The Case for Automotive Dealership Mystery Shopping Programs

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on the CX Cafe Blog.

Being a good son-in-law, I have taken on the responsibility of finding my mother-in-law a new car.  Her lease expires soon and I have been dedicated to getting her the best deal possible—but on a car that is safe for her and for my kids (which she is frequently carting around to go shopping, go see horses, or go get ice cream).  My search has included all dealership’s channels and touchpoints:  online research, phone conversations, and in-person visits.  These interactions with multiple dealerships have all had one main thing in common:  Absolutely no two were the same (which, based on the experiences, is both good and bad).

Because of these varied interactions, I began wondering if those brands were conducting mystery shops at their locations…because if they weren’t, they should really start!  In previous blogs, I have discussed the basics of mystery shopping and how this methodology has evolved over the years.  But the one thing that has never changed is how excellent of a tool mystery shopping is for monitoring and improving brands’ service levels to customers.  Through my car-searching venture for my mother-in-law, I clearly experienced why auto manufacturers need to have a dealership-level mystery shopping program.  Consider the following reasons for implementing a mystery shopping program at your dealership:

Why do Mystery Shops?

  1. Confirm if business standards are being met—You implement business standards to address both operational requirements and the needs of those you serve.  Mystery shops then measure whether or not your dealerships are delivering on those standards.  For instance, is the customer being greeted upon entering the dealership?  Is the customer being asked about his or her need, specific models of interest, or how he or she will use the vehicle?  More importantly, are your representatives asking for the sale!
  2. Learn what customers are actually experiencing—Truly understand why the quantitative numbers from your CX measurements or VOC surveys are the way they are and how can you improve them.
  3. Identify gaps within the customer experience—Improve customer experience by identifying gaps in dealerships’ performance, as it relates to the pre-established goals and objectives set forth by the brand. This a critical component of being able to improve the overall customer experience.
  4. Determine if training initiatives are being carried out—Evaluate the changes in behavior based on corporate interventions or specific training. Is there a change in performance after additional training is received?  Mystery shopping can also help identify, initially, exactly which behaviors or processes are incorrect or under-performing to help build a more relevant and substantive training initiative.
  5. Confirm whether marketing efforts are being deployed—Determine if there are gaps between promises made though advertising and sales promotions and what is delivered. Are all locations fully stocked with sales brochures, promotional materials, and other in-store signage elements that can attract the attention of customers or provide them with more information?
  6. Assess competitor performance to establish a benchmark—Conducting mystery shops—based on your current standards—at competitors’ locations allows you to identify areas of strength and areas of opportunity compared to other brands vying for your customers’ business. It also helps identify best practices occurring at other brands’ locations that could be enacted within your own network to improve customer engagement, satisfaction, and hopefully, sales.  At a higher level, manufacturers can also learn about recommended best practices and disseminate those findings throughout their dealership networks.

Conducting a mystery shop program throughout your dealership network is a major undertaking, but the ROI you experience from it makes it a solid investment of your time and money.  When designing, implementing, and managing your mystery shopping program, you need to consider the following items to help ensure success:

Things to Keep in Mind When Considering Mystery Shops

  1. Set clear objectives—What do you want shops to accomplish and/or what insights are you hoping to learn from the results? How will these be used throughout your organization?
  2. Keep them focused—Make sure you stay focused on your objectives and that the mystery shops are driven by a single, specific scenario. In other words, don’t combine a sales shop and service shop scenario on the same visit or allow your program to become a marketing or operation audit.
  3. Do multiple shops at the same dealership—Design your program that each dealership receives multiple shops throughout each shopping period – it is not wise to base decisions on one point of time. Also, make sure you are addressing each customer touchpoint.
  4. Use results in concert with quantitative findings—Make sure you integrate your CX and VOC results into the basis for the mystery shop criteria to be evaluated. After all, this is what your customers are telling you is important to them, and it will help direct you to the most important areas on which to focus improvement efforts.
  5. Do them on a regular basis—Make sure your mystery shop program is ongoing so you are constantly monitoring performance and identifying gaps on which to improve.

Know What Your Customers Care About Most

Mystery shopping is a strong complement to any CX initiative. It reveals specific, objective issues that affect a customer’s perception of your brand and their experiences while at your dealerships and service locations.  It also helps you objectively monitor frontline performance on items you know your customers care about, based on the consumer data you are already collecting. Mystery shopping gives you actionable data for making specific adjustments such as ensuring sales floors are clean and reducing wait times so customer expectations are met. This in turn brings customers back, builds loyalty, and protects your bottom line.

By addressing the items listed above you can rest assured that your organization will have a mystery shop program that fulfills the needs of both your organization and your customers.  Now I guess I’d better get back to finding my mother-in-law a new car!

Delighting Without Asking: A Behavioral Science POV on Customer Experience

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

As marketers and CX professionals, we care a lot about what our customers think. No opinion matters more than theirs. So, we often ask them for it. “What did you think about this? Did you enjoy that? Which would you prefer? Please choose, please rank, please describe…”

What if I told you that most of the time… people have no idea? That’s a theme that is consistently emerging from the field of behavioral science. We think we know what we want, but the truth is, the neural mechanisms and ingrained biases driving our decisions lie far beneath the layer of consciousness accessible to us when articulating our experiences or predicting our choices.

Thinking Fast vs.Thinking SlowA graph showing the thinking fast and slow parts of the brain

I’m talking about the emotional brain, versus the rational brain. The elephant controlling the rider. The System One process versus the System Two. In his book inking Fast and Slow,1 Nobel-prize winning behavioral economist, Daniel Kahneman establishes two parallel processes by which our brains make sense of the world and our experience within it. System One is fast, automatic, emotional, and nonconscious. System Two is slow, deliberate, rational, and “managed” consciously. Because we are consciously aware only of System Two, we genuinely feel that everything we do is governed by rational thought. We are unaware of the many hidden motivators and cognitive “shortcuts” our System One uses to make the vast majority of our decisions swiftly and automatically, in the interest of freeing up our cognitive energy for life’s more complicated decisions.

Cognitive Heuristics

There are many fascinating examples of these cognitive shortcuts, otherwise known as biases or heuristics. Perhaps the best known is the power of the default setting, made famous by its effect on organ donation in Johnson and Goldstein’s landmark 2003 study.2 The decision of whether or not to enlist as an organ donor, one would think, is both intimate and fraught with personal and cultural values. It turns out, however, that the main determinant of whether or not an individual enlists as an organ donor, is whether their governing body offers this as a default “opt-in”or “opt-out” choice. At the time of the study, Germany’s “opt-in” setting led 12 percent of their population to enlist as a donor, while neighboring, and culturally similar, Austria’s “opt-out” default seing led almost 100 percent of its citizens to choose to remain in the donor pool. In the US, by the way, 85 percent of citizens say they want to be organ donors, but only 28 percent actually are. This could be due to our country’s opt-in default setting. What’s interesting about the power of defaults is that we rationally deny their effect on our decisions. Citizens of the aforementioned countries rationalize their choices to be a donor or not, based on personal or cultural values. They don’t think about the default setting. Companies use defaults all the time: automakers display vehicles fully loaded, and it’s up to us to deselect each delightful feature, feeling the pain of loss with each “uncheck”.

Another prevalent cognitive bias is social proof. Take those placards in your hotel bathroom, for example, urging you to recycle your towel for the good of the environment. Sometimes they give you statistics on the millions of gallons of water saved when you choose to hang your towel on the hook to use another day. Behavioral science shows us that information like this doesn’t really change behavior. But social proof does. Noah Goldstein experimented with the towel placards by adding an element of social comparison. Indicating that “Most other people who stay in this hotel recycle their towels,”3 increased towel recycling by 26 percent. Amazingly, adding a layer of specificity to an arbitrary “in-group,” “Most other people who stay in this room recycle their towels,” increased recycling another seven percent! We are indeed a social species. The leading customer engagement platform for utilities, Opower, leveraged this effect by issuing Home Energy Report letters,4 which compared each household’s energy usage to that of comparable neighbors. This social comparison caused recipients to decrease their energy usage by up to 6.3 percent among the highest energy users. Lotteries are another great example of cognitive bias in action. Though it makes little rational sense, humans predictably choose a 10 percent chance at winning $30 over a sure bet of three dollars.

Lab animals of nearly every species have been shown to display a preference for a lever that rewards them with a treat intermittently, or randomly, versus providing a certain reward. Companies employ the random reward effect with lotteries and sweepstakes, as effective drivers of customer engagement.

What’s so interesting about these biases is not just that they predictably drive our behavior, but that they do so in a way that is hidden to us. Disclosing a default setting, for example, though appreciated, does not affect the likelihood of choosing the default, because the default bias is driven by our System One “shortcut” process. Asking someone to predict or describe their behavior, calls on their System Two. Our mouth doesn’t always know what our heart is doing.

Seeing What’s Easiest to Explain

There are a few other important things to consider when asking people to articulate their choices and experiences. In his research on predicted utility, Christopher Hsee asked people to choose between a small chocolate heart and a large chocolate cockroach.5 ough only 46 percent actually preferred the cockroach, 68 percent chose it. It’s more chocolate after all, the reasoning goes, and it would be rationally foolish to leave chocolate on the table. When asked to make a choice, we often default to the most justifiable option—even when it’s not what we really want. Even more troubling, this effect can cause us to enjoy our experiences less. Researchers at the University of Virginia asked students to choose a free poster from a box.6 One random group of those students was asked to explain their choices. While most students preferred impressionistic painting posters, and chose to take those home when they weren’t asked to explain their rationale, the “explainer” group chose against their preference, instead taking home funny animal posters. They found the choice of animal poster easier to articulate, than the impressionistic paintings. Consequently, one month later, they were far less happy with their posters.

Even the way we collect information from customers influences their choices and behavior. Jonathan Levav found that when customers are specking a product such as a new car, the order in which the product attributes are presented, matters.7 Subjects were more likely to choose a default option after they had considered an attribute with many choices (e.g. paint color) first, than when the first decision was one with fewer choices (e.g. engine type). It may be that we only have so much energy to burn on System Two decision-making, before we give in to the default bias and accept what’s presented to us.

The point is this: we care about our customers, and must learn as much as we can about their needs, preferences, experiences, and desires. But asking them gives us only part of the story. Behavioral science gives us a peek beneath the layer of conscious awareness, and a reliable set of principles to use as we explore the creation of experiences that appeal to people holistically: through both their Systems One and Two.

SOURCES & NOTES

  1. Kahneman, Daniel. (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow.
  2. Eric J., and Goldstein, Daniel G. “Do Defaults Save Lives?” Science Vol. 302. (2003): 1338-1339.
  3. Goldstein, Noah J., Cialdini, Robert B., and Grizkevicius, Vladas. “A Room with a Viewpoint: Using Social Norms to Motivate Environmental Conservation in Hotels.” Journal of Consumer Research Vol. 35. (2008).
  4. Allcott, Hunt. “Social Norms and Energy Conservation” Journal of Public Economics Vol. 95. Issues 9-10 (2011): 1082-1095.
  5. Hsee, Christopher K. “Value seeking and prediction-decision inconsistency: Why don’t people take what they predict they’ll like the most?” Psychonomic Bulletin & Review Vol. 6. Issue 4 (2011): 555-561.
  6. Wilson, Timothy D.; Lyle, Douglas J.; Schooler, Jonathan W.; Hodges, Sarah D; Klaaren, Kristen J.; LaFleur, Suzanne J. “Introspecting About Reasons Can Reduce Post-Choice Satisfaction” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin Vol. 19. Issue 3 (1993): 331-339.
  7. Levav, Jonathan; Heitmann, Mark; Herrman, Andreas; and Iyengar, Sheena S. “Order in Product Customization Decisions: Evidence from Field Experiments” Journal of Political Economy Vol. 118. Issue 2 (2010): 274-299.

Why SaaS Companies Need Net Promoter Score Feedback from End Users

If you are like most B2B SaaS company leaders, you send your buyers an Net Promoter Score survey out to gauge loyalty and solicit feedback. If you are focused on retention, you need to know the answer to the NPS question: How likely are you to recommend my product or service?   However, you may be hesitant to ask the same question of the hundreds of end users of your product. 

The fact is end users are your customers, too.  After purchase it is your end users that must become the champions of your product. If they are unhappy they will tell your decision makers or, worse, let their feelings be known on social media.

Knowing what end users think of your product is invaluable, essential intelligence for your QBR. 

Whether you are in Sales or Customer Success, here is how end-user feedback plays into your Quarterly Business Review with your key stakeholder. He or she may not know how happy or unhappy their people are with your product. But you do!  

Scenario 1: End users are happy.  Imagine being able to tell a VP of Product or CMO that end-users gave your product a 52 NPS, and rattling off some of the great verbatim feedback you’ve received from promoters.  You’ve harnessed that brand advocacy. Now picture a competitor cold-calling your client. Is that VP even going to take the call and “explore other options”? No way. Not a good use of her time. 

Scenario 2: End users aren’t so happy.  That’s still good intel. You can be proactive. Let the decision maker hear it from you (they may already have heard from their people anyway): “Your team is achieving  [a success goal], but they have definitely experienced frustration with this new feature of ours. We know it didn’t meet expectations, but I want to assure you that the fix is on our roadmap for Q2 and you will be the first to be upgraded…”  

Either way, you are a proactive, knowledgeable and trustworthy partner to your stakeholders.

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

End-user NPS feedback will shape your product roadmap

Hearing directly, day in and day out, from end users provides a pulse of sentiment and qualitative feedback that Product teams need.  There is nothing like hearing about a new feature directly from a user.  And, users will identify a bug before the company can — you have an quality control army to support you. Some SaaS companies, like Magoosh, use in-app Net Promoter Score survey feedback to A/B test product versions for customer happiness. The product team at Hootsuite adds a feature to each quarterly roadmap that is derived from end user NPS feedback.

The Best Way to Survey End Users

Lengthy email surveys are not appropriate for end users. You need to know if users like your product, if they’d recommend your product, if it actually helps them in the way they need. You don’t need a lengthy survey to get actionable feedback from them. Plus, even if you do have their email contact information, that isn’t a channel they expect to hear from you in. If you send users a survey via email, they might not recognize who it is coming from.

Use in-app NPS surveys to get the information you need from users of your SaaS product. Surveys inside your SaaS application will give you the contextual feedback you need in real-time.  And the best part is that a well-designed in-app survey is unobtrusive.  It won’t interrupt the work that users are doing in your product. When a user opts to respond, it will only take them seconds to do so.

“The Wootric in-app survey is great. It’s non-intrusive, and it doesn’t block our customers from doing what they need to do in our dashboard.” Sterling Anderson, Customer Insights Manager, Hootsuite

Resistance to asking end users for feedback 

Leading edge, customer-centric SaaS companies like New Relic, DocuSign and Consumer Reports have made the leap to asking end users for Net Promoter Score (NPS) feedback. You may be struggling with the same concerns they had to overcome.  Let’s run them down:

2. I don’t have a relationship with end users.

B2B SaaS companies often do not interact with the end-users of their product. Historically, even getting to the end user was nearly impossible. You may have communicated with one or several stakeholder decision makers that have signed off on the subscription purchase, but not had a single email address for the people actually using the product every day.

This is where in-app surveys truly shine. Users have an existing relationship with you through your product, and are more likely to give feedback when asked within the product experience.

2. The volume of responses is scary.

The idea of going from 2 or 3 survey responses per account to hundreds can sound overwhelming. With modern Voice of the Customer software platforms though, feedback is aggregated and analyzed for you–often using machine learning.

Sending surveys is automated as well.  You don’t have to create survey “campaigns.” You can drip Net Promoter Score surveys and get constantly updated, real-time feedback. That way you’ll never miss a trend. Alternatively, you can trigger Customer Satisfaction or Customer Effort Score surveys at key points in the customer journey.

3. I don’t know how to respond to end-user feedback.

Depending on the feedback, you can respond in a couple of very productive ways:

  • You can send set up an auto-message to thank users for responding to the survey. This can be customized based on whether the user was happy or had a complaint.
  • Promoters, or highly satisfied customers, can be referred to Customer Success or Marketing for testimonials or case studies.  Route unhappy end user responses to Customer Support for follow up.
  • If responding to each user isn’t feasible, one simple way to close the loop is to create a blog article that talks about the feedback you’ve received and what you plan to do about it.

4. Am I going to mess up my corporate KPI by surveying end users?

Segmentation can help here. Parse your metrics by buyer, admin and user, for example, to maintain continuity with previous buyer-only NPS data. If you believe that end-user feedback has value — there is a way!

5. Yikes. Am I REALLY ready to hear feedback about my product? 

This may be the single greatest fear we encounter! It takes a brave business to ask for real, unvarnished feedback from end users. And it takes a smart business to know how to use that feedback to build better products and improve user experiences. It’s not for the faint of heart. But it is essential for businesses hoping to grow, gain referrals, and lead their industries. A modern Net Promoter Score software platform can help make this organized and manageable.

Modern CXM software will help you get it right.

End user feedback will tell you your strengths and weaknesses, which are both valuable information. Understanding what end users love can strengthen your relationships with the decision makers. Knowing where end users get into trouble puts you ahead of negative feedback at reviews, ensuring you’re prepared with a game plan to remedy the issue and keep the account.

Build end-user loyalty. Sign up today for free Net Promoter Score feedback with InMoment.

5 Ways to Guard Against Survey Manipulation

I’ve been in the automotive industry for some time and concerns about dealership attempts to interfere with the customer satisfaction measurement process have been around for a long time as well, but lately they seem to be intensifying. Do you know how to guard against survey manipulation? My hope is this blog will give you some things to think about, start a conversation, and help you understand my perspective on how manufacturers can work towards addressing survey manipulation.

Here’s what I’m seeing. The first step most manufacturers and suppliers take is to put processes in place to identify dealerships that attempt to manipulate survey results. While this step is extremely important it only addresses part of the problem. To effectively address this issue, manufacturers, dealers, and customer satisfaction measurement suppliers need to work together.  And how they do that is by:

  1. Establishing, communicating, and consistently enforcing consequences and a strong anti-manipulation policy
  2. Designing survey systems that make manipulation of survey results difficult
  3. Setting up systems and processes to identify dealerships that attempt to manipulate survey results
  4. Defining acceptable practices and working with dealerships to implement them
  5. Designing reward and compensation programs that minimize the motivation to manipulate customer experience measures 

Establishing Consequences

Consequences of engaging in unacceptable practices need to be specified in advance and communicated to dealerships. These consequences need to be enforced if dealerships are identified as engaging in survey manipulation. Manufacturers will need to utilize consequences which they have the ability to enforce. Effective consequences include:

  • Assigning the lowest score to manipulated surveys
  • Requiring dealerships to reimburse the manufacturer for the cost of conducting their CSI surveys for the time period under which manipulation occurred
  • Denying customer satisfaction-based compensation or rewards to dealerships that have manipulated their scores
  • Subjecting dealerships that have been identified as manipulating their scores to audits of all or many of their manufacturer programs
  • Including language in the manufacturer/dealer franchise agreement that customer satisfaction survey manipulation is grounds for removal of the franchise 

Making Manipulation Difficult

Manufacturers and their customer experience suppliers should design systems that make survey manipulation as difficult as possible. These systems need to be continually monitored and updated to address new methods of survey manipulation.

Some ways to make survey manipulation difficult include:

  • Use contact information that can be verified
  • Use manufacturer databases, not dealership management systems, as the source of sales and service samples
  • Don’t conduct point-of-purchase/point-of-service surveys
  • Use contact information that can reach all, or almost all, customers
  • Use multiple contact methodologies
  • Allow customers the option of remaining anonymous

Designing Processes to Reduce Manipulation

The less likely dealerships are to get caught manipulating survey results, the more tempting it will be for some of them to try. Therefore, processes need to be put in place to identify potential survey manipulation. These processes will be specific to the given project and the methodologies used, but can be broadly categorized as follows:

  • Examine customer contact records for suspicious mail or email addresses and phone numbers
  • Examine incoming materials including IP addresses
  • Examine customer comments
  • Examine contact resolution reports
  • Examine the actual data
  • Randomly audit survey responses
  • Include a survey manipulation question in the survey

Implementing Acceptable Practices

There are many practices dealerships can implement that both increase customer satisfaction scores and improve the customer experience. If manufacturers embrace these practices and work with dealerships to implement them, dealerships will have less need to engage in unacceptable survey manipulation. Some practices I have seen encouraged by manufacturers include:

  • Showing a blank survey to all customers and requesting that they fill it out honestly and return it
  • Asking customers if they are unsatisfied about anything regarding their experience and attempting to resolve the issue
  • Telephoning customers within a few days of a sales or service event, inquiring about their satisfaction, and engaging in appropriate efforts to resolve any dissatisfaction
  • Explaining the importance of receiving customer feedback for both the dealership and the manufacturer

Minimizing the Motivation to Manipulate

While it is important to hold dealerships accountable for their treatment of customers, and compensation based on customer satisfaction scores is the most obvious way to do that, I believe the way in which some reward and compensation programs have been designed has exacerbated the problem of dealerships attempting to manipulate the system. Some suggestions for setting up programs that minimize the motivation to manipulate results while still holding dealerships accountable for customer satisfaction are:

  • Compensate/Reward based on several desired business metrics of which customer satisfaction is only one.
  • Use a tiered compensation strategy rather than an “all
or nothing” strategy.
  • Separate the dealership performance appraisal process from the dealership diagnostic process.
  • Require large sample sizes for determining scores.
  • Keep monetary rewards at a reasonable level so they remain rewards and do not turn into business necessities.
  • Consider non-monetary rewards

While many of these concepts and steps to reduce survey manipulation are all being done by most manufacturers, few are doing all of them together.

Don’t Forget You May Be Different

Survey manipulation is a systemic issue, but it affects vehicle manufacturers differently. Each manufacturer, with input from its dealerships, needs to decide what practices are acceptable and unacceptable. Each manufacturer needs to determine how seriously it wants to pursue this issue and how serious consequences should be to its dealerships who engage in unacceptable practices. This blog offers some guidelines and ideas manufacturers may want to consider when making these decisions. I’m always open to answer questions and I would enjoy hearing what you’re doing or your thoughts about survey manipulation, feel free to join this conversation on CX Café or check our webinar on survey manipulation.

8 Innovative Ways to Use CX Metrics to Create Unbeatable Customer Experience

What we call Customer Experience (CX) is the total effect of each interaction between brand and customer over the course of the entire relationship (and it’s really all about how they feel). Positive feelings = effective CX, whether the interaction happens in a SaaS product, on a social media page, a website, over the phone, in person, or driving on the freeway.

This isn’t the same as User Experience – not at all.

Whereas UX is commonly concerned with evaluation of your product or website – a very limited scope – CX encompasses the entire experience of each customer from end-to-end, including touch points on your website, off your website, offline, on mobile, and person-to-person contact. You need both.

Fortunately, UX can be relatively easy to optimize.

Optimizing CX, on the other hand, can seem like an impossibly large task.

But keep in mind: CX is the sum total of specific, concrete, controllable occurrences. You know exactly when and how your customers interact with your brand, right? (No? You should – if it happens online, it’s all trackable). Your task then becomes understanding which CX metrics to track and how to use those metrics to create unbeatable – unforgettable – customer experiences for all.

Why is CXM so important?

Customer Experience Management (CXM or CEM) is a burgeoning field because CX heavily influences the likelihood of three very important actions:

  • Repeat purchases
  • Referrals
  • Complaints

Repeat purchases and referrals are growth engines, decreasing the cost of acquiring new customers, decreasing churn, and increasing lifetime value.

Complaints – especially public ones on review sites – are damaging, influencing untold numbers of prospects to look elsewhere for solutions.

CX can also act as a powerful differentiator in a sea of similar products and services. It’s a key to not only increasing revenue, but also gaining lasting competitive advantage. Studies have shown that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for better CX.

And, in a study published in the Harvard Business Review, researchers found that “Customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.”

It should be a ‘no-brainer,’ but you know how the saying goes: What gets measured gets managed.

First, a summary of the CX measurements we will cover.

The Most Important CX Metrics to Track

      1. Net Promoter Score

      2. Customer Satisfaction

      3. Customer Effort Score

      4. First Response Time

      5. Problem Resolution Time

      6. Contact Volume by Channel

      7. Social Listening Stats

      8. Referral & Review Rates

Now, let’s dig into each one.

8 CX Metrics: Definitions (and What to Do with Them)

      1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

        Net Promoter Score is a simple survey that asks users to rate, on a scale from 1-10, how likely they are to refer the product/service to a friend or colleague. Those who score 9 and 10 are your promoters – they are delighted with your work and are more likely to buy more and bring their friends. People who score below a 6 are detractors. They are not having a good experience, not at all, and are very likely to tell other people about it!

        NPS is a classic “brand metric” but product teams, like those at IBM, are using NPS to improve customer experience.

        In-app NPS survey

      • How to use NPS for CX: We’ve written a whole book on this topic, but here is a new, innovative approach: Use an NPS threshold as a go/no-go milestone before launching a new product or feature out of beta.IBM is developing a new Slack-like communication product for their customers’ teams. Using IBM’s Watson machine learning and NLP (Natural Language Processing) capabilities, this SaaS product can summarize channel conversations for those who don’t have time to wade through all the team chatter. The AI also aims to summon and post in-channel all relevant information about sales opportunities that are discussed by the team. When asked when the product will be on the market, Inhi Cho Suh, General Manager, Collaboration Solutions at IBM, proudly says, “There is no launch date.” She is measuring Net Promoter Score in this new SaaS application to capture real-time feedback, and says the product will only be released when it earns a satisfactory NPS from beta users. 

Get the ebook, The Modern Guide to Winning Customers with Net Promoter Score. Learn eight ways to optimize customer experience with a real-time approach to NPS.

      1. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

        A CSAT survey asks a customer how satisfied they are with a recent interaction – often a purchase or customer service call – on a rating scale.

        CSAT survey in-app from Wootric

      • How to use CSAT for CX: This is an incredibly valuable metric to track when you’re trying to optimize for CX, because this metric will show you which specific interactions are most in need of improvement. It is most often used after an interaction with Customer Support. Use it as a compass to point you in the direction of where your attentions are most needed. Depending on your survey program, you can deliver these surveys in-app, and choose various survey formats – even an emoticon scale. Using CSAT at journey points is a new way of leveraging this time-honored metric.  For more information on CSAT, check out our previous post.
      1. Customer Effort Score (CES)

        A CES survey asks the customer “How much effort did you have to expend to handle your request?” and is, perhaps, the most telling metric of how positive your customer’s experience has been. The harder it was for them to get an answer, the worse their experience, and the lower your CX.In-app CES Customer Effort Score Survey Some say “effortlessness” is the most relevant attribute of customer satisfaction. “If I had to choose only one KPI, I would use Customer Effort Score (CES). While the relative importance of effort as a driver of satisfaction differs depending on your company’s business model — e.g., selling shoes online vs. providing legal advice — it is a measure of one thing that all customers have in common: using your products and services should be as easy as possible. Nobody wants to expend more effort if given the choice.” – Mark Mollet, Customer Experience Manager at Helpling (source).

      • How to use CES for CX: Typically, you’ll deploy a CES survey after a customer support interaction. But, more and more SaaS companies are using these to gauge the effort required during the onboarding process (the point at which users are most likely to churn). The results of the survey will tell you how easy your onboarding process is, and you should see your numbers improve as you work to simplify the process.
      1. First Response Time

        This is the amount of time it takes a company to respond to a customer query. Customers expect very fast response times, and when brands don’t meet their high expectations, they become frustrated and CX drops. How fast is fast? Studies show that 53% of customers find 3 minutes to be a reasonable response time while waiting for a support agent – by telephone. Email is a bit longer at 24 to 48 hours, but the best companies, like Buffer, work on replying within one hour. And then there’s Live Chat – which requires a nearly instant response.

      • How to use First Response Time for CX: The faster the responses, the happier the customers – that’s a correlation that nearly always holds true. But, of course, if it were easy, everyone would do it! So how can we make faster response times easier? One way is by creating a Slack community for customers. ProdPad’s Director of Customer Success observed that email and Twitter weren’t creating the levels of customer engagement they were hoping for (which they knew because they were tracking those metrics). So they created a Slack community specifically for their customers to get instant, direct help, both from the brand and from other customers. Customers don’t even have to participate to get value – they can learn from everyone else. The results speak for themselves: 99% of their churn is from customers who are not part of the Slack community.
      1. Problem Resolution Time

        How fast can you solve a customer’s problem? Or, let’s put it another way: How many people does the customer speak with before the issue is solved? As a customer, there are few experiences more frustrating than speaking to someone who is incapable of solving your problem, then being bounced around to several other people who also are not equipped (not knowledgeable, not permitted, not empowered enough) to offer a solution. This is what Problem Resolution Time measures. You can get the answer with a simple survey, sent after a customer support interaction is completed, asking how long it took to solve the problem.

      • How to use Problem Resolution Time for CX: This metric serves to alert you to problems that affect the efficacy of your customer support program. You’ll probably need to do additional digging to get to the root of the problem (insufficient training? Are agents not empowered to handle issues without managerial oversight? Is it difficult to transfer customers to the appropriate person quickly?). You may not be able to find a quick fix, but once you solve these issues, your CX will improve drastically.
      1. Contact Volume by Channel

        Paying attention to volumes of calls and the number of inquiries you receive may not seem like the key to increasing customer happiness, but Buffer says it is. (Note: A high volume of service tickets isn’t necessarily a bad sign – it means customers want to be successful with your product. It’s the quiet customers you should worry about!)

      • How to use Contact Volume by Channel for CX: Buffer checks for spikes that indicate rushes in support traffic at certain times of day, which they then use to allocate service employees and resources so they are ready to meet demand. Of course, they always have a “buffer” to handle sudden support demands also. Not only does Buffer look for patterns in volume – they also track which channels their customers use most (emails, chat), and which questions are most frequently asked. That way, they know how cost effective it is to create a self-serve knowledge base, or find other methods to quickly and efficiently answer questions.
      1. Social Listening Stats

        Listening to the conversations happening about you via mention.com, or some other tool, and jumping into the conversation can create a community-like, welcoming customer experience that reaches very early in the sales funnel, all the way down to the Customer Success stage. Buffer is really good at this.
        Buffer's social listening on Twitter

      • How to use Social Listening for CX: By monitoring your mentions in real-time, and allotting the human-power to respond in real-time, you’re creating an additional touchpoint with your brand – and another opportunity for positive, interactive, engaging experiences. The best part is: You’re doing it in public. Some potential metrics to use to help with social listening include how many people are talking about you, how many comments hashtag your brand, support reach-outs, Twitter chat participation, and of course, mentions.
      1. Referral & Review Rates

        Perhaps the most accurate measure of customer experience is the oldest: word-of-mouth recommendations (aka. referrals and reviews). NPS measures the willingness to refer, but only tracking actual referrals and reviews will give you the genuine numbers.

      • How to use Referral & Review Rates for CX: Tracking referrals and reviews requires a combination of social listening and a trackable customer advocacy program (which works hand-in-hand with tracking NPS to identify promoters early and encourage them to act). Referrals and reviews not only measure how successful your customer experience efforts are, they can also encourage a sense of personalization and interactivity – but only if you respond and reward these highly valuable behaviors!

Customer Experience is truly the key to retention and growth at its most fundamental levels. When customers love your products, enjoy working with you, feel good about asking questions (and getting prompt answers), and come out of each interaction feeling good about you and themselves, growth and profit are natural byproducts.

However, as natural as this is, when you need to create these positive experiences at scale, you have to track your successes and failures, understand which metrics have the most impact, and come up with creative ways to make your target customers smile at each touchpoint. It’s a tall order, true. But doable.

Improve CX! Sign up today for free NPS, CSAT or CES feedback with InMoment.

Auto-Analyzing Sentiment in Survey Feedback using NLP: How Do Customers Feel About Your People?

Wootric uses CX metrics — Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction and Customer Effort Score — to monitor customer experience for high-growth companies. We take a customer-centric approach to survey design. For example, our modern 2-question Net Promoter Score survey invites customers to elaborate freely on the reason for their score. We deliver millions of surveys that achieve response rates of 30-40%, generating thousands of customer comments each week.

Two Step in-app NPS Survey by Wootric

Customer feedback comments are a treasure trove of information that can help a company shape their product and service for success. Until now it has been difficult for a Customer Insights Manager or customer experience management (CXM) teams to mine and aggregate qualitative data for insights that can guide business decisions.  

Auto-Tagging with Sentiment Analysis

We recently announced early access to a new product feature: auto-tagging. For auto-tagging, we use our homegrown machine learning system along with Google Cloud Natural Language API to automatically categorize open-ended customer feedback that our customers get as part of their NPS, CSAT and CES programs. The goal is to help companies put some structure to all of this qualitative data. We have a long list of customers eagerly waiting to get their hands on this feature. It’s a good problem to have.

In addition, we are developing the ability to identify the sentiment of the feedback. The goal is to determine not only what the customer was talking about, but to say whether the feedback is positive, neutral or negative. It is particularly complex to decipher multiple “sentiments” within a single comment.  

Here is an example feedback comment that we received in response to a Net Promoter Score survey on our own production application (we practice what we preach):

“Setup guide for customizing social sharing on iOS SDK was confusing. Diego reached out with sample code which helped a lot.”

Wootric is a SaaS product, so our auto-tagger uses a SaaS data training model and applies three tags to this survey response (Documentation, SDK, People), and assigns a NEUTRAL sentiment for the feedback as a whole. This obviously is pretty good, but we want to do more.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could dig deeper and apply sentiment for each tag as well? In the above example, the customer was not happy with the SDK Set-up Guide, but was pleased with Diego’s assistance.  This nuance is buried under the overall NEUTRAL sentiment. Ideally, the Documentation and SDK tags would be identified as having negative sentiment, while the People tag would be positive.  

We can identify sentiment associated with People, Team, Organization or Location

This is not a trivial problem to solve. However, using Google Cloud Natural Language API’s latest feature called “entity sentiment analysis” we have made progress. We can already get sentiment for entities referenced in feedback where an entity is defined as People, Team, Organization and Location. In this case, Diego is an entity of type People and positive sentiment is correctly attached to it.

Example of Auto-tagging an Wootric NPS Survey Response

CUSTOMER LANGUAGE AUTO-TAGS SENTIMENT
“Setup guide for customizing social sharing on iOS SDK was confusing. Diego reached out with sample code which helped a lot.” NEUTRAL
“Setup guide” Documentation     future
“iOS SDK” SDK     future
“Diego” People POSITIVE

A Business Use Case

Our customers often trigger a CSAT survey using our incoming webhooks and workflows when a support case is closed in their CRM system like Salesforce or Zendesk.

We notice that responses often reference a team or specific person that the customer has engaged with. Auto-tagging this feedback as “People” with applicable sentiment will provide these companies with an easy way to measure and track how customers are feeling about the people aspect of a company’s Customer Success or Support program. Today we support this feedback analysis in the English language only. With the help of Google Cloud we plan to support other languages in near future. Please reach out to us with the language you need so that we can prioritize.

Retain more customers. Start getting CX Metric feedback today with InMoment.

How Net Promoter Score has Evolved to Keep Pace with Modern CXM

Net Promoter Score is the go-to CX metric for companies that want to measure and improve customer loyalty, a harbinger of growth. Thousands of companies use NPS, from the start-ups of  Silicon Valley to the Fortune 500.  One reason for this popularity is that Net Promoter Score programs have evolved in response to technology and the changing landscape of customer expectations. 

The core tenets of Net Promoter Score have stayed the same since NPS was created in 2003 by Bain & Company. “How likely are you to recommend this product or service to colleagues?” is the NPS survey question, and it is followed by an ask for open-ended feedback. Customers respond on a scale of 0-10 and are bucketed into promoters, passives and detractors based on their response. The formula for calculating the NPS metric is straightforward.

NPS Calculation

However, the world of customer experience management, or CXM, has changed dramatically. A few macro things have happened.

  1. Social media has empowered our customers with a voice — the conversation is no longer expected to be only one way, and negative word of mouth can be amplified quickly. Every voice counts.
  1. We as businesses have to work harder than ever to retain customers — customer experience is increasingly a differentiator and a battleground with more competition and low switching costs.
  1. Companies have many more touchpoints to engage with customers than it did back in 2003.We now have sophisticated mobile devices, web platforms, customer facing point of sale systems. Meanwhile, our customer’s email boxes are overstressed with newsletters and promotions all vying for their attention.

When I ran NPS campaigns back in 2003, I was sending long form surveys to my customers in quarterly batches. Emails with links to long form surveys were considered the ‘innovative’ way to get feedback. Response rates were dismal. Sadly, I still receive some of those today!

This, of course, still is a valid way to collect NPS feedback — you will get some of your customers to go through the effort — but it doesn’t take advantage of any of the macro trends I mentioned above. And honestly, customers are getting smarter and less patient with spammy surveys.

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

How Net Promoter Score has evolved

Modern NPS leverages technology, closes the loop with customers and engages the whole company.  Here is what you should expect:

  • Timely, ongoing feedback. You can keep a real-time pulse on your business. This alone is magical. Reading, sharing and responding to customer feedback as it happens — talk about raising the profile of the customer’s voice inside a company!
  • Modern NPS survey is short and to the point — just the NPS rating and open-ended feedback. A 10 or even 5 question survey? No way.  Survey fatigue is a real issue. Keep it short and you will get many more customers to tell you what’s most important to them.
  • Reaching customers where they want to give feedback, in a low-friction and lightweight way. For example, in-app surveys that take seconds to complete may a better experience for SaaS customers than dealing with another email survey in a crowded in-box. E-commerce companies may use a combination of in-app, email, or SMS to reach their customers depending on where they are in their journey.Tow Step in-app NPS Survey by Wootric
  • High response rates — your expectations should jump up from single digits to 30-40%. Customers are willing to give you feedback cycle after cycle because it’s easy. 
  • Leverages intelligent NPS software. Software that is designed to get your business to action faster. It’s giving you analytics. It’s helping you comb through open-ended text and sentiment. And it’s making the process of closing the loop with customers easy and turnkey.
  • Customer feedback is shared internally. It doesn’t get buried in spreadsheets and left unaddressed. It is shared in Slack, it is routed automatically to departments to take action in their systems of record such as Intercom, ZenDesk or Salesforce.

Net Promoter Score has come a long way, and the end result is better outcomes for companies and their customers.

Start getting free Net Promoter Score feedback today. Signup for InMoment.

Why Setting Expectations is a Customer Success Must

Most customer success articles you’ll read talk about helping customers reach their ideal outcomes – ideal outcomes are the most important thing, the very job description of customer success. But there’s another job that comes before ideal outcomes, one which, if done poorly, will result in churn even if ideal outcomes are achieved.

Setting expectations.

Let’s begin with a cautionary tale – a true story – of a SaaS app that failed to set expectations that matched what the app did.

It’s a fitness app which shall remain nameless, but it’s much like its primary competitor, MyFitnessPal. Unlike MyFitnessPal, it offered a sleek, integrated user interface that seamlessly brought together exercise tracking via pedometer and nutrition tracking, but it also offered something more: A personal fitness coach. (I should also mention that this particular fitness app is one of the most expensive currently on the market – but for such personal attention? Totally worth it.)

Except.

While on the website copy and in the app itself, this company promised a customized approach to getting fit, complete with a personal wellness coach who would be accessible via private chat to offer encouragement at times of crisis and temptation, it didn’t deliver as described.

Within a few days, it became apparent that the “personal coach” is really only accessible via group chat. In fact, if you try to contact the coach via the in-app private chat box (which even has the coach’s picture on it), the coach will never actually see your message – you’ll get an automated reply from a bot.

When all of this was revealed – in the group chat room – every participant was taken aback, and several initiated their free trial cancellations within days.

Even though they liked the app.

Even though they were already seeing the results they’d hoped for.

Yes, even when customers were achieving their ideal outcomes, because of the mismatch between their expectations and the services delivered, they left.

But not before sending feedback – which went unanswered.

It was a customer success failure of a magnitude we don’t, frankly, see very often. And it’s almost painful when you realize that nearly all of their churn was completely, 100% avoidable.

If only they had matched customer expectations to what they were actually prepared to deliver.

What it felt like was a bait and switch.

Setting expectations is a foundational element of customer success

“There are three key tasks that challenge every Customer Success team in its initial phase of development. The first is to appropriately set and manage perceptions and expectations, both of the customers and of the rest of the company. The second is to establish a clear and necessary connection to significant revenue streams and profitability. The third is to gather, analyze and use the right data to fulfill the group’s mission.”Mikael Blaisdell ED, Customer Success Association

The fitness app example above is a classic case of sales and marketing not being aligned with product development, customer service, and customer success. Clearly, none of these departments were speaking with each other, or customer service could have told marketing that customers were complaining about being misled. Or marketing could have spoken with produce development to see how they could better deliver on the promise that was bringing people in the doors.

None of these things happened, but an empowered customer success team could have bridged these gaps.

Customer success, of any department, has the power to bring people together. Because, at the end of the day, we’re all working for the customers’ success. We’re all trying to create a product and experience that works.

If you find yourself spending time trying to “adjust” customer expectations, check in with sales. Check with marketing. Check with customer service. See where the disconnects are, and what you can do to address them and bridge those gaps.

7 Rules to Set Customers up for Success with Expectation Management

Rule #1: Communicate

The key to setting expectations – and setting customers up for a successful experience – is really communication. Not only do you have to communicate clearly and accurately with the customers themselves, you also have to keep lines of communication open with all of the other departments who have a hand in creating the customer experience.

Rule #2: Don’t overpromise (and under-deliver)

That fitness app made promises it clearly never intended to keep – maybe that was intentional (a real bait and switch!), or maybe it was the unhappy result of teams failing to communicate what was possible to deliver. Either way, they committed the cardinal sin of expectation management – they created a high expectation and failed to reach it.

Rule #3: Know what you can and can’t do

To avoid overpromising, you have to know what you can afford to do for customers. Often, this isn’t easy because management and customers expect that you can do more than is realistically possible, which means you have to manage expectations on both sides. If it’s a time issue, start tracking how much time it takes you to do certain tasks, or to serve each customer. If it’s a funding issue, keep tabs on what it costs to deliver everything that is expected. Then you can build a case for getting more funding, or pairing down services.

Rule #4: Talk through obstacles

When working with customers to define their ideal outcomes and success benchmarks, discuss potential obstacles from the start. Discussing potential issues before they arise prevents  customers from getting nasty surprises, and prepares them to work with you to overcome these roadblocks.

Rule #5: Value your customers’ trust

Nothing upsets customers more than feeling like they’ve been duped – that you’ve violated their trust. Trust is easy to lose, and nearly impossible to win back. And once a customer stops trusting you, they stop being customers and become detractors, telling everyone who will listen their story about how you let them down. Customer loyalty, lifetime value and retention are rooted in trust. And without them, your SaaS business can’t survive.

Rule #6: Track user behavior & sentiment

It sounds like SaaS 101, but clearly not all SaaS companies are tracking when and why users are bailing out of the onboarding process. If you don’t have a system in place to send “red flag” notifications when users are exhibiting signs of distress, you’re losing customers and probably don’t even know why. It’s well worth the investment to purchase a good user survey system to keep your finger on the pulse of CX metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) for customer loyalty, or Customer Effort Score (CES) to keep tabs on how onboarding is going. 

Setting up a customer feedback program? Start getting in-app NPS feedback or CES feedback for free with Wootric

Rule #7: Let them know when you’ve exceeded expectations

Okay, now for the fun one: When you’ve exceeded expectations (or when they’ve reached a milestone faster than expected), make sure they KNOW it! Celebrate with them. Point out their successes and you’ll help to reaffirm their high opinion of you.

Customer success teams are uniquely positioned to understand the whys behind the whats of user behavior. But if you keep all of your insights to yourself, without sharing them with other departments, you’ll continue having to “manage” mis-aligned expectations. Set yourself up for success (and your customers too), by addressing expectations early.

Are you meeting customer expectations? Get started with free in-app customer feedback with InMoment.

Customer-to-Employee Recognition: A Revolutionary Approach to Engagement

This blog was originally posted on CX Cafe’. 

Customer centricity is the idea that organizations should not only serve their customers, but also get “close to them” — understand what they value, deliver exceptional experiences and memories, and work to build relationships.

In a 2011 article in Fast Company, author Brian Solis wrote:

“It’s not just about communicating with customers, it’s about showing them that listening translates into action within the organization to create better products and services and also foster valuable brand experiences and ultimately relationships with customers. It’s about empowering employees to improve those experiences and relationships in the front line and to recognize and reward their ability to contribute to a new era of customer engagement and collaboration.”

This concept is different from traditional approaches to customer satisfaction (CSAT) scoring, and it shows how we need to change how we look at measuring the customer experience. When customers are represented by scores in a spreadsheet or dashboard, it can be all too easy to detach from the visceral experience customers receive when they buy. Those experiences are delivered or indirectly impacted by employees all across your organization, of whom 71 percent are currently not engaged with their work, according to Gallup.

Another study showed 78 percent of customers have bailed on a transaction because of a poor service experience. There is an additional cost to loyalty from those who have unremarkable service experiences with employees who feel indifferent toward their work. And it’s no secret it costs up to 6-7x as much to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.

While every organization is at a different place with varying employee engagement scores and CSAT scores — most organizations have a significant disconnect in the perception of customer experience. In one study, 80 percent of companies claimed they deliver great customer service, but only 8 percent of customers agreed.

Among the first steps to improving customer satisfaction is addressing employee engagement. Employees who are personally invested in their work deliver better experiences to customers, who then return higher satisfaction, loyalty, and lifetime spend.

How to Deploy a Holistic Employee Engagement Strategy to Achieve Your Customer Experience Goals

A recent Forrester Research study showed 79 percent of organizations don’t connect formal reward structures to performance on customer experience (CX) metrics. Most companies aren’t quite sure how to go about aligning employee incentives and rewards with customer outcomes.

If you are ready to set goals for your customer experience, begin with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish? What strategic objectives do you have for the next year? With that foundation, consider drafting goals in the following three areas:

 

  • Customer Experience-Oriented — Specifically target aspects of the customer experience. For example: Aim to improve an aspect of or the overall customer experience and respond to and alleviate negative experiences.
  • Employee Engagement-Oriented — Build a culture of customer centricity. For example: Raise awareness and sensitivity to the customer experience and connect employees to strategic objectives.
  • Organizational Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) — For example: Improve customer retention and increase upsell and renewal rates.

 

With your goals in mind, begin connecting those goals with the specific behaviors your employees.

8 Tips for Connecting Customer Satisfaction Goals and Employee Engagement

No. 1 — Connect Your Employees: When you focus on connecting employees to customer-centric and organizational objectives, ask how your employees can help you accomplish these goals. How will you observe, track, and measure those activities? Employees should consistently demonstrate the behaviors that support a positive customer experience. For example: Encourage employees to engage in positive and open dialogue by asking if a customer is satisfied with a resolution.

No. 2 — Provide Feedback: Employees should be able to consistently provide feedback to their leadership that will improve the customer experience. For example: Employees can identify environmental issues negatively impacting a customer experience or submit ideas to improve processes.

No. 3 — Improve Knowledge: Employees should know enough about products and services to support any customer needs. For example: Support employee participation in product or prescribed online training courses.

No. 4 — Show Responsiveness: Employees should have the awareness, tools and autonomy to respond proactively to negative feedback. For example: Employees can anticipate client needs and deliver solutions or proactively provide alternative choices and opportunities.

No. 5 — Praise Progress: Employees should identify and praise positive feedback or overall satisfaction improvement. For example: Managers and peers should be able to efficiently recognize employees who demonstrate behaviors that positively influence the customer experience.

No. 6 — Extend Learning into Daily Work: Provide training on values-based behaviors and educate on customer experience optimization processes and practices. Reinforce and praise newly learned and demonstrated behaviors.

No. 7 — Improve Proactive Response Processes: Define methods for employee-enabled interventions in the customer experience. Establish and refine case management processes based on customer feedback and clarify steps needed to resolve. Build processes to reward employees for outstanding feedback.

No. 8 — Provide a Channel for Praise and Reward Progress: Recognize employees when they appropriately demonstrate customer-centric behaviors. Communicate positive customer feedback to its source and establish reward programs for progress and achievements related to the customer experience over time.

Next Steps

If you’re attending CX Fusion, don’t miss the Customer-to-Employee demo from CultureNext. Check out our breakout demo session at 3:30 p.m. PST on Wednesday, April 12 to learn more. Visit us at our booth and connect with us to take the Engagement Potential Index  as well!

Getting Real Business Value from Customer Journey Mapping

I spend a lot of time with client organizations that have invested both time and resources into mapping their customers’ journey so I have seen the gamut of touchpoint maps, emotional curves and even on one occasion, the stunning graphical portrayal of the path taken by a certain Persona, frustrated with trying to return a laser printer.  Of course, some are better than others, some are based on data, some on opinion but the real question is a simple one: What impact did they have in helping the company create greater value for shareholders?

Some might argue that is asking too much of journey mapping. After all, they are just one of many tools experts trained in Design Thinking use to better understand the functional and emotional roller coaster that is associated with what we deliver to customers.

I disagree. In my experience, when done well, and leveraging mobile technology, customer journey mapping can provide a powerful platform for greater customer-driven innovation, generated faster and with higher quality.

To achieve tangible business value from journey mapping exercises, I suggest you answer three questions:

  1. Does your journey map tell a powerful story from both employees and customers?
  2. Does your journey map align your whole organization toward a common view of your collective performance in delivering a competitively superior experience?
  3. Does your journey map go beyond telling the story, to actually doing something about it?

Let’s take them one at a time.

Does Your Journey Map Tell a Powerful Story from Both Employees and Customers?

Certainly, the core idea of a journey map is that it visually highlights the customer’s view of their experience. Good journey maps do more than just describe what happens, they actually uncover those things that were previously invisible to us. They explain the reasons for a customer’s specific behavior or the alternative path they took when confronted with an unexpected roadblock. But for most organizations, there is another journey that is just as important and that is the experience of the front line employee.

In fact, we would suggest that there is a level of risk that is taken if you view the journey solely from the customer’s perspective.  There are three reasons why this matters:

  1. Frontline employees provide additional context: Although they can’t tell you what the customer is thinking or feeling, they do have helpful insight into what customers are doing, and they provide great insight as to what is happening, especially around those touchpoints that represent chronic problems in the experience.
  2. The gap matters: Understanding the gap between how customers versus employees see the experience is really important. It is not uncommon to see a clear divergence between what customers see as important and how you are performing from the employees’ view of the same experience. Closing these gaps is vital. The “satisfaction mirror” that exists between frontline employees and customers is often a critical driver of loyalty and advocacy.
  3. Clues to future experiences: Hidden in this information are clues to exceeding customer experiences in ways that you would never imagine if you hadn’t seen it for yourself. I will never forget what Danny Wegman of Wegmans Food Markets told me in describing the relationship between his employees and their customers:

“If you measure the service you get at Wegmans compared to some other place, we always come out pretty good on that. But I think it’s gone to a new level. I hear that when some folks are in a bad mood, they go to Wegmans to cheer up. People greet you with a smile and ask you if you want a taste of something. Customers get a happy fix and that makes our people feel spectacular. It’s circular.”[i]

We have seen this countless times in the caring and skilled interactions of our clients’ high performing frontline employees as they carry the heart of their firm’s brand promise to every customer interaction.

Perhaps I have overstated this point. Well good, it deserves to be overstated. As more and more digital channels are introduced to intermediate the customer experience, employee interactions become even more critical, not less. Let’s never forget the words of Fred Reichheld who told us back in 1996 in The Loyalty Effect, “If you wonder what getting and keeping the right employees has to do with getting and keeping the right customers, the answer is everything.”[ii] For your journey map to treat front line employees as merely silent witnesses to the customer experience is to ensure you are learning only half of the story.

Does Your Journey Map Align Your Whole Organization Toward a Common View of Your Performance in Delivering a Superior Experience?

The problem with most customer journey maps is they aren’t terribly portable. If you convert them to a PDF, they are usually so detailed it is hard to view them on anything smaller than a 60 inch monitor. Printing them out as posters is a good idea, but as with one client, the only way we could view their recently completed map was to visit their head office. Even if the map was developed using an online tool, often reviewing what it says can be like viewing a map of the London Tube. You know Piccadilly Circus Station is there somewhere, but it takes a while to find it.

Like many tools that over time, find themselves over engineered, many journey mapping tools suffer from trying to communicate too many things through too small a window. No wonder so many line managers can’t find the value in journey maps.

The way journey maps overcome these limitations is perhaps obvious. Follow three principles to ensure the product of the hard work of developing them translates into tangible impact:

  1. Bring the story to life through media: If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million. Present a journey map not informed by fancy graphics, but by the perceptions, voices and emotions of actual customers and employees. It is one thing to review a score about your “lost package” performance, or to read a few customer comments – it is another thing entirely to hear the impact it has on the person who was counting on its delivery.
  2. Combine quantitative and qualitative: It helps to tell the story with both media and facts. We believe presenting both, side-by-side, adds color and insight to help focus on real improvement opportunities and to test new ways to innovate that would create measurable changes in consumer behavior.
  3. Make it easily shareable: By shareable I mean throughout the organization, but also to key trusted advisors as well. Being able to easily share the journey map invites comments and insights from the best experts in the world on your particular topic and provides significant business value.

CX Journey Maps that provide this level of transparency and leverage rich media to tell a compelling story, not only create alignment, but additionally they generate energy and enthusiasm toward a common purpose.

Does Your Journey Map Go Beyond Telling the Story to Doing Something About it?

Remember the point of all of this? When do we start to see the business value?

The best journey mapping tools don’t just capture the nuances, emotions, and often hidden opportunities to improve the customer experience; they provide a platform to engage directly with customers to co-create solutions to the gnarly problems they uncovered.

Speed matters. Taking weeks if not months to take action based on the data collected from journey mapping can be a fool’s errand. It’s essential to move right from priority issues identified by customers into brief, targeted online discussions with those same customers. As a result, you can better understand their issues, brainstorm solutions that weren’t obvious, and test solutions that will regain their trust and loyalty instead of waiting six weeks to hire a market research firm.

CX Journey Maps that achieve real business value actually aren’t “maps” at all. They are really an “always on” qualitative research platform, allowing an organization to deeply understand what customers are experiencing and take action that positively influences desired behaviors. Married with a robust CX management system, they provide a comprehensive solution to harness customer-driven innovation in about half the time of traditional methods.

Move Forward

Technology continues to advance our ability to understand the customer experience with greater granularity and insight. Traditional barriers to engaging with customers are no longer an excuse for taking months to implement improvements that exceed targeted expectations and outperform competitors. Journey mapping tools of the past served their purpose, but it is time to acknowledge the value they added and move forward to a new standard that is enabled by digital devices and SaaS-based platforms that are themselves re-writing the rules of competition.

The Internet of Things is not a buzzword. It is how the world works; it is time customer experience journey mapping caught up.

[i] James Heskett, W. Earl Sasser and Joe Wheeler, The Ownership Quotient, Harvard Business Publishing, 2008 pp. 104-105

[ii] Frederick Reichheld, The Loyalty Effect, Harvard Business School Press, 1996, p. 91

Two Big CX Trends: Why You Need Text & Sentiment Analysis of Survey Responses

Wootric’s text analytics platform analyzes survey responses using Natural Language Processing (NLP.) Learn More

The challenge of open-ended feedback

Qualitative feedback in survey responses: Marketing, Product, Customer Insights, and Customer Success teams love it! There is nothing quite like hearing authentic, open-ended comments about your product or service directly from customers in their own words. Nothing is more powerful than hearing from the customer first hand: It drives action.

Individual anecdotes tell a story that can provide color and context to business metrics like Net Promoter Score, but how do you make it actionable? How do you aggregate qualitative data to see trends and get insights that can drive business decisions?  To a certain extent, this has always been an issue for voice of the customer feedback programs. However, two broad trends are driving an increase in qualitative data and creating more urgency. As a result, the problem of “metricizing” open-ended feedback is now more acute.

Customer experience survey trends that are driving the need for NLP

First trend: The shift to customer-centric surveys.

It has become more and more difficult to persuade customers to respond to traditional company-centric surveys — the multi-question monstrosities that ask customers to rate attribute after attribute on a 5 or 7 point scale.  Long, boring, tedious — and frustrating. Response rates in the single digits are common.

I recently visited the website of a major department store and was prompted to fill out a pop-up survey with over 30 (!) questions. I thought I’d get an opportunity to tell the retailer what was important to me — how much I loved their shoe selection and that I’d had a disappointing experience in one of their stores. I didn’t finish the survey.

In an effort to improve response rates, many companies are now thinking about the survey experience from the customer’s perspective. A Net Promoter Score survey that asks one question and lets a customer provide open-ended feedback is a better user experience — and customers are more likely to respond.

Wootric is modern customer feedback management software that allows businesses to gauge and quantify customer loyalty through proven feedback metrics such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES). We are firm believers in the customer centric approach.

For example, here’s an NPS survey that Wootric presents in-app (we also support mobile, email and SMS) that usually takes a user less than 30 seconds to complete.

Two-Step-in-app-NPS-Survey

Second trend: Hearing from as many customers as possible.

Traditionally, customer research efforts were satisfied with feedback from a statistically significant sample of customers. Now that any customer has the potential to influence the trajectory of a business — whether taking their complaints public on Twitter or writing a glowing review on Yelp or G2Crowd — more companies are proactively asking all customers for feedback. This instantly opens a direct communication channel, and gives companies the opportunity to build, monitor and leverage  relationships with any and every customer.

These trends put the onus on companies to make sense of a firehose of open-ended feedback, and that is tough to do.  Dedicating resources to tagging and sorting hundreds, even thousands, of comments is expensive and just doesn’t scale.

Natural Language Processing to the rescue

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is a type of machine learning that enables computers to understand human language. You can read how Wootric applies NLP to customer feedback like NPS and CSAT survey responses in this article.  And here are three familiar examples of NLP at work:

  • Machine translation like Google Translate.
  • Sentiment analysis — sifting through all those Twitter posts to analyze how people feel about the latest iPhone, for example.
  • Chatbots — the customer support “agents” that have become the first line of interaction when you reach out for tech support online.

Unlocking the power of open-ended feedback

NLP is solving the unique challenges in the field of customer feedback management using text and sentiment analysis. Being on the forefront of this innovation means Wootric customers are seeing those benefits now. We work to free our customers from the time and expense required to manage this data. We use text and sentiment analysis to surface and aggregate insights for our customers, helping them to prioritize resources and route responses for follow up action. Read more about what we are up to here on the Google Cloud Platform blog.

Learn more about CXInsight™, Wootric’s text analytics platform for customer feedback.

Wootric & Google Cloud: Using Natural Language Processing (NLP) to Analyze Qualitative Feedback

Wootric has begun to leverage the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to solve the challenge of qualitative feedback analysis for our customers. Wootric utilizes the Google Cloud Natural Language API to complement its own machine learning to analyze qualitative feedback our customers receive. The goal is to use text and sentiment analysis to surface and aggregate insights for our customers, helping them to prioritize resources and follow up action.  

Our approach is interesting enough that Google recently blogged about it, and they chose to highlight Wootric’s work at the recent Google Next conference in San Francisco. Check out the video below:

 

Want early access to InMoment’s analysis of survey responses using NLP? Contact Us

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