Advice on Adding a Reward Component to Your CX Program

Recently more and more of our clients are considering adding a significant reward component to their customer experience (CX) programs. This may take place by directly rewarding CX outcomes, or by adding them to an existing reward-based incentive program. Many automotive manufacturers have been using CX outcomes in their reward-based incentive programs for decades.

The insights provided below are based on our experience running the CX component of many of those programs. There’s a lot to think about if you are considering combining reward or compensation components with your CX program.

Your program will come under much more scrutiny and participants will care much more about it. Participants, especially those who do not achieve the reward, may also
challenge your program. This is why the process of setting, communicating, and enforcing program rules (i.e., program governance) becomes very important.

For the purposes of clarity, in the descriptions below we are going to use a typical example of a customer experience program that is run by a company to obtain feedback about experiences across its retailers (i.e., the reward program participants). However, when we refer to “retailers,” they could be any customer-facing program participants like franchise locations, bank branch managers, insurance agents, hotel managers, etc.

Consider What You Want to Accomplish

Adding a successful reward component to a program involves making many decisions about how to structure your program, that will ultimately determine its success. Before you begin making these decisions, it is important to clearly articulate (ideally in writing) what you hope to accomplish. For example:

  • What kinds of behaviors are you trying to change, and in whom?
  • Are you looking to reward people whose feedback indicates they are doing an exceptional job?
  • Are you hoping to nudge low-performing retailers to begin focusing more on customer experience?
  • Do you just want to incentivize people to keep doing what they’re doing?

Most programs we’ve encountered are set up to award the majority of retailers, both for marketing and retailer improvement purposes. However, due to budgets, there is a trade-off between the number of retailers you can reward and the size of the rewards you can give.

This is just one example of why it’s important to have alignment on the purpose of your program up front, so that the goals you set, metrics you collect, rewards you give, etc. can be strategically chosen to bring about the specific impact you want.

Qualification Criteria

Once you know what you want to accomplish with your program, you’ll want to decide what criteria need to be met for a retailer to qualify for consideration for the reward. There several factors that should be considered:

Pre-qualifiers: Some programs set criteria for a retailer to be eligible for reward consideration, no matter what their score. These criteria may be financial-based (e.g., minimum sales) or CX program-based.

For instance, if the retailers in the program are the source of the customer contact information, the percentage of provided sample with valid email addresses (i.e., data cleanliness) and/or the overall percentage of customers with valid email addresses (i.e., data coverage) are often used as pre-qualification criteria.

This encourages retailers to collect and report email contact information to be used for surveying purposes. Other pre-qualifiers can include retailers having completed training and other activities that contribute to the delivery of exceptional customer experiences.

Number of Returns: You will need a reliable and valid measure of customer experience upon which to base your rewards. To have enough surveys responses to produce a valid score, the general rule is 1000 is great, 100 is good, 30 is acceptable, and anything below that is questionable.

However, even when using 30 as the minimum responses needed, problems often occur because each retail unit needs to have that number of returns in the time period being measured. For context, many of our programs that receive over a million responses per year have difficulty meeting the 30 minimum responses at the retailer level because those responses are unevenly spread across thousands of retailers.

So, what do you do?

You need to look at the distribution of responses across your retailers and pick the highest number of returns that won’t exclude too many retailers due to low sample size. This analysis will also help you decide what time frame is needed to gather enough returns at the retailer level. Meaning, you might not have enough returns to support a program that gives quarterly rewards, but you may be able to give rewards semi-annually or annually.

Goals and Cut Off Scores

When implementing a reward program, you’ll need a goal or cut-off score that determines who earns the reward and who does not. These goal scores have many characteristics you need to consider.

SMART Goals: First of all, your goals should follow the SMART guidelines. In other words, your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. Describing the details of SMART goals is too large of a topic to address here, but that information can easily be found online.

A Single-Item Measure vs. an Index: You also need to decide if your goal is going to be determined by a single customer experience measure (e.g., Net Promoter Score, Overall Satisfaction with the Transaction) or an index that combines measures.

An index of key performance indicators (KPIs) is usually preferred because it is more statistically reliable, and you can focus your employees on achieving various KPIs. The KPIs making up the index can also be weighted to account for their relative importance in determining the customer experience.

We recommend that an index contains no more than three or four measures because people and businesses can only focus on a few things at a time.

A Universal Goal vs. Different Goals: Another important decision is if you will use a universal goal for everyone in the program or if you will have different goals for different groups of participants. While a universal goal is easiest to administer, in many cases it is not the best choice.

Because CX performance can vary greatly by geography, most reward-based CX programs set different goals for different countries, and many set different goals by region within countries to ensure fairness.

A Single All-or-Nothing Goal vs. Tiered Goals: One problem with setting a single all-or-nothing goal is that the goal may not be motivating for program participants who are so far away from the goal that they have virtually no chance of obtaining it. Therefore, you might consider adding a smaller reward solely based on improvement or provide rewards based on level of goal attainment (e.g., at 80%, 90%, 100% and 110%).

Another problem with having one all-or-nothing goal is that, when the value of the reward is significant, it can lead to undesirable behaviors when retailers are unable to achieve the goal by honest means. In these cases, retailers may resort to survey manipulation or other gaming behaviors to obtain the all-or-nothing reward.

A tiered structure with different attainment levels and corresponding reward values can help prevent this.

Absolute Goals vs. Relative Goals: Absolute goals are goals that are set before the beginning of the reward period. Relative goals are usually goals that are finalized at the end of the reward period and are based on all retailers’ performance during that time period. Common relative goals are the national average, or the score associated with the top “X” percent of retailers for the reward period.

In general, we recommend use of absolute goals because relative goals cause retailers to “shoot at a moving target.” This can lead to confusion and frustration, reducing program engagement.

While absolute goals are preferred, that does not mean they can’t be set using relative comparisons. Many programs set their absolute goals by using the national average or score associated with top tier dealers from the previous reward period.

Goal Level: How high you set the bar has important implications for people’s effort, and for the success of the program. Ideally, each individual or retailer will have a goal that is “just reachable” – a goal that is high enough so as to stretch them to perform to the best of their ability, but not beyond their reach in which case they may give up and disengage from the program.

Characteristics of the Reward

There are several aspects of the reward itself that you need to consider:

Type of Reward: The most common decision here is whether you are going to offer cash or non-monetary rewards like merchandise or travel experiences. While cash is often used, it may not be the best choice for a number of reasons.

First, it is important that the reward is a “bonus” to the participants, not something that they need to achieve to maintain their business or livelihood. While most people will say they would prefer cash, it can easily become absorbed into one’s personal budget and spent on necessities, thus becoming a need.

When this occurs, it is much more difficult to discontinue a cash-based rewards program because participants are relying on it for their livelihood.

Non-monetary rewards, on the other hand, are perceived as distinctly different from cash and usually deliver greater motivational and emotional value because they represent the opportunity to treat oneself or others with luxury items that might be difficult to justify if purchased. Also, non-monetary rewards usually have trophy or social value whereas cash does not.

Most program participants would be reluctant to tell friends they received a $5000 cash reward, and many would not remember how they spent that reward money a couple of years later. However, tangible items like merchandise and travel experiences provide lasting memories of being rewarded that are socially acceptable to talk about with others or post on social media. This extends the emotional arc of the reward, making it more meaningful and valuable to the recipient.

Amount of the Reward: Obviously, the amount of the reward will depend on your budget and how many winners you anticipate. Rewards need to be valuable enough to be motivating or people will either fail to engage or consider them unfair in exchange for their time and effort. Conversely, the rewards should not be so large that the need to win them triggers undesirable behavior or resentment if they are discontinued.

Timing of the Reward: You also need to determine the time period in which the rewards will be earned. Most reward programs we have seen provide rewards either quarterly or annually. It is particularly important that you set the time period long enough so the vast majority of participants will reach the minimum survey returns criterion.

For those who cannot meet the criteria in that time frame, you may want to find a fair alternative solution so they will not feel devalued.

Program Administration

Program administration is one of the things that will change most if you add a significant reward omponent to your CX program because there will be more scrutiny of scores and more “score chasing”.

Survey Appeals Process: Most CX programs with significant rewards have some sort of survey appeals process, either a formal set of rules or a “one-off” decision making process. For consistency and fairness, a formal set of rules is preferred. Generally, survey appeals should be granted only in cases where egregious survey errors have occurred.  Sending the survey to the wrong customer or having the customer rate the wrong retailer or transaction would qualify as egregious errors.

The remedy for successful appeals should be to remove the surveys in goal score calculation rather than giving “full credit.” Many CX programs set a limit to the number of appeals a retailer can make to prevent appeals from getting out of hand.

“Mulligans:” In golf, a “mulligan” is a free do-over without a penalty stroke. In the CX world some programs allow “mulligans” by dropping retailers’ bottom one to five percent of surveys in a given time period. This is done to hopefully minimize the survey appeals process and to address the common complaint that, “you can’t satisfy everyone.”

Generally, allowing “mulligans” is not a good idea for a number of reasons:

  • It often does not minimize the appeals process. Retailers still challenge surveys in the hopes they won’t count toward their mulligans.
  • Most programs set goals based on national/regional performance across units. For something to truly be a “mulligan”, goal scores need to be set without removing mulligans, but retailer scores need to be calculated while removing mulligans. Otherwise, you are just “raising the bar” by removing mulligans. While necessary, this process can cause unnecessary confusion to the understanding of program rules and thus less participant engagement.
  • All retailers have to deal with unreasonable customers. That’s part of the job and the effects of having difficult to satisfy customers should “wash out” over retailers.

Establish Rules for Survey-Related Behavior: The key to having a CX component in a rewards program is to ensure that the survey responses are in sync with the actual experience and that participants aren’t asking for a rating inconsistent with actual performance.

Unfortunately, when there is a significant reward on the line, many retailers talk to customers about filling out the survey and encourage them to “give me a good grade.” Therefore, you need to set and clearly communicate rules for what behaviors are allowed and not allowed.

Some programs prohibit retailers from even mentioning the survey to the customer. Others allow retailers to inform the customer that a survey will be coming and ask the customer to please fill it out, but that is all they can say. Things that are typically not allowed include: Telling customers they are “graded” on the survey, showing customers a survey with all top-box responses checked, telling customers their pay depends on survey results, and providing incentives for good survey scores.

Program Adherence Monitoring: Most companies that have significant rewards based on their CX programs have processes in place to detect if retailers are attempting to manipulate the results. There are several markers that could indicate manipulation: duplicate customer contact information (e.g., email addresses), retailer domains in the email address, unusually low percentages of valid email addresses, unusually low or high response rates, unusually high number of multiple responses from the same IP address, and multiple responses from the same computer or smartphone.

A best practice in this area is to keep the specific survey manipulation detection methods unpublished to make it difficult for participants to figure out work arounds. However, the general fact that survey returns are being assessed for manipulation should be publicized. Retailers are less likely to try to game the system if they know their company is monitoring results for cheating.

Establish and Communicate Consequences of Cheating: This is where many programs fall short because cheating is implicitly allowed through the lack of consequences for getting caught. If cheating is allowed, many people will not go to the effort to do the behaviors your program is designed to incentivize.

It can also undermine a program by creating a sense of unfairness for the participants who try to earn their rewards honestly. Programs that do enforce cheating rules usually use an escalation approach where the retailer first receives a warning and is given time to rectify the situation. If infractions continue, the penalties usually grow in severity.

Publish a Program Manual: As you can see, you’ll have to establish many program rules and these rules will need to be clearly communicated to the program participants. Many program managers do this by publishing an annual program manual that describes both the rewards and the rules.

Final Points

The primary point we hope you take away from reading this paper is that combining a significant reward program with your CX program is a very big decision that needs to be considered carefully. It is a decision that is usually very difficult to reverse.

Once you start giving rewards based on customer experience, if you decide not to continue to do so in the future, your retailers will likely interpret that decision as, “the company doesn’t prioritize customer experience anymore.” As a result, your customers’ experiences will probably suffer.

Finally, if you add a rewards component to your CX program, your program will likely become much more complicated. Many decisions will need to be made about such things as the ultimate goals of the program, the criteria for inclusion, and how success will be measured and rewarded. You will also need to implement many new rules and procedures to oversee the program.

Overall, a well-designed and well-executed reward program can have a meaningful impact on the loyalty and behavior of your stakeholders.

Financial Services Disclosure Compliance Monitoring

Financial services firms around the world face strict regulations around disclosure compliance and monitoring. For example, the Australian government mandates that financial Statements of Advice (SoAs) include disclosures covering conflicts of interest, own-product recommendations and more. Each disclosure, in turn, may contain a dozen or more sub-components. This adds up to a major burden for the service provider. On average, globally, financial firms dedicate 10-15% of their workforces and spend a combined $270 billion on regulatory compliance annually. New Regulatory Technology solutions can help financial services firms lower the costs associated with disclosure compliance monitoring and reduce their non-compliance risk. Here’s how.

The Costs of Non-Compliance are Huge and Growing

The cost of compliance failure is huge and growing. McKinsey found a 45x increase in regulatory fines and settlements over 5 years. GlobalScape estimates that non-compliance can cost a firm up to $39.22 million in lost revenue, business disruption, productivity loss and penalties. And the Institute of International Financial says compliance can cost a firm over $1 billion per year.

Chart showing the costs of Financial disclosure non-compliance
From Lexalytics’, an InMoment company,AI for Regulatory Compliance white paper

Meanwhile, a 2016 BBVA Research report found that financial services firms are dedicating around 10-15% of total workforce just to governance, risk management and compliance – that number has almost certainly gone up in the intervening years. In the very next sentence, the same report identified “compliance costs” and “reliance on manual processes in data management” as two of the top issues facing financial institutions.

Financial Document Templates Are Great for Disclosure Compliance, But You Have to Go Further

Faced with strict disclosure mandates, many financial firms build libraries of document templates. Each template is “pre-loaded” with all of the proper disclosures and legal language. Each advisor or broker then modifies the appropriate template, such as a Statement of Advice, on a client-by-client basis. As far as reducing non-compliance risk, this strategy is certainly a good start. But it’s not enough on its own.

The problem is that an average-size financial services firm may produce thousands of pages of client-facing documents every week. In the process, important disclosures may be accidentally modified or removed entirely. What’s more, the sheer volume of data and information in each document may obscure problematic or even predatory advice.

Many firms rely on spot-checks and keyword searches to confirm disclosure compliance and ensure that their advisors are working in each client’s best interests. But this process is slow, costly and unreliable.

Consider this: Looking for individual keywords may return hundreds of irrelevant matches littered through a document. Searching for whole phrases may miss where a disclosure has been truncated or deleted. And how can you use keywords to search for bad advice?

Document templates are a start. But you have to go further.

This is where Regulatory Technology (RegTech) comes into play.

Quick Context: What is Regulatory Technology? and Why Do Many “AI for Regulatory Compliance” Tools Fall Short?

Regulatory Technology (RegTech) is a category of systems that help companies comply with government regulations. For example, solutions like NetGuardians help companies with identifying, tracking and managing fraud incidents.

The RegTech market is hot. Between 2012 and 2017, RegTech companies raised $2.3 billion in funding, according to CBInsights. And ComplyAdvantage reports that the automation of due diligence is at the forefront of the RegTech revolution. But they caution that custom-fitting is key. Indeed, our own research supports the idea that one-size-fits-all RegTech solutions are, by their nature, more likely to fail.

The truth is, traditional data analytics tools often can’t handle legal, financial and and medical documents. In short, many RegTech tools don’t have the technology they need to parse the structure and content of regulatory documents. As a result, disclosure compliance systems may leave behind valuable data or overlook important context. (More info in this client story)

Story Time: A Financial Disclosure Compliance Monitoring Solution That Empowers, Not Replaces, Human Auditors

An Australian financial services company came to Lexalytics for help reducing the time they spent auditing hundreds of pages of Statements of Advice (SoAs). Regular contract analysis tools couldn’t be customized to do exactly what they wanted. And costly failures of other large-scale AI systems had made them wary of entrusting millions to one of the Big Tech companies.

So, rather than building a high-cost, high-risk “AI for disclosure compliance,” Lexalytics focused on improving the Australian firm’s existing process.

Chart showing technologies used in Lexalytics' financial services disclosure compliance solution
Lexalytics combined several technologies to build a bespoke financial services disclosure compliance solution

First, we trained our semi-structured data parser to understand the underlying structure of Statement of Advice documents. This included teaching the parser how to identify where sections begin and end, such as Scope of Advice and Duty of Disclosure portions.

Then, we built a custom natural language processing configuration to extract and analyze entities and other text elements. In an SoA, important entities are things like recipients, needs, goals, product recommendations, risk attitude and the actual disclosure statements.

Finally, we built a connector to structure and export the resulting data into a simple spreadsheet. (Then, based on user feedback, we made a few tweaks to how the data is organized and displayed.)

Using this system, the firm’s auditors can see at a glance whether proper disclosures were made across hundreds of SoA documents, and even where an advisor’s recommendations may go against their client’s stated goals and risk attitude. This substantially lowers their time spent on SoA review, reduces their non-compliance risk, and helps them demonstrate disclosure compliance whenever needed.

"Illustrated

(See this other white paper for more on the process we followed for building this “semi-custom” regulatory compliance application.)

How to Build a Better Regulatory Compliance Solution

Regulatory compliance as a field varies by industry, by country, and even by company. This means that every compliance challenge is unique to some degree.

What’s more, the nature of the documents involved in regulatory compliance means that to build an “AI for regulatory compliance,” you need more than just AI. In fact, you need a combination of semi-structured data parsing, natural language processing, and machine learning. (More on why that is in this paper.)

Of course, not every RegTech system will necessarily need all three technologies at the same time. Our financial services disclosure compliance monitoring solution, for example, only uses semi-structured data parsing and natural language processing. (Of course, the NLP itself involves a lot of machine learning.)

Together, these factors mean that traditional data analytics techniques and one-size-fits-all compliance tools will often, by their very nature, fall short.

To really solve regulatory compliance problems, the most important thing is to choose a solution provider who combines the following characteristics:

  1. Has all three of these technologies at their disposal (semi-structured parsing, NLP, and machine learning)
  2. Can demonstrate that they know how, and where, to use them (and when not to use them)
  3. Demonstrates a proven methodology for building a system that’s custom-fit to your unique needs

Feel free to contact us if you’d like to discuss your own regulatory compliance challenges and how Regulatory Technology could help reduce your costs and risk.

What Is the Customer Feedback Loop?

When the focus is on gathering customer feedback, many companies will launch a CX program without a plan for responding to customers. Everyone knows it’s best practice, but it can seem daunting to find a way to close the customer feedback loop. Let’s remedy that with an automated, code-free way to follow up.  Included in this article are screenshot examples of messaging that you can adapt to fit your customer feedback loop needs, courtesy of lead-gen startup and InMoment customer, Albacross.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, it is important to know why closing that customer feedback loop is so crucial.

The customer feedback loop is the process companies use to gather customer feedback and then respond to it by improving some aspect of the business or product. It is a loop because as the company makes improvements, the customers weigh in with feedback on how the improvements are faring. The company then adjusts the improvements to fit the voice of the customer. It is a constant loop of feedback and improvements. 

Customer feedback isn’t always negative, contrary to the connotation. Customer feedback, both positive and negative can give valuable insight as to how the company is performing and where it can improve.

Where some companies get stuck is closing the customer feedback loop. Closing the customer feedback loop is when a company makes adjustments to a product or service based off of the feedback to see to the customer’s needs. Gathering customer feedback is a good step, but it is not worth anything if no action is taken based off the information provided from the customer.

Why is Closing the  Customer Feedback Loop Important?

Why close the loop? There are substantial benefits that come from putting effort into closing the customer feedback loop:

  • Prevent problems – By implementing a closed-loop element into a customer feedback program like Net Promoter Score, you can identify problems before they escalate. Using automation and data analytics, you can recognize recurring themes in customer surveys that need to be addressed to avoid those same problems for future customers.
  • Discover upsell opportunities – Even satisfied customers can have great feedback on how you can improve your product or service. Maybe you don’t offer a product in a certain color, or something on the website is confusing. Either way, there is always room for improvement, and those improvements can become upsells for your customers. 
  • Create and foster long-term relationships – When a customer feels that you actually listen to their concerns and respond to them, they are more likely to be return customers and bring referrals. Every time you acknowledge your customers  for taking the time to provide feedback, you are strengthening  your relationship with them.
  • Retain current customers – studies show that returning customers spend 60% more money on purchasesd and provide more referrals than new customers. It is also 5 to 25 times  more expensive to find new customers than to retain existing ones. By closing the customer feedback loop, you help customers feel more loyal to your brand and come back for more.
  • Avoid customer churn – 89% of customers switch brands after a bad experience with a company if the company does not respond to their problems or complaints.

When you close the customer feedback loop, you set yourself up for success. It may be a daunting task, but automation can really help in keeping your customers happy and the customer feedback loop running smoothly.

Automating the Customer Feedback Loop-Closing Process

If you use Intercom to communicate with customers, you’re in luck. It’s extremely easy to implement a customer experience (CX) program that will close the customer feedback loop with InMoment’s entirely code-free Intercom Messenger Integration and start gathering feedback right in Intercom chat. InMoment’s NPS microsurvey can be integrated with Intercom Messenger with one click and survey responses automatically appear in Intercom user records. This makes it easy to set up automated follow-up messages to survey respondents based on their sentiment. Whether or not you use Intercom and InMoment, you can adapt a close-loop process to your own systems as you handle customer feedback.. 

Lead-gen software startup Albacross recently shared how they were able to swiftly automate a full-cycle NPS program. While the team started out by simply sending NPS surveys through Intercom, they quickly realized the value in closing the customer feedback loop with all of their respondents–detractors, passives and promoters. For Albacross, automating a close-the-loop process took just a few simple steps and the results have been incredible. Albacross has been able to understand its detractors on a whole new level, and they’ve been able to leverage promoters to drive more business. 

Read on for how you can easily do the same. 

Ask Detractors for Product Feedback

Sure, it might not feel great when you’ve received some low scores from valued customers on your customer surveys.. But, qualitative feedback from detractors can become a guiding light for your organization as it chooses what issues and insights it wants to prioritize in closing the customer feedback loop. You should also pay attention to detractors because a low score is often an indicator of customers who are at higher risk of churn. In other words, it’s crucial that you leverage your detractors – there is so much that you can learn from them. And, it’s quite simple – here’s how Albacross automated their messages for detractors: 

For users who rate their app low (0-6), Albacross sends two Intercom messages that ask for additional feedback. The main purpose of asking for additional customer feedback is to start the conversation and gain a deeper understanding of how the customer feels, what they’re struggling with, and why they’re disappointed.

Albacross sends messages via email: 

and via in-app messages that appear immediately after the user completes the survey:

When creating these automated messages, it’s important that you pay great attention to the simplicity and brevity of the message you’re sending out. In this case, Albacross only asks users for a single thing that they can improve to make it as easy as possible for customers to answer.

Ask Promoters to review you on Capterra or G2Crowd

What about all of your promoters? How can you make use of all this praise and admiration coming from your customers? 

Here’s the answer: close the customer feedback loop by getting your promoters to share their experience on online review sites. 

Online reviews are of utmost importance in a buyer’s evaluation process, especially in the B2B world, since these transactions often involve many people and large investments of money. According to a study done by G2 Crowd and Heinz Marketing, 71% of B2B buyers look at online reviews during the consideration stage. In addition, 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review. By getting happy customers to share their positive experiences online, your organization can build credibility, improve trust, and increase brand awareness among potential buyers. If you’ve got happy customers, the momentum is already there – it’s now your job to transfer that positive momentum from your surveys to review sites. 

Let’s take a look at how Albacross closes the loop with their promoters. 

For users who give the app a passive rating (7-8), Albacross sends an email of gratitude to let them know that they appreciate the user’s feedback. This is sent via in-app message.

You’ll notice that Albacross’s message is short and sweet, and at the end, they ask their users to leave them a review on Capterra. 

For users who rate the app very high (9-10), the Albacross team sends an email with similar content, but this email is sent from their CEO. 

Closing the Customer Feedback Loop with Automation Leads to Results

Automating your close-the-loop process is guaranteed to uncover invaluable insights and drive high-impact action, whether that’s fixing a common issue for detractors or sending promoters to a review site to share their praise for your product. We cannot stress the value of closing the customer feedback loop enough. 

In the case of Albacross, their efforts in in closing the customer feedback loop and automating their program saw two key tangible effects:

Albacross’s NPS Score is consistently climbing. In just a short period of time, Albacross has more than 2x’ed their NPS score. Anyone with any experience with NPS knows that this is not an easy feat. 

Secondly, Albacross now has a rating of 4.5/5 and 100+ reviews on Capterra. Most of the reviews that they’ve gathered recently have come from promoters who were directed to Capterra from Albacross’s automated Intercom messages. 

So, go forth and close the customer feedback loop with survey respondents. It’s easy when you automate!

For more tips and tricks on closing the customer feedback loop, read our whitepaper designed to help you learn all you need to know to help you make a difference in your company using customer feedback.

The Employee Experience is Crucial to a Successful Patient Experience

Employee Experience and Patient Experience Go Hand-in-hand

Let’s be clear: I love my job. Truly. In fact, I’m one of those people who truly enjoys going to work. Sickening? Perhaps. But hang on…here comes the punch line: it’s been A WEEK. School is back in session, which means a new and unfamiliar schedule…and necessary bedtimes. (I really dislike bedtimes, especially on beautiful August summer evenings here in WI.) Kid sports and activities are again in full swing, most nights of the week. And we’re nearing Q4 on the business side of things, which means…client budgets need to get used and therefore, we are UBER busy. Which truly, is a good thing.

What’s not a good thing? The 13 hours of sleep I’ve managed across the last three nights. And, confession time: I’m simply not my best in this intense a situation, on this little sleep, with this level of stress. I’m not patient, I’m less kind than I should be, I don’t listen to my kids and husband very well, and I don’t truly engage in my life. I’m surviving.

After the week started the way it did, I saw this meme on a social media site the other day and it struck a chord with me. UNTIL, I had a friend say to me, “You don’t want to be a survivor, a warrior…you were made for better – you’re a THRIVER.”

And you know what? She was absolutely right. All the personal stuff aside, when I’m stressed, tired, overwhelmed, I’m most certainly not as professionally innovative and sharp as I know I’m capable of. And it got me thinking…healthcare professionals, with whom we are working more and more, work in this type of environment frequently. The stress, the “go-go-go,” the utter fatigue…this is a common scenario for many of those we trust to help us get and remain healthy – our physicians, nurses, and the office and admin staff that support them.

You know those moments when you stop in your tracks and think “holy cow?” Yeah, I had one of those moments. Because about a month ago, the pediatric after-hours line sent me to the emergency room with a sick kid. A physician friend on staff that night came out to greet us. He then stopped in our room to check in again at the end of his shift at 12:30 AM before heading home to his wife and three kids. Thinking back now, I realize how much better our experience was that night because this employee cared.

This is one key reason why we need to care about – and measure, monitor, and respond to – the EMPLOYEE experiences in healthcare, and not just the patient experiences.

These physicians, nurses, office staff, they are human and prone to human emotions, reactions, flaws just like the rest of us. Which means that they also get tired, frustrated, and stressed – and that this can also impact the way in which they perform their jobs that day.

As was the case for my family that night in the ED, these employees are the ones that can make or break a patient experience. And that night, we were fortunate to have care reflective of a healthcare organization that values, appreciates, and actively works to engage its employees in their roles.

Recently, I was trying to schedule a specialist appointment for my son and the “first available time” was 4 months out. My poor child suffers from major allergies, has asthma, and we couldn’t get his prescription renewed until we’d visited his allergist. Realistically, by the time we’d have been able to get in, all the allergens would have been frozen out, since we live in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin, so it made more sense for us to cancel that appointment and free that slot up for someone else!

This brings us to a second reason why we must care deeply about healthcare employee experience: the current shortage of healthcare professionals.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, projected that 1.1 million additional nurses are needed to avoid further shortage, and that as a profession, employment opportunities for nurses will grow at a faster rate than all other occupations from 2016-2026.

There’s a similar story on the physician side, with the Association of American Medical Colleges projecting a shortage of 120,000 physicians by 2030. With Baby Boomers getting older, this shortage will only increase due to increases in patient volume and demand, and as Baby Boomer healthcare professionals retire.

Undoubtedly, these shortages will impact both availability and quality of care. While not a macro solution, one way healthcare systems can proactively mitigate these shortages on a local level is to focus on efforts designed to retain their teams. Employee retention is a complex concept, and impacted by a variety of factors: the nature of the work, the employee’s manager and teammates, the work environment, work-life balance, perceived value of the work the employee does, etc.

Understanding what matters to healthcare employees, and actively working to engage them is going to be critical in both the short and long term.

I was reading an article recently about a nurse on her way to work who, upon seeing a mother running down the highway, pulled over and was able to revive the woman’s non-breathing infant child. When these stories make the news, two things often strike me as consistent elements: the individual involved in the life-saving measure is a healthcare professional, and the drama has played out outside the confines of the hospital or clinic in which this healthcare professional works.

But here’s the thing: this is what these professionals DO. Not all may actually work in a role in which they are called to save lives on a daily basis, but on the whole, it is these same employees, going about their jobs on a daily basis, who are frequently the reason why a patient in their care has lived instead of died.

This story illustrates a third reason why a program measuring a holistic patient experience MUST also include measurement of employee experience. The actions, the attention, the engagement of the doctors, nurses, in-take staff are often what separates patients from life or death.

Healthcare systems and hospitals are the entities that have the power to proactively understand and manage the employment experiences of their employees. Whether they do so, not only impacts the delivery of care, it can literally mean the difference between life and death.

So how can the healthcare industry value their employees while providing an excellent patient experience? Below are some best practices to be considered:

  • Include employees in conversations that involve patient feedback and care, as they are the ones who interact with patients day to day. Paying attention to feedback can help bridge the gaps in experiences for both patients and employees. Employees need to know that their voice is valued.
  • Remember that employees are human. Healthcare industry leaders are in position to look out for the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of their employees. Something simple like providing a meal during a long shift, or making sure employees are highlighted for their important work is a good way to start. Recognition goes a long way, and helps employees feel valued by the patients they serve.
  • Provide growth opportunities for employees, allowing them to learn new things while helping them with their career paths. This not only makes the employee feel valued, but also increases loyalty to patients and their respective healthcare employers.

3 Reasons Why Behavioural Science is Critical for CX Transformation

Spare a thought for the millions of emails that are never opened.

For the millions of letters that are never read.

For the millions of website clicks that never reach conversion.

For the millions of full baskets that are never checked out.

For the millions of forms that are never filled out.

For the millions of conversations that leave the customer unsatisfied.

Despite the strive for customer-centricity, many businesses have forgotten what is most important: the customer. So how do we bring back the human touch?

More and more customer experience teams are starting to use principles from Behavioural Science to transform their customer experience. Want to try taking this innovative approach for yourself?

Below are three reasons to start incorporating nudges from Behavioural Science in your customer experience today:

1) You Can Use Behavioural Science to Better Understand and Change Customer Behaviour

There is no doubt that Behavioural Science provides a compelling toolkit for understanding what is really going on inside customers’ brains. Behavioural Science uses these customer insights in order to change behaviour and drive compelling results.

For example, when our brains are faced with too much information, we experience “cognitive overload.” To reduce this problem for one of our clients, we helped them to “chunk” complex information in phone calls into digestible parts. This made it easier for customers to take action, and improved the sales conversion by +68.5%.

2) Behavioural Science Transforms the Internal Customer Experience for Employees, as Well as the External Experience for Customers

The brilliance underpinning Behavioural Science is that the human insight is universal. We’re using the very same techniques to improve the experience for employees and, by doing so, this creates valuable experiences for customers.

For one of our clients, we used the principle of “reciprocity” to make conversations in contact centres more meaningful and fulfilling for both employees and customers alike. Customers aren’t saying, “I don’t know what you mean,” anymore, and employees are enjoying their conversations more.

As a result, the churn rate of staff is down to a one quarter of the previous levels, and employee NPS has improved considerably.

3) Behavioural Science Benefits From Academically Rigorous Techniques that Prove the Value of Customer Experience Transformation

Customer Experience Transformation Programmes are often challenged on their ability to deliver concrete value to the business, and one of the benefits of Behavioural Science is its academic rigour. Being able to prove that customer experience interventions are backed up by science is a real asset in a business context.

Randomised Control Trials, A/B split tests, MVTs all combine to accurately and statistically prove the value of any investment, and make a robust business case for future investment.

In order to demonstrate the value of using Behavioural Science to transform customer experience, we work with our clients to design rigorous experiments.

In one such experiment, we demonstrated that our Behavioural Science intervention delivered transformational commercial returns of £37:£1.

There’s no doubt that using Behavioural Science allows you to deliver a superior customer experience with transformational results. If you’d like to learn more about how you can start using Behavioural Science to improve your customer experience today, come and say hello at the Cowry Consulting stand at CXForum on the 9th of October.

www.cowryconsulting.com

MaritzCX Unveils the Healthcare Industry’s First CX-Based Patient Experience Platform

MaritzCX is the first and only CX platform company that’s been CMS-certified to offer Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS®) surveys.

Identifying the need for an all-inclusive, customizable patient experience survey and reporting framework, we developed the MaritzCX Patient Experience Platform, the healthcare industry’s first CX-based patient experience platform.

The platform allows for HCAHPS, patient experience, employee experience, safety and quality, point-of-care/rounding, operational, financial, and clinical data can be uploaded into a single platform, in real time.

With an inclusive view unlike anything before, healthcare organizations can identify more significant and impactful improvements to enhance patient experiences, scores and reimbursement.

They can also view and analyze patient experience data from multiple sources and surveys to gain a more comprehensive view of what impacts the patient journey.

 

“Healthcare organizations have long looked for patient experience best practices outside of their industry. Meanwhile, MaritzCX has spent 50 years implementing customer experience best practices for leading global organizations in industries that include hospitality, retail, high tech, and financial services. Finally, MaritzCX has smashed the regulatory and technology barrier between the two arenas. MaritzCX has spent the last two years building a platform that offers the functionality needed to revolutionize the patient experience. With the MaritzCX Patient Experience Platform and CMS certification, we help healthcare firms break free of the inflexible and stagnant offerings provided by current patient experience vendors in the space today.”

— Mike Sinoway, MaritzCX President and CEO

 

Hospitals and Patients Benefit from a Revolutionary Patient Experience Platform

  • Limitless Customization Capability

 From self-serve to full-serve with MaritzCX experts, healthcare teams can easily design survey questions down to the level of each individual patient, if desired. Customization extends to dashboard views, reports and distribution options directly within the platform.

  • Seamless Integration with Existing Systems

 Easily integrate current survey initiatives and systems into the MaritzCX Patient Experience Platform and view data from HCAHPS, Safety, Quality, Employee Experience or any other data source in one place. Viewing data dynamically together aides in understanding connections and performance.

  • Patient-centric Platform

Make the patient the priority and offer options via responsive mobile, text, email, online and mail capture feedback from beginning to end along the patient journey.

  • Employee Experience (EX) and Patient Experience (PX) Linkage

MaritzCX is the only firm that focuses on true EX-PX linkage and transparency of patient experience data across the organization, coupling it with employee awareness, training, management and recognition/reward programs. This linkage helps PX teams get to the root of organizational change (employees) to positively impact patient experiences.

 

Customer Experience Experts that Know Patient Experience Too

Experts in customer experience, MaritzCX is the only CX platform company to earn CMS certification. Our Patient Experience Platform is built, supported and implemented by MaritzCX, ensuring complete HIPAA compliance.

Click here to start improving your patient experience today.

Ready to Tackle Customer Churn? Here’s How.

Is there a business that hasn’t lost a single customer? Doubtful. Customer churn is inevitable. For this reason, maintaining superior customer experience in a world of insurmountable choice and lagging brand loyalty is of utmost importance. Now I’m no mind reader, but since you’re still here, I’ll assume that you’re struggling with generating new demand for your business and keeping existing customers around at the same time.

For starters, let’s define customer churn.

Also known as customer attrition, churn refers to the rate at which your customers stop purchasing your product or service, signaling the end of their relationship with you. These customers stop bringing in revenue for your business. 

Customer Churn Rate Equation

Let’s say that you started this quarter with 500 customers but lost 25; this means your churn rate is 5%. 

Other measurable ways for customer churn include:

  1. Number of customers dropped
  2. Percentage of customers lost
  3. Amount of monthly recurring revenue (MRR) lost
  4. Percentage of MRR lost

What Causes Customer Churn?

  • Value Pricing is tricky because customers are always looking for the most cost-effective solution to the problem they wish to solve. Customers need to feel like their purchase was worth the cost, so it’s crucial to establish value early on, through customer onboarding and education. Otherwise, they’re at risk for churn. 
  • Product Fit – Another common reason for customer churn is an inferior fit. If you have a sales team that’s hustling to hit quota but isn’t incentivized to sell to good-fit customers, your company will face consequences. Soon after their purchase, customers will realize they can’t achieve their goals with your product and will churn.
  • User Experience – If you have a product that’s not very intuitive or your software is glitchy, chances are customers will be less likely to use it on a regular basis and build expertise with it. They may not stick around for long. 
  • Competitors – Even if you believe you’re assisting customers to achieve their desired outcomes, they’ll still churn if they firmly believe that a competitor can do a better job. Competition is fierce these days, so you need to work hard to set yourself apart from your competition.
  • Missing Features/deliverables – Let’s say you fail to fulfill a goal that was initially agreed on while getting a client on board. When you fail to provide services as promised, you’re bound to lose a customer.

What Are Some Churn Indicators to Watch Out For?

1. Weak CX metrics – When thinking about churn, there are two CX metrics, in particular, that you should pay close attention to:

    • Net Promoter Score.  The grand-daddy of customer experience metrics, a detractor or passive NPS survey response is a leading indicator of churn. 
    • Customer Effort Score. Many software companies have adopted CES to measure the ease of getting started with your company or product. If this critical phase, often known as onboarding, is too difficult, churn can follow. 

2. Usage levelCustomer churn is often preceded by a period of decreased usage level, so keep a close eye on users’ login activity. This will help you to identify at-risk customers right before they churn. Also, if a customer downgrades to a lower tier of your product, this should be worrisome news – there’s a good chance that this customer will soon stop using your product altogether.

3. Customer’s KPI’sIf your product or service isn’t helping customers achieve their KPIs, then the chance of them churning is much higher. If you notice that a valued customer isn’t reaching their desired goals, it’s crucial that you reach out to them and find out what you can do to better help them achieve those goals.

4. Customer HealthWhile measured definitively when a customer renews or doesn’t, customer success teams look at a number of factors to assign a customer health score to an account. Take a look at the kinds of customer support interactions you’re seeing from the customer. After using your service, do you think the customer is getting what they’re paying for? How does the account manager feel about the customer’s state of mind about the services they’re buying from you? Factor in the account’s CX metrics. As soon as you have an idea of who might leave, you’ll be able to take all the relevant steps to define the problem, fix it, and retain their business. Eventually, you can start to implement a systematic approach to measuring customer health, uncovering at-risk customers, and reaching out to them.

5. Feature AdoptionEvery product or service has some key feature that makes it stand out from competitors. If a valued customer isn’t using these features, this is an indicator that they might churn soon.

6. SupportThis point refers to the number of support issues raised, the severity of the issues, the time it took to resolve them, and the customer’s satisfaction with the interaction (often measured with a CSAT survey). These factors can have a significant impact on a customer’s health, so they’re important to pay attention to. If a customer hasn’t reported any issues or asked any questions, this could also be a red flag – a silent customer doesn’t mean they are happy with your product. 

What Needs to Be Done?

1. Engage with your customers.

This might sound obvious, but engaging with your customers is the best way to make them stay. Proactively inquire about how they are doing using CX surveys at key journey points. This will help you identify who is happy and who is at risk. Armed with this information, follow up with a conversation if warranted. Get them on the phone and show that your company genuinely cares. But don’t stop there – keep engaging. Depending on the size of the customer, you may want to schedule a quarterly check-in, and certainly one in advance of renewal. 

In addition to talking directly to customers, provide ample and educational content about the key functional benefits of your product. Offer regular news updates, to communicate your commitment to innovation in service of their success.
With this kind of communication, you can get customers to keep coming back by showing them the value of using your product and how they can make your product a part of their daily workflow. 

Last but not least, I’d like to recommend social listening – the process of finding and contributing to conversations about your company online by seeking out brand mentions, specific keywords or phrases, and comments. 

By doing these things, you’ll be able to keep tabs on what’s going on in terms of customer satisfaction.

2. Educate Your Customers

Another churn-prevention trick: provide plenty of quality educational or support materials. Try offering free trainings, webinars, video tutorials, and product demos. Do whatever it takes to make your customers feel comfortable and informed. Put simply, you must not only give customers tools that work but also offer training on how to best use these tools. In this way, you’ll also be able to demonstrate the full potential of your product or service.

3. Set realistic expectations

As I mentioned before, failing to deliver on services as promised can result in a very unhappy customer that is at high risk of churning. One of the common practices I have seen across several industries is to over promise and under deliver. Why would a salesperson want to do this? There could be numerous reasons: 

    • They fear they might lose a potential customer
    • They’re facing pressure from their boss
    • They desire to come across as the “deal maker”  
    • They’re desperate to close the deal
    • They’re unwilling to tell the customer what they don’t want to hear

4. Keep a keen eye on competitors

It’s a bad sign when your customers perceive your competition to be better. As you work on reducing customer churn, pay close attention to how your customers might perceive your competitors’ products, and don’t forget to benchmark your overall performance and customer satisfaction against your competitors. 

Lastly, remember, the stakes are higher than ever. It’s time to make smart moves!

Author Bio:
Vikash Kumar works as a manager in the offshore software development company Tatvasoft.com. In his free time, Kumar enjoys writing and exploring new technical trends and topics. You can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Automakers Focusing More Attention to “Retention/loyalty”…But Can Dealers Deliver at the Customer Facing Level?

There’s a change going on with automakers! For the first time, automotive OEMs are creating and implementing proprietary customer loyalty programs for their dealer network.

Those programs are anchored by redeemable rewards points and aimed at keeping customers in the dealership “loyalty loop.” And car makers are even funding entire programs…one has even deposited $210 worth of points for each new car buyer so that new sold customers can use their points immediately.

It’s a first for the automakers, who, until recently, have ridden the wave of robust car sales following the great recession of 2008. The past hot market for sales placed retention on the back burner. But that wave is now ending, prompting dealers to search for other means of profits…mainly from used cars and the service center.

Loyalty programs, driven by redeemable points, are not new. Those programs offered by vendors have been around for decades. What makes them more attractive today is the new awareness on the part of retail auto leaders of the true value of a retained customer.

Loyalty programs can send a clear message to the customer that “we care about a relationship with the customer for the future”.

In addition to creating loyalty rewards program, car makers are also focusing more and more on retention rate benchmarks of their dealers…even rewarding them with bonus cash for meeting manufacturer preset goals.

And there is an increasingly strong feeling among retail auto leaders that “retention” will eventually replace “CSI” as the key measurement for the customer’s experience at the dealership.

In one case, a major automaker has already replaced the traditional service CSI score with an expected retention number.

These changes are also prompting a subtle but significant shift in dealership strategy. Traditionally, dealer leadership has always focused on the showroom, but now, with the plateauing of sales, that same leadership is now gaining a more intimate awareness of how the service center is the key to retaining customers for service revenue and repeat sales.

Dealer Service Centers are Ground Zero for Customer Retention

There is little doubt that what happens in the dealer service center has the most profound effect on customer retention. I spoke about this in two previous posts in the Maritz CXCafe Your Other Showroom, The Service Center and Client Loyalty Is Not Dead…But Client Follow-Up is!…but some of that information bears repeating in this latest post.

Success with ramping up acts of retention will require a dramatic cultural change that dealers will not adapt to easily.

Ever since the dawn of auto retailing, budgets for bringing traffic to the showroom have far exceeded those allocated for the service center. That will have to change with the new focus on loyalty.

Consider these NADA stats from 2017:

  • Dealers spent an average of $7.00 on retaining their already sold customers (2017)
  • Luxury dealers spent an average of $762.00 on each vehicle sold, non-luxury spent $670.00 (2017)
  • Average gross on referral vehicle sales was $1,200.00 vs $817.00 for fresh “ups”
  • Referrals have a 51% service usage vs 29% for fresh ups
  • Referrals have a 96% CSI score vs 73% for fresh ups

Clearly, increasing budgets for the service center have had a hard time gaining traction with store General Managers, a group dominated by those whose pedigree was developed in the showroom. That will have to change.

Greatest Deterrent to Focusing on Retention is the Existing “Transactional” Culture

Dealer service advisers don’t instinctively view the value of customer retention. I know this after observing it for 3 years as customer experience manager/retention (the service center exclusively) for one of the largest Buick dealers in the country.

As I stated in a past MaritzCX Cafe post, the number one enemy of customer retention is what I call transactionalism…the preoccupation with an all-consuming focus by dealers on the sales “deal” or the service “RO”, to the detriment of creating a “memorable” experience for the customer with follow up to match.

That proverbial focus on the transaction pushes a “memorable experience” and “customer follow up” to the back burner.

Customer Rewards Programs: A Platform for Delivering a Memorable Experience

We already have established that the service center is ground zero for retention success/failure for dealerships. We also know that service advisers are the primary brand ambassadors for that retention.

Sure, the CX delivered by the sales unit is important, but not as critical to retaining customers as the service lane experience and customer follow up. And while the customer experience during their visit to service is important to retaining them for future loyalty, the follow up of that same customer is even more critical.

That’s why loyalty programs, featuring redeemable points for future service discounts are so critical to repeat visits to service…and eventually to that next vehicle purchase.

Those programs not only offer the customer future discounts on products and services; they also convey a perception that the dealership cares about a future relationship with the customer.

The Crucial Piece that NPS Misses, and How to Fill the Gap

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is great for a quick overview of customer satisfaction and brand health. But NPS ignores nuance. A single number can’t tell you why customers feel the way they do. The upshot? You may be making bad decisions based on misleading NPS metrics. In a world where customer experience is everything, this can be disastrous.

Key take-aways

A high Net Promoter Score doesn’t mean your brand is healthy

People often leave comments that don’t match their NPS

You can fill this consumer insights gap by analyzing open-ended survey responses, social comments and online reviews

For best results, combine NPS and NLP-powered BI tools into a holistic Voice of Customer program

Read on to learn more about the dangers of measuring customer satisfaction with pure-NPS, and how you can use NLP-powered BI tools to fill this customer insights gap.

  1. What is NPS?
  2. The benefits of NPS
  3. Why is it bad to rely on NPS alone?
  4. The NPS insights gap
  5. How NPS can be misleading
  6. Bridging the NPS insights gap
  7. Customer review analytics in action
  8. How to build a better Voice of Customer program

What is NPS?

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a single-question survey designed to measure customer brand loyalty. NPS asks,

“How likely are you to recommend [Company X] to a friend or colleague?”

Customers can answer on a scale:

0-6 = Detractor

7-8 = Passive

9-10 = Promoter

Promoters are likely to buy again or generate referral business. Detractors are unlikely to buy again and may actively discourage others. Passives fall between the two.

A company’s net promoter score is a simple calculation:

Company NPS = [% Promoters] – [% Detractors]

Image by Medallia

As we’ll see, NPS is a versatile number that offers a wide range of benefits and practical applications. But NPS can be dangerously misleading without deeper, supplemental business intelligence.

The benefits of NPS

First and foremost, the NPS system is proven to increase survey response rates by giving customers a chance to have their voice heard, without requiring a substantial time investment.

Next, a company’s Net Promoter Score can simultaneously be taken as a snapshot and tracked over time for predictive analytics.

Third, NPS can be measured by company, product, franchise location, support agent, and a wide range of vectors.

Image by Okuma

Fourth, NPS can serve as a predictor of business growth. A Promoter’s customer lifecycle value (CLV) is usually higher than a Detractor’s or Passive’s. So, a higher NPS naturally correlates with higher revenue, and vice versa.

Fifth, NPS drives rapid changes in policies, products and processes. By using a simple, shared vocabulary, NPS lets you quickly share information within an organization, while being sure that everyone reaches the same conclusions. This helps companies reduce the communication delay between customers, support agents, and product managers.

Finally, you can compare your company’s aggregated Net Promoter Score against your competitors for a simple picture of your brand’s relative health. If your business has an NPS of 70, but your chief competitor boasts a 90, you know to start digging deeper to find out why.

In short, the Net Promoter Score system is a simple, easy way for businesses to paint a clear picture of consumer opinion and brand health.

For these reasons and more, NPS has become a go-to customer success metric for companies and agencies across every industry and vertical. But NPS isn’t enough on its own.

Why is it bad to rely on NPS alone?

The NPS system delivers an easy-to-understand measure of customer satisfaction. And because NPS questions generate more responses than traditional satisfaction surveys, NPS can give you more data to act on. But in the end, this is a dangerous oversimplification. A high NPS doesn’t mean your brand is healthy.

The chasm between Facebook star ratings, represented here by O’Hare ATC Towers, illustrates a fractured opinion of the airport. But why?

Customers don’t care about your NPS. They want to know that they’ll enjoy the experience of using your products and services. And without understanding why you’re receiving your scores, and without giving your customers the chance to tell you in their own words, you’ll never have the data you need to make informed, effective decisions.

The “why” comes from open-ended survey responses, customer comments, social media posts, and online reviews (which is an information source that is notoriously challenging and labor-intensive to utilize). As we’ll show, this is where natural language processing comes into play.

The NPS insights gap

Meet Stephanie.

Stephanie just wrapped up a four-night stay at a San Francisco hotel while in town for a conference. When asked how likely she’d be to recommend the hotel to others, Stephanie responds with an enthusiastic 9.

Sounds great, right? Another promoter created, a higher NPS for the hotel, and a happy management team. Bonuses all around!

Not so fast. Stephanie also left a free-text comment on the same survey:

“Stayed for 4 nights. The room was spotless, and the bed was super comfy. Especially loved the shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom since I forgot mine at home! I did notice the fruit in the bowl at the front desk looked off and the breakfast was kind of lame. But overall a great stay.”

Overall, Stephanie describes a positive experience and offered a generous Net Promoter Score. But her comment raises two red flags that demand attention: rotten fruit and a “lame” breakfast.

How NPS can be misleading

As we said before, NPS deliberately ignores the nuance of open-response customer surveys in favor of higher response rates and fast action. That’s a fine way to gather basic feedback. But customers often leave comments that don’t match their Net Promoter Score. Ignoring this disconnect can seriously damage your business.

Remember that Stephanie gave her hotel a Net Promoter Score of 9.  In her open-ended survey comment, however, she mentioned that the fruit at the front desk looked old and the breakfast was “lame”. Both of these data points are valuable. But a traditional NPS system will totally ignore the critical feedback about the front desk and breakfast service.

[AtlantaThemeVolumeVersusNPS.png]
Evaluating NPS by Themes from real customer reviews of Atlanta International Airport – read our full analysis
And it gets worse. What happens if Stephanie posts her review on TripAdvisor, Yelp, or the hotel’s Facebook page? That shiny NPS may be quickly overshadowed by lost revenue from people turned off by her review.

Without a system in place to analyze Stephanie’s open-ended comment and identify her complaints, the hotel’s managers may never even know why business is down.

Bridging the NPS insights gap

As Stephanie’s story demonstrates, a customer’s Net Promoter Score and their actual comments can send two very different messages.

The best way to fill this “NPS insights gap” is, of course, to read survey responses, online reviews, social comments, and other sources of open-ended feedback.

But the sheer volume of this text is impossible to handle. Until recently, businesses had to comb through customer satisfaction surveys and online review sites by hand. This was a tedious process that required an enormous labor investment for minimal returns.

[woman feeling overwhelmed by customer reviews.png]

As a result, customers had few channels through which they could tell companies about their experiences. Companies were all-but-deaf to these stories, and everyone suffered for it.

Today, however, customer feedback analytics tools like the Lexalytics Intelligence Platform enable you to analyze thousands of open-ended survey responses and real, unstructured customer comments and reviews, all in the time it takes to brew your morning coffee..

These solutions combine natural language processing and artificial intelligence to show you how people talk about their experiences with your products, brands and services, in their own words.

[woman who used to be overwhelmed now inspired by sentiment-analyzed customer reviews.png]

Through intuitive dashboards, you can see exactly what people are talking about, how they feel about those subjects, and why they feel that way.

In short: By analyzing open-ended survey responses and real customer comments, you’ll catch the valuable, context-rich data that NPS systems would fail to pick up on.

The outcome? Better customer experiences can increase lifecycle value 6-14x, reduce churn up to 55% and grow revenue 4-8% (source).

Read our guide: Voice of Customer Analytics: What it Is and How to Do It

Customer review analytics in action

The flexibility and customizability of these platforms make them applicable across industries and verticals, particularly in hospitality/transportation, financial services, pharmaceuticals, and retail.

For example, take a look at this dashboard built in the Lexalytics (an InMoment company) Intelligence Platform, using a data set of Facebook reviews of San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

[SFOReportsDashboard.png]
Click image to enlarge, or read our full analysis of SFO reviews
This dashboard tells a compelling story of traveler experiences at SFO.

Overall, guests are satisfied with the airport – but there are several areas of concern that the airport’s management should investigate. For one, there’s a problem with the charging stations that needs to be addressed immediately. Travelers are complaining about flight scheduling, and mentions of this issue have been increasing over time. And Terminal 1 should be speedily modernized like Terminals 2 and 3.

Through rich, multi-layered analytics dashboards like this one, you can uncover compelling stories of customer experiences, as they tell it.

How to build a better Voice of Customer program

To be clear: Net Promoter Score can and should still have a role in your customer experience management. But as we’ve demonstrated, the NPS insights gap can lead you unwittingly into disaster.

To fill this gap, combine NPS and an NLP-powered Voice of Customer analytics tool to paint detailed pictures of customer experiences.

For example, send NPS surveys for a quick, easily-digestible snapshot of brand health. Use this information to make fast, agile changes.

Meanwhile, use your VoC platform to analyze unstructured customer comments, reviews, and open-ended survey responses at scale.

[SuccessfulVoCProgram.png]

Together, this comprehensive VoC analytics program will deliver the detailed information you need to make informed, effective changes to improve your customer experience.

Customer Experience Enablement: What it is and How it Can Help Your Business Bottom Line

Since you’re here on the Wootric blog, you probably already know that providing a high-quality experience to your customers is vital to your business.

You’ve heard people talk about CX becoming the key differentiator for brands in the coming years.

Stats on how customers values CX

(Source)

You’ve watched brands in a variety of industries revamp their customer-facing operations to improve the consumer’s experience.

You may have even begun investing in improving your brand’s customer experience in a variety of different ways.

But, when it comes down to it, you still aren’t exactly sure if your efforts are paying off for the customer—or for your business.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone: According to a 2018 report from CustomerThink, only 30% of brands report experiencing enhanced differentiation or any other tangible benefit from their CX-related initiatives. Moreover, Oracle reports that only 43% of CX executives are highly confident in their organization’s preparedness and ability to provide an enhanced CX as time goes on.

While there are a number of reasons this is (which we’ll get to), the overarching takeaway is that improving the overall customer experience requires much more from an organization than most realize. In order for a company to make sustainable improvements to its CX—improvements that lead to tangible benefits for the business—a fundamental shift within the organization must occur.

This is where customer experience enablement comes in.

What is Customer Experience Enablement?

Customer experience enablement is an holistic approach to improving CX by making foundational changes to both customer-facing and internal processes within a company. It is worth noting that approach is sometimes known as customer experience management (CXM or CEM). So many acronyms!

Breaking that down a bit more, customer experience enablement (CXE) is all about:

  1. Providing a branded experience that aligns with both the customer’s expectations and the experience the company intended the customer to have
  2. Enabling teams and individual employees within an organization to provide this experience to the customer effectively and efficiently—so that the customer’s experience is equally as efficient throughout their buyer’s journey

As we mentioned above, it’s the second part of our breakdown that organizations often overlook. Unfortunately, this leads said companies into a situation in which they have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done to improve their CX—but are unable to actually put these initiatives into action in ways that benefit both the customer and the business.

That being said, let’s now dig into the key components of customer experience enablement—and why becoming more aligned with these components is essential to the growth of your business.

3 Key Components of Customer Experience Enablement

In the previous section, we broke down customer experience enablement into the customer-facing and internal sides of the same coin.

As you’ll see as you read through the rest of this article, the key components of CXE can touch on either side of this coin—and can sometimes touch on both at the same time, as well.

(If this is a bit confusing, don’t worry: It will start to make sense right away. We promise.)

Without further ado, let’s dig into the three key components of customer experience enablement.

1. Organizational Alignment

In order for an organization to become truly able to enhance the experience they provide their customers, everyone within the organization needs to be on board with the initiative.

Instill Ownership of CX Throughout Your Organization

In some cases, this is pretty obvious. Of course your marketing, sales, and support staff will be involved in CX-related initiatives; they do engage directly with the customer, after all.

In other cases, though, it can be a bit difficult to get certain team members on board. That is, it’s not exactly uncommon for teams that don’t interact with the customer (e.g., accounting, logistics, etc.) to overlook the role they play in the customer experience.

The thing is:

Your team needs to be willing to put in the effort required to improve your CX before they are able to do so. Or, more accurately, if your various teams aren’t willing to work toward improving your brand’s CX, it won’t matter if they’re able to or not: it’s just not going to happen.

Unfortunately, data collected by Adobe shows that a “lack of clear ownership of the customer…holds companies back from a true customer focus,” with nearly half of responding organizations denoting this as a problem.

Furthermore, Kapost’s 2016 B2B Benchmark report found that only 12% of B2B marketers believe that they’re “very effective at delivering a consistent customer experience.”

Only 12% of B2B marketers say they are delivering consistent CX

(Source)

The silver lining of all this is that, if you can instill ownership of the customer throughout your organization, you’ll be a step ahead of half of your competitors.

Communicate the Benefits of CX Ownership

Another area in which generating buy-in is vital to your CX-related initiatives is in proving the value of doing so to your company’s various stakeholders.

At this point, it’s important to frame the benefits of CXE in ways that matter to a specific team or individual. For example, marketing managers will likely care more about engagement metrics, while executives will be focused on revenues and profit margins of the potential initiative. For teams responsible for internal processes, this value likely comes in an ability to be more efficient in their duties, overall.

(Keep this all in mind, as we’ll talk a bit more about it toward the end of this post.)

Enabling Your Teams and Facilitating Ownership

Once you’ve generated buy-in throughout your organization, the next step is enabling all of your teams to actually play a more active role in creating a top-notch experience for your customers.

As CXE specialist Melissa Madian explains in an interview with Vision Critical, CXE is about enabling “revenue-generating and customer-facing teams with the processes, tools and training they need to help close business faster and deliver a superior customer experience.”

While “playing a more active role” can mean different things to different team members (and different organizations), the key to being able to do so is active, intentional, cross-team communication throughout a given organization.

For one thing, this means building avenues of communication between all teams—and breaking down any barriers to communication that may exist within your organization. In a literal sense, this may mean making it easier for your various teams to interact with each other (whether physically or via technology). More symbolically, this means breaking down silos and cutting through any red tape that may hinder communication between certain teams.

Secondly, you’ll need to actively facilitate and systematize internal communication processes (as opposed to just hoping it occurs organically simply because you’ve “enabled it”).

This may mean restructuring processes to include more of your team members as needed—with the focus remaining on the customer experience at all times. Again, even if a certain internal process doesn’t seem to impact CX all that much, your marketing, sales, and support teams might discover otherwise when an internal decision ends up causing chaos for your customers.

Going along with this, another way to facilitate and enhance internal communications is via knowledge management, specifically by making use of knowledge sharing and knowledge transferring systems. Doing so will allow various teams to stay apprised of the goings-on throughout your organization, and can also easily communicate vital information from their department to other teams as necessary.

To reiterate, the goal of this initial step toward customer experience enablement is to get your team members on board with your initiative—and to begin putting structures in place that allow all of your team members to pursue this initiative both individually and as a company.

Bluntly speaking, without this piece of the puzzle in place, it’s nearly impossible to accomplish what we’ll be discussing next.

2. Focus on Customer Intelligence and Other Valuable Data

The second key component of customer experience enablement revolves around the collection, assessment, and analysis of audience-related data.

To be sure, most modern organizations already know that big data plays a huge role in their CX-related initiatives and efforts. According to data collected by MarketingProfs, 40% of marketers say data is “critical to improved decision making,” while 36% say data “drives the ability to provide personalized experiences.”

importance of big data to executing customer centric programs

(Source)

The problem, though, is that most organizations don’t feel fully equipped to actually put the data they collect to good use. Case in point, 61% of CMOs admit to shortcomings when it comes to using big data to make improvements to CX.

While Adobe’s data shows companies are adept at data hygiene-related processes (i.e., ensuring data is accurate and reliable), this is only a part of the equation. It’s in understanding the contextual meaning behind the data that causes issues for most companies. And, when it comes to data relating to the customer experience, context is key.

Collecting Customer Data that Matters

With the above in mind, your first order of business is to focus on uncovering the data that provides the most valuable and accurate insight into your customers’ expectations. This is where Voice of the Customer is huge: it’s all about digging into the specifics of what your customers want from your brand—and minimizing the potential for your customer-facing data to be taken completely out of context in the future.

It’s important to note, here, that customer experience—and, by extension, CXE—refers to all engagements that occur between your organization and your customers, whether pre-, post-, or during a given purchase.

By looking at a specific data point, metric, or piece of customer feedback with the customer’s journey in mind, you’ll add an extra layer of context to the data you collect and analyze. In turn, you’ll be able to tailor their experience with your company even further—making them more likely to stay loyal to your brand for some time to come.

(Again, we’ll get to that momentarily.)

Collecting Internal Data that Matters

Another data-related part of CXE is prioritizing customer-facing info that provides the most value to your company.

Essentially, this means focusing on data that refers to your most valuable and loyal customers, as well as your highest potential prospects. This will enable your team to start making CX-related improvements to get your high-value customers even more engaged with your brand. Needless to say, this will lead to nothing but good things for your business moving forward.

Speaking of making improvements to your customer experience…

3. Improvements to CX that Matter—and Last

Before we get too far into this last section, let’s quickly go over the aspects of CXE we’ve discussed thus far:

Now, to be clear, all of these initiatives are done for one main reason:

To be able to make impactful and lasting improvements to your brand’s processes—in turn enhancing your brand’s overall customer experience.

As we said earlier, these improvements can manifest in any number of ways, such as:

  • Streamlining transactional processes, making it easier for customers to receive the product or service they require quicker and with less downtime
  • Improving onboarding processes, allowing customers to “hit the ground running” with your product or service—and maximizing the value they get out of it, as well
  • Making iterative changes to your product or service based on customer feedback, ensuring your customers continue to receive more and more value from your brand over time

Notice that each hypothetical improvement listed above is tied to a specific target outcome focusing directly on the customer’s experience. At the risk of being redundant, that’s literally the point of customer experience enablement: to enable your team to provide a better experience to your customers.

CXE is also about making sustainable and long-lasting improvements to your processes, ensuring that you’ll be able to provide an enhanced experience to your customers not just once or twice, but from here on out.

This is why it’s essential for CXE to start at the foundational and systemic level of your organization: Skipping this crucial step could cause your team to revert back to the “old way” of doing things—rendering any gains you may have experienced in the meantime moot.

But, with a deep-seeded, evidence-backed understanding of all that goes into enhancing CX, your organization will understand the importance of adopting and integrating new CX-related processes into their daily operations.

While any temporary or superficial improvements made will likely not lead to any long-lasting benefits for your organization, those more systemic and strategic improvements can only lead to great things for your business.

First of all, the more enjoyable and valuable your CX in the eyes of your customer, the higher your customer satisfaction rate will climb. Of course, with this increase in customer satisfaction, you’ll also likely experience a boost in retention, advocacy, and acquisition, as well.

Additionally, as your organization becomes more acclimated with your CXE-related initiatives, your teams will become more proficient and efficient in completing their individual duties. More efficiency means less wasted resources—which, in turn, means more resources on-hand to reinvest into improving your CX even further.

Finally, we’d be remiss if we ignored the fact that effective customer experience enablement leads to massive profits for companies of all sizes.

The more value your customers receive from your brand, and the easier it is for your company to provide this value to them, the more money your company will make as time goes on.

It’s that simple.

Josh BrownAbout the Author: Josh Brown is a Customer Success Engineer and part of the marketing team at Helpjuice. Helpjuice provides easy-to-use knowledge base software that guarantees less support emails and more happy customers.

Learn how Wootric can help you measure and improve customer experience. Book a consultative demo today.

CX Professionals Talk About 3 Strategies to Drive Action

At a recent MaritzCX event, we held an interactive power hour  facilitated peer-to-peer discussion about creating a strategic action plan to generate the expectations and actionability of insights. The room was all a buzz with CX professionals, who were sharing ideas and discussing the methods that work best when it comes to driving action throughout their organizations.

We all know that gathering insight from customers doesn’t help “you” or “them” if you don’t use that information to make an impactful change. In the CX profession, we like to measure and look at metrics—but influencing people, teams and organizations to act differently is one of the most important and difficult things we need to do.

This interactive discussion pinpointed 3 strategic ways to drive action throughout your organization:

1. Drive Ownership at All Levels of Your Business

  • Empower the lines of business with data, so that action can be taken by the owners who can make changes for customers.
  • Engage the business lines in your CX work from day one. If there is a certain customer pain that a business line would like to learn about, bring them into the process from the beginning to develop a research learning plan, so that they have accountability with you. When the insight is brought to the forefront, action can be taken immediately, because the business lines have been involved from the beginning.
  • Provide a Playbook or repository of best practices with peer review to share with your front line employees. If you know what works well for the customer, share it and give your teams the ability to rate the information on an interactive platform. This enables peers to know when something is working well, or when it needs to be revised.

2. Don’t Forget the Importance of Data Integration

  • Use both Voice of Customer (VoC) and operational data metrics. Do not report them separately. Your data should be reported as one, as this will help you and your organization develop a better understanding of customers.
  • Leverage, test, and learn. When insights come in, they are telling us something. Use that information, get into market, measure the gaps and make sure to drive the right business outcomes (from what customers are asking for). Listen, test and learn is the key to success.
  • It is important to try and solve the right business problems. You now have all your data integrated into a comprehensive story of what your customers are saying, as well as what the business outcome is. At this point, you can rally around what problem you want to solve and then use the right metrics to carry that forward.
  • Use the data. You need to make the data immediately available and transparent to all employees throughout your organization.

3. Collaboration that Goes Beyond Your Team’s Cubicle Walls

  • A hub and spoke cross-functional model can be an effective way to help with accountability and actionability throughout your organization.
    • The hub is the CX team
    • The spokes are all other organizations/teams that own and drive CX/EX action within their part of the organization. They are the ones that are truly accountable for driving change.
  • Develop a thorough communication strategy. A communication plan that conveys the required actions and the business value of the change should leverage the customer feedback, put it into effect, and inform the organization about it, and the changes that have taken place.

I’d like to thank Amy Jo Fisher, American Family Insurance for facilitating the event discussion.

 

 

3 Best Practices to Engage Your Frontline Employees

Identifying the Problems Your Customers Encounter, Is Only Half the Battle

Knowing how to resolve them, however, is what really matters. Many companies, while committed to improving the customer experience, are not where they want to be with their Voice of the Customer (VoC) initiative. In particular, the frontline managers and employees who directly shape customer experience lack the information and resources they need to take effective action and fully engage with their CX programs.

MaritzCX has conducted extensive research and interviewed employees at a variety of levels and companies who are responsible for translating survey results into action. Our research revealed several common issues for frontline employees:

  • Feeling left out of the design;
  • Not fully understanding the story; and
  • Not knowing what to do even when they do understand

When CX programs fall short in critical areas like these, the front line employees disengage—and that’s a problem. After all, these programs don’t just exist to feed corporate dashboards; they also support and drive actions to improve the customer experience.

So, what’s to be done? It starts with acknowledging the front line as stakeholders in the process.

1. Give Front line Employees Their Own Voice

Front line employees can develop customer loyalty, attract new customers, build your company’s reputation, and drive your company’s profit. It’s important, then, to make the front line an equal partner in the design process and tailor the reporting engines to their needs. Here are some recommendations:

  • Involve Them in Program Design: Include front line managers as active members of the design team to learn their perspectives firsthand—after all, these are the people creating and delivering much of what the customers experience.
  • Give Them What They Crave—the “Real” Voice of the Customer: Verbatim customer comments provide a rich source of information and value to the front line. Sophisticated text analysis tools allow survey designers to shift the balance from 100% close-ended questionnaires to those that actively seek open-ended feedback.
  • Offer Them Questionnaire Real Estate and Flexibility: Mass customization techniques are making it possible for organizations to tailor their customer experience surveys for individual operating units or groups. Smart organizations will also include a “flex” section in their surveys to accommodate topical or time-sensitive issues of interest.
  • Give Them Easy-to-Use Feedback Mechanisms: Consider developing a system that encourages the front line to provide regular feedback on the survey process, e.g. one that is built directly into the reporting system for added convenience.

2. Use the Right Tool for the Right Job

Collecting the right information is only the beginning; you must also make the information easy to access, use, and understand. Today’s customer experience reporting portals can be difficult to use, non-intuitively organized, and full of distracting elements that obscure the message for the end user.

Employees with different responsibilities require fundamentally different information. A retail manager for a bank, for example, does not use the same information as someone in headquarters. Focusing on the front line and their specific needs helps the organization design a more effective reporting system and user interface. Most industries with a retail operation have at least three user roles with different needs:

  • Headquarters/Corporate Users
  • Regional or Area Managers
  • Frontline (Unit) Managers

It is important to design your reporting system with the end users in mind and equip employees with tools that cater to their individual needs.

3. Remember, It’s All About Action

It’s easy to get caught up in the details of sampling and questionnaire design and forget what equally matters: inspiring and motivating people to do something with the information. To do this, you need to deploy a consistent VoC process that aligns the right people and processes to enact meaningful change.

The ideal reporting system will include a “cafeteria plan” of pre-configured tools that support actions at the unit level:

  • Performance Metrics Tools help managers identify and prioritize the areas they need to focus on to improve the customer experience. These tools can be aligned with organizational goals or used to analyze the relationship between customer experience and business outcomes such as loyalty. In either implementation, it encourages unit managers to understand the potential outcomes of their efforts.
  • Employee Coaching Tools, when built directly into customer experience management (CEM) systems, allow front line managers to collaborate with their employees and address areas of concern or opportunity. Alternatively, when linked to the organization’s learning management system (LMS), they can redirect employees who are struggling in a certain area to applicable training courses.
  • Service Recovery Tools, such as unit-level case management systems, allow front line managers to identify at-risk customers and reach out to resolve the problem. Additionally, managers can assign specific tasks to employees, close out concerns, and monitor case aging and incidence rates.
  • Diagnostic Processing Improvement Tools, when implemented at the unit level, allow front line managers to use a gated action planning process to resolve their specific problem areas. A well-designed reporting system should include a section to develop and track unit-level action plans.

Conclusion: Ringing the Cash Register

The investment return on VoC programs has never been in the measurement—it’s what companies do with the information that has the potential to ring the cash register. Getting the right information into the hands of unit managers and other front line employees is critical to improving the customer experience. The best systems:

  • Offer tools that support effective service recovery, employee coaching, and action planning;
  • Link to learning systems; and
  • Contain monitoring tools that drive action-ability and collaboration across all levels of the organization.

Anything less and you risk disengaging your employees and selling your VoC initiative short.

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