your lead (especially if those others are above you). This becomes easier when you work from the mentality that your role is to make those you lead wildly successful. Everyone wants to follow a leader who gives them what they need to do their best work and get the best results.
  10. Team Building – Team building across departments brings leadership to a whole new level. Reaching out and forming relationships with people in other departments is something anyone can initiate. And when you approach your co-workers with an open willingness to help and collaborate, you won’t get turned down.

What “soft skills” – or People Skills – do you see the most need for in CX?

Be the customer experience champion at your company. Sign up today for free Net Promoter Score, CSAT or Customer Effort Score feedback with InMoment.

Automatically Analyze Qualitative Customer Feedback with Auto-tagging

Customer experience professionals live in a world overflowing with data. Sitting on that wealth of information is frustrating when you know it has incredible potential.

If you are tracking CX metrics, like NPS or CSAT, the numbers help you quantify customer loyalty and satisfaction. But it’s the customer comments that come with those surveys, all of that rich qualitative data, that give you invaluable context for why customers feel the way they do.

Until now, it’s been difficult to analyze qualitative data because it is so unstructured.

This is where tagging comes in.

Using software to analyze qualitative data

Modern customer feedback software comes with the ability to tag customer comments. Tagging feedback has two functional goals: Routing and Insight.

Routing:

Creating a tag for specific stakeholders, e.g. “product”, quickly sorts feedback to be routed to the correct teams for follow-up. Product teams can simply click a button to see verbatim comments regarding feature requests and support teams can be more proactive by checking for comments under a “bug” tag.

Insight:

Tagging comments by relation to product, website, or customer experience helps themes emerge. For example, you may see that most of your detractors are tagged with “shipping” or “price”. This will help you prioritize and address issues in real-time.

Tagging comments manually doesn’t scale, however.

If you are receiving less than 100 comments a month, manually tagging comments can work. But customer comments can pile up just like emails in your inbox. Constant monitoring results in little else getting done. When you find yourself drowning in responses, CX feedback can feel overwhelming — just like your inbox.

This is where using software to auto-tag customer comments saves the day.

Auto-tagging gives you real-time categorization of large quantities text feedback

Auto-tagging automatically sorts qualitative comments for you using AI-powered text analysis, and it happens in real-time. This helps you surface themes and see trends that the human brain has trouble processing on its own.

For example, you may find that pricing issues are mentioned in 80% of your detractor comments in the past couple months, or a new feature is mentioned in 65% of your promoter comments since it launched.

Auto-tagging serves as a dynamic tool to quickly sort massive amounts of feedback for routing to the appropriate teams for insight and immediate follow-up.

We’ve provided the first steps and some suggestions to start auto-tagging in real-time.

Using machine learning to auto-tag

When you’re drowning in feedback, we recommend using natural language processing to auto-categorize feedback. Customer feedback software, like Wootric, can tag and surface themes in your feedback based on what’s important in your industry.

Automatic text classification is the ultimate time saver when it comes to comment feedback. While this isn’t a necessary step, for large amounts of feedback, it is an incredibly powerful tool for true automation in your tagging system.

How to set up text-match Auto-tags

The time you save by setting up an auto-tagging system can be spent taking action based on the insight lifted out of your survey feedback.

If you aren’t using machine learning software, here are the steps to take in planning your text-match auto-tagging system and some suggestions to get you started.

First, Some Questions to Ask Yourself

When you start to tag your feedback, read every comment you receive in a period of time, perhaps a week or a month, and consider the following:

  • What topics/features/issues stand out in your comments?

For example, you may see that many of your customers talk about your Support team’s response time, or the value your product/service has brought to them. These general themes will serve as jumping off points for brainstorming tags and keywords.

  • Is there industry or business specific vocabulary or jargon that you might want to track?

For SaaS companies, you may want to include terms like “dashboard”, “widget”, or “in-app” as tags or as text-match keywords. Oftentimes, these terms will be abbreviated, like UI for “user interface”. 

You can even choose to create tags for team members to alert them whenever they are mentioned by name. This might be helpful for a customer support agent who wants to see what customers are saying about their interactions.

As you read through your sample of comments, make a note of the words and phrases you spot customers using. They may be using different terms than the language you and your colleagues use as professionals in your industry.

  • Which teams will you be sending customer feedback to and what terms are relevant to them?

You want to be routing comments to the right teams. For example, a product development team will be interested in comments about user interface, integrations, or feature requests while your support or success team may be more concerned with bugs or implementation.

Nested Tags or Parent-Child Tags for Tag Hierarchy (SaaS example)

Once you’ve answered these questions, start grouping specific terms under broader terms. This is going to help you create hierarchy within your tags, also called nested tags.

Nested tags are labels associated by a hierarchy. The ‘sub-tag’ or ‘child tag’ is a tag that is more specific and can be categorized under a ‘parent tag’.

When any of the ‘child-tags’ are text-matched to a comment, feedback platforms will also tag that comment with the corresponding ‘parent tag’. Comments tagged with only the ‘parent tag’ do not include any of the words associated with any of the ‘child-tags’.

This allows you to pull comments that mention any of the specific integrations through the child-tags. At the same time, the broader “integrations” tag pulls comments that mention integrations in general, e.g. suggested integrations from our customers.

Choosing Text-Match Keywords or Keyphrases

For auto-tagging, it is important to choose the right words or phrases to match the tag to the comment. Text-match tags use an “exact match” rule for automation.

This is where having read through some of your current open-ended feedback is useful. You’ve seen the specific words that your customers tend to use when writing about different issues. It may also be helpful to use a thesaurus to come up with synonyms for the words or phrases you choose to match on.

Remember that text-match is very literal, so you will need to include variations on the words and phrases you choose. For example, an “implementation” tag should match on “implement”, “implemented”, “implementation”, and “setup”, as well as “set-up”.

Suggestions

We’ve compiled a list of auto-tags that are commonly used by SaaS businesses. You may be able to use some of these in other industries as well.

As you start to receive feedback you should refine your tags to be more specific to your business needs.

Here’s a list of common tags for SaaS companies to start with:

Tag name: Matches on:
“Product” parent tag Terms specific to your product like the name, or terminology for features, e.g. “Amazon”
“Product A” child tag Name of one of your more specific products or services if you have more than 1, e.g. “Prime Music”
“Product B” child tag Name of another product or service if you have more than 2, e.g. “Prime Shipping”
“Bug” “issue, issues, crash, crashes, bug, bugs, buggy, error, errors”
“Competition” Names of your competitors
“Documentation” “docs, documentation, article, articles, help article, FAQ, FAQs”
“Feature request” “wish, add, would like”
“Implementation” “implement, implemented, implementation, setup, set-up”
“Integrations” parent tag “integration, integrate, integrates”
“Integration 1” child tag Words specific to one integration, change the tag label to the specific integration, e.g. “Slack”
“Integration 2” child tag Words specific to another integration, with the corresponding label, e.g. “Salesforce”
“Performance” “speed, slow, fast, uptime, downtime, 404”
“Price” “cheap, expensive, promo, promotion, deal, price, price tag”
“Support” “support, onboarding, on-boarding, issue, broken, assistance, service, tech support, help, helps, helping”

Human Review: Manually Tagging for Refinement

Monitor your feedback for a couple weeks after you set up your auto-tagging system. If a comment should be tagged, but isn’t, add more keywords to the text-match tag. Manually tag any comments that are difficult to text-match.

A good example would be a comment like “I tried to connect your software to my CRM but it didn’t work.” This comment is clearly related to integration, but text-matching wouldn’t catch this. After manually tagging this comment, you can then add “connect your software” as a keyphrase to the integration tag.

Human review becomes a tool for refining your existing auto-tags, instead of the main workhorse. As time passes, you’ll spend your time scanning for edge cases and new issues or topics that require a new auto-tag.

Do this check periodically to ensure your insight is accurate. Maintaining your valuable tagging system will save you time in the future.

If you are using machine learning, use manual tags to train the AI to be more accurate in the future. In case you spot an inappropriate tag, the AI also learns each time you remove a tag that it generated.

Feedback Routing & Driving Action

Surveying customers is the first phase in your transformation into a more customer-centric company, but you will plateau if you sit on the feedback. Setting up an auto-tagging system means feedback is sent to relevant teams in your organization in real-time. Trends are lifted more easily from qualitative feedback, and your customer-centric organization will be empowered to actively pursue customer happiness.

Measure and improve customer experience.

Get auto-tagging with Wootric customer feedback software. Sign up for a free trial.

Natural Language Processing in 5 Minutes

What is natural language processing? In short, Natural Language Processing (NLP) is the study of making computers understand how humans naturally speak, write and communicate.

Now that’s out of the way, what does NLP mean for you, me and your drunk friend? Read on to find out.

As CMO at a text analytics company, I’m very interested in the latest data analytics tech. But I realize these topics can be hard to understand. All of the phrases involved can start to sound like plot devices in a Douglas Adams novel. Sentiment analysis, intention detection, machine learning, text analytics, natural language processing… the list goes on.

Still, you need to understand them if you want to bring your business apparatus into the 21st century. With that in mind, here’s a 5-minute primer for all you non-techie types out there.

So, what is natural language processing?

[what is natural language processing.png]

I’ll say it again: Natural Language Processing (NLP) is the study of making computers understand how humans naturally speak, write and communicate.

When it works, natural language processing enables us to interact with computers like we interact with other humans. Think of a customer service chat bot, or the way Google seems to know what you intended even when you type in “beset drkun food enar me”. Both cases are NLP in action (though we could spend hours talking about failing chat bots).

Think about it this way: traditionally, communicating with a computer would require giving it very precise, unambiguous, and highly structured instructions. Moreover, these had to be written in dedicated programing languages, like Java, C++ and Ruby. This meant that, realistically, only trained software engineers could have any hope of managing a computer.

In short: NLP gives you, me, and your drunk friend the ability to tell a computer what to do.

Java? Whatever, where’s that food at?

I know, right? Who wants to deal with complex computer programming first thing in the morning? (Well okay, I know some people who do that every day. But not you or me!)

[coffee.png]

Remember, we humans don’t speak to each other like we speak to computers. We don’t always follow the rules. Human communication conveys messages in ways that, while structured with grammar, can be imprecise and ambiguous. Often, like with slang or idioms, words and their meaning can vary region to region in the same country.

This can create big problems when you, me, or your drunk friend try to interact with our phones or laptops. Just think of the misspellings! Without NLP, our computers would be clueless.

With this new knowledge, go back to our original question: what is natural language processing? Here’s the answer:

In the messy landscape of human communication, NLP is the technology that bridges the vast gap between structured and natural (real) language.

NLP + ML = Natural Language Machine Learning

One last thing to touch on before we go. Modern natural language processing is based on machine learning. For example, software engineers use machine learning to to examine patterns within data, and then draw conclusions on how natural human languages work. By applying these conclusions, machines are able to perform complex text analytics tasks better and more efficiently than before.

This combination of NLP and machine learning is called Natural Language Machine Learning (NLML).

For example, consider this tweet:

“This amazing Cloud delivers data to me ASAP”

Here, Cloud is a reference Cloud Computing. And of course, ASAP is the common acronym for As Soon As Possible. That’s pretty obvious to you and me – but how would a computer know that?

It used to be that a developer would’ve had to go in and manually tell the system to recognize those tangential references and acronyms. But with NLML, a modern text analytics system can figure that out on its own. Finally, the system can easily break the rest of the sentence down into its grammatical elements (“amazing” = adjective, “Cloud” = noun, “delivers” = verb, etc.).

Wrap it up and get some java

So, what is natural language processing? It’s the reason you can order a cup of coffee by telling a chatbot to get you exactly what you want. It’s the reason Google knows you’re looking for late-night drunk food near you, even when you butcher the spelling. And it’s the reason Lexalytics, an InMoment company, exists.

Got that all? Great! Now go order a cup of (brown liquid) java using Whatsapp or something.

Communication Tips & Tools for Customer Success Managers

In Customer Success, communication with accounts can make or break the job. Upping your skills—and having the right tools to make the back and forth efficient—can help you win customers for life.  

Wootric has gathered some tips and tools to help you communicate with your customers at scale.

In the first part of this three-part series, we gave you tips and tools to help with time management. Use the time you saved to improve your customer relationships and communication processes.

Communicating with Customers

Tips:

  • Nail down specific measurable criteria/objectives in onboarding

When you start building a relationship with the client, the most important part of ensuring client success is establishing what success means to them. Oftentimes, clients come to you with large, lofty, general goals like “improve customer experience”. Create SMART goals with your customers during onboarding and establish a baseline so that you can prove to them, objectively, that your company is delivering value.

“You can focus on adoption, retention, expansion, or advocacy; or you can focus on the customers’ Desired Outcome and get all of those things.” Lincoln Murphy, co-author of Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue

  • Master telling a client “no” with grace

Nobody likes to hear “no”, not toddlers, not teenagers, and especially not adults. When you are dealing with customers, you will inevitably run into requests that you cannot and should not fulfill. It’s an unpleasant part of the job.

You can deal with this situation in a multitude of ways, and prior experience with your customer can guide you to the best method. It might be suggesting the closest alternative, or it might be providing a detailed explanation. Regardless of how you choose to tell them no, it is key to maintain your relationship with them, and maintain your position on their team, as their advocate, the whole time.

  • Listen for the “silently churning”

All too often CSMs default to listening to the clients who shout the loudest. This is a natural human response, but leaves you vulnerable to neglecting your clients who are less vocal. Just because someone isn’t complaining to you in an email or over the phone, doesn’t mean they’ll renew when the contract is up.

Maintain a pulse on your client portfolio with the help of metrics like NPS, CES, and CSAT. Surveying customers after interactions and a couple times a year will provide invaluable insight into the health of your accounts. Survey feedback and analysis helps focus on the “silently churning”, the customers who are simply disengaging instead of yelling, and helps to narrow down what actually drives their lack of enthusiasm.

Tools:

Boomerang:

Boomerang is a free email extension that lets you schedule emails to be sent, remind yourself if you don’t hear back, and take messages out of your inbox until you actually need them. Boomerang will archive your message, then bring it back to your inbox at a time you choose, marked unread, starred or at the top of your message list. You can use Boomerang as an automation tool for following up or checking in with clients, especially when you don’t hear back from them.

Text expansion apps like Text Expander:

Text expansion applications use a few basic mechanisms to make typing faster. Abbreviate blocks of text that you use often and the app will replace it with the full block of text that you assign to the abbreviation. For example, you could have the app insert “Customer Success Manager” everytime you type “csm”.

Grammarly:

Grammarly uses AI to detect grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, and style mistakes in your writing, offering you alternatives in real-time. Grammarly has recently been detecting micro-aggression and intent in emails, offering alternatives to help maintain professional relationships. It can also offer vocabulary enhancement suggestions for people using English as a second or third language.

Note: if you regularly use the Google suite of software, like Documents or Slides, you’ll have to stick with their autocorrect algorithms or take the extra step to upload documents into Grammarly’s own dashboard for corrections.

Doodle:

Doodle is a straightforward scheduler that helps you coordinate a time for meetings. You suggest a few dates and times for your participants. Doodle then creates a polling calendar that can be sent to them for feedback. As each person selects the dates and times they are free, Doodle aggregates the responses to tell you which option works best for everyone.

Calendly:

Calendly is also a scheduler that helps you schedule meetings without the back-and-forth emails. It has many more integrations and features than Doodle, which means it takes more getting used to, but is much more robust. Calendly takes time zones into account for each invitee and even allows you to request payments via Paypal and Stripe.

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

Why You Should Abandon Long Customer Surveys (and Use Always-On Microsurveys Instead)

When was the last time you completed the long survey you ask your customers to fill out? This is a painfully obvious (and obviously painful) exercise you can do to assess the customer experience of your surveys.  If the survey is long, you will probably find it a boring, tedious task to parse and answer the questions. Impatience grows as you face a seemingly endless list of attributes to assess. 

Elaine eyeroll

If this is what you are subjecting your customers to, know that you aren’t alone. Many companies are content with the status quo of traditional, bi-annual, 10+ question surveys, or they simply aren’t aware of alternatives.

But times have changed — and your customers aren’t having it.

Traditional, long surveys are a lose-lose situation

Not only do multi-question surveys have the potential to irritate customers, they have disadvantages for business as well.

 You are not hearing from enough customers.  Completion rates are abysmal. Studies show that the longer a survey is, the higher the chance of decreased, delayed, hasty or slapdash responses. So, the information you are getting from customers who are willing to run this gauntlet may not be thoughtful.  

Not hearing from customers often enough. Surveying once or twice a year means you can only react to feedback once or twice a year! In a quickly changing market, this is unacceptable. More agile competitors are going to leave you in the dust.

What can you do to solve this lose-lose situation? Modernize your feedback methodology with microsurveys.

What is a microsurvey?

Microsurveys take a well established, standardized question and use it as the first in a two-step survey. This first question can be used to measure Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction Score, and Customer Effort Score, providing you with quantitative feedback. The second step then provides a way for respondents to give open-ended feedback explaining their score.

Here is an example using an NPS microsurvey shown to a customer who is logged into a SaaS application. A similar microsurvey can also be delivered via email, mobile, or SMS.

Two-step Net Promoter Score survey from Wootric

Your first reaction might be “How can I possibly get all the information I need with such a short, open-ended survey?  And, how can I make sense of all of the qualitative responses?

Let us walk you through how you can get what you need — and more.

Advantages of always-on microsurveys 

Microsurvey design looks at feedback collection from the customer’s point of view — it should be easy, fast, and relevant. The results are a significantly improved customer experience. Microsurveys provide three key benefits to you:

  • Real-time trends
  • High response rates
  • Better insights

Real time so you never miss a trend:

With support of a customer experience software platform, it becomes easy to survey customers throughout the customer journey.  You can forgo your annual survey campaign and get a on-going pulse of real-time feedback on journey points.  Shortening your surveys allows you to ask customers for feedback more often. By asking the right question at the right time, you increase the chance that an individual will respond to your surveys. Deploying microsurveys across the entire customer journey will bring you both a bird’s eye view of the health of your account and detailed, actionable insights at each touchpoint.

High response rates means you hear from more customers:

Response rates can be as high as 60% for microsurveys, and typically exceed 25%. These numbers can seem miraculous compared to the significantly lower rates that long-form surveys attain. By asking a single question in the right channel at the right time, customer are more willing to give feedback.

Better insights:

Microsurvey responses will reflect what is important and relevant to your customers. Because you are no longer leading the respondent, you will learn things you wouldn’t otherwise learn. The qualitative feedback you receive is rich with context and potential to drive your business priorities.

Now, all of this may sound good but there are still barriers to making the switch, right?

Reasons why you are still using long form surveys

I can’t aggregate survey results when feedback is open-ended!

The advantage of endless Likert scale questions is that responses on a wide range of topics and attributes can be tallied and metricized.   This makes things easier for you on the back end. However, every time a customer must chose a response from a range of values, you are putting the onus of quantification on him or her. You risk asking them to evaluate something they do not know or care about.  Response quality, completion rates, and customer experience all suffer.

A modern approach is to save your scale questions for established CX metric questions like Net Promoter Score, “How likely are you to recommend [business] to friends and colleagues?”, and take the support of machine learning technology to quantify opened survey responses.   

Today, you can take the burden of quantification off of customers and place it squarely on machine learning software. In the past, getting insights from large quantities of qualitative data has been hard, if not impossible. Technology is now available to auto-categorize all of that rich, qualitative feedback. Auto-tagging and sentiment analysis have come a long way!

For example, this dashboard screenshot shows an analysis of auto-categorized NPS feedback. Auto-tagging reveals themes in qualitative comments so you can know what promoters, passives and detractors are talking about in real time.  

Wootric Dashboard
Wootric Dashboard – Auto-categorization of qualitative feedback

I need to ask a series of questions to get important information from our customers.

Every question you add is less likely to be answered with your respondent’s full attention and engagement. Asking a single scale question and an open ended question captures high quality data that is both qualitative and quantitative.

It feels counterintuitive to open up feedback to be a free-for-all; however, customers want to tell you what’s on their mind at the time you survey them. Asking exclusively about what is important to you is frustrating for the customer. Like the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

Getting the information you want is less obtrusive if you send customers a short survey at the right time. For example, you can send an microsurvey asking about how easy a transaction was to complete or how easy a feature was to use. Customers no longer have to reach into the depths of their memory to retrieve their impressions because they just completed the task you are asking about.

Asking for feedback at touch points over time, in the right context, creates a story of your customers’ journey and allows you to see trends, just like how thousands of photos can be combined to create beautiful stop-motion animation.

Beware of using incentives to make up for poor response rates, you will find a higher percentage of “satisficers”, or respondents who select answer options quickly and thoughtlessly to get to the incentive you promised them for “completing” their survey.

Of course, there is a time and place for long surveys.

There is nothing wrong with using a lengthy survey when you really need to — and there will be times when an in-depth questionnaire is appropriate. Here are two examples:

Annual “Brand” survey. Our customers use microsurveys to keep a finger on the pulse of their entire customer base throughout the year for customer journey feedback. Some also use an annual brand survey that supplements by asking many in-depth questions. Even though response rates for this survey may be low, they know they will hear from their most engaged customers on a variety of topics. And, with their microsurvey program,  they still get feedback from everyone else.

User interviews. Product teams may conduct focus groups or interviews to get more sophisticated feedback on feature use, build out an understanding of use cases, and create detailed personas. Microsurveys such as NPS help narrow down who should be included in these focus groups and who would be open to being interviewed.

How to start? Shift your Net Promoter Score program to microsurveys.

If you want to try real-time microsurveys as a baby step towards modernizing your feedback program, use always-on NPS microsurveys as one component of your feedback strategy. You’ll still send out your long, in-depth survey to decision makers like you always have, but now with an early warning system to help you proactively keep your most important accounts.

Entelo was able to double their survey response rate with this method, using NPS microsurveys for a better understanding of customer health. The real-time feedback also meant fewer surprises and easier prioritization when it came to addressing customers’ problems.

Get the ebook, The Modern Guide to Winning Customers with Net Promoter Score. Learn how to modernize your feedback program for growth and higher loyalty.

Dashboard and Reporting Techniques to Visually Communicate Complex Data

Editor’s note: This is a chapter from the ebook, Unlock the Value of CX. You can download the entire book here.

In a world in which more and more data is available from a wide variety of channels, many different information sources are being bundled to form the basis for obtaining new and more detailed insights. Effective data visualization gives users a comprehensive overview and the ability to drill down on relevant details, thus supporting evaluation of all information provided. The faster decision-makers are able to recognize opportunities and risks, the better aligned their decisions.

Visually Communicating Complex Data

In essence, data visualization is mapping out data in a way that delivers explanations and exploration possibilities, making it easier for users to “read” and process data-based information. The following design aspects must be addressed to facilitate the reading flow for the user:

• Targeted use of pre-attentive attributes, i.e. characteristics which are perceived and evaluated subconsciously and prior to conscious processing as information

• The organizing of functionalities (e.g. navigation) in learned structures

• Consistent utilization of recurring visualization elements

Visualization Elements for Reporting Systems

The principle of infographics is often drawn upon in developing systemic reporting solutions for visualization aspects, but the limitations of this approach soon become evident. Users not only require flexible and practical usage, which means a high level of accuracy and uncomplicated visualization, but also the following as checklist criteria:

• User-specific detail depth

• Updated data

• Interactivity

The information requirements and selected mode of analysis thus determine the choice of visualization graphics. As a rule, it must be carefully reviewed which chart type is optimally suitable for conveying the desired information. Ideally, a chart should display no more than six values (i.e. elements to be read). The three sample charts below illustrate how this can be accomplished:

1. Structure-creating image elements provide orientation within the content for dependable reading. Additionally, these image elements can themselves be used for navigation, as buttons, for example, opening a Touchpoint Detail Report.

touchpoint website

2. Individual values can prominently be visualized using Big Number Boxes. Additional information such as trend versus the preceding month can be integrated via a simple icon.

Score

3. Icons with pre-attentive attributes which have corresponding significance (e.g. smileys, traffic lights, stars) enable color-blind people as well to intuitively process summarized and evaluated data.

Smiley Face

The Path to Reporting

Users today want to see only the information that is relevant to them, enabling more effective and proactive response. This requires a reporting concept for identifying different user types and groups and creating profiles or ‘personas’.

User profiles document differing information needs in terms of content, structure, level of detail and mode of usage and display as well as activation potential, responsibilities, bonus-relevant information elements and scope of action.

At the end of each user profile is a ‘story’ containing the parameters for reporting (i.e. the set of dashboards) specifically configured for the user group.

Proceeding step by step from the starting report, users are shown the information relevant to them and the interrelationships therein. In addition, a dashboard shows possibilities for more in-depth views and further analysis available to the user, providing insights into where action needs to be or could be taken. A well-designed reporting concept integrates advanced analysis capabilities and facilitates interactivity, making it easier to take action based on perceived action relevance.

Comprehensive Overview

Example: Emilia Schmitz is a brand communication executive. To oversee corporation-wide brand cohesion, she and her team require an overview of the entire array of communication channels and touchpoints. Within the customer lifecycle, her customers have contact with various people and departments within the firm. These contact points can influence how the customer perceives the company and brand in both positive and negative ways. She and her team thus are focused on improving their support for the individual touchpoint managers in providing action plans, ideas and concepts. She requires touchpoint monitoring that ties all of the necessary information together in the background so that she and her team have an overview displayed at all times of the most important KPIs for each touchpoint.

dashboard

Ms. Schmitz and her team rely on the touchpoint dashboard as an overarching monitoring and leading indicator system. Quick indicators in the header of the dashboard enable her to see immediately where support is most urgently needed.

The dashboard is specifically designed to deliver core information. Only a very limited range of colors are utilized, as the metrics are prominently displayed and partially formatted (red, green etc.), already bundling a lot of information.

Integrated Analytic Capabilities and Easy Interactivity

System users today more than ever insist on the capability to edit data relevant to them. Current online-based solutions meet these needs, providing export functionalities for independent further processing of data.

In addition, modern reporting systems are increasingly being utilized as an analysis tool, having functionalities going beyond the typical, standard filtering options that allow object-based content linking by users.

At the start screen showing information defined as being of the highest priority for the user group, a detailed view of the top level shows the selected NPS® over time and per market, possible ordering channels, the customer groups and strengths and weaknesses in the ordering process, among other things.

Every chart allows interactive drill-down by users. In addition to the usual filter settings, users can drag and drop graphic elements like the “telephone” bar in the ordering channels chart into the report filter. By clicking on the more detailed view for the ordering channel “telephone” the user is navigated to an overview of strengths and weaknesses or the distribution of customer segments for that order channel, for example.

This allows combining different content from the displayed charts in an intuitive, object-based way to create complex filters.

complex filters

Text Analytics in Touchpoint Monitoring

Text analytic results can also be integrated into touchpoint monitoring, enhancing analysis capability. In addition to keyword search, standard elements for ongoing systematic evaluation of unstructured text are available, including:

• Basic comment sentiment, classified as positive, neutral or negative

• Application of a scheme for comment categorization

The left side of the first text analytics dashboard is focused on overall mood, as indicated by the sentiment and positive or negative evaluations from the top 5 text categories. The second dashboard, on the right, provides a visual view of a specific customer group. An infographic shows the criteria applied for customer segmentation. Sentiment thus reflects a segment-specific value determined by the results of automated text analysis, combined with survey data or CRM data for customer segmentation.

Generating Actionable Information

Modern dashboards and reporting systems have to be usable as a springboard for action, facilitating or suggesting necessary follow-up action steps. There are differing approaches to realizing such capability, such as

• Single sign-on (one-time authentication via central access point to all systems relevant for the user), which allows combined usage of different existing systems

• Processing into a single system, allowing users to switch between various modules at any time

• Custom buttons can be integrated into the respective reports at relevant places which launch action planning or individual case management

Challenges

Comprehensive touchpoint management requires a solid base of data. The very best visualization cannot bring success if relevant information is missing. This means that the necessary data from the various departments and communication channels has to be structured and compiled in an appropriate way.

The Right Data

Most companies utilize dedicated systems, which in many cases are deeply embedded within company structures and provide information to a defined group of users. It is important when creating personas to identify and link to the relevant information sources. Modern software can interface with established enterprise systems via standard formats (Excel, SSPS, etc.) or interfaces (e.g. API for Salesforce) in largely automated fashion. This ensures that users start out with the data relevant and important to them. In addition, all content and information generated on the reporting platform can be exported in standard formats (Excel, CSV, SPSS, PowerPoint or PDF) and processed outside the system and re-imported back into company systems.

Changes at Touchpoints

Digitalization has brought many innovations to the market, especially in the areas of data communication. The shift toward new media and technologies has created additional touchpoints which generate new data streams requiring different modes of analysis and display. The content focus at existing touchpoints is changing as well. The challenge is to promptly recognize such changes and render these measurable and useful for touchpoint management. Systemic solutions must be designed to afford maximum flexibility, allowing rapid integration of new information sources and adaptation of reports to meet the changing information needs or the needs of newly added user groups. The present trend is toward configurable solutions offering on-the-fly calculation affording the flexibility required to quickly compile reports and content, including self-service reporting if desired.

self service reporting

Success Factors

Very few enterprises have comprehensive touchpoint management in place. Intuitive reporting systems are required to ensure transparency regarding risks and opportunities across all touchpoints, but also certain resources must be available as well in order to utilize such systems. Pioneering enterprises that invest in comprehensive touchpoint management will face the upfront challenges outlined above.

There will be few if any overnight success stories to tell, as sustained effort, patience, persistence and perseverance will be critical, along with solid phased implementation planning taking account of both system and personnel resources required. Then as the “low hanging fruit” is harvested, efforts can proceed to plan the next steps and prepare for wider rollout.

The Joy of Net Promoter Score: Sharing Customer Praise

Gathering Net Promoter Score feedback isn’t just about receiving critique and feature requests. An important growth component of an NPS customer feedback program is identifying your promoters, then engaging and activating them for upsell, referral or advocacy. But there is another benefit to identifying promoters — the feelings you get from their verbatim comments–gratification, inspiration, motivation, and satisfaction!

Promoters that are finding value in your brand can give some incredibly uplifting compliments that boost morale and provide a sense of pride for employees.

We’ve gathered some example comments from SaaS companies that use Wootric software to measure Net Promoter Score, analyze trends, and close the loop with their customers. Each company provided a screenshot of a favorite promoter comment from their InMoment dashboard.

Imagine how the team at presentation software Slidebean felt when this NPS survey response appeared:Slidebean NPS Promoter Comment

The stellar customer service at point-of-sale software Revel Systems is what got this promoter excited:

The team at video coaching platform Sibme was stoked when they read this:

This NPS response gives mortgage software company Maxwell props for their customer-centric culture:
Maxwell NPS promoter response

This kind of feedback contributes to feelings of accomplishment and meaning for employees, leading to more engagement and a happier work environment. Research done for the UK government showed that companies with a highly engaged workforce see a 19.2 % growth in operating income over a 12-month period. Additionally, companies with an engaged workforce grow profits up to 3X faster than their competitors.

With this comment, the whole team at e-signature software Signable can see the value they are creating for their customers:

Make sharing customer comments part of your NPS program

To get the most out of your NPS program, share your NPS along with select verbatim feedback across your entire organization. This provides context to your metric. Sharing customer requests and frustrations is a great way to create urgency around service and product improvement. It makes the problem less abstract and gives employees an emotional connection to the work that needs to be done.

In the same way that you would share constructive critique, make it a habit to share promoter comments. This provides you and your employees with the opportunity to celebrate the things you’re doing right and makes it real. When specific teams or individuals get mentioned, reach out to them and share. It is a great way to let them know they did an awesome job! It’s always great to feel appreciated and acknowledged.

Make sharing promoter comments easy by:

  1. Sharing it on a Slack channel – with Wootric’s free integration with Slack, you’ve got an easy way to spread the joy from reading promoter comments. Tag folks who were involved with different steps that culminated in the customer’s compliment and give them a pat on the back!
  2. Gathering the superstar comments to share at an all-hands meeting or Board meetings, along with your NPS score. This not only gives people the numbers they want to see, but also provides the story behind the number.
  3. Featuring promoter comments in your newsletter – whether it’s an employee newsletter or a customer newsletter.  Sharing positivity from customers makes everyone feel listened to and appreciated.

Having comments feed into Slack here at Wootric has helped us to monitor customer sentiment in real-time and keep everyone in the company close to our customers’ experience. Any issues are dealt with quickly, and promoter comments like these get everyone excited.

Promoter comments are a win for everyone

The Net Promoter Score system is a proven way to drive growth, and it is a delight when you get comments like the ones above. It is a positive feedback loop that creates more value and positive experiences for customers and a supportive, enjoyable work environment that encourages engagement for employees.

And to our own customers, know that we truly appreciate the time and thought that goes into every survey response you give us! We are listening. 

Build an army of promoters.
Sign up for free in-app NPS with InMoment.

Airport Series: Denver International Airport and the Illuminati

Next up in our airport analysis series: Denver International Airport (DIA) in Denver, Colorado.

In our ongoing analyses of airports and the reviews people leave about them on social media, we’ve showcased how natural language processing machine learning can give insights to stakeholders about what people like and don’t like about their airports. As I’ve written before, there is a difference between social listening and social “hearing.” The latter means that you can essentially “hear” the noise of natural language online, and the former means that you’re able to take what’s said and determine what’s important and what isn’t.

Denver International Airport: A Hub for the Illuminati?

Denver International Airport is the subject of a robust online conversation. Much of this discussion is relevant to airport stakeholders. For example, many conversations show how the airport is held accountable for the actions of individual airlines. Meanwhile, much of the chatter on Denver International Airport’s Facebook page is dedicated to the idea that DIA is a global haven for the Illuminati.

Yup. Now, for those not familiar, The Illuminati is a conspiracy theory obsession in some internet circles. Numerous blogs, subreddits, and YouTube channels claim this supposed shadowy organization of people are “really in control” of the world.

It all started in 2002 when former wrestler (and Governor of Minnesota) Jesse Ventura profiled the airport on his conspiracy theories television show. Though, perhaps, it’s best we let one of the reviewers explain this:

“It is actually an underground Illuminati headquarters. The enormous, hideous blue horse statue with glowing red eyes next to the entrance road killed it’s [sic.] sculptor before he finished it. The runway layout looks like a swastika when seen from space. There is a mural in one terminal that shows a child in a coffin. There are gargoyles on the inside of the building.”

Figure 1: Blucifer

Or as another person actually put it:

“Dude you’re [the] freaking Illuminati dude! what the truck [sic], there’s a trucking [sic] Blucifer statue dude! BLUCIFER!”

Blucifer refers to the statue of a bucking blue bronco in front of the airport. Some other travelers ironically engage in the fun. One comment praised Denver International Airport, claiming that — despite their connection with the Illuminati, occult symbolism, and “secret underground lizard caves” — it’s actually a good airport.

“I practically live here… one of the better airports… tons of secret passageways, [it] even has an antigravity bathroom feature…I recommend using that,” says another playful reviewer.

Context is key

Taken at face value, Denver International Airport is pretty well-liked overall, despite it being a secret world-controlling lair. Looked at in aggregate, the illuminati and Blucifer comments are marginal. The irony and sarcasm present in most natural language data sets can trip up most text mining tools, skewing results. But when the analysis accounts for context, real insights start to emerge.

General comments about airport staff are positive by a two-to-one ratio. The number of positive comments about the attitude of airline employees is also mentioned more positively than negatively. Themes like the security line, bathroom cleanliness, a lack of hooks on bathroom stalls, and an inefficient baggage claim do carry negative sentiment, at a ratio of six to one. These insights, which account for 35% of Denver International Airport’s Facebook dataset, are the nuggets of gold hidden in them there hills (of data). The knowledge provides actual business insights for airport decision makers. This is the sort of precision you can expect when you have an easily tunable sentiment analysis solution.

Getting it right

One commonality between all conspiracy theorists is their cherry-picking evidence to support a premise. This faulty logic has no place in business, let alone an airport. Yet, when leadership at Denver International (or elsewhere) turns a blind eye to social feedback they’ll inevitably fall prey to the same confirmation bias. As the ACRP says, “Airports do not have a choice about whether to be involved in social media; the question is how well they do it.” When airports use solutions like those provided in the Lexalytics product platform, they’re guaranteed accurate and meaningful social listening insights with minimal effort.

And as for the Illuminati? Nos autem videbo vos ad aeroportus!

Time Management for Customer Success Managers

How many times have you wished for another pair of hands or a couple more hours in the day to get through your work as a Customer Success Manager?

Between onboarding clients, liaising for customer support, and negotiating an upsell, CSMs juggle many essential functions.

We’ve gathered some tips and tools to help you be more productive with less stress.

Tips:

  • Create a calendar-prep sandwich

Having some quiet time before the day starts to strategize and prioritize will allow you to go through your day with less need to juggle. This time at the beginning of the day can be a time to review events from the previous day, catch up on emails, or prep for your meetings, but most importantly, set aside about 15 minutes to prep your calendar and to-do list for the day and look ahead to the rest of the week.

Set aside another 15 minutes at the end of your day for another calendar and to-do list prep session, during which you can update everything based on your notes from calls and meetings you had. Making this prep-session sandwich a habit will improve your organization and help you transition between meetings and calls more confidently.

  • Schedule “buffer” time between meetings/calls

As you schedule your meetings and calls, be sure to include a buffer zone of time in case something takes longer than you had anticipated. Include travel time between meetings if you have to physically be somewhere else and add some time for traffic or delays. Even if everything goes according to schedule, having that buffer gives you time to take down notes on the call, expand on any thoughts you had, as well as create and schedule tasks based on your prior meeting or call.

  • Prioritize ruthlessly, batch related tasks together

A large part of managing your time is mercilessly prioritizing your tasks and following through on the important tasks first, rather than the easily completed ones. Be sure to take on projects that will pay dividends in time-saved and customer retention in the future, like mapping the customer journey, or periodically reviewing the onboarding process. These are tasks that you have got to schedule with high priority or else they won’t get done.

Once you’ve prioritized, group together tasks that are related, whether they are for the same client, or they are on the same web application. This will allow you to complete more tasks without having to break your workflow to switch gears too often.

“Do not try and make every customer happy all the time. Prioritize programs that generate tangible business outcomes for their team. When you focus on making the customer successful with your product or service, things like retention and renewal become an easy conversation.”

– Omer Gotlieb, Co-Founder & Chief Customer Officer, Totango

  • Micro-breaks: Do something to clear your mind between meetings or tasks

Once you’ve completed a set of tasks, get ready to switch gears to another set of tasks by doing something quick to clear your mind, preparing your brain to use a whole new set of neural connections. For you, that might mean getting up to walk around the office, having a little stretch, or meditating at your desk. Check out this website for some more mind-clearing methods for between batches of tasks.

For a more comprehensive guide to time management check out this article!

Tools:

ToDoist:

ToDoist is a to-do list application available on nearly every platform or device you can think of. It uses natural language processing to make entering tasks incredibly fast. Advanced users will appreciate paid features like custom labels and filters, location-based reminders, templates for recurring projects, as well as the ability to collaborate with co-workers. Even if you use this app for its most basic functions, it is straightforward and clean to use for task organization.

Google Calendar:

You’ve heard of this one, and may even be using it already for your time management. But are you using all of Google Calendar’s features to their fullest extent? For example, you can create an event and ask Google calendar to “find a time” or give you “suggested times”. Before you use either, be sure you have added everyone who needs to attend the event. Then click the “suggested times” below all of your names and a pop-up will show you some options for times you can meet.

While you are at it, calendar your 15 minute prep sandwich as a recurring event and schedule buffer time you need between major calls.

For more features you may not be using in Google Calendar, click here.

SmartDay:

SmartDay is a hybrid calendar and to-do list. You can add events, tasks, and notes, and then share them with others. SmartDay’s prime value is its focus on collaboration. Comments can be added to any shared event or task, and tasks can be delegated to different team members, which automatically schedules them in the individual’s calendar. The star feature is SmartDay’s automatic task scheduling. When you add tasks for your various projects into your list, SmartDay places them on your calendar in the free time between your appointments.

RescueTime:

RescueTime is an app that tracks the time you spend on applications and websites during your day. It informs you both when and how you are productive or distracted. RescueTime helps you be aware of where your time goes and more intentional with how you use your time.

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

How to Use Webhooks to Turn Your Software Platforms into a Digital Relay Team

Bang!

The starter pistol has fired for the relay race and you’re sprinting to get the baton to the next runner. As soon as you pass them the baton, they’re off to the next runner, and then the next, until the last runner crosses the finish line.

Using webhooks is like a digital relay race, with a trigger in one web application starting a sequence of events that passes data from one platform to the next, optionally triggering an event in each as the baton gets passed through the relay sequence.

You’ve got a team of software platforms that you use, like Zendesk or Intercom for support requests, Wootric for customer feedback, Salesforce as your system of record for Sales & Customer Success, and Tableau for analytics. With webhooks, you can create a digital relay of data. Once these systems are passing info to each other you can accomplish all kinds of workflows that streamline data collection, analysis and action. 

To skip the technical definition to get to the uses of webhooks, click here!

What Exactly are Webhooks?

Webhooks are “user defined” notifications that allow a web application — a.k.a. a cloud-based software platform or software system — to provide or receive real-time information to or from another web application about an event’s completion.

Webhooks can be incoming, i.e. the app is getting notified when something happens along with context around that event, or they can be outbound, i.e. the app is sending notifications out to other apps about events that occur within its services, along with context around that event.

It is inefficient to constantly request data from another network (a.k.a. polling for new data at regular time intervals in engineer-speak) and many internet browsers cannot support having an open connection between two web applications. Webhooks are an efficient, flexible, and convenient way to bring up-to-date data into the web applications you use regularly.

Compared to hiring a developer to create a native integration of one application on another, webhooks are a tech-lite method to sync data and trigger workflows across multiple applications. This also has the benefit of letting you work mainly on the software systems that you are most familiar with.

What are Webhooks Used For?

Webhooks’ capabilities allow you to:

  • Know that a specified event took place — e.g. a support ticket closed, a payment method was added, a survey was completed (a.k.a an incoming webhook)
  • Let another software platform know that the event took place (a.k.a. an outbound webhook)
  • Ensure that data is synced across all platforms
  • Set off an automatic relay of data and workflow for a network of software platforms

All of these can be combined to create “relays” for insight in a customer feedback program. Here are a couple of common use cases:

Improving Customer Support

Use Case: Zendesk Support Ticket Closure Triggers Email Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Survey

One prevalent use case for webhooks is triggering a survey after the closure of a support ticket in Zendesk or a customer conversation in Intercom.

Let’s take the support ticket example. Zendesk tickets are loaded with information, like ticket ID # and ticket requester email, that can be sent via a webhook to Wootric to trigger a Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) survey.

This additional information, or properties, allow you to customize the title and body of the email survey that gets sent to your customer.

Having CSAT feedback after support cases are closed can help inform the training and organization of your support teams. You’ll have a better understanding of your customer’s expectations of interactions with the Support team. CSAT feedback at this journey point can help you identify any gaps in your support experience.

Keep the Relay Going: Follow-up with Dissatisfied Customers

Use Case: Salesforce Workflows or Zapier webhook triggers a new case open or follow-up task

Using Salesforce workflows and our outbound webhook, you can close the loop with unhappy customers by triggering a new case to open for Support or Success when a poor CSAT score comes in, or assign a task of follow up to specific individuals. This will show your customers that you are actively listening to their feedback and value it, making it more likely for them to stick with you. It can also clear up any potential miscommunication that may have occurred during the original interaction.

As you plan out your webhooks, be wary of survey fatigue. Wootric has built in protection from sending surveys too frequently to customers so you don’t have to worry about accidentally bombarding customer inboxes.

Take Action or Test a New Strategy with One Segment of Customers

Use Case: Mixpanel Event in Specific Segment Triggers an In-App Customer Survey

Another useful way to use webhooks is to have Mixpanel events, such as a customer creating their first report with your app or completing their first order, trigger a survey for specific segments of users.

Let’s say you are a meal kit delivery app, like Blue Apron or HelloFresh, and you want to test a new dinner party kit.

You can use a webhook to survey the dinner party kit customers the next time they log in your meal kit app. That survey might be a Customer Effort Score (CES) survey (” How easy was it for you to cook your dinner party meal?”), or it might be a CSAT survey, depending on what kind of feedback you are looking for.

This feedback would identify improvements that need to be made to the new dinner party meal kit. It will also identify people who love it. Another webhook can trigger a task be assigned to a marketing team member to reach out to those promoters for testimonials or a potential interview.

Incorporate CX Metrics into Business Analytics

Use Case: Send Wootric Net Promoter Score Survey Data into Tableau or Chartio

Compiling all of your data from multiple web applications for correlating analysis can be tedious and frustrating. Sometimes it can feel like your data is trapped in one app or another with no way of importing that data in real time.

Webhooks allow you to bring data from multiple sources for consolidated, holistic reporting. This helps you create beautiful reports, rich with context, and connect all of your various analyses to guide organizational action.

If you’ve already been surveying customers with Wootric, our dashboard has been helping you manage your customer feedback program. We often see our customers’ business analysts use webhooks to report customer experience metrics, like Net Promoter Score, alongside other KPIs, such as churn or expansion revenue.

Webhooks allow you to take all of the raw data from Wootric and send it to interactive data visualization applications like Tableau, Chart.io, or Looker as the feedback comes in, in real time. The information reflected in charts is updated every time new survey feedback comes in.

Tableau Example
Example of real-time data visualization in Tableau

Create a Holistic View of Account Health
Use case: Send Wootric CX Data to Salesforce or other CRM

Gathering customer feedback to understand the health of your organization often relies on both relationship monitoring through drip/cadence Net Promoter Score (NPS) and journey point monitoring through transactional CSAT/CES surveys.

Example of Account Level CX data in Salesforce

Using all three of these CX surveys at appropriate journey points can provide a bird’s eye view of your customers’ journey, with each survey score reflecting different parts of the entire journey. Wootric offers a native integration to accomplish this in Salesforce, but you can use a webhook service like Zapier to move Wootric data to any CRM. 

Custom Insight Through Creative Webhook Use

Webhooks enable you to customize the segments you survey, the events that trigger a survey, as well as the title and survey question itself. With some creativity and planning, webhooks and CX surveys can get the exact information you want into your preferred web application for insight and analysis.  

Measure and improve customer experience. Sign up today for free Net Promoter Score, CSAT or Customer Effort Score feedback with InMoment.

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