Three Pitfalls to Avoid When Benchmarking Your Customer Experience Program

When it comes to customer experience (CX), it’s obvious that solicited customer feedback is vital. But what if we told you that, on its own, that feedback is not sufficient to give you a thorough understanding of how your brand is delivering on experience? In fact you need a lot more. You need to understand how your employees view the experience. You need unsolicited feedback from social media and other sources. Finally,, you need to understand the greater market’s perception by benchmarking your customer experience program against competitors.

In the latest episode of InMoment’s “XI Expert Take” series, InMoment VP of Customer Experience Consulting and Insights Jeremy Griffiths takes a deep dive into benchmarking and why it’s so important for customer experience initiatives. We’ll be providing a few of the best takeaways in our article today.

Thinking About Benchmarking Your Customer Experience Program?

Before we get into pitfalls and best practices, let’s talk about why you should be benchmarking your CX program in the first place. Primarily, those of us who lead and leverage experience programs have two overarching questions to answer: 

  • How am I doing?
  • What do I need to improve to drive successful business outcomes?

So, we search for the answers in our customer and employee data. But to answer these questions fully, we can’t just look at our own strengths and weaknesses. We need to be able to see the wider context of the market to get a sense of how we compare. Only when we have that big-picture view can we be certain that we have all the necessary information to make effective, strategic decisions.

However, you don’t want to set out on a benchmarking journey just to get it done. To do it well and get the intelligence you need, there are a few pitfalls you need to avoid along the way. Here are the three benchmarking pitfalls Jeremy has seen most often in his career:

Pitfall #1: Using Benchmarks as a “Big Stick”

When Jeremy works with brands to start up or refresh their benchmarking initiatives, he often has to help leaders shift their perspective about their benchmarking scores. He says one of the most common challenges he’s seen is leaders who use their results as “a big stick to tell their team to ‘do better.’” 

The imagery here is especially effective and accurate. It’s easy to imagine that if a brand’s scores are low in comparison to competitors, a leader might use those benchmarks as a weapon to spur their employees into action. However, this can be incredibly harmful to morale in the moment and to long-term success. 

How? Let’s take a look from the employee perspective. Let’s say that your leader has just given you a talking to, assuming that you and your team are doing something  to negatively impact the experience. But what if you feel as though you’re doing the best you can? What if the real issue is something beyond your control, yet you’re still being made to feel responsible? You’d feel incredibly frustrated, devalued, and helpless. 

This is just one example of how the wrong perspective on benchmarks can negatively affect your business. As we all know, disengaged employees can lead to an increase in employee churn, and therefore, additional costs in the millions!

Pitfall #2:  Using Experience Benchmarks as an Excuse

The next pitfall Jeremy describes is directly related to the first. In fact, it’s the other extreme in terms of leadership perspective: leaders who use their benchmarks as an excuse to do nothing.

In contrast to our previous example, let’s consider a brand whose benchmarking scores are good relative to its competitors. If the leadership sees the numbers and thinks, “well, we’re obviously doing well. Why would we need to do anything differently?” there’s potential for harm to the greater business.

The reason why is quite simple: you shouldn’t let success make you complacent. In our fast-paced world, you can be ahead of the pack one second, and fall behind the next. If there’s one thing we can promise you, it’s that your competitors are competing on experience. If you’re not actively working to provide your customers with the next greatest, more convenient, more memorable experience, then the competition will surpass you—and your customers will flock to the brand with the best experience.

Pitfall #3: Being Too Focused on the Number

The third pitfall is really a cause (and effect) of the first two. Leaders either use benchmarks as a big stick or a comfort blanket because they are too focused on the number. And at the same time, they are causing their employees to focus on the number. 

The issue with this number-based focus is that it only allows you to measure or manage your experience. It does not open the door to actually improving your experiences and boosting your bottom line. To inspire these major benefits, you have to look beyond metric scores and instead focus on the “why.” Why are you performing this way? Why are competitors performing well? Why do customers choose your brand over others?

When you shift your focus from the numbers to the context, you create a proactive, inspired, and positive Experience Improvement (XI) culture that is always pushing forward. This culture inspires your employees to be problem solvers, to strive for better experiences, and to keep your customers coming back. And isn’t that why you’re benchmarking in the first place?

Moving Forward

Now that we’ve chatted about what to avoid when benchmarking, are you curious about how you should execute your initiative? Click here to watch the full episode, “How to Win with Experience Improvement in Your Marketplace,” to learn how you should design your benchmarks (from the samples to take to the questions you should ask), popular use cases, and more directly from the experts!

How Operational Excellence Now Leads to Experience Improvement Later

Operations have everything to do with both your business’s bottom line and its relationships with customers. This makes ops’ importance to Experience Improvement (XI) pretty self-explanatory.

However, as foundational as operational excellence is to a company and its experiences, there’s more that brands can do to build a bridge between operations and Experience Improvement. Today’s conversation focuses on that bridge’s two main elements: optimization and innovation.

Element to Connect Operations with Experience Improvement

  1. Optimization
  2. Innovation

XI Element #1: Optimization

Creating operational excellence isn’t a one-and-done. It’s a process that requires constant attention and tweaking. Your experience initiatives can help here by shining a light on systemic issues that might need a closer look. That spotlight can also be used to help come up with fixes for those problems. Of course, a tried-and-true process for identifying and then responding to problems like these is a must here.

Fortunately for brands and organizations everywhere, a lot of the optimizing work has already been completed by the time you hit a stride with your operational excellence! Being good at ops means skillfully gathering the deep analyses and intel your brand uses to be better. This means you’ll already have some idea of what your north star should be as you begin the optimization phase. Desiloing data and sharing it with every team in the organization is also key here.

XI Element #2: Innovation

Innovation is what optimizing your operations builds toward. It’s what allows brands to actually implement their proposed solutions, study how they go, and realize their benefits. Having operational excellence in place makes it easier for brands to forecast market trends and, ultimately, predict exactly what their customers will want. In other words, ops-fueled innovation keeps your company robust and ahead of the curve.

Staying ahead of the curve is a major part of Experience Improvement, and it can only be enabled by:

  1. Operational excellence
  2. Optimization
  3. Innovation

Anticipating what your customers want before they may even know goes a long way toward building the relationships that cause them to ignore the competition (and that let them know you care about them as people). Unstructured feedback, especially from Voice of Customer (VoC) programs, is one of the best sources of additional intel on how to stay ahead of the curve and keep pleasantly surprising your customers.

Click here to learn more about how operational excellence leads to Experience Improvement. Expert Jennifer Passini, Ph.D., goes over additional means of using ops to better your experience and how it all feeds into the grander goal of meaningful transformation for your bottom line and your customer relationships.

How Operational Excellence Can Drive Experience Improvement

Operations is a central part of brands’ day-to-day activities, as well as their aspirations to become industry leaders. “Operations” means something different to everyone, but in the end, ops seek to impact two things: your business’s bottom line and your relationships with your customers. 

Operational excellence can also allow organizations to tap into something more fundamental: Experience Improvement (XI), i.e., creating fundamental connections with customers that go deeper than just transactions. Today’s post covers how brands can steer operations toward Experience Improvement, as well as why it’s well worth their time to do so.

Table Stakes

Customers don’t usually expect the worst when picking a brand or product, but that doesn’t mean organizations shouldn’t track performance objectives related to being operationally effective. Aside from helping to prevent a bad experience, which is obviously important, operational excellence helps ensure consistency. No matter whether it’s employee teams or brand locations, organizations need to make sure that they’re being consistent with interactions and experiences. This approach further cements those fundamental connections with customers.

Another variable that brands need to be mindful of when it comes to operational excellence is customer expectations. As we’ve all seen in this digital age of ours, customer expectations are not just changing; they’re growing more complex. Meeting these ever-more complex expectations means closely measuring performance, which is another reason consistency is so important.

How This Relates to Improving Experiences

As we said earlier, brands that go about operational excellence in a certain way will end up achieving Experience Improvement, or at least laying a lot of the groundwork that makes XI happen. For example, consider a retailer that, as a matter of operational excellence, builds up its omnichannel strategy and tries to reduce customer friction wherever it can. Both of those elements help ensure the consistency we talked about earlier, but they also create opportunities for deeper relationships with customers.

What’s handy about looking at Experience Improvement this way is that the methodology is pretty much the same for any brand regardless of industry. Reducing friction, being more multi-channel, and desiloing data are all helpful for improving customer relationships (and your organization’s own view of your customers) no matter how or what you serve them. This is why it’s important to begin your Experience Improvement efforts with operational excellence—consistency creates connections.

Click here to read more about how operations fits into Experience Improvement (XI) in our latest article by experience expert Jennifer Passini, Ph.D. Jennifer reveals additional ways to leverage operations toward Experience Improvement, as well as other handy tips for creating stronger connections with your customers!

How Cost Reduction Factors into Experience Improvement Strategy

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

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

Four Economic Pillars for Your Experience Improvement Strategy

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

Pillar #1: Customer Acquisition

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

Pillar #2: Customer Retention

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

Pillar #3: Cross-Sell/Upsell

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

Pillar #4: Cost Reduction

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

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

Moments That Matter in Customer Experience: Which to Focus on & Why

In our recent blog, we discussed how you can improve your customer experience (CX) strategy in five simple steps. Customer experience often relates to the long-term relationship between customers and the companies they do business with. It reflects the summary of experiences at different points along the customer journey—such as considering doing business with a brand, making a purchase and becoming a customer, receiving additional services, having issues resolved, etc— and includes multiple channels: phone, in-person, email, and so on. These various interactions along the customer journey—and, more specifically, those that have the most impact on the business—are what we like to call “Moments That Matter”  (MTM) in customer experience.

But are there some moments that matter more than others in the overall customer experience? And if so, how do we assess their importance?

Five Questions to Address

  1. What Are “Moments That Matter?”
  2. How Are “Moments That Matter” Determined?
  3. How Are “Moments That Matter” Measured?
  4. How Is the Importance of Each “Moment That Matters” assessed?
  5. Why Does the Technology You Use to Understand These Moments Matter?

Question #1: What Are “Moments That Matter?”

In the past couple of decades, it has become more clear that consumers are after more than just the “product” they purchase. Their choice to support a brand is more than just rational decision-making; it’s about emotions, too.   Today’s organizations realize this; so, they try to continuously improve the way in which they deliver those experiences. 

For example, many organizations measure call center experiences as a part of their CX program, which is a smart move. Service and support is a key element that defines customer experience, and it frequently generates memorable moments. But is the call center interaction all that matters for the customer?

Moments That Matter” are the specific interactions—like a particularly superior or terrible call center experience—that trigger customers’ feelings and leave lasting impressions. These are the specific experiences that stand out more than others and impact the customers’ long-term opinions about the organization overall. Additionally, they can likely lead to a make-or-break decision about their future relationship with the organization. 

Question #2: How Are “Moments That Matter” Determined?

A key step to identifying the “Moments That Matter” is understanding the customers’ journey throughout their relationship with the organization, from consideration and researching the product or service they need all the way through using said product or service. 

Mapping this journey starts with the organization’s knowledge of its key customer touchpoints. Next, customers provide feedback and further input to pinpoints those touchpoints most important to them. They also provide context about their best and worst experiences, wins, and pain points. This mapping helps brands focus on the key “Moments That Matter,” because, in reality, not every touchpoint and every experience is as impactful as others in creating healthy and long-lasting relationships.

Question #3: How Are “Moments That Matter” Measured?

After understanding what “Moments That Matter” are, the next step is to measure the brand’s performance at each of those moments. This is typically done using a survey format that first asks customers to evaluate their overall experience with the company. Then, it should ask which MTMs they have experienced and evaluate those they are familiar with.  It may also be effective to rate some MTMs on a battery of actional deep-dive attributes.

Question #4: How Is the Importance of Each “Moment That Matters” Assessed?

There are two general ways to assess the importance of each MTM: 

  • Ask how important each MTM is (so-called “stated importance”), or 
  • Mathematically derive importance from each MTM’s ratings and the overall experience with the company (“derived importance”). 

Derived importance has an advantage in that it does not require additional questions and simply uses respondents’ evaluation of each MTM they experienced. In general, the rating for each MTM is aligned with the overall experience rating, and the MTM that best follows the overall experience rating is therefore the most important. This type of analysis is called “driver analysis.” At InMoment, we use a technique called True Driver Analysis, which surpasses other approaches in quality of results. 

Question #5: Why Does the Approach You Use to Understand These Moments Matter?

Different statistical approaches can be used to conduct a driver analysis and assess the importance of each MTM: correlation analysis, regression analysis, structural equation modeling, and partial least squares, to name a few. The results of these approaches, however, may be biased in the presence of a strong relationship among the MTMs themselves (called “multicollinearity”). 

For this reason, InMoment uses True Driver Analysis, which is a technique designed specifically to avoid this type of bias and to assess the “true” relative impact of each MTM on an overall outcome metric. As an output of True Driver Analysis, organizations can identify the key Moments That Matter, focus their efforts, and be able to improve customer experience, loyalty, and ultimately, their bottom line.

With continuous experience improvement being a key enabler of happier customers and long-lasting customer relationships, it is most critical to identify and focus on the Moments That Matter in every experience delivered. 

To read more about a proven strategy for continuously improving experiences across your brand in five steps—as well as the brands who have found success with it—check out this article for free today!

2 Ways Reducing Friction Benefits Customers & Brands

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

Creating Friction-Free Journeys

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

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

The Ties That Bind

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

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

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

How to Eliminate Friction in Your Customer Journey

“Friction” is probably a term you’ve heard whenever your teammates talk about reducing customer churn. Within that context, friction refers to points in the brand experience that can have a long-term impact on customers’ relationship with a business. Friction may even cause some customers to quit a brand altogether.

Because of this, it’s essential that brands have an experience program in place that can detect friction, help experience professionals understand the problem(s) creating that friction, and correct them. The result is both a meaningfully improved experience and saved customer relationships. So, without further ado, let’s go over how your organization can ensure it’s eliminating friction across your customer journey.

Understanding The Moments That Matter

Like we said earlier, an important part of reducing friction is knowing about and understanding the moments that matter to customers. Brands can achieve this understanding by mapping out a few of their most important customer journeys. Learning about key touchpoints is one of the best ways to become aware of problems as they arise.

What’s more, brands can use this strategy to immediately begin solving those problems and expediently reduce journey friction. Understanding touchpoints and their drawbacks enables organizations to come up with solutions, implement them, and listen to see how they’re working. Experience practitioners can then point to those changes, and their improvements, when proving their program’s worth.

Talking to Employees

Getting your customers’ take on an experience is clearly important, but many brands, in their rush to do so, overlook chatting with their employees about customer journeys as well. Employees, especially frontline ones, can provide extremely powerful and eye-opening intel about your brand’s experience. How can brands access and leverage that?

The best way for brands to get their employees’ perspective is by letting them constantly submit feedback and ideas in real-time. Rather than relying on, say, an annual survey, organizations should instead utilize experience platforms that give employees a constant voice. This also further allows brands to learn about, and act upon, problems as they emerge in real-time instead of too far down the road for the customer’s liking.

Keeping Tabs on Your Customer Journey

That notion of being constantly aware of journey friction as it happens is at the heart of keeping it suppressed as much as possible. Surveys are important, but this dynamic is another reason why they’re insufficient for reducing journey friction by themselves—a constantly possible problem demands a constantly active solution. Organizations simply cannot achieve that level of awareness otherwise.

Another element of getting a full picture of your experience is leveraging data sources outside of surveys. Brands can do this by combining survey listening with other sources of data, like your employees’ perspectives, and putting it against a backdrop of financial and operational information. This approach creates a 360-degree view of your customers and experience, an understanding that your organization can leverage to reduce friction, boost retention, and create a meaningfully improved experience.

Want to learn more about improving customer retention? We just published an entire eBook on the subject—click here to check it out!

5 Guides For Your Experience Improvement Journey in 2021

What is your experience program looking to do in 2021? Is it a disparate list of tasks or a strategic play guided by a clear goal? If you feel like it’s more of the former for your team, we may have the guiding light you need: Experience Improvement (XI).

For so long, experience initiatives have focused on managing and measuring customer and employee experiences. But the truth is, that approach does nothing to actually move the needle for the business as whole. That’s why InMoment started setting a new goal for experience programs, one that focuses on not just understanding where things are and where they have been, but what brands need to do to move onward and upward.

Sound like something you’d like to employ for your business? We’ve put together a list of our top XI content from our experts to start you on the right foot. Keep reading for the scoop!

Top 5 Pieces for Your XI Journey

  1. Measuring Alone Doesn’t Make You Taller: Why Business Leaders Must Focus on Experience Improvement
  2. Achieving Continuous Improvement: A Framework for Success
  3. How You Listen Matters: Modernizing Your Methods & Approach to Customer Feedback
  4. Understanding to Improve: Getting the Most Out of Customer & Employee Data with World-Class Text Analytics
  5. The Four Pillars of Customer Experience ROI

Measuring Alone Doesn’t Make You Taller: Why Business Leaders Must Focus on Experience Improvement

As we mentioned above, focusing on measuring experience alone will not actually do anything to improve experiences (or your bottom line at that). That’s why business leaders looking to have a positive impact through experience need to shift their focus to an Experience Improvement initiative.

This point of view article explains the difference in-depth to help you change your mindset. Check it out here!

Achieving Continuous Improvement: A Framework for Success

Once you have the mindset down, how do you steer your program (and organization) toward Experience Improvement? Enter the Continuous Improvement Framework.

This success framework consists of five steps that we use to guide clients toward their goals: design, listen, understand, transform, and realize. The best part? This framework doesn’t just set you up for one time success, it is meant to be used cyclically, so that as the world and your business evolve, your experience is constantly improving. For more on the framework, read the full piece by Eric Smuda here.

How You Listen Matters: Modernizing Your Methods & Approach to Customer Feedback

Listening to customers and employees is a foundational function of any experience program. Brands have been doing it for decades, but decades old methods and approaches aren’t the way to go in our technology-driven age.

That’s why it’s so vital to understand what a truly modern listening program looks like today—and to get a clear idea of how to create one. That’s why we created this eBook; you can access it for free here.

(Quick tip: Check out page five!)

Understanding to Improve: Getting the Most Out of Customer & Employee Data with World-Class Text Analytics

Once you’ve listened to customers and employees, you need the right tools to understand all that feedback. That’s why powerful text analytics are so important. Without them, you’re left with a mountain of data and no way to identify action items (much less, which items will have the most impact on the experience).

If you’re looking for a primer on analytics and which solutions offer the most for your program, this eBook is your go to! Find it here.

The Four Pillars of Customer Experience ROI

Ah, the age-old experience problem: proving return on investment. Business know that improving experiences is helpful, but it seems like they have struggled to show the link between experience initiatives and business success for decades.

At InMoment, we believe that every experience effort you pour resources into should be linked to tangible value in four specific areas we call the economic pillars of experience. This infographic will tell you more!

Hungry for more on Experience Improvement? We’ve got some big plans for how-to content in 2021! We can’t wait to share.

Top 5 Game-Changing Experience Improvement Blogs from 2020

2020 asked us to step up our game—a lot. In fact, it seems as if the last year actually consisted of multiple years, with January and February feeling like they were light-years ago. Organizations have had to pivot multiple times since March in order to navigate the Coronavirus, but savvy brands have found a secret weapon: Experience Improvement (XI) initiatives.

XI initiatives provide a pathway for brands to not only listen to how customers are feeling about specific experiences (like COVID-19 specific policies, curbside pickup, etc.), but also to understand what actions they need to take to improve those experiences in a timely manner. In a way, a well-designed program serves as a roadmap in uncharted territory.

But how do you successfully set up such a program? Well, you’ve come to the right place for the answer. The InMoment XI Blog is your go-to place for everything Experience Improvement, from how-to’s, to what’s next, and even stories of rockstar brands.

Here are a few of our favorite blogs from 2020 at a glance:

Top Five 2020 Blogs for Experience Improvement

  1. What Does Customer Experience Look Like in the World of Coronavirus
  2. How to Ensure Successful Survey Design during a Pandemic
  3. 3 Powerful Ways to Create Engaging Transactional Customer Surveys
  4. How to Truly Understand Customer Needs, Wants, and Expectations
  5. Why Market Research is Vital to Your CX Program in Times of Crisis (and Beyond!)

What Does Customer Experience Look Like in the World of Coronavirus

This was our flagship piece of thought leadership on Coronavirus best practices. Though our experts Jim Katzman and Eric Smuda authored this piece in March, these best practices are still incredibly vital for brands going into 2021. After all, we still have a few more months until the vaccine can be distributed widely enough!

Click here to get the low-down on the top five ways brands can leverage their experience programs in their COVI-19 strategy.

How to Ensure Successful Survey Design during a Pandemic

One of the most common questions clients asked our expert practitioners in 2020 was, “should we alter our survey because of Coronavirus precautions?”

Their answer: it depends. More specifically, there are three factors brands should consider before making changes to their survey. You can read about them here.

3 Powerful Ways to Create Engaging Transactional Customer Surveys

A successful listening approach has multiple surveys with specific purposes. One of the most necessary for understanding the experience at different touchpoints is the transactional survey.

But as it goes with everything, there are best practices, and there are practices that can stop productivity in its tracks. In this blog, we have three specific strategies you can employ for engaging, intelligence-gathering, action-inspiring transactional surveys. Check it out here!

How to Truly Understand Customer Needs, Wants, and Expectations

How do you deliver incredible experiences that make customers eager to come back for more? You first need to understand what customers expect from your brand. This is one of the fundamental functions of an Experience Improvement initiative; it is also one of the most powerful ways your program can positively impact your bottom line.

In this article on the XI InMoment Blog, strategist Eric Smuda walks you through the process he employs to help our clients understand their customers. Read more here.

Why Market Research is Vital to Your CX Program in Times of Crisis (and Beyond!)

The thing about unprecedented situations is that the information you need to guide your efforts will not be in your existing data. That means that times of crisis are the best time to turn to a market research solution.

In this article, Strategic Insights Team expert Radi Hindawi discusses the power of market research and three rules for brands looking to weave it into their strategy. You can find it here.

We hope you have enjoyed the content on the XI InMoment Blog this year, and our team is looking forward to bringing you even more thought leadership, best practices, and customer stories in 2021!

5 Steps to Improve—Not Just Manage—Your Experience

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

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

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

Five Steps to Improve Experiences

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

Step #1: Design

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

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

Step #2: Listen

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

Step #3: Understand

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

Step #4: Transform

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

Step #5: Realize

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

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

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

Take Action on Customer Feedback in 4 Simple Steps

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

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

Four Steps to Taking Action on Customer Feedback

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

Step #1: Define Your Plan’s Stages

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

Step #2: Identify Collaborators

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

Step #3: Define Actions

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

Step #4: Create a Timeline

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Data, No Decisions

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

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

Finding The “Why”

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

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

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

The Next Step

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

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

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