Airport Series: Dallas/Fort Worth and The Dirty Secret

Today we’re continuing our ongoing analysis of Facebook reviews for the busiest airports in America. Next up is Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in The Lone Star State, Texas.

Interestingly, DFW was named both the best and worst airport in 2017. What’s more, the results of our sentiment analysis were mostly neutral. These two facts suggest that DFW is simply not an airport customers are particularly passionate about. But, as we’ll see, when Dallas/Fort Worth falls down, it falls down hard. Addressing these foibles could directly improve DFW’s revenue.

Dallas/Fort Worth has cleanliness problems

Dallas/Fort Worth’s Facebook reviews comprise of 88,163 words, split into 2,249 comments. 7% of these pertain to cleanliness. Comments about “gross stains,” “sewage smells,” “human excrement,” cries to “CLEAN UP!” (and worse) permeate the data set. “I was embarrassed to be an American in an American airport.” said one reviewer, returning from a vacation in Mexico.”Gray, dingy, dirty, old…an embarrassment…” echoed another. “I have traveled outside our country, in third world airports even, and they were cleaner then [sic] this airport.”

Remember, airports depend on non-aeronautical revenue. This means they depend on the dollars travelers spend while in the airport. Thus, maintaining facilities to attract consumers is key.

DFW is flailing here. As one woman pointed out, “The ladies bathroom by gate 12 was disgusting, there was pee everywhere…  If I can avoid your airport in the future, I will!”

In fact, our data set is replete with similar examples.

“This airport is one of the dirtiest I have passed through,” one said, then continued, “The bathrooms always smell of urine and the seating has crumbs and spills… I will avoid going through this airport in the future.”

Many more flyers swore off DFW after citing its cleanliness.

“Carpet was so dirty your feet stuck to it. Also family restroom was dirty. The terminal was very old and is in need of updating. If I return to Dallas, I will probably try and fly into a different airport.“

Customer experience is key to airport success

The Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) has repeatedly cited customer experience management as key to the success of modern airports. As they point out in their latest report, “Ad hoc brands are formed over time by the many associations customers have made with an airport. These associations shape the customers’ expectations and perceptions of the services, products, and encounters that they expect at the airport and become the airport’s de facto promise. Actual customer experiences, reports in traditional and social media, and hearsay all contribute to these associations, in good ways and bad.” The ACRP continues, “Airports do not have a choice about whether to be involved in social media; the question is how well they do it.”

The ACRP operates under the Transportation Research Board (TRB), itself a division of the National Research Council. These organizations serve to not just benefit the traveler, but also the organizations they support. So, it’s with no uncertain weight that the ACRP dedicates an entire section of their Report to airport cleanliness. “A statistical study of the drivers of airport satisfaction and dissatisfaction based on a content analysis of 1,095 traveler comments on an airport review website concluded that key drivers of customer satisfaction included terminal cleanliness and a pleasant environment.”

What’s worse than a dirty airport? Waiting in one

Now we understand the gravity of facility cleanliness, it merits asking “what could be worse than a dirty airport?” According to travelers, being stuck in one is even worse. 18% of DFW’s Facebook reviews pertain to waiting: waiting for food, waiting for the bathroom, waiting for the shuttle, and – worst of all – waiting for baggage.

While waiting might seem an endurable irritation, the consequences can be meaningful.

“My 80 year old Grandma had to withstand endless hours of waiting in lines that curved around halls…”

Another reviewer was not as patient:

“You won’t be receiving my money again and I will make sure everyone I know knows that you have raised your rates and decided to cut the amount of buses you have in half. There were families waiting with little babies in the heat while we watched many other buses go by that could have easily been re-routed.”

What should Dallas/Fort Worth do?

Addressing cleanliness and the other factors holding customers back is a simple way to protect the DFW brand. A look into the most positive comments offer a suggestion about how airports can salvage the customer experience for inconvenienced travelers. Individual interactions with staff can make all the difference. While it’s not yet appropriate to call this a trend, it’s a theme we’ve recognized in every airport dataset we’ve analyzed.

Customers take notice of how they’re treated by staff, whether they go online and write about it or not. Employees who are curt, disinterested, or impatient exacerbate already stressful situations. The negative sentiment associated with an unavoidable mishap, like a delay or layover, can be alleviated by a positive staff interaction. This not only helps the customer, it also shores up brand loyalty. As one DFW reviewer laconically puts it, “Friendly and helpful staff at airport… Definitely will return.”

Blended AI will Improve Customer Experience (CX), But Keep It Human

“We believe that in 2018, the use of blended AI will help improve sales outcomes and reduce customer servicing costs. But, there are implications.” – Forrester

When it comes to delivering prompt, effective service to customers, human customer support agents have their limitations. For example, for all but the biggest multinational companies, customer service isn’t available 24/7. And even during regular working hours, the supply of sales people, customer success managers and support agents is finite, causing wait times, call abandonment, and dissatisfaction (in other words: bad customer experience).

Artificial Intelligence-powered technology is even more limited – even though it’s available 24/7, even the swiftest systems can’t handle anything more than simple or common inquiries (yet). And when was the last time you called customer service with a simple problem? Too many situations are unique. Try to have your problem solved by an algorithm, and even worse CX ensues.

But do you see what I see?

I see two puzzle pieces coming together. Two halves of a potential whole. Two wrongs making a right.

What if we blend them together?

Blended AI, but which path to take?

Forrester qualifies their prediction that blended AI is in our near future by also speculating that it will result in dropping customer satisfaction levels, “as companies drive more traffic to chatbots, self-service, and chat that are not fully optimized to engage customers effectively.”

Essentially, if you use AI/chatbots to replace human interaction, your customers won’t appreciate it.

But, if you use AI/chatbots to facilitate human interaction… well, that’s another story altogether.

There tends to be two camps of thought when it comes to AI interactions with customers and it boils down to whether or not you want your customers to know they are interacting with a bot.

Avoiding Smoke & Mirrors in CX

Lisa Abbott, VP of Marketing at Wootric, believes in transparency in CX and particularly in customer interactions.

“I value brands that I can trust. If I find out your sales development rep is really a bot, I feel foolish for having wished “her” a good day. And, I have to wonder what else you are comfortable hiding from me. It is no way to begin an authentic customer relationship.”

It is important to remember that the customer’s priority is achieving their goals efficiently. If AI can help you get them there faster, customers will be delighted. However, passing a email sender or chatbot off as “Amanda” does nothing to meet customer needs and can risk alienating them if the bot gets caught.

The good news is that there is no need for a charade.

Intercom’s Operator bot was designed knowing that consumers are tired of chatbots that “try to answer questions they shouldn’t and pretend to be human which leads to bad customer experiences.”

Another good example of transparency is Drift’s chatbot — their bot’s language is breezy and human, but it is clear that sales leads are interacting with a bot. It’s fun to interact with their bot, rather than falling into the “uncanny valley” of creepy by trying to pass a bot off as human. Think Wall-E rather than Commander Shepard from Mass Effect 3.

For a good example of B2C interactions, take a look at Levi’s Virtual Stylist. It quickly guides customers through a decision tree to narrow down the broad range of style options offered by Levi’s and adds a human element with a “see it styled” option, which shows customers how other folks have styled the suggested jeans.

In each of these cases, a bot does a masterful job of building customer relationships — as a bot!

Passing the Turing Test

Arri Bagah is the head of chatbots at BAMF media, a growth hacking agency for B2B businesses.

He agrees that chatbots can work well as a customer service tool “especially to help people make purchase decisions faster and more conveniently, answering questions on the fly so people don’t have to wait to get their answers.”

But he believes brands can also use these conversations to start building relationships.

He says, “You can use bots at the top of the funnel to teach, build the relationship, and sell.”

“One thing I’m doing on my own website is to ask visitors if I can walk them through a few strategies to help them reduce their Facebook ads cost. ‘Can I teach you about…[whatever it is]?’ You can put people through that sequence and, at the end, recommend a product that would help them move forward to the next steps. And people can ask questions. I’ve set it up to where the bot notifies me to answer specific questions live.”

Bagah works specifically with Facebook Messenger, but his advice can apply to any AI messaging app. When you start to think of messaging as a relationship-building, educational tool, whole new avenues of interaction open up.

But – according to Arri, it has to sound like a human being.

And there’s a trick to that.

“If you look at how people use messaging apps, they use images and gifs, not just text. That’s what you need to use with a chatbot to make it feel personal and engaging.”

He says he designs his clients’ Facebook chatbots to have personalities.

“They’re funny. They send you GIFs that make you smile. When you nail down that personality, you’ll see people asking ‘is this a person?’ I love those questions!”

According to Arri, when customers can’t tell whether a bot is AI or a human being, you’re getting it right – especially when the bot can pass warmed-up leads to a real sales agent.

Customer Expectations Will Make the Choice for You

If you intend to incorporate AI into your customer experience, you will need to make the decision of whether to disclose the robot nature of specific interactions or not. If you are not sure, it may be wise to gauge your customers’ sentiments around bot interactions, or deploy some testing with both methods and determine which is better suited to your company’s need.

Service is a good start, but blended AI can deliver so much more

It’s not just about quality of service – it’s about quality of data (qualitative data, that is). Website designers and optimizers have traditionally used click analytics to determine the performance of a website, landing page, or SaaS product engagement. But one of Forrester’s predictions for 2018 is that 25 percent of enterprises will supplement click analytics with conversational interfaces that deliver voice-of-customer data.

Conversational interfaces, bots, chats – whatever you want to call them – are treasure troves of voice-of-customer data that can tell you why something doesn’t work (click analytics just tell you something is wrong, and it’s up to you to figure out what). But troubleshooting is just the tip of the iceberg, because once you have a customer talking to you, you can ask them to tell you what they want, need, wish they had, and plain don’t like.

Forget about optimizing your CTA button – you can optimize your business for the best possible CX.

Of course, it’s not quite that simple, because you’ll have hundreds and thousands of conversations coming through.

When you’re working at scale, sifting through qualitative data to come up with business-changing insights is another challenge altogether. And this is where AI can really shine.

One example is InMoment’s CXInsight™ , AI-powered text and sentiment analysis tool that can categorize unstructured feedback based on what matters most to you. Millions of Wootric survey responses pre-train the algorithm to look for important themes, which can be further segmented by buyer persona, user group, sentiment, or even individual. Like the best examples of blended AI, the AI does the tedious, time consuming work of categorizing massive quantities of qualitative data, letting the humans spend their time digging into the insights and taking action.

CXInsight- Instant-AI-categorization

Are you ready to power your CX with AI in 2018?

From customer service to warming up sales leads, from educating consumers to helping derive insights from massive amount of data, AI can do so much to improve customer experience.

But as Forrester predicts, “Having a successful AI-driven customer service or sales program will depend on the processes that support a blended AI approach.”

Our prediction is this: Companies that have the processes in place to support AI and understand what AI tools can accomplish – and their limitations – will be poised to grow exponentially in 2018.

Are you one of them?

Get insights from qualitative data. Learn more about InMoment CXInsight™.

How to Choose the Best Net Promoter Score Software for Your Business

You’ve decided to implement an NPS program to increase customer loyalty, but now you’ve got to wade through the pool of NPS software service providers to find the best value and match for your company. All of them allow you to ask that all important question, “On a scale of 0 -10, how likely are you to recommend this product?”, but the similarities end there.

Two Step in-app NPS Survey by Wootric

Round Up a List of Prospects

Ask around about the NPS software other companies are using. Resources like Quora can give you ideas to add to you list and oftentimes, you can read reviews of companies. If you come across a survey that you like, reach out to the company to ask who they use. This list of prospects can be as long or short as you want, but we recommend you keep this list to around 5 companies.

What is your goal?

It is vital for you to establish the goals you want to achieve through implementing an NPS program. Are you looking to move your company towards a customer-centric culture? Are you trying to improve your retention rates? Are you looking for growth?

Maybe you’ve used an NPS platform before and now you’re looking for something that’s faster, better, stronger! You’re probably looking for a platform that’s more efficient, easier to use, offers a more modern approach (like in-app messaging), or is more aligned with your stage of growth.

Whatever your goals are, have them handy as you answer these next three questions and have the peripheral conversations for each, guiding you toward the NPS software with a Cinderella fit for your company.

Get all 8 questions and a handy vendor evaluation spreadsheet with our free e-book!


  1. What is the best way to survey your customers?

You probably communicate with your customers in a number of ways – on your website, through your web or mobile app, via email, social media accounts and possibly even through text. Each segment of your customer base will prefer one or two of these methods over the others, and very rarely will they use all of them.

Some conversations to have around this question include: Who are your stakeholders? Who are the decision-makers, and are they the same people using your product on a daily basis? Depending on your answers, you will want to choose different channels to send your NPS survey.

  1. Which channel do you want to start with?

Everyday, we have people come to us asking about email NPS surveys, unaware that there are other option available to them. If you’ve answered the first question, then you now know that email isn’t always going to be the best fit. Follow-up the conversations you had with the previous question by weighing the pros and cons of each channel. Keep your short and long term goals in mind, as well as the customer segments you wish to reach out to.

There’s no shame in starting small – it’s not easy to take on a huge customer feedback program if you’re just starting out. Choose a channel, pick a customer base and start getting feedback. You’ll eventually find that different customer segments or journey points benefit from different channels, and your NPS program will evolve accordingly.

Expect your Net Promoter Score program to mature over time and select a vendor able to support the increasing sophistication you’ll likely need.

  1. When will you survey your customers?

When it comes to deploying your NPS surveys, there are two primary approaches:

Relationship Monitoring

This approach sends NPS surveys at regular intervals overtime to assess your customer’s overall loyalty to your brand — rather than just their satisfaction with their last interaction.

Checking in at Journey Points

In this case, often called “transactional NPS”, surveys are sent after a customer has an interaction or completes a transaction with your company. This approach works well when you’ve mapped out your customer journey and can find logical points at which to check in with your customers via a survey.

NPS software platforms that can integrate with Mixpanel, Intercom, Salesforce, Zendesk and other systems of record work especially well for this type of timing.

Once you know the approach you need, dig in and see if vendors can deploy surveys the way you prefer. Each vendor has different capabilities. For example, if you are sending email surveys, do you want to do so from your own platform like Marketo or MailChimp? Or do you prefer to upload a list of customers and have the vendor’s software send the surveys?

Is NPS the right question to ask at this journey point? In some contexts, a Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) or Customer Effort (CES) question is more relevant than Net Promoter Score. Learn more.

More to Consider

These three questions will get you started on your decision process. For a deeper look into the questions to answer that will narrow down your list to your perfect NPS software, download our free e-book, We’ve also included a link to a handy vendor evaluation spreadsheet to keep track of everything in this process. Once you’ve established your company’s needs and had the conversations to narrow down your list, request a product demo from two or three vendors who make the cut. You can tell a lot about a company through their demo, including how customer-centric they really are and how they will treat you in the future.

Find out if Wootric is the right NPS software for you. Sign up for a free trial or talk with an expert.

B2C Influence on B2B Customer Expectations

There are obvious differences in the way B2C and B2B companies engage, interact with, and serve their respective customer bases.  Traditionally, this was appropriately based on significant differences in expectations from those customer groups.  However, recent research is indicating that this expectation gap is evaporating at an alarming rate.

This should not come as a surprise.  At the end of the day, the B2B buyer is a consumer too.  As such, they have become accustomed to dealing with B2C brands that provide intuitive, interconnected, accessible, real time, personalized experiences.  It would be unreasonable to think these same consumers readily change hats when entering their B2B buyer roles, and not expect to interact with their vendors in the same way.

Customer Expectations are Evolving

Recently, a client of ours shared a quote from one of their largest customers that perfectly describes the convergence of B2C expectations on the B2B world:

“Shouldn’t I expect the same level of service when I spend $50M with you, as I do when I buy a $50 pair of shoes?”

The truth is, the proliferation of digital capabilities in our everyday lives has established completely new standards and expectations for:

  • Ease of engagement
  • Access to information
  • Response time
  • Seamless experiences
  • Knowledge of interaction history
  • Capture of profile details (even needs, wants, preferences)

Thanks to disrupters like Google, Amazon, Uber, Netflix, and apps for daily banking and grocery ordering, we see lots of examples of how customer expectations are evolving.  In studies conducted by Salesforce and McKinsey, the importance of modern customer experience technology capabilities on customer expectations is glaringly evident:

  • 70 percent of consumers say technology has enabled them to easily take their business elsewhere for an experience that matches their expectations.
  • 75 percent of consumers expect a consistent experience whether mobile, in-person or social

These studies further demonstrate how these changing B2C expectations are impacting the B2B environment at an accelerated rate.

  • While 64 percent of B2C consumers expect companies to interact with them without delay, 80 percent of B2B customers expect companies to interact with them in real time
  • And while 72 percent of B2C consumers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations, that number is 89 percent for B2B customers

But before investing heavily in next generation CX capabilities to create an “Amazon like experience”, it is critical to understand what your specific customers value.  In other words, what improvements will result in them buying more, buying more often, staying longer, and referring others.

Understanding and Prioritizing Customers’ Needs is Critical

That is another reason Voice of Customer (VoC) is so important.  Without proper understanding of your specific customers’ requirements, the significant cost, time, and potential disruption associated with major technology enhancements, may not even deliver the change in customer experience or buying behavior you expected.  We should start by validating what customers need, value, and are willing to pay for as they interact with your specific product or services.

In addition to selecting the right customer experience capabilities, prioritization is also critical.  Your specific customer base may not be interested in certain B2C type engagement models, or may not be ready for them based on a variety of factors like their own internal limitations, complexity or employee demographic.

Only with a detailed understanding of the specific expectations and values of your customers can we establish the right process improvements, technology road maps, metrics, communication and action plans that will have the greatest potential impact on customer experience and your business performance.

About CCS:

Customer Centered Strategies (CCS) helps companies to remove internal process barriers to providing great customer experiences.  Voice of the Customer (VoC) is used to understand the moments in the customer journey that matter the most, and to prioritize those high-value Business Process Improvements (BPI) that will drive customer experience, loyalty, and revenue growth.

GenderGraphics: Are Auto Retailers Delivering “Gender Savvy” Experiences to “Every Customer”?

GenderGraphics: The study of differences between men and women according to their psychological makeup…how their attitudes, values, fears, etc. differ from each other. In retail auto, how the genders differ in their wants, needs and desires when buying or servicing a vehicle.

It’s 2018, and some are saying that this might very well be the “year of the woman”.  But in automotive, that moment arrived a few years back. And it arrived in the form of the SUV, where women, both young and mature, single and otherwise, either make the decision to buy entirely on their own or have “veto power” over final decisions to buy.  Research also reveals that women are less satisfied than men with the “experience” they receive when buying or servicing their vehicle.

A Sales Force Still in First Gear

In the past, the typical, mostly male sales force, relied on the same old “meet and greet” word track that’s been around for decades.  And I guess it worked OK, because, in my opinion, past customers, especially women, had to lower their expectations when it came to car shopping and servicing. Those expectations will dramatically rise in the future for all dealership customers, but especially for women.

In the future, the old multi-step process of developing rapport, presenting features/benefits, handling objections, etc. will need to be boosted to a higher-level skill set that include more subtleties and nuances in order to connect more with the customer’s feelings.

And I believe that new sales process will also include a healthy dose of GenderGraphic awareness, that will create for women a culture of care. Women car customers don’t want to be treated equal to men, they want the salesperson to show a level of “care” not so highly valued by men.

Even if some present-day salespeople are skeptical that women need to be sold differently, I’m pretty sure they do realize the power of women to “veto” any car transaction with as little as the look on their face.  That “veto power” is just as critical as the amount of influence women have in closing that sale. 

“Memorable Experiences” Become Just as Important as Price

I spoke of the behavior change needed in retail auto in a letter published recently in Automotive News, “Train to Adjust to the New Customer”. Here is a quote from that letter:

“Before retailers do anything, they need to answer this question: What is the profile of my existing and future customer base, and how is that reflected in both the demographics and communication styles of my front-line staff?”

And that profile of the future customer base will include women decision makers more and more—buying on their own or using their “veto power” to determine if the decision to buy goes forward.

A Message for Dealers About Hiring/Training/Retaining Gen Y Sales Staffs

Integrate GenderGraphics more into your training plans, especially when it comes to SUVs.  Again, from my article in Automotive News:

“By educating your front line about the needs and communication styles of the new customer, you’ll get more business. Plus, the fact that you can show potential millennial and female hires that you are proactively training to adjust to their needs as customers will aid in the recruitment of those two groups for employment.”

GenderGraphics and Millennials

The entire retail arena is intoxicated with Millennials, including automotive. But auto retailers might want to consider digging a little deeper into the GenderGraphics of Gen Y, especially when it comes to driving. See the graph below? Millennial women not only retain twice the number of drivers licenses as young men, but they also outnumber men significantly in purchasing the hottest category besides trucks, small SUVs. Check out this recent article that featured research done by MaritzCX:

“There’s a group of single, professional females out there that need vehicles, and you need to be attentive to them,” said James Mulcrone, director of research services in MaritzCX’s Michigan office, who has studied trends among female car buyers. “They’re going to make money, they’re going to make their own decisions, and they can be very loyal consumers.”

This graph from that same MaritzCX data supports the fact that women virtually own the compact SUV market.

Graph showing license ownership by gender

And this graph compares the number of Gen Y female driver’s license holders compared to young men.

A graph showing the number of Gen Y driver's license holders

My prediction is that GenderGraphics will play just as important role as demographics and Psychographics in retail auto.  Especially in the hottest category of vehicle next to trucks, compact SUVs.

Get the “Trifecta View” of the SaaS Customer Journey using CX Surveys in Salesforce

Congratulations! Another customer is starting their journey with your company.

They’ll go through the various stages in the sales funnel, across departments from marketing to sales to product to customer success and customer service. All of these departments will be using your company’s system of record, perhaps Salesforce, as the one common source of truth. They’ll document each interaction with this customer, each touch point, and then pass the customer along to continue the journey.

The Three Touchpoints and Their Matching CX Surveys

Among the touchpoints in your customer’s journey, there are three vital ones that warrant focus: Onboarding completion, support interactions, and renewal. 

Gathering CX feedback at the right time gives you a pulse on customer happiness along the journey. You can act on this insight and boost your ability to retain customers.

Wootric customer, MindTouch, has implemented the Trifecta View.

See how they do it.

Benefits of Collecting Customer Experience Feedback in Salesforce

Your CRM is the best system to trigger journey point surveys because it knows where your customer is at. When feedback resides in CRM records, it is easy for Sales, Support and Customer Success to follow up and take action. It can also be a morale boost when customers sing praises after an interaction.

Most importantly, having feedback recorded in your CRM after these three touch points creates a holistic, birds-eye, trifecta view of the customer experience that is measurable and tracked over time. This is vital business intelligence that will better prepare Success for QBRs and prepare Sales for renewal conversations. 

An Account Level Report Provides the Trifecta View

Use an account level report to get a holistic view of your customers’ journey, with each survey score reflecting different parts of the entire journey. Account level NPS, for example, is valuable intel for the Sales team. See how better training for Support can boost CSAT scores, or watch your churn numbers go down as Success team members reach out to customers with poor NPS before the renewal is up. Wootric offers account level survey data in Salesforce, by month and quarter.

The Trifecta View can reveal your strengths and weaknesses, as they exist, across the entire customer journey. Drilling into each journey point’s feedback can guide decisions to improve the weak spots, smoothing out the entire customer experience from a roller coaster to a gentle upward journey into Customer Nirvana.

“Trifecta view”: term coined by Aric Martinez, Director of Sales at InMoment, for the customer intelligence view that enterprise SaaS companies are seeking in Salesforce. Contact Sales to learn more.

Here, we’ll show you how the Wootric-Salesforce two-way integration can help you trigger a feedback survey using workflows. Responses loop back into your contact and account records to create this view of your customer experience.

#1 Onboarding Completion: Customer Effort Score Survey (CES)

Post-onboarding is a prime time to get customer feedback on that process. This is the critical first phase of the SaaS relationship. The customer’s emotions and first impressions of your company are fresh in their minds.

You can get valuable insight into how easy the process of onboarding is by triggering a Customer Effort Score survey (CES). You may learn about how helpful documentation and Customer Success team members were in teaching your users how to use your product, or you may expose aspects of your product with a high learning curve.

Overall, you will learn what makes the process of learning your product as easy as possible, getting your relationship with the customer started on the right foot.

To automatically gather feedback on the onboarding process, Wootric’s Salesforce integration enables companies to set up a workflow to trigger a CES survey 90 days (or any time period) after an Opportunity is closed.

#2 Support Interaction: Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSAT)

Now that you’ve made your first impressions, and your customers have gotten to know your company and product a bit better, there are bound to be times when they will need your Support team. After the case has been addressed, triggering a Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) survey will get you important feedback about their interactions with Support.

Having CSAT feedback can inform the training and organization of your Support teams and help you better understand your customer’s expectations of interactions with the Support team. It can help you identify any gaps in your support coverage. CSAT feedback at this journey point may even reveal potential new services and offerings when there are multiple similar feature or service requests. It may also reveal bugs that were undetected.

When CSAT scores are recorded in Salesforce, it pairs with other meaningful factors, like account age or company size, to create more context for you as you analyze this journey point. 

Wootric’s Salesforce integration enables companies to automatically gather feedback on Support interactions by setting up a workflow to trigger a CSAT survey after a Case is closed.

Bonus: You might choose to trigger 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 continue giving it to you. It can also clear up any potential miscommunication that may have occurred during the original interaction.

#3 Renewal Conversation: Net Promoter Score Survey (NPS)

As the year passes and your customer has more experience working with your company and product, inevitably, the time for the renewal conversation comes. You’ve got an idea of how things are going, based on the CSAT scores coming in, but that mostly tells you how satisfied they are with the Support team, rather than your company overall. Arm yourself with more relevant feedback before you talk renewal by triggering an NPS survey 90 days in advance of the renewal date.

Leverage workflow rules by having poor NPS scores trigger a task assigned for a CSM to reach out and talk to detractors to try to prevent them from churning. The feedback from your customers can be brought up during the renewal conversation to show them you take their feedback to heart. Bringing up the comments they’ve left you my open up opportunities to show product or service improvement, provide additional training and for upselling or cross-selling. It may also prevent customers who churn from being resentful of your company. If you’ve listened to them and tried to work with them, most customers will appreciate that effort, even if they choose not to renew.

By creating a Salesforce workflow based on the Opportunity or Account object, Wootric customers can trigger an NPS survey in advance of account renewal date.

Get Creative

Wootric integrates with Salesforce to enable you to ask the right questions to get the information you need, at just the right time. Our surveys can be triggered on any object in Salesforce, including Activities. That’s a lot of options.

Your company may have other customer journey points that warrant feedback. You may want to ask a slightly different question than the examples we’ve chosen, depending on your circumstances. You can tailor your Salesforce workflow rules to integrate with Wootric surveys in the way that best serves your needs.

Want to trigger & track CX metrics in Salesforce? Book a demo.

Airport Series: Chicago And Viral Reputation Management

As we continue our ongoing analysis of airport reviews, we come to Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The story of Chicago’s airport is a study in how not to manage your reputation in the face of a viral public relations disaster.

Chicago O’Hare and viral reputation management

On April 9, a video of Dr. David Dao being violently dragged from a United Airlines flight went viral and made national news. Eventually, two municipal aviation officers were fired. United Airlines wasn’t fined, but they did take a major public relations hit. I’ve already written about public reaction from a high-level viewpoint. But when looked at more closely, O’Hare’s proximity to the incident is a study in viral reputation management.

 It’s important to emphasize that I only looked at Facebook reviews for this Semantria analysis. This doesn’t account for YouTube comments or Tweets. Regardless, if you took all of O’Hare’s Facebook reviews that mention Dr. Dao’s removal line by line, and bound them in a paperback book, you’d end up with an 18-page novella of fury. Responses to that one event account for 6% of Chicago O’Hare’s entire Facebook review volume for the past year. And believe me, it’s a passionate 6%.

“I think after watching videos of [people] getting dragged off planes at your airport…I pray you go BANKRUPT!!!” wrote one angry user.

Said another:

“I’m not flying through anywhere that condones its airport police staff assaulting a flyer…. I’ll avoid it completely. I understand you suspended one of these highly trained officers, my question is why haven’t you fired him!”

Figure 1: O’Hare’s overall sentiment breakdown

A full 20% of these comments urge potential customers to eschew O’Hare in favor its chief competitor, Midway. Further still, some social media users recommend routing layovers through an entirely different state. “Use Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee (MKE). No Beatings at Mitchell,” one user wrote, adding that people who wanted to “avoid assaults” should go there. What we see from our analysis is just how far from “engaged” and “contented” O’Hare’s guests are.

Responding with Analytics

By using a natural language processing solution to monitor their social media, Chicago O’Hare might’ve gotten ahead of the public vitriol with a proactive, rapid-response PR blitz. (Incidentally, there’s only one other complaint of equal volume on Chicago O’Hare’s Facebook reviews: WiFi.  O’Hare only offers 30 minutes of free WiFi. As one tourist from Italy put it:

“Only 30 min free wifi! Not enough for USA concept of freedom.”

But instead, they were put on the back foot and forced into taking reactionary measures.

Figure 2: The chasm between Facebook star ratings, represented here by O’Hare ATC Towers, illustrates a fractured opinion of the airport.

In fact, we can see the topic trending through April using Lexalytics’, an InMoment company, web dashboard, Semantria Storage & Visualization. Occurrences of Facebook ratings with 1 star within the data set jump from 11% to 58% in a matter of days. Meanwhile, reviews with a 5 star rating halve from 37% to less than 15% overnight. ORD’s negative social conversation dominates its Facebook feed for months later, with 1 star reviews maintaining a 2:1 ratio over 5 star reviews until August 2018.

Using Semantria Storage & Visualization, it’s easy to observe the negative trend hitting ORD’s brand.

Guilty by brand association

Why is this relevant? Even though Dr. Dao’s removal isn’t Chicago O’Hare’s fault, it still casts a pall over their brand. In the words of the legendary advertising firm Ogilvy, “a brand is guilty by association.” What’s more, the public is not a court, and its judgement is often unequivocal and uncompromising. Addressing this judgement head-on is often the only way to mitigate it.

Considering how the internet played the role of catalyst in this PR crisis, O’Hare might’ve used the opportunity to debut free WiFi in its facilities. They could’ve positioned it as a strategy to empower guest feedback at all times. Connections like this can open up a line of communication between the brand and the customer, potentially easing tensions. In this example, enabling free WiFi speaks to two public concerns at once.

“…O’Hare’s proximity to the incident is a study in viral reputation management.”

Figure 3: 122 comments specifically referenced WiFi. None of the mentions were positive.

Chicago O’Hare needs text analytics

It turns out Chicago O’Hare didn’t take any dramatic steps to curtail public outcry. This could turn out to be a folly that comes back to haunt them. As it stands, airports play in a high-risk space where profit is lean at best. In fact, 70% of airports lose money. As regulations and other burdens pile up, airports like O’Hare need to depend less on aeronautical revenue and more on non-aeronautical revenue, such as retail developments, office developments, and lifestyle developments—like WiFi. However, non-aeronautical revenue is contingent upon engaged and contented customers. What we see from our analysis is just how far from “engaged” and “contented” O’Hare’s guests are.

A whopping 87% of O’Hare’s Facebook reviews from 2017 bear sentiment weight somewhere between negative and neutral. That’s a grim place for any brand. But it’s not a total loss; a simple application of tools like text analytics can solve reputation woes like O’Hare’s affordably and effectively. These are technological solutions that can’t be neglected. When it comes to an asset-intensive business like the modern airport, text analytics is as vital as new terminals, aprons, and runways.

Airport Series: Charlotte and Customer Complaints

More than 40 million people travel through North Carolina’s Charlotte Douglas International Airport each year, and it remains one of the most consistently least-liked airports. Today, we find out why.

Charlotte Douglas should invest in ADA training

An overview of our analysis indicates that this airport in part suffers because of specific airlines and their employees, weather delays, and a few other things they realistically have no control over. Still, there are plenty of areas where the airport could take steps to improve the customer experience. All they have to do is start listening to their customers.

Charlotte Douglas is compliant with guidelines required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, but some of the most vociferous complaints came from people with disabilities or their family. One woman said she and her traveling partner, a disabled veteran, were left “high and dry” at the gate. Another reviewer reveals that her daughter, who suffers from spina bifida, was forced to walk to the parking area and denied access to a “vacant wheelchair” designated for public use.

With text analytics, airport officials could find the commonalities in these complaints and fix them for the future. These reviews suggest that Charlotte Douglas should invest in ADA training for their staff. They also need to better inform their guests about what accessibility options are available. Simpler still, increased signage highlighting the way for guests with disabilities would do much to alleviate some of these complaints.

Racial undertones at Charlotte Douglas

“Enjoyed the small quiet chapel and the piano player. Soothing amidst chaos,” one reviewer wrote. Another cited the rocking chairs and the piano as why Charlotte Douglas was “the most-relaxed airport” she’d ever visited. However, this veneer of southern charm is thin, especially when one considers the history of race relations in the American south.

The airport recently shut down their bathroom attendant program. The restroom tradition was controversial for many reasons, not least of which involved the former Confederate state’s history. Without diving into the socio-political issues at the heart of that debate, text analytics could have shown airport officials that people generally hated the service. A number of customers cited it as their “only complaint” about the airport. Still more comments from customers cited the presence of the attendant as off-putting.

Some didn’t appreciate that the attendants worked for tips, especially since they didn’t want the attendants’ help in the first place.

Others, however, did notice racist undertones to the bathroom attendant program. One reviewer, who advised travelers to avoid Charlotte-Douglas “at all costs,” merely pointed out that the attendants were black men every single time, letting the implication speak for itself. Another reviewer was more direct. “Bathroom attendants are tacky, especially when the bathroom is filthy. Would it not be a better use of time to clean said bathroom rather than perpetuate an antiquated form of southern privileged genteelism?” this person wrote. All of the comments typified a myopic and disconnected management style. Text analytics could have helped identify and eliminate this problem before it became a hot-button issue.

Attitude issues

This leads to what is clearly the biggest problem for Charlotte Douglas: the attitude of its staff and those working for airlines, rental companies, and in other airport fixtures. More than 800 reviews, or four out of every five we looked at, make some mention of customer service or airport staff. Only rarely were these mentions positive.

This is a major problem for any business, but especially for airports. If you look back to our Atlanta analysis, you’ll see that airport staff were often the saving grace for customers. When airline staff were overworked or simply rude, employees of the airport stepped in to assist in customer service. At Charlotte Douglas, this is not the case.

So, even though some airports don’t get a fair shake when it comes to flights being delayed because of weather or other extraneous circumstances, our analysis shows that airport staff could do more to alleviate their guests’ stress and frustration with just a minor shift in their attitude. Increased training for employees and signage aimed at working with guests who have special needs would also ease a pressing issue. Finally, more charming, restful areas like the rocking chairs and piano could take Charlotte from the bottom of everyone’s lists to the top.  

Listen and improve

The people who travel in and out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport every day are desperately telling officials how they can improve their service, in very detailed and colorful ways. By listening to these guests, officials can determine the best solutions to these problems. However, without text analytics, there is no effective way to hear them in the first place.

Airport Series: Atlanta and Wayfinding

So, here’s the thing: few people are happy when they’re in airports. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, packing everything, checking in, and running to make your flight are all experiences that are generally negative. At least, that’s how I feel when sprinting through indistinguishable terminals looking for my connecting flight – and Atlanta International Airport is no exception.

Figure 1: This combination word cloud displays the top themes, entities, and categories along with their overall sentiment for Atlanta International

There are no shortage of listicles and videos online “rating” airports from best to worst. Yet, what does that really mean? Here at InMoment we focus on data and methodology, and Semantria can answer this question by mining Facebook comments, online reviews, and other data from people’s first-hand experiences.

Sentiment analysis for Atlanta International Airport

For example, we processed more than 2,759 Facebook reviews for the Atlanta International Airport, clocking in at 5,000 more words than Pride and Prejudice. That’s a lot of reviews, and it allows for very clear themes to emerge. Airport leadership regularly balances budget between marketing and infrastructure, this is where text analytics comes in. Text analytics allows airport leadership to prioritize projects based on customer experience impact. As we’ll find out, often enhancing customer experience requires little overhead. Addressing feedback directly and communicating progress through legacy channels and social media connects customers to the brand by showing them the airport is listening. The product we used for this project is the web based dashboard, Spotlight.

Feedback for Atlanta: Wayfinding

What was the most frequently occurring feedback for Atlanta? Quite simply, wayfinding.“Wayfinding” refers to the way in which people orient themselves in a space to get from one place to the next. At the Atlanta Airport, customers rely on the Air Train to get from the gates to the baggage claim, which can be literally miles away from the gate. So, without clear signage for the train, guests are compelled to walk this distance. Wayfinding related feedback is so vociferous that in over several hundred reviews guests outright advise fliers to avoid Atlanta International Airport entirely. One season traveler shared feedback the following on the ATL Facebook page recently:

“Back when I was traveling a few hundred thousand air miles a year, I avoided this airport like a third world dirt airstrip. Twenty five years later it still has lousy signage, crazy long distances to walk and takes forever to go from point A to point B to say nothing of the crowds.”

When airport architecture is effective, getting from “point A to point B” should be snappy, despite size or crowds. Jim Harding of Gersham Smith & Partners helped design Atlanta’s International Terminal. He asserts that Hartsfield–Jackson is architected with intuitive design in mind:

“We have a set of visual cues that naturally lead and guide you through a big, open space. And it’s a big part of your journey segment… you have lighting that goes up, and over, and down; you have flooring that pulls you in and through. The two come together and point you to the plane that you see through the glass. So this design is very carefully thought out, making that customer experience easy, natural, fluid, intuitive.”

When contrasted next to the true customer experience, which here is represented as natural language data, we can see there’s a chasm between the architect’s intent and how it’s experienced. This is cause for alarm for the airport company, as a lost customer is less likely to have time to engage with third party vendors, impacting precious non-aeronautical revenue.

“It took entirely too long to get to my next gate. There was a mile walk without the train…. With knee problems, pain wasn’t suppose[d] to be a part of my plane ride,” one guest wrote.

Figure 2: Wayfinding over time. This represents volume and sentiment over time for a segment of the data set

Using sentiment analysis we can understand that spaces are too large and confusing. Jim Harding and his team no doubt delivered an admirable design. However, customers still find the spaces at Atlanta cavernous and unstructured enough to be overwhelming. Signage must increase throughout the facility. Customers complain of the less than intuitive design outside as well. Says one reviewer:

“Worst uber/Lyft pickup process ever and terrible signage. I walked alone in a parking lot for an hour before I found it.”

Another, this time a local, confronts one of the airport company’s richest sources of non-aeronautical revenue, parking:

“I’ve been living in Atlanta for 2yrs now. It is a bit confusing. The parking is horrific! Not enough signs for direction and the plane train was definitely anxiety because I didn’t know where the heck it was taking me.”

Saving grace: airport staff

Atlanta International Airport Theme Volume Versus NPS
Figure 3: Overall Theme Sentiment for the Atlanta Facebook dataset, compared against NPS scores pulled from Facebook’s star rating system

Yet, our analysis also revealed that airport staff can be the saving grace for unhappy customers. One guest pointed out that Delta airline staff were both rude and unhelpful. However, that guest was ultimately helped by an airport maintenance worker to, you guessed it, help find the way to the baggage claim. Another airport employee took a struggling guest to the baggage claim in a wheelchair. Yet another guest described how an airport employee named Timothy not only helped her to the baggage claim, but assisted her in securing a rental car after that company’s employees were “no help.”

Perhaps best of all is an an airport employee who brightens peoples’ spirits while they wait for the bags. As one guest wrote, “I’ve been through this Airport several times. No complaints. I must say I like the man downstairs by baggage claim. Always a song, story and always wanting to give information.” The person-to-person connections travelers make with these employees colors the entire narrative of their experience with the airline and the airport itself.

How Atlanta should act

These are details that stakeholders wouldn’t get from a star-rating or the possibly anecdotal experience of a journalist or reviewer. By simply improving signage and other wayfinding techniques, Atlanta can alleviate myriad pain points on the customer side. On the enterprise side, airport officials can effectively communicate expectations and feedback with their airline tenants, such as Delta and their unhelpful staff. This can build trust between stakeholders and the airlines, and improve the experience for everyone.

All this, just from listening to the customers in a way that allows airports to really hear what they are saying. And best of all? I ran this analysis with no extra tuning in just a couple of minutes, using our Semantria for Excel add-in.

Do more with sentiment analysis

Little experiments like these are some of the fun things we can do with our sentiment analysis tools. Of course, we don’t want to hog all of the fun for ourselves. If you have questions of your own, turn to our website and resources collection. You can plumb the depths of modern text analytics for answers to all sorts of questions, even crazy ones you come up with in the shower. And be sure to get in touch with any specific queries you have!

Until then, check out our next analysis of Charlotte Douglas International

Who Should Own Renewal? Customer Success Experts Share the Pros & Cons of 3 Different Models

A year has gone by, and it’s time for SaaS subscription renewal. Who reaches out to close the renewal, the Account Executive, CSM or Account Manager?

In two words, it depends. In five words, it depends and will change.

In order to ensure your company’s growth and reputation, you need a harmonious ecosystem of teams with proper compensation and incentives to fit the size and nature of your company. Upsells and renewals come as a natural result of successful adoption. Making sure your CSMs can perform optimally results in an easier job for whoever you chose to own the “commercial” aspects of the customer relationship.

During August’s Customer Success Meetup in San Francisco, Dave Blake, founder and CEO of ClientSuccess, Angeline Felix, Customer Success Manager at New Relic, and Sylvia Kuyel, Customer Success Strategic & International Lead at Cloudflare, discussed the different facets of three ownership models at their own organizations and from previous experience. Most SaaS companies will fall under one of three models: the account executive owning the renewal, the CSM owning the renewal, or an account manager owning the renewal, and all three have their perks and problems.

Model 1: The Account Executive/ Sales owns the expansion and renewal

The first model they discussed was the model where the account executive owns the renewal and all the “commercial” parts of the client relationship. Dave Blake, who has seen all three models, says that organizations where the renewal process is complex, or where you’re dealing with large accounts with labor and resource intense negotiations would do best under this model. The key to making this model work is fostering a strong, collaborative relationship between the AE and the CSM. He has seen teams fall into the trap of the AE treating the CSM like a secretary or administrator, which creates resentment and does not add any value for the organization’s customers.

A problem that can happen within this model is that AEs, in their sales mindsets, can start neglecting their current client base in order to pursue the next potential customer. At New Relic, Angeline Felix has a system where if a customer downgrades, a “spot-back” is on their record, meaning AEs “get dinged…it’s in their best interest to stay engaged, continuing the relationship through the entire customer life cycle, and through the adoption phase.”

In Sylvia Kuyel’s experience at Cloudflare, “in our early stages we were one bundled product, which means there’s not a lot of upsell. AEs will naturally be interested in large accounts because they see one business unit and then they want the ins to the additional ones.”

You can also run into the opposite problem, where AEs have an easier job expanding in their existing customer base, focus too much on them, and stop going after new logos, which is what happened at ClientSuccess. They fixed this by changing the comp plan for the AEs to push them to hunt new logos.

Model 2: The Customer Success Manager owns expansion and renewal

Discussion then led to the second model, where the CSM owns all of the relationship, including expansion and renewal. Dave Blake has been seeing this model across the industry more and more and this is the model that Cloudflare follows. Coming from a venture capitalist background, Sylvia knows that when valuing a company, people look at how risky their recurring revenue is and the heavy influence customer success has on this. She emphasized that the main reason this works for Cloudflare is that all their customers are on auto-renew contracts with a 60-day notice period.

“ The key to success here is fairly straightforward renewals that aren’t high maintenance, and the experience and maturity of your CS team. Some teams don’t have the negotiating experience or want that pressure.” Dave Blake, founder and CEO of ClientSuccess

Even though this is the majority of their customers, she says that when dealing with large accounts with long complex initial negotiations, it makes sense to bring in the AE because they have all the contacts, and they negotiate every day. They have a long standing relationship with the AE, even though renewal is truly a customer success number.

“As long as you’ve done a good job of driving the adoption along the way, the renewal itself is not a negotiation process.” Sylvia Kuyel, Customer Success Strategic & International Lead at Cloudflare

All three CSMs in the latest panel for the Customer Success Meetup felt strong ownership over expansion and renewal. According to Erica Pearson from Periscope Data, “ I own it all; it is my relationship with the client. I am their partner.” Their job is to get their clients value, with renewal being part of the CSM’s reward for doing the job right. Cloudflare recognizes the heavy workload that is involved when CSMs own everything. They set a global CS team goal that contributes to their comp but it is not individual. They do not want CSMs getting possessive over their accounts, and this encourages them to help each other out when one CSM has a particularly heavy day or week.

Many are hesitant to have CSMs own expansion and renewal because they fear that CSMs will lose the “trusted adviser” role, but Dave, Angeline and Sylvia all disagree with this based on experience. Customers tend to prefer having the trusted adviser to talk to about the commercial aspects, rather than bringing in a sales rep. They want someone who knows their business and if the commercial interactions are done right, CSMs can actually gain more trust as an adviser.

Model 3: A separate sales team of Account Managers own expansion and renewal

This last model brings in a third party into the organization’s ecosystem, a dedicated team of Account Managers who specialize in expansion and renewal. There is an undeniable benefit of specialization that comes with this model, letting AEs focus on new logos and CSMs focus on adoption. However, none of the experts at August’s Meetup were keen on this model, even having seen other companies successfully use it.  Dave and Angeline found that customers are overwhelmed, having so many introductions and relationships to maintain. Sylvia suggested that if there is noticeable tension between the trusted adviser role and the commercial duties, then this is the model for you. It’s important to clearly delineate the duties among these three roles, with appropriate comp and incentives to drive the individuals in these roles.

Lana Pucket, a CSM at WalkMe gave insight into her experience with this model and relationship during the most recent Customer Success Meetup, saying that she executes the entire lead up to the renewal, but the AM comes in to handle the renewal contract. She noted that 20% of her salary is based on renewals, tying her salary to a number that she does not own according to the roles within her organization.

Having previously managed an AM team, Angeline says this model worked at that unnamed company, but you have to think about the type of person you are hiring for each role. The AM needs a balance between the CSM mindset of customer care and the AE mindset of making the sale. To learn more about the traits you should look for in a CSM, check out this article.

Tailoring it for you

Depending on the product you’re selling, the maturity of your organization, and the size of your customers, you may need to switch from one ownership model to another. Through this transition, remember to define the roles clearly to your customers, aligning to their needs. All of this will result in high expansion and successful renewals.

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

Analyzing Airport Reviews Using Natural Language Processing

We used cutting-edge natural language processing (NLP) and sentiment analysis software to analyze thousands of airport reviews. By combining qualitative and quantitative data, our analyses reveal what travelers are talking about, how they feel, and why they feel that way. 

Read them all: using NLP to analyze airport reviews

  1. Atlanta International has a big problem with “wayfinding”
  2. Charlotte Douglas can profit big by listening to their customers
  3. Chicago O’Hare needs to learn about viral reputation management
  4. Dallas/Fort Worth has a dirty secret
  5. Denver International may be a secret haven for the Illuminati
  6. New York’s JFK has to plan for the future
  7. Las Vegas McCarran doesn’t shy away from your vices
  8. San Francisco can teach us about listening to customers
  9. Seattle-Tacoma has a vocal customer named Jerry
  10. Los Angeles needs to master the “final mile”
  11. Summary: The Definitive Data-Driven Airport Ranking List

Why are we doing this?

Each year, the Lexalytics, an InMoment company, marketing team sets some time aside for an offsite meet-up. This time, fresh off of some awful layovers and baggage nightmares, we got to talking about airports and the experience of traveling.

Some questions arose:

Which airports should we fly through next time? Where should we avoid?

It didn’t take long to find dozens of listicles, news articles, interest pieces, and blogs. Each one claimed to be the “definitive guide” to American airports. But then we realized that none of them agreed with each other.

Who should we trust? We couldn’t even agree on that.

Clearly, we weren’t going to find a definitive list on American airports by Googling. So, why not make it ourselves?

We already had the perfect data analytics tool at our disposal powered by text analytics and machine learning with intuitive dashboards that helped us quickly cut through the noise to gain rich, interesting insights. 

869,973 words, 30,000 travelers, 10 airports

Of course, our first step was to gather a data set.

In total, we analyzed 869,973 words from Facebook reviews left by more than 30,000 real travelers at America’s top 10 busiest airports. This 10-part blog series details our findings for each airport.

(Shoutout to Gensler, the airport architecture and planning firm, our strategic partner for this project.)

Sentiment-colored word cloud generated from Atlanta airport reviews
Remember, these dashboards don’t represent the opinions of journalists or travel bloggers. Instead, they showcase actual insights gleaned from over 30,000 real travelers. 

Real feedback from real people who use these facilities every day, written in their words.

This is data-driven voice of customer in action. The result? Deeper insights and much more nuance than a simple star rating or NPS survey.

What’s more, in this series we take you behind the scenes. We show you the steps involved in analyzing these airport reviews, and how each airport in question can use these insights to create better traveler experiences, reduce costs, and increase revenue.

First insights after analyzing airport reviews

Right off the bat, our new airport review analytics project delivered some very interesting insights.

For example, going into this project we noticed that San Francisco International rarely makes it into airport quality listicles.

But when we analyzed Facebook reviews in Semantria Storage and Visualization, we found that many travelers praise SFO as one of the finest airports in America.

Sentiment surrounding SFO wayfinding trends positive over time

Why does the travel industry ignore San Francisco’s airport when it’s so well-reviewed by customers?

Read our analysis of SFO Facebook reviews to find out.

Using industry packs for instant configuration

One more cool side-note before we get started.

At first, every analysis we conducted told us that “security” rated positively. This came as a surprise: getting through security at the airport is not exactly a low-stress endeavor.

But after activating Lexalytics’ airline industry pack configuration, security went from bright green to dark red. That is, the sentiment weight dropped from a net positive to a net negative.

The airline industry pack allows me to see the conversation within the unique context of the airline industry. Enabling this industry configuration was as easy as selecting the expiration date for a credit card. I selected it from a drop-down menu, and that was it. 

Airport series: using NLP to analyze airport reviews

This series goes alphabetically, airport by airport, to unleash the collective voice of America’s airport customers. 

First up in our series is the busiest airport in the world: Atlanta International Airport, which has a big problem with “wayfinding”.

  1. Atlanta International has a big problem with “wayfinding”
  2. Charlotte Douglas can profit big by listening to their customers
  3. Chicago O’Hare needs to learn about viral reputation management
  4. Dallas/Fort Worth has a dirty secret
  5. Denver International may be a secret haven for the Illuminati
  6. New York’s JFK has to plan for the future
  7. Las Vegas McCarran doesn’t shy away from your vices
  8. San Francisco can teach us about listening to customers
  9. Seattle-Tacoma has a vocal customer named Jerry
  10. Los Angeles needs to master the “final mile”
  11. Summary: The Definitive Data-Driven Airport Ranking List

How SaaS Companies Hire & Scale Customer Success: Perspectives from Leaders at JobScience & brightwheel

Great news! Your company is growing fast.

If you are responsible for scaling the Customer Success team though, it can be daunting. You need more CSMs to support all of the new customers your Sales team is bringing in the door.

How do you recruit? Who do you hire? How can you ensure new hires succeed? What are some of the hiring pitfalls to avoid?

At the latest Customer Success Meetup in San Francisco, moderator Emilie Davis of Periscope Data asked Sabine Gillert, VP of Customer Success Operations at Jobscience, and Eddie Nguyen, VP of Customer Success at brightwheel, to share their customer success hiring expertise, and attendees were not disappointed.

Sabine and Eddie have entirely different backgrounds giving exciting, diverse perspectives as they answered questions. Eddie has a strong history of working with early-stage startups and helping them grow from a few team members to hundreds, while Sabine works with a leading SaaS business in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Traits you should look for in Customer Success candidates

The first question asked was: What are the universal traits for customer success managers to be successful in the role? This is the question most of us need to have answered as we are searching for the right person for our team. 

To start Eddie laid out four qualities he looks for, keep in mind this is for early-stage startups hiring for customer success:

Grit: The hire has to be willing to work hard as it’s sometimes necessary for a startup role.

Empathy: Both internally and externally. It makes sense that empathy is needed for customers and clients, but the internal part is an interesting tidbit to consider. No doubt there will be issues that developers, sales, or even marketing has mistakenly caused, and it won’t help to blame them, it’s much better to acknowledge a mistake, help the client, and move forward.

Learning Mindset: Managers have to be interested and willing to continue learning, especially at an early stage company, as there will continuously be changes and they will need to learn steadily.

Leadership: Sometimes customers need to be led through their issue. Other times they may expect or want too much from the company and that will need to be conveyed. There will also be times when a CSMs will need to internally advocate for a customer to management, sales, and/or marketing.

Sabine added additional skills that are important for customer success:

Listening Skills: Customers can sometimes bring their frustrations to the conversation. The manager will need to listen, identify the core problem(s) and propose solutions that will help on all levels.

Curiosity: Just as Eddie mentioned Learning, curiosity is a necessity. Managers will need to investigate issues, ask why things are the way they are, and possibly propose solutions. Customers don’t usually know what they don’t know, and further, they won’t usually give a lot of details, so the manager will have to go the extra mile in some cases.  

When pressed for attributes for building your team out and hiring to improve the team you have, our two experts suggested:

Attitude: Someone that has a great energy, that can be happy about handling issues that require going the extra mile.

Process & Data-Orientation: You’ll need someone on the team that can dig into data and find opportunities while also being specific about following procedure and sticking to policy.

How do you hire for Customer Success? 

Hiring should start long before an ad is placed. Either the company desperately needs a hire (and should have started the process weeks ago, which is standard) or they are looking ahead and know that will need to have people available as new accounts come online.

With that in mind we wanted to know how the experts handle hiring, what approach do they take?

Sabine and Eddie had very similar answers to this question. Sabine suggests knowing who you would like to hire ahead of time, and approaching them before you need them.

Eddie also starts the process before hires are needed. He begins with leveraging the people at his company for intros on Linkedin. He also throws recruiting parties to get to know prospective team members.

Like a sales process, he plants seeds, so he has someone ready when they are needed. This keeps the pipeline full and hiring easier to manage than posting an ad and hoping the right person comes along.

At the other end of hiring is firing. Sometimes we hire the wrong person for a fit on our teams, and Eddie and Sabine seem to have experience here as well. Both experts suggest breaking ties with the employee as quickly as possible; it’s never good to prolong it or start looking for other opportunities for them. Sabine further suggested that every employee has a 90 day probation period and this helps with identifying poor fits.

What is Customer Success?

This was an intriguing question to ask as it would often seem like a simple answer.  You might just jump to the conclusion that every company’s CS team would be there to help customers be successful. But, both experts had unique perspectives to share.

Sabine started with a quick question: “What does it mean to your organization?” She followed up with “What do you want customers to achieve?” and added that at her company customer success also means protecting revenue and staying focused on what you have to do to do that.

Again, Eddie had an altogether different answer from his early stage startup experience. “Customer success represents brand and voice. It’s about supporting customers, harnessing the knowledge you gain and teaching the rest of the organization. It evolves being an innovator for customers and making sure everyone gets an amazing experience.”

Two strategies for training CSMs

Once you have new employees on board, it’s time to train them for customer success within your organization. Depending on how you handle management, you’ll probably have your own way of dealing with training new hires. Sabine offers extensive training programs where hires do not talk to clients until they are confident and have gone through time being shadowed by someone with experience.

Eddie’s approach was entirely different; he puts customer success managers on the phone with clients on Day 1 to expose them to the environment and help them learn what they’ll be handling. He likes to present an environment where it’s OK to make a mistake, and the manager doesn’t have to be afraid they’ll be fired for messing up. Even in these cases, answers to support issues are usually approved by another team member before going back to the customer, so there is a failsafe in effect.

How do you retain Customer Success talent?

It’s no good getting new employees on board if you can’t keep them happy and with the company, so we wanted to see what Sabine and Eddie thought about retaining talent.

Both suggest understanding and getting to know the person and what is going on in their life. Sabine likes to give them space and flexibility to handle issues so they can give it their all at work. She says it’s best to understand they are people and that it isn’t all about salary.

Eddie added that you want to first hire who is right for the company, and find out how committed they are regarding staying with the company — what are their goals? can you help them succeed? Then understand their currency, some people are motivated by money, some want recognition, others want more trust to work on tougher projects. Find out what they like so you can give it when they perform well.

Additionally, Eddie suggested that when you ask for feedback, you should take steps to appreciate the input, and take action to make changes needed. No one will leave feedback if it isn’t acted upon.

Interesting Hiring Lessons

One of our last questions for Sabine and Eddie was about their most significant learning experiences in hiring. We all have them!

Sabine had a particularly useful one about working with mentorship/ apprentice programs. Her company took on five college students in 2016, and they thought it would be just like any hire.

They quickly realized these hires required more time, management and investment because it is so early in their careers. You have to make sure they are supervised. Recognize the investment these programs require because you’ll want to do everything you can to make them successful.

Eddie summarized his lessons by saying that up until 100 people, you do unscalable things to grow, you want effectiveness. Then you’ll start to hire for efficiency, you’ll keep giving managers customers until you hit a ceiling, and that ceiling is different for every business, but you won’t know what yours is until you get there.

In the world of Customer Success, many things are new and changing, so it’s helpful to hear from others that have been in the field for years and can share their experiences. It is clear from the approaches that Sabine and Eddie shared that different strategies can be equally successful. CS leaders who are growing there Customer Success teams must  determine what practices make the most sense for their SaaS company. Good luck to all!

Each monthly meet-up gathering in San Francisco is packed with Customer Success Managers from SaaS (Software as Service) companies who want to learn the latest insights from experienced Customer Success leaders. If you don’t live in the SF Bay Area, you can still benefit from the expertise shared at these monthly meetups.  Whenever possible, the organizers post a video of the event on their meetup page courtesy of The September meetup was hosted by Cloudflare

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