Are You Lurking or Listening to Your Customers?—CX Trends You Need to Know

In my last blog, I discussed how brands are struggling to find ways to serve the needs of the business while also serving the evolving needs and expectations of their customers. Unfortunately, there’s still a serious gap between how well brands think they’re doing when it comes to customer experience (CX), and customers’ perceptions.

Our 2019 US CX Trends Report took a closer look at several specific gaps.  We surveyed 1000 consumers and 300 brands to these disconnects, as well as what brands can to do address them. The first trend we uncovered was how brands go about trying to understand how and why customers feel the way they do.

Customer data is one of the most precious sources of intelligence in understanding the health and wealth of your business. Companies are spending billions of dollars each year scrutinizing the vast number of digital interactions, from click through and online conversion rates, to social posts and online reviews.

And while these online measures of customer satisfaction and sentiment can deliver important information, the most essential information may lie somewhere else. In the study, we asked consumers about the most important thing brands can do to capture how they feel about them and the experiences they are providing. Options included monitoring their posts on online review sites, monitoring their social posts, capturing conversation with staff, as well as monitoring digital behaviors. Overwhelmingly, customers chose something else: asking them directly.

Nearly 70 percent of customers selected this option, with only 40 percent of brands reporting the same. And while the 30-point gap is notable, only 26 percent of brands said they are actually having direct conversations with customers about their experiences.

Brands also placed more emphasis than customers on the importance of online review sites and customers’ social posts. Because reputation management is definitely an important factor, it makes sense that brands place outsized emphasis on public forums, both encouraging positive chatter and quickly quashing the negative. And while companies must continue to monitor, respond, and take to heart what they are hearing online, prioritizing these forums at the expense of direct conversations may skew their view of the customer experience, which affects a slew of actions — from how to prioritize fixes and choosing which new ideas to elevate, to how company leaders and employees view and treat customers. When you feel and act as if you are always under public fire it will impact the foundations of your customer relationships.

To sum it all up, brands need to encourage customers to talk to them, not just about them. The answer for this disconnect is to open channels for direct feedback between you and your customers. Make it as easy as possible for them to tell you how they feel about your brand. Don’t shy away from asking them the important questions, and be sure to weigh both asking and listening wisely.

Thankfully, today’s technologies enable brands to do this at scale, and in a very personalized way. Harnessing customer listening platforms to capture, understand, and socialize the authentic voice of your customer is a powerful way to bring and keep the human element of the relationship front and center for both customers and employees.

Download the full “2019 CX Trends Report” to learn about the five trends you need to know as well as actionable takeaways to help you bridge the gap with your customers and create excellent customer experiences!

Is Your Customer Experience as Good as You Think It Is?—CX Trends You Need To Know

As a CX professional, I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about your customers’ increasing expectations. Well, I’m right here with you. This statement may be common, but it’s incredibly over simplified.

Yes, customers expect more from brands, but they do so because there are brands out there delivering phenomenally simple, fast, different and even profound experiences. As Paul Papas, global leader of IBM Interactive Experience said: “The last best experience that anyone has anywhere becomes the minimum expectation for the experiences they want everywhere.”

By these new measures, when a brand doesn’t keep up, gets sloppy, or doesn’t do the work to understand what its customers really value, those customers notice — and they put the culprit on notice.

For our 2019 CX Trends Report, InMoment surveyed both consumers and brands to understand the alignments and disconnects in how well or poorly customer experience is delivered. While there are some bright spots, the overall takeaway is that most brands are still struggling to find ways to do right by their own needs while also serving the evolving needs and expectations of their customers.

One big red flag was the mismatch in how companies and consumers responded to whether brands are getting better at delivering an excellent customer experience versus just completing a transaction.

Fifty percent of brands responded that they are “definitely” doing better, but only 11 percent of consumers said the same.

Worse, nearly 10 times as many consumers than brands believe that experiences are definitely not getting better.

It doesn’t help that brands aren’t taking the right accountability for falling short. When asked how much responsibility customers have in helping create better experiences, 40 percent of brands reported that that customers were “very” responsible, with an unbelievable 12 percent stating that customers are “completely” responsible. Customers, on the other hand, see responsibility as a shared endeavor.

While these statistics make the state of CX may sound bleak, our research also uncovered wise counsel on how brands can reverse unproductive practices and make serious strides in the other direction.

Download the full “2019 CX Trends Report” to learn about the five trends you need to know as well as actionable takeaways to help you bridge the gap with your customers and create excellent customer experiences!

Sharing Means Caring: What Brands Need To Know In The Post-GDPR Era

Data is the new currency. But without trust, brands can’t cash in on it, and it may actually cost them. Since consumers have more power over their data than ever, it’s up to brands to explicitly state the value they’ll deliver in exchange for it — and then consistently keep their promises.

Consumers expect brands to use personal data to create more individualized and relevant experiences, but thanks to a plethora of example of terrible execution, they are growing wary of sharing it. In fact, according to InMoment’s 2018 CX Trends report, a whopping 75 percent of customers report most forms of personalization efforts that rely on access to their data as being somewhat creepy, creepy or very creepy.

Faced with growing customer caution and a host of policies and laws making their way through various countries and states around the globe, brands need to go beyond gimmicks and tricks to convince customers to hand over their data or risk losing their trust all together. Fortunately, consumers are less reluctant to share personal information if brands handle it responsibly — and if they get something they truly value in return.

According to findings from InMoment’s report, there are a few best practices that can motivate today’s consumers to share data in the post-GDPR era:

Keep Customer Data To Yourself

An easy way to violate your customers’ trust is by selling their data. Customers are savvy about who has access to their personal data, and they’re not happy when they feel like the private information they’ve shared with brands is up for grabs.

Facebook learned this lesson the hard way. For many users, the Cambridge Analytica revelation proved to be a tipping point that led them to delete their profiles. Learn from Facebook’s mishap by refraining from selling or sharing data to companies without explicit customer consent.

For example, MoviePass has based an entire business model off of selling its customer data. But the brand makes it abundantly clear as to what data it’s collecting and selling from customers, who get cheap movie tickets in return. That brings me to my next point.

Offer The Right Value

Customers are more willing to share information if brands actually use it to improve their experience by offering something of value in return. That could mean insider exclusives, a more customizable and unique customer experience, or even just a more streamlined buying process.

The report reveals that 80 percent of customers will share personal information if they receive special or exclusive offers for doing so — which is why many brands are finding success requesting email addresses in exchange for special offers.

Asking for customer data is inevitable in today’s data-driven age, but brands that sweeten the deal in the right way create an exchange of value that not only nets a goldmine of data, but stronger relationships as well.

Don’t Be A Creeper

The report revealed that, for many customers, the line between “cared for” and “creepy” is thin. When using personal data to “make customers’ experiences better,” make sure to actually use it that way and instead of in ways that make them feel uncomfortable or worse.

Customers report that common strategies (like retargeting ads or aggressive emails about previously viewed products) are intrusive. In the study’s qualitative data, researchers found words like “annoying,” “stalked,” and “harassed.” This is worse when they perceive a crossover between physical and digital realms, such as feeling as though brands have been “listening” to conversations they’ve had offline, or knowing and using their physical location.

Additionally, customers are hesitant to give brands data they don’t feel would actually enhance their experience. Today’s customers are savvy, and they know what data brands need and what they don’t — for example, unless they are attending nearby events or receiving location-specific offers, they don’t want to provide location data for the sake of it. This puts pressure on brands to make a common sense case as to why they are asking for information.

Creepiness comes with consequences: InMoment’s report reveals that 22 percent of customers report they will look for other brands after a creepy experience. Additionally, 20 percent will tell their friends and family, and one in 10 will share Big Brother-type experiences on social media

The stakes are higher than ever for brands to balance their own needs with their customers’ interests — especially when it comes to personal data. Brands must not only be responsible with data, but also use it efficiently to improve the customer experience without violating trust.

Three AI Applications to Transform Your Customer Interactions

Could there be value lying dormant in your company? Claire Fastier gives three examples of AI unlocking efficiency and opening avenues for your customer like never before.

Artificial intelligence is everywhere. From Google’s Arts and Culture app – which uses facial recognition technology to match selfies to thousands of artworks—to Pizza Hut’s plans for driverless pizza delivery.

In Australia, AI is hot on the agenda. The Federal Government’s 2018-19 budget revealed a $29.9 million investment over the next four years to strengthen Australia’s capability in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning – and a recent report from AlphaBeta reveals that Australia could reap a $2.2 trillion opportunity by 2030 with greater investment in AI.

The application of AI to improve customer experience is particularly on the rise. In fact, this year the Consumer Electronic Show (CES), held in Las Vegas and possibly the most notable conference in the world for showcasing the latest in consumer technology, featured its first ever Artificial Intelligence Marketplace to showcase the latest innovations designed to perform human tasks.

Products ranged from big data analytics to speech recognition to advanced decision making to predictive technology. Many of these solutions are already being leveraged by great companies to add a magic touch to their services.

The question you should be asking yourself is: are you taking advantage of this? If not, here are three ways you can apply AI, and examples of companies which have done so effectively, to improve customer experience right now.

1. Automate simple customer interactions

There’s nothing less efficient than bogging down highly-skilled, highly-paid employees with basic tasks. Emerging technology in artificial intelligence can automate simple interactions, allowing your people to focus on more complex and nuanced customer interactions.

Gartner predicts that 95% of customer interactions will be driven by AI by 2025, leveraging chatbots and mobile messaging to complete simple tasks. A strong local example of this is superannuation firm AustralianSuper, which launched its chatbot, ‘Ash’, earlier this year and has seen more than 50,000 messages sent, achieving a 92% overall customer satisfaction rate.

Over in the US, supermarket chain Kroger announced its new Kroger Edge technology, which, among other things, will enable the company to instantly change prices and activate promotions on digital displays, freeing up employees who would otherwise change prices by hand.

This sort of automation can deliver a more consistent experience and a huge financial impact according to Juniper Research, which estimates cost savings of more than US$8 (AU$11.27) billion annually by 2022, up from US$20 (AU$28.19) million in 2017.

2. Augment your service employees

Another powerful application of AI is within your own organisation. By leveraging solutions that enable you to proactively anticipate customers’ needs and engage on an emotional level, customer experiences will shift from mundane to exceptional.

Some of the world’s largest retail, hospitality and financial services brands, for example, use InMoment’s AI-powered technology to analyse unstructured (text-heavy) data and surface critical information when action is needed. Being able to pinpoint and act accordingly when customers are unhappy or in need of assistance is critical if you are to maintain and develop strong customer relationships.

3. Enrich your existing data

Finally, you can take all the data you have and put it to new use. As Peter Norvig, director of research at Google, notes, “there are a lot of places where AI simply lets companies use their data better, and AI usage is largely invisible to the customer. Retail sites, for instance, can observe the products people are viewing, and use that data to begin suggesting other, more relevant products to them than was previously possible.”

Recently, in addition to making targeted content suggestions, Netflix began tailoring the ‘cover art’ associated with a recommended movie or TV show, based on the user’s viewing history.

For example: the image displayed for a romantic comedy (I’m partial to The Truth About Cats and Dogs), will either play to the ‘romance’ or the ‘comedy’ of the film.

Or, it may feature the image of an actor who starred in other movies you’ve watched. For what it’s worth, Stranger Things has nine different cover art options.

There’s more need – and competition – than ever to deliver meaningful and powerful customer experiences. Fortunately, technology like AI is helping bridge the gap, creating more value for both companies and customers, and allowing brands the opportunity to truly differentiate on customer experience.

Consumers Want Experiences, Not Just Transactions: Retail CX Trends You Need to Know

It used to be that retailers considered the four “P’s” of marketing when pushing their wares to consumers: product, price, promotion and place. Today, however, not many brands can rely on a single “P” to differentiate, but are instead dependent on one big “E:” experience.   

While the rise of Amazon originally created a serious question about whether fast, easy, and varied e-buying would largely replace traditional brick-and-mortar retail, the last year has turned the conversation to something more complex. Amazon, Warby Parker, and other born-digital brands have increased their investment in physical stores, bowing to the undeniable fact that some experiences — or components of the experience — simply can’t happen in the digital sphere.

Our 2018 Retail CX Trends study asked consumers whether a “recent, enjoyable” shopping experience occured at a physical store, digitally, or through a combination of physical and digital.  More than half of consumers (53 percent) said it was in a store.

The research also showed an interesting trend: The younger the consumer, the more likely they are to have enjoyable retail experiences in the digital realm alone, and as a hybrid blend of digital-physical. Brick-and-mortar stores will continue to be essential touchpoints, but retailers must elevate and embed digital elements to become and stay relevant to their next-gen customers.

Our researchers wanted to know what elements of a retail interaction elevate a mere purchase to an experience. In looking at both the quantitative and qualitative data, we saw a interesting story emerge.  Coming in at No. 2 was Personalization. Part of what elevates a brand experience is making customers feel special. And while retailers are directing the large majority of resources toward digital personalization, 30 percent of respondents said personalized treatment in stores is what elevates a mere purchase to an “experience.”

Now for the top-ranked response: Product quality. At first read, this may feel anticlimactic. After all, quality doesn’t have the same sparkle as some of the other options, like multisensory elements like smell, taste, touch, or access to experts. What this rather mundane-sounding selection indicates consumers’ focus on the experience beyond the initial purchase — the enduring impression that a good, quality take-away creates long after the transaction.  Each time your customers engage with the item or service reinforces a positive or negative impression toward the brand.

The Forgotten Experience

Retailers often forget that giving feedback about an experience is actually part of the experience. They over-survey their customers with questions that they want answers to, and do so in old-school, multiple choice formats.  

Our researchers wanted to know what kind of feedback experience consumers consider the “ultimate” experience. The top pick, by far, was the ability to give ratings at 88 percent. Thanks to the ease, quickness, and increasing gamification of ratings, this was not a surprise.

The next three picks included participating in focus groups (35 percent), speaking naturally via voice assistants like Siri or Alexa (26 percent), and sharing images (25 percent).

While making feedback fun and simple is nice for customers and can produce a mountain of valuable structured data to analyze, their stated willingness to use new technologies to share more detailed, more personal data is worth noting.  In line with other topics in the study, younger consumers are more willing to engage with brands in “intelligent” conversations; a gift that brands should embrace.

To learn more about what your consumers need and want from their retail experiences, get your free copy of The 2018 Retail CX Trends Reporttoday!

Earning (and Destroying) Customer Loyalty: Retail CX Trends You Need to Know

Last week, I covered findings from InMoment’s 2018 US Retail CX Trends Report that discussed how brands can earn their customers’ trust. This time I’ll delve into the second theme: Loyalty.

I’ve heard a lot of CX and marketing pros declare the old-school type of loyalty — “faithfulness to which one is bound by pledge or duty” according to Merriam-Webster — is dead. We wanted test this assumption while also exploring whether there might just be more complexity to customers’ commitments.

We started by asking about the object of consumers’ loyalty: do they feel more connected to brands, or to they tend to gravitate to specific products or services?

More than half of consumers gave a mixed response, saying that it depends on the brand or product/service. Slightly more (26 percent versus 21 percent) of customers said they tend to feel more loyalty to brands versus products.  Millennials were the most definitive group, with 30 percent saying they feel loyal to brands.  

For retailers, this is a critical distinction. Consumers are loyal to what and where they find value. Brand-level loyalty may be more about lifestyle or aspiration, while fealty to specific products may be more about efficacy. Of course there are products that have achieved near-brand status like iPhones that probably combine both motivators.

Knowing why customers commit can inform an incredible range of business activities, from brand messages and new product development, to demand generation campaigns and experience design.  

The next topic we looked at round loyalty is how and why it develops, anas well as  unravels.

The data revealed that for both scenarios, it’s a journey. The large majority of shoppers — 80 percent — said they “grew to love” a brand over time; the cumulative effect of great products, service, buying experiences, positive reviews and recommendations from others. Fifteen percent experienced “love at first sight,” and 7 percent committed after a glowing recommendation from a trusted source.

When it comes to breaking up with a brand, nearly two thirds (58 percent) of US consumers said it takes several “really bad” experiences in order to make the hard choice to leave; with 34 percent saying it’s more a matter of “growing apart” as they experienced a gradual decrease in what was special. Just 19 percent of customers said they only give a brand one chance to fail before they leave.

So what does this mean? Brands shouldn’t get too comfortable, though. While the research demonstrates that today’s retail customers can be quite loyal, there’s a limit to their commitment. Nearly 50 percent of customers say they’ve left a brand to which they were loyal to go to a competitor that is better at meeting their needs. Failing to stay relevant will accelerate the exit of even your most loyal customers.

For those fortunate brands that achieve loyalty status with their customers, the benefits are tangible and significant.   

  • Long-term Relationships: A whopping 77 percent of consumers say they’ve held relationships with specific brands for 10 or more years. This is even true of 60 percent of Millennials, despite being relatively young.
  • More, More, More: 61 percent of loyal customers go out of their way to buy from them, and 60 percent will make more frequent purchases (that number rises to 70 percent among Millennials); 50 percent will purchase more products.
  • Tell a Friend: 75 percent of loyal customers will recommend a brand to friends and family.    

Because we’re in the business of customer feedback,  we also wanted to know how loyalty affects customers’ willingness to share data generally, and their feedback about their experience specifically. Here’s what the data revealed:  Customers who feel high levels of trust and loyalty are significantly more likely to share ratings (in the 90 percent range for both) and detailed commentary (both exceeded 70 percent) about their experiences.  A good number (30%) are also willing to hand over personal data (name, age, location, etc.), and 41% are up for sharing their purchase data (how much, what, where) with trusted brands.

While these numbers aren’t astronomical, they’re an important place to start. Establish trust first, and then deliver consistent value over time. It’s a long and complex road, but one brands must travel if they expect savvy customers to had over something they realize is precious.

To learn more about the latest retail CX trends,—including more statistics from our study on consumer loyalty—download the full report: 2018 Retail CX Trends: Trust and Loyalty in the Experience Economy

Retail CX Trends You Need to Know: Trust and Mistrust are Earned

Today’s empowered customer has brands asking themselves a major question: Do ideals like trust and loyalty still exist between individuals and institutions?

It’s a fair question. Customers in 2018 have endless options when it comes to retailers, so brands need to differentiate themselves in order to get and keep their customers loyal—or risk losing out to a competitor. Additionally, in the fallout of recent customer data scandals, it’s understandable that customers may not have the same level of trust when it comes to brands.

It’s the blurry lines around these two topics that inspired InMoment’s most recent study of retail customer experience (CX) trends.. We surveyed 1,300 U.S. consumers to understand the state of trust and loyalty, as well as customer perception about retailers’ attempts to offer more experiences versus simple transactions. What we found was a veritable goldmine of good news and informative insights that we’ve compiled into the “2018 Retail CX Trends Report.”

We found that trust and loyalty definitely exist (and definitely matter to customers), but there are three major themes our research uncovered that are vital to understanding the nature of these two sentiments between brands and customers in 2018. In this post, I’d like to share the first theme we uncovered in our research: Trust and mistrust are EARNED.

Consider this statistic from our research: 88 percent of respondents agree that trust is “extremely important” when deciding where to shop (with 40 percent say they strongly agree). It’s not surprising that customers want to shop with brands they trust. What is surprising is that brands might have some misconceptions about what earns and breaks customer trust.

When brands talk about gaining and keeping their customers’ trust, most discussions and assumptions center on data security and privacy. Major events like the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica scandal, the launch of GDPR in Europe, and discussions over more stringent national legislation continue to push this issue to the top of newsfeeds. However when we asked consumers about the most important actions retailers can take to build trust, the top pick by far (55 percent) was “deliver what they promised.” Keeping data safe came in at just 13 percent, and other factors like personalization and supporting shared values registered only in the single digits.  

The inverse is also true, and to an even greater degree. The failure to live up to a brand’s promise was the “biggest deal breaker” for consumers, with 67 percent choosing this as the chief reason for losing faith with brands they previously loved. Failing to keep data safe and sharing it without permission registered at just 17 percent.

To recap, trust definitely matters to customers, isn’t solely determined by data privacy, and can be broken if brands don’t follow up on their promise. But what does it mean for the bottom line?

Well, data indicates there’s a real payoff for earning and keeping consumers’ trust.  Approximately two-thirds of consumers will buy more, shop more often, and recommend trusted retailers to friends and family. Nearly 50 percent of consumers say they are willing to spend 11-50 percent more with brands they trust a lot, versus those they trust very little. And nearly 10 percent say they’d spend more than 70 percent with trusted retailers.

When it comes down to it, a customer’s trust in your brand really does pay, but it is not simply given. It must be earned.

To learn more about the latest retail CX trends, download the full report: “ 2018 Retail CX Trends: Trust and Loyalty in the Experience Economy”

Four Guiding Principles for CX Metrics with Meaning

When it comes to metrics, the human race is a little obsessed. We measure our weight, height, IQ, wealth, and now our followers on social media. Those of us in customer experience (CX) take metrics even more seriously, and for good reason.

CX metrics help us understand our company’s relative position, reinforce expectations and key behaviors in our teams, and quantify our level of impact and achievement.  Because of this, many program owners and stakeholders spend their time agonizing over what questions to ask of their customers. Though this is important, I would like to suggest that CX experts begin with a different approach, asking: What business outcome do we want to influence and why?

It’s easy to get stuck on what your measuring. After all, it makes your CX program tangible, but when it comes down to it, you want your program to create real impact. That impact can only be shown with the right metrics.

You may be creating the first ever metric framework for your company or you may have historically tracked certain metrics, but have a feeling they just aren’t working for you any more. Either way, if you want to elevate your programs and practices, you’ve got to be deliberate about your metrics. How? Here are four guiding principles for choosing and implementing metrics with meaning:

Principle #1: Design with the End in Mind

It used to be that program owners would start their programs off by turning to each other and asking, “what have we always wanted to know about our customers?” The result was surveys populated with “best guess” questions that provided some information, but not much direction. This method causes a disconnect in the relationship between customer listening, CX improvement, and ROI understanding.

To avoid this confusion, it’s important to start at the end by defining what you want to achieve before you even start. What meaningful financial and intrinsic value can this program drive for your organization? The answer to this question should point you towards more specific metrics; choose the ones that are closely tied to your value proposition, customer promise, and are aligned with your strategy. If you start with your goals in mind, you’ll be able to make sure your metric framework will provide real meaning by helping further your greater goals as a company.

Principle #2: Give the People What They Want

This point may seem obvious for any industry, but it’s meaning requires a little more explanation when it comes to metrics. By this point, I mean that you need to be hypersensitive as to who your stakeholders are when you select metrics for your program. The three most common stakeholder groups I’ve seen in my experience are the company as a whole, it’s employees, and, of course, your customers.

Each of these groups will have specific sets of needs. When selecting metrics, you need to tailor your choices—and the messaging with which you deliver them— to align with the assets of the business and experience those groups most care about. For example: the metrics you choose for your company will align more with business results, whereas for your customers it will concern more of overall satisfaction or ease.

Principle #3: Quit Living in the Past

I like to follow up this third principle, “quit living in the past,” with “unless your boss says you have to.” When I say the past, I am referencing past data and practices. Most often people don’t want to mess with their historical data, so they’re afraid to ask questions in new ways or start new initiatives for fear that the data won’t match up. To them I say that if you allow yourself to be paralyzed by the politics of historical data, your program will never evolve and therefore will never improve.

The way forward is to have an honest conversation about metrics with meaning. In this conversation, you and your other stakeholders will find that your metrics have to change as your business changes. Otherwise, your metric framework will be out of context, therefore limiting the value of any insight gained from that framework. Living in the past is then the common culprit of flat metrics; whereas adapting, insightful metrics evolve with your business so they can inform and inspire real change.

Principle #4: There’s Value in a Good Story

Although metrics are vital for you program, it’s important to remember this Albert Einstein quote: “Not everything that counts can be counted.” Traditional scales, ratings, and numbers may only take you so far. The future of metrics lies in your ability to leverage unstructured feedback to shape what you will measure and why.  In other words, we can modernize the approach and use customer’s qualitative story about their experience to create metrics that matter.

In unstructured feedback, customers are already telling you what they care about most. At InMoment, we have developed a sentiment scoring algorithm that interprets the value of the customer experience based on what they write (or tell you via voice or video feedback) instead of just what they score. In a very compelling case study with an InMoment client, we found that our sentiment score trends exactly as NPS and OSAT scoring; and can even be used to predict scores, forward and back. How’s that for a game changing approach to metrics?!

When it comes to deciding on your metric framework, you have two choices: are you curious about your customer experience, or are you serious about using the right metrics to get the right intelligence for real business impact? I don’t know about you, but the decision seems pretty obvious to me. When you choose your metrics based on the value and meaning they present, you set yourself up for a CX program that will propel your organization into a future of success.

If you want to learn more about crafting metrics with meaning—including specific case studies and practical approaches—watch the full webinar, “CX Metrics: Choosing and Implementing the Right Ones for Your Business!” Click here to access!

4 Areas to Perfect for a Mature CX Program

In the world of customer experience (CX), your efforts can successfully differentiate you from your peers, but in order to achieve this, you need to focus on more than simply listening to customers and acting on that data.  A successful CX program requires continuous evolution and advancement to adapt to a company’s ever-changing landscape. When working with brands to optimize their CX programs we refer to this program evolution as CX Maturity.

Every CX program is different.  Each company has a unique set of internal and external circumstances that require a customized action plan.  In order to create the right CX strategy, it is important to understand where you are and where you want to take your program.  From there, any program can take the right steps toward success.

In order to figure out where your program stands in terms of CX strategy, alignment, and engagement, there are four major areas you need to consider for CX Maturity:

Cultural

The cultural aspect of CX Maturity refers to how well your organization is aligned with your CX vision, program, and its goals. An advanced program is well socialized and employees are familiar with the program.  They are invested, as the culture of the organization is customer-centric and puts the customer at the center of all decisions. There is also a well-established cross functional team, CX strategy, and employee engagement program.

Technological

A CX program that is technologically mature will have an advanced customer listening program that includes collecting, analyzing, and reporting capabilities.  This technology allows companies to transform the way they interact with customers, to start intelligent conversations, and to utilize direct, indirect, and inferred feedback.  It will incorporate AI, advanced data science, and cutting-edge features that transform simple metrics into meaning.

Analytical

Mature analytical programs incorporate customer and employee experience data as well as operational, CRM, segmentation, and other data sources to uncover real intelligence that impacts the business. Leveraging these data sources creates a holistic view of the company and enables you to get insights that siloed data cannot provide.  These programs also leverage Voice of Employee data to understand internal employee’s perspective on the customer experience. Mature programs are able to get to the bottom of customer issues, discover root cause, and act on customer intelligence.

Business Value

Last, but possibly most important, is the question of whether or not your program provides you with real business value. CustomerThink recently showed that less than one-third of CX professionals are seeing tangible results from their CX program.  A program that has reached full CX maturity will have a drawn out ROI framework, complete with a detailed plan for measuring success. CX metrics are tied to overall business objectives and the CX team is able to show ties to business outcomes. The value of the program is well known throughout the company.

When you are able to assess each of these individual areas of your organization, you can piece together a clear picture of the maturity of your CX program. After your assessment, you can then set goals, create a plan, and get on your way to evolving your CX program.

4 Ways AI can Empower Contact Center Agents

Contact center leaders have agonized over the decision of whether or not to utilize artificial intelligence (AI) over the traditional human approach to customer experience (CX) since the introduction of this innovative tech. However, in a recent CustomerThink webinar, I proposed that it isn’t an either/or choice between AI and agent; instead, I believe it is vital to think of AI as an enabler for customer experience, not a replacement.

My segment of the webinar was called “Harness AI to Grow High-Value Human Relationships.” In it, I explained that AI especially enables the core of CX—the human element—and makes the relationships that result from human interactions more effective by arming contact center leaders and agents with the information and feedback they need to make a positive impact.

Sounds pretty great, right? If it does, you’re probably asking how you can use AI in your contact center to get these results. Well, here are four specific ways artificial intelligence can empower contact center agents to improve the customer experience:

Execute Real-Time Solutions

AI-powered humans essentially have information about their customer at their fingertips. With each call, AI can help decode customer thoughts, sentiments, and opinions about the interaction with the call center agent. After analysis, AI then can store all of this data specific to each agent and mine it for trends and other insights. The difference? Each call center agent gets personalized feedback on exactly what they did right and what they can do better in specific interactions with their customer. Even better, the “customer coaching” is feedback they get is based on recent interactions and is ongoing, so they can constantly improve in real time.

Create Personal Interactions

When contact center agents are powered by AI, they get the personal feedback that allows them to better relate with their customers. Customers themselves have said that when their contact center agents have access to AI generated information—such as information on previous interactions, interaction preferences, or insights from speech analysis—their interactions are more personal and relevant. Simply having the knowledge that a customer is frustrated allows agents to respond in a human, compassionate way and therefore create a relationship with that customer.  

Get Specific

We have also found that having access to AI-generated data helps agents to have better recall. They can more accurately remember recent conversations or feedback so they can take an informed approach when solving customer problems. Agents also get a sense of expertise when it comes to recurring customer situations because they know they have been there before and have the feedback data to determine the best approach.

Gain Proof of Accomplishment

Here’s a not so pleasant truth: before AI, coaching for agents had a negative bias. It was constantly looking for a chink in the armor when it came to an agent’s approach. While I agree that it is important for agents to constantly improve, it can be hard for them to do so if they feel like they’re constantly doing something wrong. Contrary to the negativity, we find that 80% of feedback is positive, so it is best to acknowledge that good in order to empower contact center agents. AI can help agents see what they’re doing well and gain a sense of ownership over their feedback. This gives them the motivation they need to take that other 20% and turn the negatives to positives.

Ultimately, AI helps contact center agents become an active participant in customer interactions (rather than a victim), have more control over their individual coaching, and feel more empowered to improve. When their work has obvious meaning, agents can appreciate their impact on other humans and create loyalty-driving relationships everyday.

Three Ways a CX Mindset can Power Your Loyalty Marketing Program

In my last post, I discussed the expanding role of the CMO from steward of the brand to caretaker of the end-to-end customer relationship. While this transition has been recognized by various studies, it has been especially evident in my own experience as Chief Marketing Officer at InMoment. In fact, my position gives me an even more interesting and unique perspective: I have a front row seat to new developments in the marketing world and to the evolution of the customer experience (CX) industry.

Today’s marketers are increasingly seeing customer experience fall under their umbrella of duties, and it’s easy to confuse CX efforts with traditional marketing approaches such as loyalty marketing programs. However, marketers should be warned that this is a place where “similar” definitely does not mean “equal.”

Loyalty marketing programs refer to a company-wide initiative that is focused on growing and retaining existing customers by selling them more. CX programs help businesses understand the customer/brand relationship and what makes the customer loyal to the brand in the first place. The key difference between the two is in their approach: loyalty marketing is selling—often through incentives—while customer experience focuses on the ongoing conversation with the customer to then drive a deeper sense of loyalty.

This is where a traditional approach to loyalty programs goes wrong: At the end of the day, your customers don’t want to be bought with coupons, infrequent freebies, and discounts. While they appreciate them, they aren’t what makes them loyal. Customers want to feel valued and heard. If you look through the lens of customer experience, you can reset your loyalty marketing programs to take a more holistic, relationship-centric approach that will truly impress your customers.

Here are three specific ways a CX mindset can help you take your loyalty program to the next level:

Craft a Consistent Experience

Each year, InMoment surveys both brands and customers to unearth the latest trends in customer experience. The 2018 CX Trends Report revealed that consumers across all industries are creeped out by the way companies use their personal data and are therefore more reluctant to share that data. This can be a massive problem for loyalty marketing programs as they require customers to enroll by sharing some form of personal data. So how can a CX mindset help you solve this possible customer objection? One word: consistency.

Customers need to know that they can trust your brand from the get-go. If they’re receiving mixed messages in policy, employee interaction, or overall experience, they aren’t going to know what to expect and will be less likely to trust you with their information. If you approach this problem with a CX mindset, you know that you need to dedicate resources to unearth areas of brand inconsistency so you can streamline, hire, and train appropriately and put the best foot forward before asking for customer data.

If customers have a great impression of who you are as a brand, their positive and consistent experiences will inspire the trust they need to join your loyalty program.

Provide the Right Perks

Though perks alone won’t drive true brand loyalty, they are incredibly necessary to provide what customers expect when they sign up. However, your efforts can be all for nought if you aren’t providing the right incentives.

According to that same CX Trends report, customers are less likely to share their info when a program simply offers to make interactions easier, more efficient, or to deliver personalized recommendations. What they do value is when they receive exclusive access to sales, events, or products. Essentially, today’s customers are more willing share their data if they are given the VIP treatment.

The listening capabilities of a CX platform can help you to further narrow down what perks really drive participation in your loyalty programs.

Focus on Relationships, Not Memberships

Sure, customer satisfaction is a short-term win. After all, if a customer was able to purchase the product or service they were looking for, they might be more willing to become a loyalty program member. But why stop there? When you provide excellent brand interactions over and over again, you have a customer that will come back, buy more, and recommend you to others. That is the kind of customer you create when you focus on relationships and loyalty over merely satisfaction.

The key to going beyond “good” and creating excellent experiences is emotion. When InMoment studied unstructured customer data, we found that when discussing memorable experiences, most customers concentrated on the interactions they had with brand representatives and, even more importantly, the emotions they evoked. Ultimately, it’s not the 20% off coupons that inspire emotional experiences, it’s the meaningful human interactions that keep customers around in the long run.

With customer experience, you can go beyond collecting loyalty members and utilize emotion  to create lasting impact.

Though loyalty marketing programs and customer experience both have similar goals, it is vital that marketers recognize customer experience goes beyond the membership/incentive mindset. When you focus on customer experience, you can enrich all areas of your business—including your loyalty program—by understanding your customers, evoking positive emotions, and fostering long-lasting relationships.

To learn more about what customers expect from their brand interactions, check out the 2018 CX Trends Report: What Brands Should Know About Creating Memorable Experiences!

Finding the Balance Between Personal and Creepy Is Key for CX

With the arrival of Amazon Prime set to cast a very long shadow of rising expectations over the Australian consumer landscape, brands across the board are going to have to work harder to gain and maintain the satisfaction and loyalty of their customers. Providing a meaningful customer experience is no longer a nice to have, but a necessity if a brand is to succeed and compete against a behemoth with the humble mission of becoming the ‘Earth’s most customer-centric company’.

Amidst this fundamental shift in what customers are experiencing, 43% of Australian consumers admitted to having a bad brand encounter over the last year that has stuck with them. In addition, just under a third (28%) of consumers, said they would respond to a negative experience by not shopping with a brand again.

Brands are also more optimistic about the good experiences they are delivering, with 80% saying they are delivering memorable experiences. Consumers peg that at 70%, a healthy number, but still 10 points below what brands estimate.

So why is there such a disconnect between brands and consumers, and what can companies do to ensure that they create a customer experience that doesn’t just satisfy, but remains memorable, influencing customers to come back often, spend more, and engage in priceless word-of-mouth advocacy that simply can’t be bought?  The research also provided a few tips:

1. Find the balance between personal and creepy

While marketers are trying to better engage through personalisation, our research shows that their strategy is frequently backfiring and actually driving customers away.

70% of Australian consumers admit to finding most forms of personalisation “creepy”. What is even more shocking is the number of brands that admit that their own personalisation efforts are creepy. Over a third of brands admit to using creepy marketing tactics. With one in three Australians declaring they would stop using a brand after a “creepy experience” of personalisation the business risk is real.

Customer demographic and behavioural information is obviously a rich source of insights that can help brands offer a better, more personal experience to consumers. While this works en masse, when applied to an individual consumer during a single transaction, the approach must be particularly nuanced. Brands need to find the right balance and offer genuine value in exchange for a true and beneficial personalised experience.

2. Be human

The human element can make or break a customer experience. A brand’s employees are its most influential ambassadors. Over two-thirds of consumers report staff interaction as the most significant and frequent contributor to positive brand experiences, and the majority of these positive experiences were in-person. Investing in hiring processes and training programs can help with this. Conversely, poor staff attitude, lack of knowledge and bad service created negative experiences. Getting the right personalities in the right place with the right skills is key to ensuring good relationships between consumers and brands.

3. Find a purpose and communicate it

Our research shows that Australian customers connect more with brands that take an active interest in social causes that impact their local communities. 69% of Australian consumers want brands to be more purpose driven by advocating causes they care about. What’s more is that 25% of the causes consumers want brands to be aligned next to are community-based causes.

Finding a purpose and supporting local causes creates an additional opportunity for brands to connect with customers in a meaningful way, and build long-lasting relationships and emotional connections with the community.

4. Watch the social gap

One of the largest areas of disconnect between brands and consumers is how they view social media. Brands put considerably more emphasis on the ability of social media as an element of memorable, positive experiences. Only 6.6% of consumers report social media as a contributor in comparison to 31% of brands. This tells us that while social media is an important interaction forum, it is not something that significantly defines the customer relationship. Because of its public nature, brands often put more resources toward solving issues raised in social forums. Giving equal focus to all touch-points in the CX experience will ensure the business takes a more holistic view whether or not they’re meeting expectations, as well as what needs fixing, new ideas, and which elements should be elevated.

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