The Difference Between Customer Interactions and Customer Experiences

Recently, a client asked me what we at InMoment thought defines a “customer interaction,” as there had been some debate on the subject within his team. I pondered the subject and brought it back to my colleagues. Quickly, we were asking ourselves not only about the characteristics of an interaction, but beyond that, what falls under the larger umbrella of customer experience? Is there a difference? Today, we’ll be diving deeper into these questions.

What Is a Customer Interaction?

Webster’s defines “interaction” as:

  • Mutual or reciprocal action or influence
  • To act upon one another

From this definition, we see clearly that two or more parties are required for an interaction; for example, a company or brand and a prospect or customer.  

What Is a Customer Experience?

Harley Manning, VP, Research Director at Forrester, once defined customer experience as: How customers perceive their interactions with your company.  He went on to define an interaction as when you and your customers have a two-way exchange.1

Neither Here, Nor There

So what does that mean when a prospect or customer browses your website but does not make a purchase? Or a customer clicks a link in your brand’s email, but does not go any further? According to the definitions above, those are not interactions.  But there are a lot of people in companies working very hard to get these actions to happen (click through rate and time on website/app are very common marketing and ecommerce metrics).  

If they are not interactions, what are they? I would classify them as engagements.  A customer has engaged with your brand, but there was no interaction, because it was only unilateral. Thus, not all engagements are interactions.

And here is where it gets interesting.  If the examples listed above are not interactions, but engagements, are they considered part of your customer experience? You better believe it.  

The Intersection Between Customer Engagements and Customer Experiences

Customer experience is generally held to be the sum of all interactions someone has with your brand and the resulting feelings they have about your brand. But are experiences limited to interactions or engagements? Do customers have to interact with your people, products, services, or digital properties for their engagement to fall under customer experience?  

Today, a company’s policies regarding diversity and inclusion, for example, or the politics, causes, and charities they choose to support have an impact on people’s feelings about the brand. I would argue that these are part of the customer experience as well.  There are prospects out there that will choose to never do business with your company based on these issues and other customers who become more loyal for the same reasons.

Returning to the Question

To return to the original question, I would like to suggest that customer interactions and customer experience are concentric circles. An interaction is a subset of engagement, which in turn is a subset of experience.

Customer Experience versus Customer Engagement vs customer Interactions

And companies have to be attentive to all of the ways customers experience their brands, products, and services. Whether or not an engagement ever advances to the level of interaction is an integral piece of the CX puzzle.

Want to hear more from Eric about customer interactions, engagements, and experiences? Stay tuned for the next post in the series!

3 Ways Financial Services Customers Are Changing—and How Brands Should Adapt

Technology factors into customers’ changing wants and needs across many industries—especially in the financial services (finserv) world. We’ve noticed a lot of big changes in this sector just in the last few years, which means that banks like yours need to keep up in ways that are meaningful to your customers. Customer experience (CX) programs are a big help here; so too is human expertise that can guide your program goals. With that expertise in mind, here are three major ways we’re noticing how financial services customers are changing and why it matters!

3 Ways Financial Services Customers Are Changing

  • Key #1: Accept the Difficulty of Long-Term Client Maturity
  • Key #2: Finance as A Lifestyle Choice
  • Key #3: The Search for Meaning and Shared Values

Key #1: Accept the Difficulty of Long-Term Client Maturity

One of the biggest changes traditional banks are seeing is that it’s suddenly much harder to mature customers as long-term financial clients. There are two causes at play here: the first is that digitally savvy customers are constantly comparing your bank to the competition. The internet has made it easy to constantly compare brands, which is why customers may up and leave your attempts at long-term client relationships the minute they feel another bank is better.

The other factor, of course, is the rise of small but incredibly agile challenger institutions, which is the bucket that things like financial apps fall into. These challenger brands benefit from being able to offer customers quick, one-stop financial products that many larger banks simply haven’t developed yet, which has changed customers’ perceptions of what a financial product or service should be. The first step to staying ahead of this curve is to accept this paradigm shift.

Key #2: Finance as a Lifestyle Choice

Customers enjoy financial apps for their speed and lower prices, but there’s another element that these challenger brands have tapped into: the idea of specific financial lifestyles. A lot of larger, older banks see selling financial products as just that: a sale. However, the game has changed. More customers than ever before see financial products in a lifestyle sense, not just a monetary one. They want something that speaks specifically to their lifestyle identity, which means that banks must provide.

Turn to your CX program to see what customers are saying about your bank within this context. Understand what they find valuable about the products and services they provide, then think of ways to make your offering more personable. Capital One, for example, leveraged this process to create its novel Capital One Cafes, having learned that this was a feature that would make their brand more personable. Figuring out how to make your own brand more personable will make customers see you as a lifestyle institution, not ‘just’ a banking one.

Key #3: The Search for Meaning and Shared Values

We’ve discussed how finserv customers are constantly looking for the perfect bank, as well as how brands across the financial world must constantly strive to make themselves personable to those customers. This idea of a constantly perfect fit taps into something more fundamental than competing on price or turning your bank into a cafe: the notion of Experience Improvement (XI) and its vital importance to building mutually successful relationships with customers.

The truth is that, even though customers are much harder to retain than they used to be, they’re still looking for the brand whom they feel knows them as people. Couple that with the fact that these smaller challenger brands tend to focus much more on individual transactions than long-term relationships, and the result is an opportunity for larger banks to compete on customers’ search for meaning. This means creating a CX program tied to specific financial goals, uniting customer data from across your organization, and executing on that intel in a way customers will appreciate. This will allow you to build meaningful relationships in a way that challenger apps cannot while retaining and strengthening your book of business.

Click here to learn more about how the finserv customer has changed and what your bank can do to not just stay ahead, but thrive in this digital age. Senior Vice President Ashley Goode takes a magnifying glass to all the changes we’ve seen in recent years and how your brand can succeed with Experience Improvement!

How to Build Story Frameworks for Executive Buy-In

Creating a compelling and emotional story is one of the best ways for experience practitioners to secure ROI from the boardroom. However, while a lot of program managers might be content to wing their way through those meetings, there are proven storytelling methods and frameworks out there that can greatly improve your chances of getting that executive buy-in. Today, we’re going to lay out a framework invented by famed consultant Barbara Minto called the Pyramid Principle, and it goes like this:

  1. The Situation
  2. The Complication
  3. The Question
  4. The Answer

Step #1: The Situation

This is the step in which you lay your story’s framework. When it comes to customer experience (CX) stories specifically, it’s handy to start this area out with a profile of the customer who’s at the heart of the interaction. Provide a few compelling personal details about this person as you build the world toward your brand being able to address their inevitable concern. This will tee the rest of your narrative up for how your organization saved this customer’s day.

Step #2: The Complication

Once you’ve set the stage by describing who your customer is and providing a few key background details, you can then dive into the problem that drove the customer to your brand. Take care not to describe the issue in solely problem-meets-product terms—emphasize how whatever the customer is dealing with is affecting them as a person. This approach builds empathy with the executives to whom you’re presenting and reinforces the notion of treating customers like people, not just clients, which is key to Experience Improvement (XI).

Step #3: The Question

This is the part where you establish how your brand can solve the customer’s problem, and it’s where the product and service piece that’s usually better to sidestep in step 2 can really come back in full force. Detail how your organization first came to the customer’s attention, why they believed your brand could assist them, and how your organization thought to solve the problem. Which brings us to the fourth and final step in the Pyramid Principle…

Step #4: The Answer

This step is a culmination of the personal elements established in step 2 and the business side outlined in step 3. Here’s where you can reveal not only how your brand solved the customer’s problem in a purely business sense, but more importantly, what that solution did for them personally. Don’t hold back when describing how happy your solution made the customer and whether they shared that joy with others online. That sort of connection is truly what creates a stronger bottom line for brands… and it’s something that executives are actually just as much if not more interested in than numbers.

Click here to learn more about how effective storytelling can inspire executive buy-in. Expert Simon Fraser has studied storytelling for well over a decade and has a lot more to say about how telling a good story can wow boardrooms, drum up ROI, and get your boardroom fired up for more.

Six Must-Dos for Executive-Level CX Reporting

Imagine you are a CEO in 2021. COVID-19 is rampant, lockdowns are everywhere, 90% of your staff are working from home, and your traditional customers are… not so traditional anymore. Each day brings a new challenge trying to navigate this unpredictable environment, as you spend 9 hours each day in back-to-back zoom meetings. Friday rolls around and your last zoom call ends at 6pm. You open your emails to notice 20 unread emails. 

As you read through them, you open an email from the customer experience (CX) team with insights from the previous month. The document is 15 pages, has 30 charts, a bunch of text, and a lot of numbers. You flick through each page, making sure the trend charts are not declining. You gauge that the numbers seem about normal, so you move on to the next email.

Do you feel excited about these extensive, exhaustive customer experience reports? Probably not.

Executive CX Reports Could Use A Shake Up

For most large businesses, this is quite common. Customer experience teams often ‘data dump’ their customer experience results into a fairly large, dense PowerPoint deck that is sent to the C-Suite once a month.These decks are usually time consuming to produce and may not even be read in its entirety. 

It is not the role of the CEO to analyse charts–that’s the analyst’s job. It is also not the role of the CEO to figure out an action plan to tackle each issue–that is the role of the CX team with each product or channel lead. 

The role of the CEO is to steer the ship. Like a ship’s captain, they will use their instruments to ensure the ship is sailing smoothly. A ships’ captain does not receive an in-depth deck on the engine’s health as they are sailing, and neither should a CEO. 

So, what kind of report should a CEO receive? Let’s take a look.

Must-Do #1: The Shorter, the Better

First up, shorten the report as much as possible. Best practice is one page maximum. CEOs should be looking at a scannable, summarised view that shows the high-level health of the company. 

Picture your report as an alert monitor. If there are any slight declining figures, the CEO will reach out to you for more information. But by this point, you and the product lead should have already identified any issues and drafted a plan of attack. To caveat this, if your NPS has dropped from 80 to 60 overnight, then definitely provide context on the reason why the drop has occurred. Most of the time, CEO’s will know this anyway, as it is probably due to a system outage that month or a negative media release.

Must-Do #2: Minimise Text and Maximise Visuals

The reports made up of mere bullet points are missing out on big opportunities. Best practice is to include infographics with as minimal text as possible. 

One of the most useful design tips to learn is the data ink ratio. This is where the “total amount of data ink” is divided by the “total ink to produce the graphic.” In essence, anything that does not help tell a story should be removed. 

It’s also important to make sure this one-page report is on brand. Your digital and marketing teams should already have branded icons and hex colour codes, so we would recommend reaching out to them for a template.

Must-Do #3: Only Include What the C-Suite Cares About

First and foremost, your report should include your northstar CX metric. This figure should be an overall score of all your touchpoints combined. It signifies the overall customer health of the business. 

Next, include customer churn numbers in the report. The number of customers defecting from your business is highly correlated to their customer experience with your brand. Make sure you include total churn numbers, not net flow of customers. 

Net flow of customers can mask the extent of customer defection due to the amount of money business pour into sales and acquisition. It is surprising how much money businesses spend on acquisition, yet they have the tightest rules for their customer service agents on what they can refund or grant as loyalty points. 

That leads us next to customer complaints and cases. CEOs need to be aware of the number of complaints that have been recorded, how long it takes to resolve them, and the satisfaction outcome of these complaints. 

What not to include? Agent friendliness, branch cleanliness, etc. Those questions are in your surveys to inform the front line and middle management, but are not needed in this report.

Must-Do #4: Show CX Scores Over Time

Showing a single score from an isolated month leaves a lot of key information out of the report. Instead, show CX scores over time so the CEO can see the trend. 

Let’s say you presented an NPS score of 60 with an upward green arrow showing a month-over-month increase of 2. Seems good, right? But, what if the business consistently had an NPS of around 80 for the previous 6 months? In light of this new context, the 60 score with the upward arrow is misleading. CEOs are interested in the direction of the business, not necessarily current scores. As I said before, their role is to steer the ship.

Must-Do #5: Include Customer Comments

CEOs need to be aware of what customers are saying. Copying and pasting your text analytics bar graph is not enough—there needs to be more context. Therefore, the data should be presented in an actionable and relatable way. 

We recommend segmenting your text analytics into three core categories: people, product/price, and process. These are three pillars that underpin an organisation and it is important to highlight the key strengths and weaknesses of each pillar. 

Make sure to also include customer verbatims of common themes. This turns black and white data into a real story with emotion. If a customer posted on your social media about an issue, include it, especially if it shows the pain point’s impact on the customer. Make sure you are showing common trending themes—your CX dashboards should already highlight these to you, so you should not have to go digging each month.

Must-Do #6: Show CX Impact 

Finally, it’s great to highlight the wins of the CX team. Include a section of positive initiatives the CX team has taken on to improve the customer experience or even examples of how frontline staff have gone above and beyond to solve a customer issue. This can help bridge the gap between the c-level and the people responsible for your direct customer experience.

At most organisations, the c-suite has probably never stepped foot in their contact centre. They often view the contact centre as something that has to be there and therefore, they might try to cut costs there as much as possible. To protect this asset, it’s up to you to change the perception of the CEO and highlight how these frontline staff financially contribute to the growth of the company by turning detractors into promoters. 

Wrapping Up

Best practice for exec-level CX reports is simplicity. Stick to a one-page, infographic-styled report that showcases key trending metrics with summarised common customer feedback. Speak with your customer success manager to set up dashboards that will have the information ready to go at any time! 

If you liked this blog, our new eBook will take your customer experience reports to the next level. Download “How To Tell A Story Using Market Research Data” for free here!

How Employee Experience Impacts Your Business

You’ve heard it time and time again: employees are your greatest asset for business success. 

We all know it’s true, but only a few experts can articulate (and prove) how the employee experience directly impacts the bottom line. And perhaps that’s why so many brands stick to the customer experience and fail to include employees in their efforts. The thing is, however, that the customer experience and the employee experience overlap in so many ways.

In the first episode InMoment’s “XI Expert Take” video series, VP of Global Employee Experience Stacy Bolger dives into that overlap and explains how businesses can leverage their employee experience for organization-wide success. Here are a couple of takeaways we want to highlight for you:

Lack of EX Investment Equals Significant Revenue Drainage

As a part of her role at InMoment, Stacy Bolger often visits brands to brainstorm solutions to their greatest EX challenges. Despite the fact that these brands span across industries and the globe, Bolger has found that she often sees the same phenomenon unfold: brands that don’t have a strategy in place to survey their employees lose money.

In her “XI Expert Take” episode, she uses the example of a call center to bring this point to life. In her story, call center agents regularly take the same call about a process inefficiency that causes customers frustration.

“Let’s say that [in that call center] 150 representatives take a call [for the same issue] twenty times per week. That comes out to three thousand times per week. At eight dollars per call, that now has translated to $24,000 a week on the same call. And when we annualize it? That comes to $1.2 million a year that we are spending on a single call type and a process that a frontline employee has the insight to fix, knows the solution to, and yet that brand simply does not have the process with which to gather that feedback.”

That’s right. If the brand in Stacy’s example simply surveyed its employees asking for insights about the customer experience, it could save over a million dollars! And though this situation is hypothetical, the same kind of revenue drain is all too real for brands that fail to invest in the employee experience and examine the voice of employee (VoE).

Failure to Listen to Employees Leads to Lower Engagement

Voice of employee initiatives definitely excel at removing customer-unfriendly processes, but they also are absolutely vital to keeping employee morale up and churn down. Why? Because employees who feel listened to feel valued, are more engaged, and are likely to stick around a lot longer.

Put yourself in your employees’ shoes. If you kept bringing up a recurring process or operations issue to your manager, but nothing was being done to fix that issue on a large scale, how would you feel? You’d feel small, you’d feel ignored, and you’d feel as if all the work you put in day after day amounts to nothing in the eyes of your employer. If you felt that way, would you stick around?

It’s safe to say that no one would enjoy that situation. And when unsatisfied employees leave, your organization loses tenured, passionate employees and a significant amount of money. In fact, turnover can cost a company about 33% of

an employee’s annual salary. How? Because when an employee leaves, the business has to take on multiple costs, including the cost to recruit and the cost to train! 

Putting a voice of employee program into place prevents this drainage. It creates a strategy with which brands can survey their employees about the customer experience. And when you combine strategic listening with advanced analytics that unearth trends in that data, you can alert the right teams within the company to take action and make change. 

When the employee sees a process they’ve flagged as an issue transformed into something more customer friendly, they feel like an imperative part of the organization (which, in truth, they are).

Tying Business Value Back to Employee Initiatives

In the rest of her episode, Stacy highlights other areas where employee initiatives excel, does some quick math to quantify the results, and tells you the steps you should take to get the ball rolling. 

But don’t take our word for it. You can watch the full twenty minute session for free here!

How Cost Reduction Factors into Experience Improvement Strategy

I recently put together a Point of View article about the importance of cost reduction, and how going about it a certain way enables brands to reduce costs, lower friction, and build better relationships by improving customer experiences. These are goals that brands can accomplish with a single motion, and the organizations that say otherwise are not, unfortunately, utilizing their experience platforms and data as much as they could be.

As important as cost reduction is, however, it’s one piece of a larger picture that brands should draw inspiration from as they try building better experiences. That picture is what I call the four economic pillars, and we’ll briefly run through them now.

Four Economic Pillars for Your Experience Improvement Strategy

  1. Customer Acquisition
  2. Customer Retention
  3. Cross-Sell/Upsell
  4. Cost Reduction

Pillar #1: Customer Acquisition

Brands should always try to acquire new customers as a matter of course, but a lot of organizations don’t tune their experience platforms & programs to that objective as much as they can and should. A versatile Experience Improvement (XI) program can help brands identify where prospective customers live in the feedback universe, then digest their sentiments to create an experience and product offering that those individuals will find attractive. One reason why more brands don’t succeed here is because they don’t decide where it might be best to look for new audiences before turning their programs on. Be sure to discuss and agree on your program design  before proceeding!

Pillar #2: Customer Retention

We can all agree that it is more efficient for brands to retain current customers than to rely too much on new ones for revenue. That’s why you should use your experience programs and feedback tools to not only seek out new customers, but also ensure you’re keeping tabs on conversations within your existing customer base. The best way to do this is to bring all relevant teams to the table, construct a profile of your existing customer against a backdrop of operational and financial data, then use that info to continuously refine your products and services, as well as reduce friction in the experience you deliver. Customers appreciate a brand that does more than react to problems as they arise.

Pillar #3: Cross-Sell/Upsell

Creating a profile of your existing customers is useful for more than ‘just’ building a better experience for them; it also reveals new opportunities to cross-sell and upsell that group of clientele. Seeking out new sources of revenue is all well and good, but most brands would probably be surprised at what opportunities are just waiting in their own backyards. For that reason, organizations should build a customer profile with both better experiences and cross-selling opportunities in mind. Try to resist the urge to consider this pure sales; rather look at it as helping your customers get the most value from all that you have to offer. 

Pillar #4: Cost Reduction

Cost reduction is very important on its own, but it takes on added meaning when viewed through the lens of these other three pillars. What makes cost reduction exciting  is that brands can achieve cost reduction goals via a lot of the same processes that underlie these other pillars; reducing friction, streamlining processes like customer claims, and the like. Again, brands should not view cost reduction as something that’s mutually exclusive with a better experience. Rather, with the right experience platform, organizations can achieve both goals with one approach.

Click here to read my full Point of View on cost reduction, in which I take a much deeper dive on this subject, and stay tuned for additional material we’ve got coming down the pike on the importance of this and other economic pillars!

2 Ways Reducing Friction Benefits Customers & Brands

Reducing customer friction is extremely important to any brand. However, going about friction reduction in the right way can do more than lower costs for an organization; it can also build a fundamentally improved experience for your customers. Today’s conversation briefly covers how brands can strike this balance with a single approach.

Creating Friction-Free Journeys

Ostensibly, reducing cost is supposed to do just that. However, what a lot of organizations don’t realize is that reducing costs can also reduce friction along the customer journey—that excess effort that customers have to put in just to interact with your brand. Things like repeat phone calls, having to go back to the store, and the like all fall under that category.

Friction creates higher customer dissatisfaction, steeper costs, and, in a worst-case scenario, customer churn.  Fortunately for organizations, this dynamic also works in reverse, which is why it’s all the more important for organizations to leverage their experience programs as much as possible to address customer friction points. Continue gathering feedback, but make sure to analyze its sentiments, share that information with the wider organization, and work with all the relevant teams to come up with solutions and program enhancements. Even fixes like taking a few seconds off of contact center calls, for example, can save brands a lot of money while also increasing customer satisfaction.

The Ties That Bind

There’s a bigger picture to reducing costs than making individual transactions easier for customers: their overall relationship with your brand. Remember that, while evaluating singular interactions is certainly important, most customers don’t think about your company in those terms. Generally, customers think about their entire relationship with your brand from beginning until now, which is why going about cost reduction with friction elimination in mind is so fundamentally important.

When customers feel like all their interactions with your brand are frictionless, you create a more human connection and a more loyal customer relationship. Cost reduction isn’t just about saving money; it’s about refining your customer experience into something that keeps customers coming back for more because they know you care about them as people.

So, how else might brands use cost reduction to create a more human experience while also strengthening their bottom line? Click here to read my full-length point of view on this subject and to learn more about how cost reduction can create Experience Improvement (XI) when it’s done meaningfully.

Why Your Brand Needs to Desilo Customer Journeys Today

As customer experiences grow more complex, so too have customer expectations. This has become especially true in recent years, as customers take an increasingly multichannel approach to interacting with brands, purchasing products, and relaying concerns. For this and other reasons, there’s never been a greater need for brands to meet this multichannel expectation and desilo journeys than right now. Let’s get into how and why organizations should accomplish this.

A Broader View

One of the most pressing reasons to desilo customer journeys is to achieve an omnichannel view of customers. Brands can do this by integrating call center transcripts, web data, and operational metrics from across multichannel journeys (with the help of a proper experience platform). Feeding this data, this context, back into the organization helps your brand create a meaningfully improved experience for your customers.

Additionally, though creating a better customer experience is the primary goal here,, brands will find that they can also accomplish key business objectives with this more holistic view of their customers. These include greater customer acquisition, better customer retention, heightened cross-selling to your existing customer base, and lowering cost to serve, all of which result in a stronger bottom line.

A Smarter Approach

Another reason brands should desilo customer journeys is because doing so makes your Voice of Customer (VoC) and other feedback tools smarter. As experiences have grown more multichannel, customers have grown to expect brands to remember them, their preferences, and whether certain interactions have occurred already. Desiloing journeys allows brands to achieve all of this while also removing irrelevant questions and making feedback collection more conversational.

This idea only makes sense when you consider that each piece of a VoC program is a chance to learn something new or different about a customer. The more disparate pieces of info you can collect and assemble, the more complete the picture of your customers becomes. A multichannel approach to VoC can thus help brands round out that aforementioned omnichannel customer view that’s so important to experience improvement.

The Road to Success

While customers should be the primary beneficiary of journey desiloing, employees benefit from this approach as well. The biggest benefit that employees can reap from desiloed journeys and data is having a complete set of information on customers’ interactions and expectations. When employees have that knowledge and the ability to act on it, they can take pride in having delivered a better customer experience, which boosts their morale. It also helps them understand how their work fits into the customer journey and how it connects with that of other teams.

To sum up, desiloing journeys allows brands to get a 360-degree view of customers that’s essential for improving experiences, create a multichannel experience that treats customers more like people than support tickets, and gives employees a chance to work toward the same commonly understood customer experience goal. This results in both a fundamentally connective experience for customers and transformational success for the brands that can provide it.

Click here to learn more about desiloing customer journeys (and to see an example of that process in action) in my Point of View on this subject.

What Customers Expect from a Modern Brand Experience

The experience world has seen a certain term crop up more and more in recent years: omnichannel. This word has gradually become a regular part of customer experience (CX) practitioners’ vocabulary, and indicates a grander shift in CX thinking from focusing on transactions to creating a more seamless journey for customers. This article will briefly introduce what customers have come to expect of brands, and how those organizations can begin to think about meeting that expectation.

The Sum of All Parts

The main reason why many CX practitioners have shifted their customer experience thinking from individual transactions to entire relationships is because, well, that’s how customers see things. Individual transactions and interactions are important, yes, but customers think about a brand relationship in its entirety. This trend has only become more prominent in recent years, and it’s key to designing a meaningfully improved experience.

One of the most important reasons why customers think this way, especially when it comes to expecting a seamless experience, is because they now interact with brands in many different ways: via an app, over the phone, in-person, on a website, etc. With this increase in touchpoints has come a customer expectation that brands will recognize and remember them no matter how they choose to transact. This expectation is at the core of creating a truly omnichannel experience.

The Problem with Legacy Systems

It’s reasonable to ask why more brands haven’t immediately created omnichannel experiences if customers have come to not just desire them, but expect them. Unfortunately, many organizations have legacy systems in place that rigidly silo experience data. Call center data stays with call center teams, website data stays with digital teams, so on and so forth. This setup makes it much more difficult for brands to even know where to start desiloing customer journeys, let alone to successfully execute that goal.

Another issue to consider here is how brands use CRM systems. Though many of these databases’ data isn’t all that divided, it’s common for too few people to have access to it. This reduces data democratization, which makes it harder for a brand to achieve the 360-degree customer view needed for desiloing journeys.

Where Brands Go from Here

It’s become clear that customers expect brands to recognize them at every touchpoint, and to use that recognition to enhance their experience. Customers also expect to be able to seamlessly jump from one channel to another in any given interaction. Many companies’ experience programs aren’t built to accommodate this trend, resulting in lost opportunities for both a better experience and a stronger bottom line.

How might brands circumvent these problems, desilo their customer journeys, and create a more seamless experience for all? Click here to learn more about how your organization can break these barriers down and achieve Experience Improvement (XI) in my Point of View on this subject.

How Talking to Past and Present Customers Reduces Future Churn

Reducing churn and retaining a solid base of loyal customers is a constant challenge for brands, which is why setting out to reduce that churn must likewise be a constant company goal. I outlined a variety of churn reduction strategies in my recent point of view document on the subject, but there’s a two-pronged approach that merits an especially close look: talking to past and present customers to reduce future churn.

Talking to Past Customers

You can’t always save customers who have already left your brand for what they believe are greener pastures, but talking to these individuals can yield valuable intel that might save some of your current customer base from doing the same. This methodology is often referred to as win/loss research or Attrition Customer Experience (CX), and its findings are invaluable. Talking to past customers can help brands understand what parts of their experience might be driving customers away, as well as better tell which churn might be controllable or uncontrollable.

Win/loss research also affords brands an opportunity to scout out the competition. Past customers usually aren’t shy about sharing which company they switched to and why they think that competitor suits their needs better. While that criticism might sting a bit, it’s a great way to learn about why customers and prospects choose other companies over you. Thus, talking to customers who’ve already gone out the door is rarely a waste of time.

Talking to Current Customers

Once you’ve discussed your brand experience with past customers, it’s important to incorporate those learnings into saving current, at-risk customers from leaving your organization. Arming yourself with context from past customers can go a long way toward reshaping your approach with current customers, listening to their concerns, and understanding why they may feel one way or another about their own journeys with your brand.

Having a powerful Experience Improvement (XI) platform is a priority to take here too. Tools like sentiment analysis can provide brands powerful intelligence that they can compare with feedback from past customers. Combining all of this information can help brands know not just which touchpoints need improvement, but also how best to meaningfully change those areas to retain current business.

Working Upstream

Combining feedback from past and present customers is one of the best ways that brands can prevent future churn. Organizations can rely on this intelligence to be more proactive about saving at-risk customers, identifying and solving broken touchpoints and other experience issues before they result in a loss. Though this process is work intensive and may not save all of your at-risk relationships, the brands that dedicate themselves to soliciting this feedback from all their customers will come away with less churn, and thus more success, than their peers.

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.

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.

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