3 Ways an Improvement Success Framework Can Supercharge Your Experience Program

These days, it’s not uncommon for brands to take the term “listening program” to mean a series of listening posts set up across multiple channels.

Yes, those posts are an important part of listening, but experience programs can be so much more (and do so much more for your business). They can go far beyond listening in across channels and reacting to customer comments only as they come in.

Listening for, reacting to, and measuring customer sentiment in this manner is what’s commonly known as experience management. And honestly, it rarely moves the needle for brands or creates a better experience for customers. Experience improvement (XI), by contrast, allows companies to achieve both of those goals by connecting to customers in a very human way. Essentially, it pays for brands to have an experience improvement success framework.

Today, we’re going to touch on three ways a success framework can add unbridled power to any improvement effort:

  1. Proving ROI
  2. Listening Purposefully
  3. Owning The Moments That Matter

Key #1: Proving ROI

ROI has been a notoriously fickle element of experience programs for years—but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the difficulty of proving ROI stems less from experience programs being a financially elusive unicorn than many companies not tying their program to a quantifiable objective.

This is why it is crucial that brands establish hard, specific goals for their experience program. An objective like “be more customer-centric” isn’t going to cut it, especially when it comes to proving ROI. Rather, experience practitioners and stakeholders need to work together to hash out program objectives that can be tied to financial goals.

Whether it’s acquiring X amount of new customers or lowering cost to serve by Y percent, creating goals like these and gearing your program toward them will make establishing ROI much, much easier.

Key #2: Listening Purposefully

ROI isn’t the only area a success framework can help companies stencil in. This setup can also help brands better identify who to listen to and why.

Conventional wisdom holds that companies should listen for feedback from anyone, but that isn’t necessarily true. Callous as it may sound to some, the truth is that some audiences are just more worth listening to than others. A success framework can help companies identify which audiences they need to listen to to achieve program goals.

This approach is also handy for cutting through the mountains and mountains of data that experience programs inevitably rake in. They also help programs get to the heart of providing a great experience, which leads us to our final topic:

Key #3: Owning The Moments That Matter

The moments that matter are the instances in which the needs of customers, employees, and businesses all connect. They’re the moments in which a customer journey transcends a transaction and becomes a profound emotional connection. Owning the moments that matter is vital to creating connections and inspiring transformational success across your business.

This final key is a culmination of establishing financial goals, listening purposefully, and taking action—ultimately creating meaning for customers. That capacity to create meaning is what sets the best brands apart from the competition and carries them to the top of their verticals. And it all starts with building an experience improvement success framework.

Click here to learn more about how to create a success framework and why doing so at the very start of your experience improvement journey will guarantee success for you, your customers, and your employees.

The Shortcomings of Comment-Based Surveys

Comment-based surveys can be effective for immediately gathering feedback from customers. And when it comes to customer experience (CX), timeliness can make or break an organization’s ability to act on that feedback.

However, there are several arenas in which brands use comment-based surveys when another survey type would yield better intelligence. Today, I’d like to dive into several shortcomings that can make using comment-based surveys challenging for brands, as well as a few potential solutions for those challenges. Let’s get started.

Outlet-Level Analysis

As I discussed in my recent article on this subject, comment-based surveys are often less effective than other survey types for conducting outlet-level analysis. In other words, while brands can see how well stores, bank branches, and the like are performing generally, they usually can’t determine where individual outlets need to improve .

The reason for this has as much to do with the feedback customers leave as the survey design itself. From what I’ve seen across decades of research, customers rarely discuss more than 1-2 topics in their comments. Yes, customers may touch upon many topics as a group, but rarely are most or even a lot of those topics covered by singular comments.

What all of this ultimately means for brands using comment-based surveys to gauge outlet effectiveness is that the feedback they receive is almost always spread thin. The intelligence customers submit via this route can potentially cover many performance categories, but there’s usually not that much depth to it, making it difficult for brands to identify the deep-rooted problems or process breakages that they need to address at the unit level if they want to improve experiences.

(Un)helpful Feedback

Another reason that brands can only glean so much from comment-based surveys at the outlet level is that, much of the time, customers only provide superficial comments like:“good job”, “it was terrible”, and the immortally useless “no comment.” In other words, comment-based surveys can be where specificity goes to die.

Obviously, there’s not a whole lot that the team(s) running a brand’s experience improvement program can do with information that vague. Comments like these contain no helpful observations about what went right (or wrong) with the experience that the customer is referring to. The only solution to this problem is for brands to be more direct with their surveys and ask for feedback on one process or another directly.

How to Improve Comment-Based Surveys

These shortcomings are among the biggest reasons brands should be careful about trying to use comment-based surveys to diagnose processes, identify employee coaching opportunities, and seeing how well outlets are adhering to organization-wide policies and procedures. However, none of this means that comment-based surveys should be abandoned. In fact, there’s a solution to these surveys’ relative lack of specificity.

Brands can encourage their customers to provide better intelligence via multimedia feedback. Options like video and image feedback enable customers to express themselves in their own terms while also giving organizations much more to work with than comment-based surveys can typically yield. Multimedia feedback can thus better allow brands to see how their regional outlets are performing, diagnose processes, and provide a meaningfully improved experience for their customers.

Click here to read my Point of View article on comment-based surveys. I take a deeper dive into when they’re effective, when they’re not, and how to use them to achieve transformational success.

3 Ways COVID-19 Has Already Changed Wealth Management

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on many working- and middle-class families’ finances. However, these are not the only groups whose income, savings, and assets have come under threat from this crisis. As I discussed in my recent Point of View article on this subject, many affluent families and audiences have also seen their own financial ecosystems gravely affected. 

Based on a recent poll conducted by InMoment, most affluent consumers expect the market to be quite volatile throughout 2021.  While most are not planning to change their investment style or their firms, COVID-19 has influenced or changed what wealth management clients expect of their advisers, as well as how their financial institutions must manage their business and relationships for the foreseeable future.

Here are the three biggest changes I’ve seen COVID-19 force upon the world of wealth management, as well as some advice and insights on how these firms and consultancies can rise above them.

  1. Hungry for Advice
  2. More Frequent and Proactive Interaction
  3. A Heightened Need for Protection

Change #1: Hungry for Advice

This tip may seem gratuitous, especially since every wealth adviser has that client who talks their ear off after hours, but COVID-19’s impact on these customers’ desire for financial advice cannot be understated. If the data I’ve studied is any indication, the Coronavirus’s penchant for disrupting normalcy has worked its way into affluent clients’ financial fears. So, wealth management firms should be prepared for an ongoing influx of questions about everything from investments to retirement.

Because of this, wealth advisers should tune their experience programs toward opportunities for providing more advice on these and other topics. Unfortunately, it seems the pandemic will be with us for quite some time, and so wealth management firms can count on this influx to sustain itself for about as long. Advisers who continuously focus their listening efforts on the topics customers have questions on and why, though, will be able to keep their heads above water.

Change #2: More Frequent and Proactive Interaction

Because COVID-19 has brought about rapid, large-scale change, wealth management clients have come to expect their advisers to react to new developments with 2008-level speed. This means that wealth advisers can expect their customers to both demand quick responsive action and to be proactive before new changes can adversely affect them.

This demand for faster action has manifested itself in two ways already—first, COVID has made clients much more hawkish when it comes to demanding fast, flexible account management. Additionally, these clients now expect wealth management firms to be much quicker when it comes to business and financial reviews, among other advice. Wealth management companies can rise to these challenges by making fast, proactive action a hallmark of their overall brand experience. Getting to and maintaining that level of reactiveness is no small task, but COVID-19 has made that responsiveness a dealbreaker for many clients.

Change #3: A Heightened Need for Protection

Coronavirus has thrown massive uncertainty into our society, which has many wealth management clients keen to protect their assets against any additional loss. This point meshes with both of the changes I talked about earlier, but the need to aggressively protect assets is worthy of its own mention—as is clients’ expectation that that be front-and-center in any wealth management firm they do business with.

Wealth advisers have always protected their clients’ assets and sought to minimize losses. That’s a given. What hasn’t been a given until COVID, though, is clients’ strong desire for more direct access to their managed wealth than ever before, as well as a relatively newfound need for any resources that make them feel more self-reliant. This is why wealth management advisers must make asset protection as prominent a cornerstone of their provided experience as possible, lest clients think that the competition offers stronger defenses and is thus worth going to instead.

The common theme that threads all of these changes together is clients’ urgently heightened need for a wealth management firm that is both proactive and reactive. Whether it’s speedy account management or ambitious loss prevention, the consultancies that can act fast and make that quick action the bedrock of their customer experience will win out against their peers. More than that, though, clients are seeking reassurance on a human level, which means that those aforementioned late nights on the phone have taken on a renewed importance not just as a source of wealth management expertise, but of meaningful connection in uncertain times.

Want to learn more about how COVID-19 has changed and will continue to change financial services? Click here to read my in-depth Point of View article on the subject.

3 Simple Steps That Make Your CX Program Actually Move The Needle

It’s no secret that many companies’ experience initiatives aren’t delivering the results that those brands expect and, frankly, need. Too many customer experience (CX) programs are stuck solely on giving companies metrics, which by themselves cannot deliver a meaningfully improved experience and thus a stronger bottom line.

However, there is a solution. Companies don’t have to stay stuck merely “managing” their experiences. We’ve put together three proven steps that companies can follow to take their program, and thus their brand, to the top:

  1. Determining Business Objectives
  2. Gathering The Right Data
  3. Taking Intelligent Action

Step #1: Determining Business Objectives

Traditionally, many firms have been in such a hurry to start listening in on their customers’ tastes and preferences. And while this eagerness is admirable, it often results in wantonly turning listening posts on everywhere and waiting for insights to roll in. Listening is important, yes, but listening passively is worlds different than listening intently. The former focuses on gathering metrics, feeding those metrics into a piece-by-piece reactive strategy, and calling it a day. The latter calls for businesses to firmly establish what they want to achieve with their experience program before turning any ears on.

There are several merits to determining business objectives before listening to customers, and they all have to do with looking before leaping. First, companies need to decide what business problems they want their experience program to solve. Foregoing this step and listening for the sake of listening is why so many programs either fail or provide ROI that’s murky at best.

Additionally, companies can take considering objectives as an opportunity to tie their experience programs to financial goals. Like we just said, it’s hard to prove a CX initiative’s ROI if it has no clear objective beyond just listening to customers. Spelling your program’s goals out in financial terms gives CX teams a hard number to work toward—then, when that number is achieved, those teams will have a much easier time using that achievement to leverage additional funding in the boardroom.

Step #2: Gathering The Right Data

There’s another reason why it pays to stop and think before turning listening posts on in every channel: some customer segments are more worth listening to than others. This idea may sound a bit callous, but think about it—a listening program geared toward evaluating a loyalty program is going to be much more useful if it hones in on long-term customers instead of casting a net all over the place.

This notion is also known as the concept of gathering the right data. It’s okay for brands to use different listening posts for different audiences—in fact, this strategy is much more likely to garner useful intelligence. Thus, it’s just as important for companies to consider their audiences as it is concrete financial goals when it comes to experience programs. The right data can yield the right intelligence, which can enable brands to take the right steps toward transformational success.

Step #3: Taking Intelligent Action

Much of the work in this step will already have been done if companies follow the previous two steps correctly. Like we said, it’s a good idea for brands to look before they leap and carefully consider what they hope to accomplish with a listening program. Yes, the goal of “listening” is all well and good, but the problem with experience management is that the buck stops there. Take your CX aspirations further than gathering metrics and decide what that listening is meant to accomplish. More customer acquisition? Retention? Lowering cost to serve? Set those goals and attach dollar amounts to them.

Then, take some time to consider which audiences you need to listen to in order to achieve those goals. Arming yourself with concrete goals and intelligence from the right audiences will enable your organization to take the meaningful action it needs to reach the top of its vertical, make a stronger bottom line, and create an emotional, connective experience for both customers and employees. Companies can use these steps to move the needle and take their program from experience management to something far more profound: experience improvement.

Want to learn more about how CX programs can move the needle and create lasting success for businesses, customers, and employees? Check out our new POV article on the subject, written by EVP Brian Clark, here.

How Closing The Loop Helps Companies Keep Promises

Keeping promises is absolutely essential to brand success. You’d think a statement like that would go without saying, but I’m sure you can also recall many times throughout your life that a company broke its promise to you—and how that made you feel about the experience that the brand was trying to provide.

Making and keeping promises can be a tricky business for companies. Organizations oftentimes end up overpromising, underdelivering, or both. Couple that with customers having more means than ever before of telling their friends about a negative experience, and the result is broken promises that scar, not just smear, a brand’s reputation.

Today, we’re going to touch on a point I talked about in a recent POV on the impact of broken brand promises: implementing a strong loop-closing process that can help companies keep their promises and keep at-risk customers from becoming powerful brand detractors.

Closing the Inner Loop

Closing the inner loop means addressing and solving individual customer complaints. This process is crucial to making customers feel heard and can often make the difference between promises kept and promises broken. Closing the inner loop is an essential component of any experience improvement strategy because it helps brands not only know what customers expect of an organization, but also enables companies to intercept and deal with threats to brand promises.

Companies can tackle closing the inner loop by, well, looping employees into the process as much as possible. Customers enjoy a personalized experience, especially when they’re frustrated with an impending broken promise, and an employee who cares is the best way to make those individuals feel empathized with. Brands can also use this tactic to learn about pain points they may not even be aware of.

Listening is an important piece of keeping brand promises, but it’s only half the battle. After fielding concerns from a dissatisfied customer, brands must work quickly to take action on that feedback or else risk both losing the customer and breaking a brand promise. Brands can help ensure that departments take action on relevant feedback by sharing data across the organization rather than keep it siloed with a customer experience (CX) practitioner or team.

Closing The Outer Loop

A brand’s success is built upon many instances of closing the inner loop, and when the enthusiasm for listening to and solving customer problems is diffused across an organization, that brand will have closed the outer loop. The outer loop is a company culture that espouses fixing pain points and keeping promises wherever possible. A company committed to keeping the outer loop closed is a company that democratizes data, shares feedback throughout the organization, and uses that unity to take effective action. Naturally, this is a must for brands that want to keep their promises.

These reasons and more are why a strong loop-closing process is essential to listening to customers, resolving issues, and leaving those individuals feeling like the brand has both taken them seriously and resolved to keep a commitment (as it happens, I also wrote a POV on this and other reasons to close the loop, which you can check out here).

As I said earlier, making and keeping promises is tricky. But closing the loop can save at-risk customers, identify pain points, and give companies the opportunity to both keep promises and create a stronger bottom line for themselves.

Interested in learning more about brand promises and their far-reaching impact? You can check out more in my article on the subject here.

How COVID-19 Has and Will Impact Credit—Permanently

The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on financial health has been just as if not more concerning to many customers as its effects on literal health. Many individuals, families, and businesses have struggled financially over the last 5-6 months, and unfortunately, it’s looking like these struggles will reverberate across the credit and loan repayment world in big—and unprecedented—ways.

While it’s true that government assistance has somewhat helped some customers bide their time, many financial institutions still anticipate that the Coronavirus has created long-term problems when it comes to credit payments and paying back loans. This is especially true for credit, which many customers have had to rely on to tide them over until they can return to work or find a new job.

The point here is that the pandemic has fundamentally changed why customers seek out credit cards. It used to be that customers typically considered the perks when it came to choosing a credit card: travel rewards, hotel rewards, club access, and the like.

Now, though, customers are less concerned with fun perks for tomorrow than benefits that can fit their needs right now. Today. The result has been a shift in customer taste toward credit cards that offer:

  • Cashback rewards for groceries, gasoline, utilities, and other necessities
  • Cards that offer discounts on or savings for necessity shopping
  • Consumer rewards that can be spent immediately

Though it can be said that customers are also less interested in travel perks because of the pandemic’s effect on vacationing and airlines, the primary reason that they’re shifting toward credit cards that offer cashback and immediate reward perks remains because of the aforementioned economic woes that this crisis has brought with it. This brings us back to the long-term credit payment problems I mentioned earlier, and what card providers can expect customers to want for the foreseeable future.

For a start, and perhaps to no one’s great surprise, customers are currently gravitating toward the cards that offer the most generous forgiveness for missed payments and deferrals. The COVID-19 pandemic has afforded many customers almost no flexibility in that area, which has many of them on the lookout for perks like this.

Similarly, customers are looking for cards that are forgiving when it comes to late payments, as well as that have low minimum payment requirements and interest rates. To many customers, especially individuals who have been laid off, these benefits are a must because they afford a great deal of flexibility at less cost. As we mentioned earlier, these perks have become far more attractive than travel or leisure benefits in a remarkably short time.

Finally, customers have also become far more attracted to credit cards that do not punish or inhibit frequent balance transfers. The pandemic has forced many customers to move their money around in order for lower interest rates, promotional interest rates, etc., and so transfers like these have become much more common recently. A card that can accommodate that need will be a winner among pandemic-era customers.

In short, COVID-19 has had a far-reaching, perhaps permanent, effect on credit and how customers see it. Customers have become less concerned with the extravagance that some credit cards can provide and more interested in cards that can help tide them over until a new job arrives or the day-to-day challenges of living amid a pandemic subside. The financial brands and card lenders that can adapt to this shift will set themselves up for short- and long-term advantages over their competitors, and for the opportunity to provide a meaningful, difference-making experience for customers.

Want to learn more about how COVID-19 has perhaps forever changed financial services and what they mean to customers? Check out my recent article on how financial services can thrive, not just survive, during and after the pandemic here.

Three Research-Backed EX Trends for Your Evolving Workplace

If you’re looking for reasons why employee experience (EX) is crucial to the success of your brand, all you need to do is count the hours. The truth is that most of us spend the majority of our lives at work; in many cases, we spend more time chatting with our co-workers than some of our family members. Therefore, the employee experience has a major impact on our overall health and well-being, leading us to look for jobs that both engage and fulfill us. This may be especially true now, as COVID-19 continues to change the way we work, and how our personal and professional lives continue to overlap. 

It is this fact that led InMoment experts to get curious about the effect rapidly changing workplace conditions was having on employees. In true InMoment fashion, we surveyed thousands of employees globally to find the answers. The results led us to three eye-opening trends that all organizations should keep in mind as they continue to evolve their practices to keep up with the changing environment.

Trend #1: Employees Are Missing Connection

Adjusting to a remote working environment poses many challenges—especially when it comes to staying connected to colleagues. You can no longer pop by someone’s desk to ask about their weekend, or convene in the kitchen for a debrief on last night’s episode of a popular show. Yes, you can shoot someone a quick online message, but it’s just not the same as in-person discussions.

It is not surprising, then, that our survey found only 30% of remote workers felt a connection with coworkers. This is compared to the 36% of those who worked remotely prior to the pandemic—indicating that even in the best of times, remote work poses some challenges to personal connections. And the connection levels vary by age: the cohort that felt the highest levels of connection were the 18-24 yr olds, whereas the 25-44 age cohort scored the lowest on connection. There could be many reasons for this, not the least of which being that many in the older age group are more accustomed to fostering connections in-person, given that is likely the way they have always done it.

With the challenges to connecting, plus the fact that we are socially distanced in our personal lives as well, it’s no wonder that “isolation” was the highest endorsed negative emotion in the study.

There is a key opportunity here for companies to do more to help their employees feel connected to their coworkers. At InMoment, our teams have started hosting virtual trivia nights, happy hours, and coffee breaks to foster that connection despite being at a distance. Another idea is to organize virtual activities, such as running scavenger hunts, baking challenges, or book clubs. Sometimes, it’s simply just starting a discussion with team members on a topic unrelated to work, such as what people have been watching or how people are connecting with friends and family. 

Trend #2: New Stressors Are Emerging

It’s no secret that integrating work and life pre-pandemic was already a struggle. Add in the lack of in-person schooling for kids,  the inability to disconnect on a vacation, or simply the added stress inherent in a global health scare, and your employees are buried in stress. Our research showed that across all industries, employees were feeling the pressure of finding more ways to balance their personal and professional lives. 

To help address these new stressors, it’s first important to acknowledge them. Encourage employees to share their concerns, and share your own. By listening to employees, you’ll understand each specific person’s situation better and be able to determine how best to address their challenges. Be flexible and willing to adapt, and your employees will appreciate the support—now and in the future. 

Trend #3: Fear, Anxiety, and Loneliness Are Looming

Perhaps surprisingly, our initial study found emotional sentiment to be fairly positive for our respondents. Given that our initial research was conducted when the pandemic was in the early stages and people were still adjusting to remote working conditions, it makes sense that there was a novel sense of acceptance, calm, and even optimism.

However, below the surface of those emotions were deep concerns, as indicated in the qualitative responses. More negative emotions could be emerging and develop to primary emotions as the pandemic continues. While these rankings were similar across all demographics and working conditions, it will be interesting to see how this evolves as time goes on. 

As leaders in an organization, you should keep these results in mind. While employees may at times seem positive and accepting, it’s important to still inquire regularly about their emotional well-being. It’s okay to allow employees to vent a little bit or share their concerns—in the long run, this will help you proactively address any issues or concerns. 

So What’s Next?

It’s important to note the findings summarized here are from earlier in the pandemic. Now, 5 months in, sentiment and feelings will likely have changed slightly. People may be getting used to their new working environments and schedules, and they may have new ways to connect with coworkers.

However, as we’ve seen, this pandemic continues to throw many of us for a loop. There are even bigger decisions to be made in the coming weeks and months, and it’s hard to know how new developments will impact us personally and professionally. Using this report to understand employees’ initial sentiment on how organizations are handling the pandemic provides a baseline and roadmap you can reference to move forward. 

It’s safe to assume stress and loneliness will continue to evolve. Employees need your support more than ever!

About the Study:

Over 2700 employees across 17 organizations participated in the remote worker survey. 61% of the respondents were new to working from home. 89% were from north america, with the majority (54%) in the 25-44 yr old age range. The population had a mix of individuals who were with their company for 10 or more years (23%), and new employees (<3yrs) represented 20%.

How to Craft Deliverable Brand Promises

Delivering promises is one of the most important things a brand must do for its customers. Keeping commitments is much easier said than done, but customer loyalty lives and dies by companies’ ability to follow through. Succeed, and the brand generates loyalty and retention. Fail, and the organization ends up burning bridges—potentially permanently.

So, how can brands avoid breaking promises? Well, as I outline in my recent POV on this subject, one of the ways that companies can ensure that they consistently fulfill customer obligations is to create realistic brand promises in the first place. Here’s how brands can do that.

Know Your Customer

Brands should always evaluate the promises they make through a customer’s lens. That means knowing who their customers are, what they consider to be important, what they’re looking for in an experience, and why they come to you for it. This notion is sometimes referred to as the customer’s “moment of truth” and a brand has fulfilled a promise in their eyes when it delivers that moment consistently.

To many customers, the difference between failing to keep a promise and failing to deliver on a moment of truth is miniscule. In my aforementioned POV, I talk about how a colleague of mine experienced an especially brutal broken promise: an airline flight that didn’t uphold its promised anti-COVID safety measures. Not understanding the moments of truth is one thing; understanding and then failing to deliver can be a deal breaker. Additionally, depending on the severity of the problem, some customers will not give brands a second chance.

Delivering The Goods

Companies need to clearly understand what their customers want so they can both rise to the challenge and ensure that they deliver flawlessly on that desire. Brands can increase their likelihood to succeed by building a customer experience (CX) program as part of their business operation. A decent CX program can make brands aware of customers’ wants and needs—a great CX program unites customer, employee, and marketplace perspectives to give companies a continuous, 360-degree view of the experience(s) they provide.

This approach gives brands the opportunity to know what their customers value, so they can create grounded, realistic promises that can be delivered every time. If nothing else, it’s always better to underpromise and overdeliver than to overpromise and underdeliver.

Brands that take this tack will be positioned to create not just good promises for their customers, but the right promises. Companies that pick the right brand promises and deliver at the moments of truth create customer loyalty and a  stronger bottom line for themselves.

Want to learn more about the importance of creating and keeping effective brand promises? Take a look at my article on the subject here.

How to Find and Wield New CX Data Sources

We’ve talked a lot about COVID-19’s effect on customer experience (CX) data and how that intel has been changed by the pandemic. However, while recent events have certainly changed how companies capture and use CX data, the fact that data shifts constantly hasn’t really changed at all.

This is why it’s important for brands to constantly be on the lookout for new data sources. Companies must look beyond  traditional customer listening posts and delve deep for the intelligence that can give them an edge over the competition. So, without further ado, let’s get into how organizations can capture and take action on new sources of CX data.

Listening to Employees

Many brands focus heavily on uncovering new data from current and prospective customers. That’s a good strategy, of course, but companies also need to consider an oft-overlooked source of new data: employees.

Employees can offer businesses a great deal of new data. While the most accessible of these insights may come from customer-facing employees, companies need to talk to their non-customer-facing employees as well. They too experience a brand (albeit from a different perspective), and that directly informs their productivity, brand advocacy, and other factors. Companies can find new and valuable sources of data by listening to all of their employees and getting multiple takes on the organization. Then, CX teams and functional business owners across the enterprise can use that intel to fix processes and make improvements that contribute to an improved experience.

Market Research & Pulse Studies 

The term market research gets thrown around quite a bit, but how can companies separate superficial market research from targeted analysis that can help capture actionable experience data?

There are several questions that brands can use to glean new data from the marketplace (not to mention gain a more holistic perspective of how they fit in a vertical). Brands can gather new data by ascertaining how they stack up against the competition. They can also find new data by asking why customers become or remain non-buyers, as well as for these individuals’ overall impressions of the organization.

Asking targeted and specific questions like these gives companies a good indication of where they sit in the marketplace, but they also yield valuable data that can help brands provide an improved experience. This makes market research a critical new data source that rounds out customer and employee listening. 

Putting It All Together

Brands that want to truly wield the power of new data sources can’t stop at merely uncovering them. They also need to put that new data into one place if they hope to gain actionable intelligence from it.

Organizations should always desilo their data because doing so gives  organizations a holistic view of their entire brand and all their experience efforts. This is where new data is at its most useful—when it’s combined with existing intel and operational and financial metrics, there’s no limit to what companies can learn about their customers, their employees, and themselves. That’s the true power that brands stand to gain when they capture and take action upon new sources of data.

Want to learn more about data and current events’ impact on collecting and understanding it? Click here to learn more.

How to Achieve Meaningful CX Measurement for CX-Based Compensation

The Coronavirus pandemic has left no aspect of customer experience (CX) programs unchanged, especially compensation practices tied to CX results. COVID-19 has brought about uncertainty, but it also presents a unique opportunity to reevaluate—and redesign—CX-based compensation practices that companies have long held sacred. Let’s discuss how these practices are doing in the current age and how they might fare better during and after this pandemic.

Should We Eliminate CX-Based Compensation?

Many practitioners struggle with how companies tie compensation to CX metrics across their organization. Does this mean I am advocating that CX-based compensation should be eliminated altogether?

The answer is absolutely not. Having CX front and center as a beacon metric is critical for any business that claims it cares about the customer experience. So, CX-based compensation can still be very useful. However, brands should double-check whether they’re compensating employees based on CX metrics that those individuals can actually affect.

For example, would it really be ideal if a B2B company compensated customer loyalty for its B2B partner when it’s really just an agent for a third party? What if this hypothetical brand instead compensated its frontline employees on a metric more within their control, such as level of effort? Those employees would be incentivized to create a great experience, then be rewarded for their specific contribution.

The point here is that brands should always reevaluate the metrics they compensate upon regardless of events like this pandemic. However, the current global situation is an additional reason to hit pause and conduct these evaluations in great detail. Companies and their CX leaders can both double check that their CX-based compensation is sound and make any adjustments not only  to suit this new, pandemic-driven reality, but also for when this crisis is in our rearview mirror.

Should Everyone Be Equally Compensated?

This is a question that comes up frequently within organizations that offer CX-based compensation. Additionally, this question has been magnified by the pandemic because the customer expectations and service delivery have both changed drastically these past months.

Many brands offer compensation based on one or two beacon CX metrics—CX measures that everyone within an organization can get behind and strive to impact no matter their job or department. However, while organizations should certainly have these beacon metrics in place, there’s once again something to be said for the idea of levelling compensation to suit different employees’ ability to impact a specific metric.

This idea is important because it enables organizations to create a CX-centric culture, one in which every employee has a chance to make a difference while also giving employees who are especially close to a given process the chance to truly step up. This way, the latter group of employees who can make a larger impact will also feel incentivized to actually do so. Equally important is the notion of aligning compensation to impact or creating an organizational hierarchy that employees feel is fair, not arbitrary.

Aspirational but Attainable Goals

Another element for businesses to consider as they evaluate their CX-based compensation and incentives is whether to make goals aspirational but potentially unreachable, or attainable but not a “slam dunk.”

At several points in my career as a CX practitioner, I was responsible for setting corporate CX goals on an annual basis. My job was to balance the executive demand to move ever upward with an operational desire to ensure that we weren’t setting ourselves up for failure. Adding CX-based compensation to this balancing act can make it a bit more precarious—whether I signed up for it or not, our goal-setting had  a direct impact on my coworkers’ paychecks!

The trick with this dynamic, as with almost everything customer experience, is to meet everyone in the middle. That means being unafraid to challenge operations leaders to aspire for more while also having the courage to present facts to the C-suite and help them understand this aspirational vs attainable dynamic.

CX practitioners who can pull this balancing act off will be able to create realistic CX-based compensation goals that drive everyone to strive for more, not just be satisfied with hitting a goal. Reaching a consensus between all stakeholders results in goals that employees across the business will chomp at the bit to attain, and there’s no better time to reassess that balance than right now. Finally, since having a compensation impact is a great motivator, everybody wins—especially our customers!

Want to learn more about how to create mindful, meaningful CX management in the age of COVID? Learn more about COVID’s impact on CX data.

How Retail Banks Must Adapt During and After COVID-19

The Coronavirus pandemic has left no industry unscathed, especially retail banking. As banking brands reel from everything from a reduction of in-branch business to the economic crunch at large, it’s imperative that they adapt to these and other challenges if they hope to emerge from this crisis in a strong position.

As we outline in our recent white paper on this subject, Five Predictions About The Future of Retail Banking, retail banking brands can achieve this goal by asking the right questions. What follows is a quick rundown of four topics and how addressing them today can help retail banks succeed tomorrow.

The questions we’ll focus on today concern:

  • Inactivity
  • Overactivity
  • Surprises
  • Customers

Topic #1: Inactivity

The first customer experience (CX) question that banks need to ask themselves is not what banking activity COVID-19 spurred, but rather, what activity didn’t occur as a result of the pandemic. Specifically, retail banks must discover which transactions could have taken place and what accounts might have opened were it not for the Coronavirus.

There are several ways that banks can obtain a glimpse at how inactivity has hurt their bottom line. The first and most obvious step is to compare operational and financial data from the past few months against the same time period in preceding years. This tip may seem gratuitous, but it’s a simple and effective way to get an idea of how much activity COVID-19 has robbed away.

Next, banks need to understand who their customers are. This means identifying customers by their usage loyalty (i.e. identifying customers who regularly bank with a brand versus newcomers or more casual users) and compare that data to a CRM or database to gain a deeper view of what customers are and aren’t doing. Financial and operational metrics are also useful here because using them helps retail banks achieve a total, holistic understanding of their customers.

Topic #2: Overactivity

Gauging inactivity is a good way for retail banks to learn how COVID-19 has changed their customers’ behavior—so too is taking a look at any overactivity. In keeping with the customer understanding we established in the preceding section, it’s important for banks to better know their customers by learning which activities have taken place more often during this pandemic.

For example, are banking customers opening a certain type of account more often? Retail banks can keep an eye out for account overactivity in addition to, say, whether certain services or consultations were solicited more often. Overactivity is a good indicator of how banking customers are feeling during this crisis and, as with measuring inactivity, comparing it to previous customer activity and gaining a 360-degree view of who these people are is vital.

Topic #3: Surprises

Retail banks that work to understand both inactivity and overactivity will be well-equipped to spot anomalies in how their customers act. 

It’s helpful for these banks to ask themselves what about recent customer interactions has been the most surprising. Have customers present unusual questions, comments, or concerns to their local branch? Are they making requests that your bank is unprepared to accommodate?

Asking questions like these and looking for behavioral anomalies go a long way toward ensuring that retail banks are prepared to continue serving customers best they can during this pandemic. Besides, it doesn’t appear that COVID-19 is departing us anytime soon.

Topic #4: Customers

This is a big one. Banks can better understand their customers by asking the questions mentioned above, but these queries are also a useful way to learn if their audience has shifted entirely. Has your target customer-base shifted? Do some customers seem harder-hit than others? Ascertaining this information can help banks keep a lock on their audience and adapt to their changing needs and expectations.

As we said up top, banks that ask the hard questions and incorporate any findings into their digital strategies will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic in an ideal position. They can then continue providing an optimal banking experience for customers, resulting in both happier audiences and a stronger bottom line.

Want to learn more about our predictions for the retail banking world during and beyond COVID-19? Check out our new white paper “Five Predictions About The Future of Retail Banking” by retail banking CX expert Jennifer Passini.

How to Monetize Your Customer Experience Improvements

The journey to effective customer experience (CX) includes many steps. We’ve already talked about three of those steps—listening to customers, understanding who they are and the context of their experiences, and taking action to improve those experiences—in great detail. This journey should be as rewarding for your company as it is for your customers when you successfully monetize improvements to create a positive impact on the bottom line. 

The Strongest Link

The best way for companies to effectively monetize the changes they make to customer experience(s) is to link both actions and outcomes to business metrics. CX practitioners can point to any changes that have occurred in those metrics since implementing any experience fixes and easily connect the two. Practitioners can also use these links to prove ROI to decision makers, which helps determine both which projects to prioritize and how to build a case for (more) funding.

To make the most of these initiatives and to measure just how effective brands’ experience improvement efforts truly are, companies should always view improvement monetization through the paradigm of four economic pillars: customer acquisition, customer retention, cross-sell/upsell opportunities, and lowering cost to serve.

Customer Acquisition

Experience improvement initiatives can enhance customer acquisition. Customer feedback is obviously important for fixing existing experiences, but the ideas captured by analyzing this information can also lead to new products and services, and thus to new customers.

Remember that customers are a company’s best source of marketing. Using a CX program to create promoters and then have them advocate for your brand will grow your customer base considerably.

CX practitioners can prove experience improvement’s impact on new customer acquisition by keeping a few key metrics in mind, including net new customers, new customers acquired over a certain time period, and growth of market share.

Customer Retention

Customer retention is typically one of CX programs’ primary purposes, driven mostly by closing the loop and resolving individual complaints from customers.Typically, it’s also one of the easier elements to measure from a financial standpoint.

There are several key ways to think about and measure customer retention. Brands can draw a link between experience improvement and customer retention by paying attention not only to traditional retention or churn metrics, but also increases in average customer tenure or lifetime value (LTV or CLV).

Upsell/Cross-Sell Opportunities

Voice of the Customer (VOC) and improvement programs are useful for uncovering customer acquisition opportunities, but they also reveal new opportunities to cross-sell or upsell customers. Experience improvement initiatives can help brands uncover new needs and thus market products or services of which existing customers were previously unaware.

Brands need to keep a few metrics in mind as they consider experience improvement’s impact on cross-selling to or upselling customers. Companies should pay attention to how many customers upgrade within a given time period, the amount of customers buying additional products and/or services, and any increases in average customer value. New product and service purchases will also lead to increases in customer lifetime value.

Lowering Cost to Serve

Lowering the cost to serve customers is another primary focus of CX efforts, whether it’s fixing broken processes or reducing service calls. Brands can wield experience improvement in a number of cost-lowering ways. For example, channel shift is a common means of both improving an experience and lowering cost to serve. This can be achieved by, say, moving customers to more digital or self-service options. These changes can fit well within the paradigm of experience improvement and can be measured (and proven) via lowered process costs, labor costs, and cost per call or transaction. 

Another way to think about lowering cost to serve is viewing it as lowering the cost to sell. Selling to a current customer, for instance, is much cheaper than trying to acquire a new customer. Activating promoters or brand advocates can also be used in lieu of marketing expenditures. So too is making certain sales processes automated or digitized. 

Continuous Improvement

This concludes our four-part conversation on how companies can listen, understand, improve, and monetize their way toward transformational success, a stronger bottom line, and a better experience for their customers. As we have hopefully demonstrated, the journey to effective customer experience and the corresponding benefits for a company’s success and growth is continuous one, requiring constant attention, care, adaptation, and innovation. However, if you deal effectively with the bumps and obstacles you encounter and even pave new paths when necessary, you and your customers will enjoy the journey. 

Want to learn more about creating an effective success framework for your CX program? Check out our article on the subject, written by  CX expert Eric Smuda, here.

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