On top of our Voice of Customer (VoC) technology, InMoment supports a consumer insights panel and a team of data scientists who conduct regular research on a range of customer experience topics.
We recently completed a study asking 644 North American consumers to rank six emerging elements of customer experience in order of importance. We also asked 131 customer experience professionals the same questions. In their responses, not only did we see where alignment and disconnects exist between brands and their buyers, we also found several surprising insights into what tips the scales on customer engagement and loyalty.
The Elements We Explored
- Mobile first: Ensuring 24/7 mobile support for customers
- More reliable online reviews
- Personalized experience: Brands using customer information to personalize messages and promotions
- Shorter surveys, more listening: Fewer set questions, more options for customers to share experiences in their own words
- Feeling trumps function: Relationships and customer experience will reign over function, price, and selection
- Transparency: Keeping customers informed on how their feedback is being used.
Consumers ranked “Reliable Online Reviews” #2 in importance, while brands relegated this element to last place at #6. But not all brands were on board. While one in four did rank it last, one in five executives actually placed this in the #1 position.
At first glance, we thought the split would have come between businesses that serve consumers and business-to-business companies. Upon further examination of the data, however, we found that this was not the case. This means that even in industries where online reviews have a big impact on choice and loyalty, some brands don’t consider them an important part of their customers’ experiences.
Our Take: Regardless of the business you’re in, consider and care for your online audiences. They are more connected, more vocal, and generally more engaged with your brand and their peers than other customer segments.
On the Same Page
Consumers and brands ranked “Shorter Surveys, More Listening,” #1 and #2 respectively. What we found particularly interesting is that consumers did not express a lack of interest in giving feedback. What they don’t like are long-form surveys that focus on what the company wants to know versus what they want to share. We saw phrases like: “fast and easy to complete, with relevant questions that relate,” and “ability to leave as short or as long a review as I want.”
Our Take: It’s worth the time it takes to design more considered, customer-centric questions. Keep the scoring to a minimum, and take advantage of online forums and open-ended comments to give customers their own sharing spaces.
The Value of Value
The most powerful findings came, not surprisingly, by looking at the rankings alongside the consumers’ verbatim comments. The short story: customers want to feel valued by the brands they support. One in three consumers explicitly included words and phrases like “feeling valued,” “acknowledged,” “heard,” “appreciated,” and “respected” in describing how they want to be treated.
While this might seem obvious, the comments helped us see an even more nuanced and powerful story. Consumers don’t just want to be on the receiving end of value. They also want to give value in return. In comments mentioning the word “value,” nearly half of the respondents (48.4%) used it to express their desire to provide value back to the company. And when asked why they give feedback, four in five consumers selected “I enjoy offering my feedback and making a difference.”
And consumers told us exactly how companies can do this:
- Tell them why: “I’d like to know that the information in the survey is useful. Maybe if there was an upfront comment statement like ‘We are interested in your opinion because…’
- Show you are listening: “It would be nice to not only be acknowledged, but to receive some feedback regarding the suggestion or comment.”
- Take action: “It would be nice if companies let us know what changes they’ve made in response to customer comments.”
Super-Empowered and Well-Intentioned
In a time when consumers have nearly infinite options and a global communication platform at their fingertips—and customer experience has become the place to compete—it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. And while customers do wield unprecedented power, they don’t seem to want to use it for evil. Instead, they are asking to become partners in brands’ success. The question is, Will companies take them seriously? Will they value customers’ advice as strategic business intelligence? Will they treat customers as individuals and not just transactions?
Our Take: The stars are aligned. Customers are clamoring to give exactly what companies need. If brands listen well and listen often, their customers will provide real-time guidance on how to deliver the best experiences and improve nearly every part of the business. Talk about a win-win.