Why Customers Churn—And How Your Brand Can Respond

Of all the inevitable frustrations that come with doing business, perhaps none are so consistent as customer churn. Though countless organizations have made churn reduction a continuous goal, seeing customers leave in spite of your best efforts can be quite a headache in multiple arenas—building loyalty, evaluating effectiveness, and of course, creating a stronger bottom line.

Today’s conversation will be a quick rundown of some of the biggest reasons customers leave and what your organization can do about it. We’ll cover the churn you can control, the churn you cannot, and how to boost your own churn reduction efforts.

The Churn You Can’t Control

Let’s get this out of the way first thing—some churn is beyond any organization’s control. No matter how proactive your customer experience (CX) team is, some amount of churn is inevitable and to be expected. It’s unfortunate, but it’s also a fact of doing business.

Why might some customers invariably leave your brand? Sometimes, they really just don’t need whatever product or service you’re offering anymore. In other instances they might fall on hard times and no longer be able to buy what you’re selling. If your brand serves one or a few given areas, they might move beyond that radius and thus cut themselves off that way. All of these things are beyond your brand’s control.

However, none of this means that brands should throw their hands up in frustration. It certainly doesn’t mean your organization shouldn’t focus on churn reduction.. While some fraction of churn may be unavoidable, quite a bit of it can be controlled and can be managed by organizations. This brings us to our next point: the churn you can manage.

The Churn You Can Control

Brands can and should use customer experience programs to manage the churn they can influence, as well as evaluate what they could’ve done better. For the most part, controllable churn occurs when your product isn’t a great fit for a customer’s needs, poor communication occurs, or a myriad of other possible causes. However, your brand can respond to and control these issues.

Your customers can use feedback tools to bring problems like poor service experiences directly to brands’ attention. Organizations can then digest the feedback and formulate an action plan to combat that problem. Other churn catalysts like superior competition, product and services disconnects, or deficient employee training can be brought to light this way, as well.

Taking Action

Learning about preventable churn through a customer experience program is powerful stuff, but brands can’t stop at knowing about churn catalysts if they want to retain customers. Rather, brands need to design their programs around the audiences from whom they hope to glean intel about churn causes, listen carefully to those individuals, understand the common sentiments amid all the feedback, and then transform the business accordingly.

With this method, brands can realize a lower rate of churn for themselves and continuously apply customer feedback toward that goal. This process can help brands get churn out of the way of their goals: a better experience for all and a stronger bottom line.

Interested in learning more about reducing customer churn? Click here to read my full-length point of view on the subject and to learn additional strategies for reducing churn at your organization.

5 Steps To Realizing Your Experience Program’s Goals

The road to true Experience Improvement (XI) is rarely a straightforward one. There are many ways to take the journey, as countless companies have discovered over the last 10-15 years, but only experience improvement produces the type of customer connections and employee passion that turns companies from followers to true leaders within their verticals.

I talked about realizing experience program goals and success in a recent POV, but I think it’s time to talk briefly about how companies get there. What are steps brands take to get to realizing their goals, and how can they ensure that realization truly means transformational success? Our framework is designed to help companies get there, and it consists of five steps:

  1. Design
  2. Listen
  3. Understand
  4. Transform
  5. Realize

Step #1: Design

I’ve seen a lot of brands kick their experience programs off by turning listening posts on and then forming goals around whatever feedback they can find. It’s much more effective, though, to come at this step in the opposite direction: brands should first design their goals, then turn listening posts on. Defining what you want to do with your experience program before you begin it is much more effective (and a lot less messy) than the inverse.

So, what business challenges do you want your experience program to help solve for? Are you looking to boost customer retention, or lower the cost to serve? Maybe you want to cross-sell or upsell to your existing customer base. Whatever your goal, lay it out at the beginning of your program process and describe it in terms of specific numbers. Goals like “retain more customers” are too vague; design your initiative with percentages and financial goals, and ascertaining how successful it’s been will largely take care of itself.

Step #2: Listen

Another big component of designing your program is deciding which audiences to listen to. This is a more targeted approach than attempting to intercept feedback from all sides and can garner you intel pertinent to your specific goals. Once you’ve completed the legwork of deciding who you want to listen to, that’s when you should turn your listening posts on and start gathering feedback. All told, being selective about who you listen to will make realizing program goals easier.

Step #3: Understand

After you’ve gathered a sufficient amount of feedback, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and delve into what your customers, non-customers, or other audience groups are saying. There are several ways to go about this process—utilizing an experience improvement platform that can analyze sentiments and thus commonalities within your feedback is one of the most effective. Finding the common threads within your feedback will make you aware of what customers (or other groups) are saying, what they like, and most importantly, what needs fixing.

Step #4: Transform

Transforming your business means applying what you’ve learned from gathered feedback. It means identifying processes and potential problem areas, then working with the relevant stakeholders to come up with solutions. Brands should always desilo their experience data as a matter of course, but working directly with relevant departments is crucial to actually seeing change occur where it needs to. This is not an easy process by any means, but this collaboration is the best way to guarantee that meaningful transformation occurs.

Step #5: Realize

After this, the final step of our framework, realize, can take place as experience teams and practitioners see changes take place and goals hopefully get reached. What more is there to the process, though?

Click here to read my full POV on the subject, where I explain how brands like yours can best realize their experience goals and make a difference for themselves, their customers, and their employees.

From Costs to Culture: Realizing Experience Program Gains

Realizing your experience program goals is a pivotal moment for your organization. Getting to this stage requires lots of careful design work, listening intently to customers, understanding their feedback, and using that new learning to meaningfully transform the business. Brands can also evaluate how well they hit their experience program goals as they achieve this step.

How can companies most effectively evaluate how well they’ve realized program goals, though? And what might that goal realization ultimately look like as it reshapes or redefines processes? Let’s walk through what to look out for as your brand turns its goals into reality.

The Four Economic Pillars

There’s a highly effective paradigm for evaluating how well your program did and is doing for your brand, which we call the four economic pillars. These four elements are a relatively simple way to spell out your program’s performance and can serve as a powerful story to tell whether they were goals you were aiming for or not.

The first pillar here is customer acquisition; how many new customers has your company picked up since your experience program began, and how big a role did it play in netting new business? Like I said before, experience programs require a lot of design work before they’re activated, and part of this process is setting forth tangible, quantifiable financial goals to hit. Creating these goals and bearing them in mind is a great way to both prove ROI and establish your program’s role in acquisition.

The second pillar is customer retention. Did your program help keep customer churn low and build stronger relationships with your existing customer base? Why or why not? The third pillar, cross-selling/upselling existing customers, is similarly important for evaluating your experience initiative’s effect on your customer base. Finally, check your goals to see if your program hit the fourth economic pillar: lowering cost to serve. Evaluating your program’s success through the lens of these four pillars is a great way to both gauge its success and make the case for additional funding.

Costs and Culture

Taking a monetary magnifying glass to an experience program is everyone’s first expectation, and with good reason. A good experience initiative should result in a better experience, of course, but it’s a given that these programs are also created with the goal of helping brands control cost and boost profit, hence frameworks like the four economic pillars.

However, there’s a more abstract, yet arguably more important, element to consider when realizing experience program gains, and that’s the effect these initiatives have on company culture. Consider whether your program has positively impacted the workplace—are employees taking more pride in their work? Has your company achieved a united, holistic vision of the experience it provides?

These and other questions are important because these types of transformational changes are what create true Experience Improvement (XI). They allow organizations to create fundamentally connective relationships with customers, which stokes loyalty and turns those individuals into brand advocates. Meanwhile, employees become more passionate about their jobs, which further boosts a brand’s market profile. In other words, realizing experience goals means attaining the sort of meaningful cultural change that can take a company straight to the top.

Click here to read my POV on realizing experience goals and effectively tying your initiative to company success!

COVID-19’s Effect on the Investor Mindset (as Told by Our 2020 Wealth Poll)

There isn’t an organization in the world that has not been affected by COVID-19. But every organization and industry has been affected differently. The same can definitely be said for investment firms, who must also be concerned about the mindset of their investors;  without a keen understanding of the investor mindset, it’s hard for them to develop a strategy for 2021.

That’s why InMoment is releasing the results of its 2020 Wealth Poll, to give investment firms a glimpse into the minds of their clients—and how they’re feeling about the year to come. Today, we’ll take a closer look at what investors are saying specifically about the effects of COVID-19.

What is the 2020 Wealth Poll?

Before we dive into specific takeaways and data, let us give you a few more details about the 2020 Wealth Poll itself. For this study, we surveyed 1,212 investors with over $100,000 of privately held assets. This group included 790 Mass Affluent Investors

($100,000 to less than $1,000,000 in investable assets), 400 High Net Worth Investors ($1,000,000 to less than $10,000,000 in investable assets), and 22 Ultra-High Net Worth Investors ($10,000,000 or more in investable assets). 

Our goal was to understand how the unsettled market has affected affluent investors as well as how they feel about their client experience, and where opportunities may lie for investment firms to improve and expand business. In our survey, we asked a series of questions specifically about the Coronavirus and were able to unearth four key takeaways. Let’s dive in!

Four Takeaways on the Investor Mindset

  1. Investors Don’t Expect a Full Recovery Until Late 2021
  2. Investors Are Staying the Course
  3. Most Have Funds but Many Don’t Plan to Invest
  4. Investment Firms Learned the Lessons of 2010

Key Takeaway #1: Investors Don’t Expect a Full Recovery Until Late 2021

After a decade of success, COVID-19 has cast a shadow of uncertainty over the global economy—and affluent investors aren’t completely sure what to expect. In fact, an overwhelming majority (64%) said they expect the next twelve months to be volatile. 

Regardless of how investors feel, financial services firms and advisors must be prepared to guide investors through the ever-changing market over the next 12 months!

Key Takeaway #2: Investors Stay the Course

Despite investors’ uncertainty concerning the market, 85% of investors say their risk preference has not shifted because of the pandemic. In fact, our results for pre-pandemic risk preference were almost the same as our post-pandemic results.

Key Takeaway #3: Most Have Funds but Many Don’t Plan to Invest

For as many affluent investors who plan to stay flat in 2020, the same amount plan to invest more in their portfolio, despite the fact that 78% report that they have available funds.

From this same question, we also were able to arrive at the conclusion that affluent investors were more likely to invest if they are self-directed investors, believe their investment expertise is higher than average,  or do not work with a dedicated financial advisor.

Key Takeaway #4: Investment Firms Learned the Lessons of 2010

Remember 2010 and the burst of the housing bubble which wreaked havoc on the markets and the economy? In 2010, investors across the board were not happy with how firms responded to the financial crisis. Since that time, investment firms have made significant progress in delivering to their clients.

The proof? Investor satisfaction has held steady the highs achieved during the market’s long bull run even in the midst of the pandemic.  Financial planning, more proactive advice, and better online tools have made investors much happier with the response to the current crisis.

Want to see more data from our 2020 Wealth Poll? You can check out the infographic on the effects of COVID-19 here, or watch the full webinar with each and every insight we collected here

5 Steps to Improve—Not Just Manage—Your Experience

Since the inception of customer experience (CX), the conversation about feedback and listening tools has largely revolved around data collection. Many brands have emphasized turning listening programs on immediately, gathering feedback from everyone, and using that feedback to inform both metrics and strictly reactive experience management.

Is there not a deeper layer to experience, though? Top-tier analyst firms like Forrester certainly seem to think so. That conversation about gathering feedback, about experience management, is being taken a step further to a new paradigm: Experience Improvement (XI).

Rather than being about reactive management and just watching metrics like NPS, experience improvement encourages brands to amp things up by creating meaningful, emotionally connective experiences for each and every customer. What follows are five steps to getting your program to that level.

Five Steps to Improve Experiences

  1. Design
  2. Listen
  3. Understand
  4. Transform
  5. Realize

Step #1: Design

Until now, most experience program frameworks encourage brands to turn listening posts on immediately and use gathered feedback to shape eventual goals. However, with experience improvement, this model is inverted to great effect. Rather than getting feedback first, forming goals later, brands should carefully think about what objectives they want their program to accomplish and design their listening efforts around those goals.

For example, does your brand want to reduce customer churn by a given percentage? What about increasing retention or acquisition? Whatever your company’s goal, your experience program can help you get much further toward it if you spell out concrete, numbers-driven goals before turning any listening posts on. Frankly, some audiences are also more worth listening to than others, and completing this step can help your brand better decide where to tune in and why.

Step #2: Listen

Once you’ve established your experience program’s goals and audiences, you can then turn your aforementioned listening posts on. Having determined which audiences to listen to before doing so can help your brand consolidate experience program resources toward much more helpful groups. For example, if you’re looking to boost customer retention, it makes more sense to focus on your established customer base than anyone who interacts with your brand in any context. This approach saves your brand time and resources hunting down helpful intel.

Step #3: Understand

After gathering more focused, relevant feedback through your program, take time to carefully digest it and sort out what might need improvement. An experience platform armed with capabilities like sentiment analysis can be a huge help here.  Additionally, it bears repeating that understanding your feedback means more than scoreboard-watching NPS—it means diving deep into customer feedback to understand common themes, praises, problems, and possible solutions.

Step #4: Transform

Understanding your customer feedback is one thing; using it to meaningfully transform the business is another. This is arguably the most work-intensive step of the experience improvement framework… and one of the most important. Meaningful transformation means sharing CX intelligence with leaders across the business (especially in the departments most relevant to the feedback) and working closely with them to outline and implement process improvements. Desiloing data is always a good idea because it gives employees a holistic view of the brand’s purpose.

Step #5: Realize

Realizing experience improvement means circling back to the goals you set forth in the design stage to ascertain how things shook out. Did you meet your program numbers? Perhaps more importantly, have the improvements implemented as a result of your program resulted in positive cultural changes? Having an initial goal to compare your outcome to is vital to realizing experience improvement… and simplifies proving ROI to request more resources for additional efforts.

By following these steps, organizations can transcend managing experiences and start meaningfully improving them. As we mentioned up top, Experience Improvement leads to the sorts of deeply connective experiences that keep customers coming back no matter what, leading to fundamental brand success.

To read more about these five steps—and brands who have found success with them—check out this article for free today!

How COVID-19 Changed Customer Experience Forever

Many of us may try to forget 2020 altogether, but the changes that COVID-19 brought to the world won’t disappear anytime soon. Customer experience (CX) practitioners the world over are reckoning with this challenge as they make sense of a new experience landscape. In order to fully understand the path forward, however, it’s important to take a look at what exactly happened in 2020 and how COVID changed customer experiences forever.

The Early Trends

As I discussed in my recent article on this subject, I saw a number of trends in the CX world really take off at the beginning of the pandemic. Some of these trends were already on the rise before the Coronavirus arrived, but this crisis has expedited their trajectory. This is most true of contactless payments. Digitisation had already made these the norm for many businesses and industries, but as I’m sure you can imagine, customers on high alert for virus-contaminated surfaces have propelled it to new heights.

Relatedly, many major brands introduced initiatives that further reduce physical contact between customers and frontline employees. These initiatives were already linked to increased digitisation in many respects, but social distancing and other health guidelines have really thrust them into focus. As a result, this trend of brands keeping customers and employees separate wherever possible has been humming along these last 9-10 months—and isn’t ending anytime soon.

The Homebody Economy

Quarantine and social distancing have changed customer life in ways beyond shopping. Though it probably comes as no surprise, the amount of people who commute via train here in the United Kingdom has dwindled to a tiny fraction of pre-2020 numbers. A COVID-19 vaccine is gradually being made available in this country, yes, but commuter trends aren’t likely to return to any sort of “normal” in the near future.

Closer to home, we’re seeing what I call “the homebody economy” maintain its grip on quarantined customers all over the globe. It used to be that work, personal activities, and other endeavors were clearly distinct from one another, but as the months at home have dragged on, all of these pursuits have mixed together. Additionally, we’ve seen the development of a “time soup” made of shifting shopping habits—customers are now much more likely to make purchases during the week than risk crowds on the weekend.

The Next Step

All of these strengthening and emerging trends—from increasing contactless payments to the homebody economy—have already had a profound effect on the customer experience paradigm. They present new, unanticipated challenges for CX teams and practitioners, especially as demand for some products and services across industries has fallen due to economic hardship.

The question, then, is how exactly can brands respond to these challenges, especially since they’re not going away anytime soon?

Click here to learn more about my take on this subject, the obstacles brands face in the age of COVID, and how they might find success for themselves and their customers as we transition to 2021.

Why Your Brand Should Start (or Dust Off) an EX Program

A customer experience (CX) program is the best way to collect feedback from your audiences, glean useful learnings, and use that knowledge to meaningfully improve your brand experience. Initiatives like these usually determine whether your business is a leader within your vertical, or a follower. As such, they’ve become commonplace over the last decade or so.

What about employee experience (EX) programs, though? What value do they provide, why should your brand have one if it doesn’t already, and how can they help you improve your customer experience? Today, we’re going to briefly walk you through these and other questions within the EX world.

Creating Considerable Cultures

The first (and most obvious) case for starting an EX program is the benefit it provides workplace culture. Your brand needs to recruit and retain the best employee talent out there if it hopes to become a vertical leader—an EX program can help your organization identify its cultural strengths and fix breakages that might be repelling new employees or leaving current ones feeling disengaged.

On a more fundamental level, EX programs help employees find meaning in their work. We all want to be good at our jobs and to find them fulfilling, which is why it’s important to give employees a chance to speak up. Moreover, employees must be given an opportunity to make a difference, and meaningfully applying EX program learnings sparks that very phenomenon.

Saving Up

There’s another benefit that comes with using an EX program to positively affect your company’s workplace culture: saving money. Whether it’s recruiting a new employee, dealing with absenteeism, or contending with churn, there’s no aspect of employment that doesn’t come with a price tag. Employees are a company’s greatest resource, but they’re also usually the greatest expense.

This is why EX tools like voice of employee (VoE) and employee engagement (EE), among others, are vital to the success of your brand. Identifying improvement opportunities in your workplace culture helps employees find more meaning in their work, as we said, but it also helps your brand avoid some pretty substantial costs. With an EX program, you can better retain your workforce, avoid costly churn, and save a big chunk of change all the while.

Connecting with CX

It’s not uncommon for brands to think of CX and EX programs as wholly separate entities, but that’s not the case. If your employee has an improved experience with your brand—takes more pride in their work, feels that their feedback is valued—that positivity is highly contagious. A happier employee translates directly to a happier customer, even if that employee doesn’t interact with customers face-to-face.

In essence, EX programs create a more meaningful workplace culture for employees, and that passion improves the customer experience. Everyone wins with an EX initiative, and brands can ride the changes these programs help bring about to the very top of their verticals.

Click here to read our full article by EX expert Stacy Bolger on these programs’ benefits, including solutions and strategies you can start applying to your own organization today!

Take Action on Customer Feedback in 4 Simple Steps

Over the last decade or so, countless companies have fired up their own experience initiatives. These companies set out to create happier customers and employees, as well as a stronger bottom line—all through the power of experience programs! However, even after a brand’s CX practitioner(s) has gained program sponsorship, launched listening posts, and gathered data, it’s not uncommon for them to hit a wall when it comes to taking action on customer feedback

Gathering metrics is all well and good, but executing an action plan is what makes the difference between measuring and transforming your experience. Today’s conversation covers how to take action on your experience program feedback in four steps.

Four Steps to Taking Action on Customer Feedback

  1. Define Your Plan’s Stages
  2. Identify Collaborators
  3. Define Actions
  4. Create a Timeline

Step #1: Define Your Plan’s Stages

Every CX practitioner knows that taking action isn’t as simple as A-to-B. That’s why it’s important to hammer out the concrete steps you need to take toward experience improvement and brand transformation. It’s important to first consider where you are and remind yourself of the program’s end goal. Then, collaborate closely with your team to figure out which actions you need to take. This process empowers your team to prioritize what to execute on first.

Step #2: Identify Collaborators

Once your team has mapped out action plan stages, it’s time to decide who else in the organization may be needed. This isn’t necessarily the same as returning to the execs or other stakeholders and sponsors—you may need to reach out to other teams who own processes that impact the experience, such as IT or user experience. Including individuals before you take action will make the transformation process smoother.

Step #3: Define Actions

You’ve drawn a line from feedback to improvement and have the collaborators you need at the table. Now it’s time to work together to define specific actions. This step is why it’s so important to reach out to collaborators whose teams or departments you see improvement opportunities for. You’re going to need their help to figure out the best way to solve a problem in their respective parts of the organization. You can share your experience data, they can share their perspectives, and meaningful action will soon follow.

Step #4: Create a Timeline

A timeline helps ensure that the actions become reality. It’s also a great way to hold your team accountable as they begin putting those actions into motion. Creating a timeline helps ground program expectations in reality and gives your team a firm timestamp at which to start monitoring implemented changes. Indeed, all of this makes creating a timeline perhaps the most important part of an action plan.

Following these four steps will allow your organization to leverage what you’ve learned from your experience program. You can put those learnings to great effect creating a more emotional experience for customers, greater meaning for your employees’ work, and, consequently, a more robust market position for your organization.

Click here to read my full article on the importance of taking action to transform your business. I take a deeper dive into this vital process and provide additional tooltips on how to revolutionize your brand through the power of Experience Improvement (XI).

What Retail Customers Are Saying About Black Friday in 2020

We’ve all seen videos of customers flooding through retailer doors in the small hours of Black Friday. While many of us are still asleep on the day after Thanksgiving, these shoppers are getting their Holiday shopping started with doorbuster deals—but what about this year? Will those shoppers still be rushing to stores? Or will the concerns of COVID-19 encourage them to stay home and snag deals from their laptops?

Not the type to leave anything up to guesswork, our Strategic Insights Team asked 5,000 future holiday shoppers how they expect to spend their Black Friday. Here’s what they learned:

Most Customers Will Do Their Holiday Shopping in November

One of the questions our team asked customers was when they planned to do their holiday shopping. More specifically, in which month did customers expect to begin their holiday shopping? More than half (54%) responded that they would start shopping in November.

Here are some other important results to note:

  • 42% of respondents are planning to make purchases on Black Friday (in store)
  • 39% plan to purchase on Cyber Monday (online)
  • 19% plan to make purchases before Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Most Customers Will Shop the Same Ways They Did in 2019

Because 2020 is a year unlike any other, our experts wanted to know if customers would shop more, less, or about the same this year.

In a somewhat surprising twist, respondents noted that they were even more likely to shop on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday in comparison to last year. They are also more likely to save shopping until December.

Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

One of the biggest questions retailers have on their minds is whether customers be participating more in Black Friday sales or Cyber Monday specials?

Well, many retailers have expanded their online sales to be more of a Cyber Week, with the full week of Thanksgiving offering opportunities for customers to save on holiday gifts. And it’s a good thing, because the majority of shoppers say that they will be shopping both in store and online.

No matter where customers are this Black Friday, there’s no doubt that they will be grateful for the brands that prioritize their safety!

For more details about our findings on in-store versus online holiday shopping, check out this infographic! We outline:

  • How many shoppers will be in stores and online
  • What customers are saying about their experiences
  • What matters most to them in both places.

What Business Leaders Can Learn From Speedcubers

This article was originally posted on Forbes.com

My son and I just solved our first Rubik’s Cube together. Admittedly, it took a number of visits to YouTube and countless restarts.

So, I was mesmerized when I watched The Speed Cubers on Netflix — a fascinating and moving documentary about the relatively unknown world of competitive Rubik’s Cube solving. To me, solving a Rubik’s Cube is an astonishing feat. Solving it in less than seven seconds? Unfathomable.

Did I mention these speedcubers are teenagers? Sometimes even younger.

The documentary got me thinking about problem-solving and decision making in business. Just as every turn of a Rubik’s Cube affects each of the 26 miniature cubes (called “cubies” or “cubelets”), any decision a business makes impacts every department, team, employee, customer, shareholder and outcome the business cares about.

It wasn’t always this way. Business used to be simple, mainly because competition and choices were limited. To increase profitability, all brands had to do was adjust the price, introduce a new model or provide better service. Business metrics were all that mattered; there was little to no notion of customer experience or employee satisfaction.

But the prominent rise of “the age of customer experience” brings a new variable to the equation. Brands can no longer make business decisions at the expense of customers and employees — and get away with it. Customer experience (and employee satisfaction) has become the new battlefield for business. And still, businesses have to remain accountable to boards and shareholders.

There has to be a balance.

Finding Intersections Of Value

Today, brands can’t onlybe customer-obsessed. They can’t only be employee-obsessed. And they certainly will not survive if they’re blindly driven by financial outcomes.

So, how do you know where customer, employee and business needs meet? How do you identify and prioritize the intersection of value between these critical variables?

Ask yourself these three simple questions every time you make a decision:

• How will this impact our customers?

 How will this impact our employees?

• How will this impact our business?

The tricky part? The value equation is different for every industry and every business. Today, businesses need to ask themselves these questions with more rigor than ever. Many companies are fighting not to thrive, but to simply survive. 

Take airlines and middle seats. If customers had it their way, middle seats would disappear forever, right? The extra space would likely make for a more pleasant customer experience and, in turn, more satisfied employees. However, losing a third of its potential revenue could hurt an airline’s bottom line, meaning lower wages and fewer job opportunities (obviously bad for employees). And fewer available seats could make booking the flight you want more difficult and, due to supply and demand, more expensive as well (not great for customers). 

With customers’ hesitancy to travel, employees’ desire to return to work and an airline’s mandate to keep both groups safe, you introduce a whole new world of variables. 

The same happens with technology purchases. When the world’s workforce went remote, many traditional butts-in-seats companies quickly purchased Slack or Microsoft Teams to help remote workers connect. Of course, this is essential for employee communication, but may not be great for business productivity or customer response times due to employees managing another communication system. Like any technology decision that’s forward-thinking, it should balance customer, employee and business needs — and deliver value to all three.

Like I said: It’s a Rubik’s Cube.

Solving The Rubik’s Cube

While there are different methods to solve a Rubik’s Cube, one thing is for certain: You need to perform the right combination of moves to ensure alignment on all sides. You can’t get one side right and leave the others a rainbow-colored mess.

The good news? Businesses can solve their metaphorical cubes. But just like solving a real cube, it takes time, diligence and focus. Businesses need comprehensive data, the right technology to make sense of it and human expertise to identify the correct path forward. Getting it right on the first try is rare, which makes the eventual success that much more satisfying.

When it comes to the value equation, many brands do one element well. And a select few might nail two. But the top brands — those enviable entities that seemingly cannot get things wrong — have their Rubik’s Cube solved. They consistently and dynamically move the complex pieces in near-perfect harmony to achieve positive results for customers, employees and their business. That’s something the speedcubers would be proud of.

Tons of CX Data? Here’s How to Make Sense of It

If there’s anything organizations aren’t hurting for these days, it’s CX data. Brands may have been avidly searching for it once upon a time, but nowadays, they face the opposite dilemma: having more data than they might know what to do with. This is particularly true for experience program data—a few listening posts here and there can quickly inundate even larger organizations with a ton of customer intel.

Today, I’m going to talk you through how to make sense of your data. Using the tips below will help you isolate signals, cut through all the white noise, and ultimately leave your organization more CX savvy.

All Data, No Decisions

Having a lot of data is not a bad thing in and of itself, but it is more challenging for brands to make data-driven business decisions when they’re not sure where to start. Should companies dive directly into customer feedback? What about employee surveys and financial metrics? The sheer amount of disparate data sources at play within most companies can make gleaning actionable intelligence feel overwhelming (if not flat-out impossible).

The first step toward overcoming this challenge is to take all of your data and pour it into one place. This includes customer feedback, employee intel, financial data, operational data, and other sources. Why? Because siloing data makes understanding your customers and their experiences much more difficult because it obscures the context needed to fully understand both of these business problems. Putting all your data together will help your company not only contextualize what is broken, but also illuminate the path toward solving those challenges.

Finding The “Why”

Desiloing data gives companies the chance to holistically understand their customers’ perceptions and experiences. This is important not just for making data-driven decisions, but also understanding the root of broken or underwhelming experiences. When brands connect experience data with financial and operational information, it becomes much easier to see where things might be going wrong and how badly.

Once brands gain this holistic view, it’s time to dive deeper with key driver analysis. This doesn’t mean sit back and watch your NPS—it means rolling up your sleeves and getting into exploratory analysis and customer profiling. These processes allow companies to learn exactly why their customers behave the way they do. Even more, they identify what experience strengths and weaknesses drive that behavior.

Don’t forget to ask your employees for their experience feedback as well! A lot of brands mistakenly overlook this step because the employee and customer experiences drive one another. There’s no better way to make an employee feel valued than to ask for their feedback. Moreover, it encourages employees to feel involved in and take ownership of customer experience.

The Next Step

Brands can make sense of their experience data by desiloing it, analyzing it within the context of additional data, and hearing employees’ side of the story. These are the first steps toward becoming a more data-driven (and customer-centric) organization, an endeavor that can make any company a leader in its vertical.

Click here to read my full article on the importance of understanding customers to transform your brand. I take a deeper dive and provide additional tips on how to revolutionize your brand through the power of Experience Improvement (XI).

The Doctor is (Virtually) In: COVID and Telemedicine Experience

I recently talked about COVID-19’s effects on hospital visits and how the pandemic has reshaped patients’ healthcare facility expectations. But this isn’t the only experience arena that the Coronavirus is impacting.

Many patients—especially those at high risk—prefer virtual visits and consultations with their doctors. As a result, there’s been a sharp uptick in telemedicine over the course of this year.

Of course, just like hospitals themselves, virtual consultations face new experience challenges amid COVID. Therefore, healthcare brands must address those challenges directly in order to build trust with their patients. Those challenges, and their solutions, are the focus of this article.

Consultation Considerations

The telemedicine experience is dramatically different from a walk-in visit, especially when it comes to collecting feedback. A virtual visit presents more immediate opportunities to collect feedback from patients, though this poses a new challenge: healthcare brands need to avoid inundating patients with countless questions.

The best approach for hospitals and providers to take here is to provide feedback opportunities at the beginning and end of virtual visits. This gives patients an opportunity to voice their expectations at the start of the consultation and follow up on how well those expectations were met. This one-two strategy strikes a careful balance between survey frequency and patient comfort (which is obviously key to building a great experience for them).

Telemedicine Experience Checkup 

It’s important to remember that anyone who submits feedback expects brands to act on it. This is especially true for hospitals, which means it’s vital that healthcare brands parse through virtual visit feedback carefully. An experience platform that can ingest and analyze feedback, especially unstructured data, is key to this end. Hospitals can succeed by considering their audiences, designing their listening programs around those audiences, then executing an action plan.

Taking action on patient feedback is especially important these days. Healthcare customers have always expected providers to act on their concerns, but the pandemic has sent that expectation into the stratosphere. Thus, patients are paying especially close attention to their virtual visits—and how hospitals respond.

To recap, hospitals can ensure that their patients are receiving the best telemedicine possible by:

  1. Designing their listening program around tangible goals and important audiences
  2. Listening carefully to those audiences
  3. Ingesting feedback, especially unstructured data, to heighten patient understanding
  4. Applying subsequent learnings to the wider organization
  5. Achieving a better virtual experience for patients

Healthcare providers that stick to this strategy will not only make it out the other side of this pandemic, but also do so in a far better position for themselves and the patients for whom they provide quality care.

To learn more about the lasting effects of Coronavirus on the patient experience, check out this full article by Jason Macedonia here.

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