CSP Happenings





Topic: Customer Experience Research

Customer Satisfaction: What are the right KPIs to measure?

October 4, 2017

 

 

Guest-blogger Andrew Huber of Harland Clarke discusses 7 rules to follow in determining the right KPIs to measure in customer satisfaction.

 

It’s widely accepted that there can be tremendous value for businesses that rely on key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure, manage and communicate organization results.  KPIs are a valuable tool to tell you if you’re on the right course toward meeting your strategic objectives, or if you need to make adjustments to get back on track.

But one of the key questions that managers grapple with is determining which key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure, and how to deploy them successfully over time. This is especially true when it comes to the measurement of customer satisfaction.

Why determining customer service KPIs can be tricky

Focusing on the wrong KPIs means you’re spending time and money measuring, monitoring and trying to improve metrics that aren’t critical to your financial institution’s objectives. The same is true of poorly structured KPIs, or KPIs that are too difficult and costly to obtain, or to monitor on a regular basis.

Select too many, and you’ll be overloaded with endless pages of data too extensive to be effectively managed or used to improve customer satisfaction.

To avoid common headaches that occur when trying to determine which KPIs to measure, it’s best to adhere to the following 7 rules:

  • Each KPI has its own applicability, and limitations. Each can stand on its own as a useful tool for measuring certain customer interactions, but a comprehensive measurement model is necessary to give a complete picture of account holder experience.
  • Determine what KPIs to measure based on the key drivers that your account holders consider important. Just because something is measurable doesn’t make if meaningful in the context of your account holder’s expectations.
  • Define KPIs accurately and clearly, ensuring that the aspect of the customer experience being addressed is both quantifiable and measurable.
  • KPIs should link back to a customer satisfaction objective and measure something you can impact.
  • Ensure that KPIs deliver comprehensive, actionable insight that is linked to and applied to particular employee interactions or processes on an on-going basis.
  • Focus on trends in your KPIs more than specific data. The direction of change usually matters most.
  • Reviewing on a quarterly or annual basis can provide both positive and challenging insights.[1]

 

Identifying the key drivers of customer satisfaction for your specific account holder base and aligning them with these – or other – metrics that align with your objectives can be the start of a successful KPI program.  Successfully applying the insights you derive from your KPIs can improve key drivers, leading to greater customer satisfaction, stronger brand loyalty and, ultimately, better performance.

But Don’t Get Too Set in Your Ways

KPIs should not be set in stone, but rather evaluated consistently over time and modified where necessary. Revisit your assumptions. Financial institution goals and objectives change, as do those for customer experience. Don’t continue to use KPIs that are no longer meaningful or useful.

While there are an infinite number of metrics that can be used to build KPIs around customer satisfaction, there are several that have gained wide acceptance across industries for providing valuable insight.

Examples include: the Net Promoter Score (NPS), the Customer Satisfaction Score, the Customer Effort Score and Forrester’s Customer Experience Index.

One size doesn’t fit all. When it comes to selecting the right key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring customer experience, it’s important that the KPIs you use provide valuable customer insights aligned with the goals of your financial institution, not your competitor down the street.

If a metric isn’t key to you, it’s not a “key” performance indicator.  Select KPIs that are relevant for your industry, and, just as importantly, for your organization.

[1] Patterson, Matthew. “How Top Customer Service Teams Measure Performance,” Help Scout, April 16, 2016

How to Create a Successful Customer Experience Strategy

September 8, 2017

 

 

CSP is happy to have guest-blogger, Andrew Huber of Harland Clarke return this month and share his insights on creating a customer experience strategy that is successful.

 

“How are we doing?”

This question is at the foundation of any organization’s quest for continuous improvement. For banks and credit unions, the answer encompasses more than an institution’s financial statements.

In customer-centric organizations, the role of customer feedback is critical to sustaining and deepening account holder relationships, and contributing to long-term profitability.

But, are we there yet?

While many financial institutions say they want to improve the customer experience, are they taking the necessary steps to get there?  A true voice of the customer strategy is a multi-faceted process whose focus is to understand the customer experience via actionable data and analysis on multiple levels.

Below are three important things to keep in mind if your financial institution desires a truly comprehensive customer survey experience.

3 Considerations for Creating a Useful Voice of the Customer Strategy

#1 – Consider All Customer Experience Touchpoints

First comes the design and deployment of surveys using a variety of methodologies. The focus is on gathering, measuring and interpreting customer experience feedback at every touchpoint, from new account openings in the branch to the call center and online channels. Every customer experience touchpoint must be considered, in order for your business to plan for it.

#2 – Ensure You’re Gathering the Right Data

Surveys are just the start.

One of the keys to a successful customer experience program lies in the data accumulated from everything that’s happened to this point. The data gathered needs to be both actionable and all-inclusive. In other words, it needs to include real-time knowledge across significant customer satisfaction metrics that can be applied directly to specific operational and frontline areas that impact the account holder experience. Measuring net promoter score may only scratch the surface of what your financial institution would like to learn.

Learn important satisfaction metrics to measure outside of net promoter score in the white paper, “Customer Experience: Beyond Net Promoter Score.”

Download Your Copy Here.

#3 – Figure Out (in Advance) How You’ll Analyze the Data

While the core value that such a program can provide shouldn’t be underestimated, there can also be a thin line between a comprehensive service that yields insightful customer understanding and one with reams of survey data but little customer insight that can be used to directly affect bottom line performance.

This is why it’s important to answer these questions in advance of implementing your survey strategy: once you’ve gathered the data, then what? Who will mine the data for actionable insights?

If you don’t have a data scientist on staff, consider outsourcing to a third-party.

In today’s customer-focused world, dissecting and analyzing the customer experience can provide key insight that banks and credit unions can use to ensure they are truly putting the customer first. This mindset paves the way for multiple benefits including:

  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Greater loyalty and retention
  • Better performance

Positive customer feedback matters

May 24, 2017

Passionate customers tell you what makes your brand exceptional

Often, customer experience research focuses too heavily on business shortcomings.  Managers want to know when customers are dissatisfied, what caused their dissatisfaction, and how to fix the problem.  As a result, decision makers overlook positive customer feedback.  Managers expect positive feedback, and when it’s received, they don’t celebrate the occasion. Instead, managers continue to search for shortcomings in their businesses – they don’t want to be complacent, even if their customers are happy.  However, this oversight misses an opportunity: a chance to understand what drives customer passion and excitement.

Word-of-mouth advocacy is a powerful driver of new business, and positive customer testimonials received during customer experience research help highlight the topics brand advocates are most likely to talk about with friends and family.  To maximize the value of this feedback, businesses should ask customers the following questions about their experiences:

  • How does our service/product/interaction make you feel?  When a customer describes a positive experience, asking them about their feelings helps businesses understand the type of value their services bring.  Are customers relieved? Excited?  Do they feel in-control?  Understanding the specific emotions they feel helps businesses understand why a service/product/interaction is important, and what emotions are driving the customer’s behavior.
  • How is our business different from others?  When it comes to positive customer experiences, unique positive experiences are true brand differentiators.  Identifying those unique positive experiences allows businesses to replicate that experiences across their customer base.  Once the experience is consistent, that unique positive experience is a brand differentiator, which can be used to solicit new customers.
  • How does our business make a difference in your life, even if it is small?  Asking customers to relate a business’s services to their lives helps communicate those services in the customers’ language.  For example, customers might not care about the UX testing, which guided development of a bank’s mobile app; but they DO care that the app is easy to use and saves them time.  Managers and directors are prone to talk about the services they provide in their own terms – from the behind-the-scenes perspective, talking about the nuanced details of the services they provide.  Conversely, customer feedback vocalizes positive experiences in ways mangers struggle to verbalize, and their feedback provides a template for how managers should talk about the services they provide.

Beyond the benefits of analyzing positive customer feedback, the process provides a venue to build morale among employees and recognize their hard work.  By addressing positive feedback, employees are incentivized to continue (and increase) positive behaviors, which lead to positive customer experiences, because they know their good deeds are noticed and valued.

In 2017 and beyond, managers continue to look at positive customer experiences to identify, replicate and reinforce aspects of their businesses leading to positive feedback.  Once reinforced, branding/marketing managers use these competitive advantages to drive new business, while customers drive business on their own through brand advocacy.

Responding to negative customer feedback is important, but most organizations already do a good job at identifying their own shortcomings.  Many managers overlook positive feedback at their own detriment, and those who utilize feedback to create a model for consistent positive experiences will come out on top.

Customer Segmentation Pitfalls and Potholes

March 9, 2017

Customer segmentation can be an immensely useful tool in getting actionable insights from your customer research. From those insights, you can devise strategies to improve the customer experience, because you have a more specific understanding of what customers want. But segmentation is far from simple.

To get the most out of it, you need to understand a few things about the art and science of conducting customer research. That’s just what CSP has been doing for more than thirty years, so we thought we’d share some of our pointers.

What Can Go Wrong with Customer Segmentation

customer segmentation

Methodology Mishaps

What does your business have in common with the Large Hadron Collider – the massive facility in Switzerland that smashes atoms together to better understand physics? You both rely on the Scientific Method. Or at least, you should (and they certainly should).

Any good research, whether studying customers or plants or animals or atoms, is based on these standards, which have been the guiding principles of science since the mid-1700s. To get good results out of your research, your methods must be scientifically sound, unbiased, and verifiable.

Research is not just conducted, but designed. That means knowing how to create a sound and testable hypothesis, conducting the right kind of ‘experiment’ to test it, and verifying your results with the proper vigor. Get any of these parts wrong, and the rest unravels from there.

Contaminated Sample

Sometimes research starts from scratch, but often, it relies on parsing data you already have on hand. That might include one or more customer databases or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools. These databases must be meticulously maintained so as to avoid contaminating the results. Examples of database disruptors include duplicate entries, incomplete entries, “dead” entries (meaning, invalid or out-of-date information, such as dead email addresses), and false categorization.

A slip-up here or there may seem like not a big deal, but it can lead to disasters in customer communication. For example, in 2011, the New York Times erroneously sent out a special discount offer to a small list of 300 recent ex-subscribers to entice them back – except that it was delivered to 8 million contacts, including many current subscribers who suddenly became aware of a discount they were not being offered. Things like this can happen when database entries are not correctly or clearly identified and grouped.

You Know What They Say About Assumptions…

Everyone has conscious and unconscious biases and makes assumptions based on those biases – it’s only human, and it’s rarely malicious. But such assumptions, no matter how logical or benign, can still affect the viability of research results and the value you get out of them.

A good example of where you see this happening is in discussions of the different generations – Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and so forth. Many sweeping generalizations have been made about each group, some supported by sound research, and others just created by socialization. Eye-grabbing headlines and op-eds easily filter through to form your beliefs about these potential customer segments.

When that happens, you are more prone to leaping to the wrong conclusion. Don’t assume that seniors don’t use mobile banking because they’re technologically illiterate, or that lower-income customers don’t have smartphones. Any conclusions derived from research must be supported by that research.

It Pays to Have an Expert on Your Side

Done well, customer segmentation can lead you to valuable insights and an improved customer experience. Done poorly, it can just as easily lead you astray, or not lead you anywhere at all. If it were easy, businesses like CSP wouldn’t need to exist – but luckily, we do. To learn more about how we guide businesses in using their data to provide stellar customer service, contact us


You may also be interested in:

SOURCES

New York Times email mishap
Unsupported assumptions

Customer Segmentation in the Big Data Age: Where Banks Find Value

February 8, 2017

Customer segmentation helps banks get to know their customers on a more granular level. Segmentation reveals specific intelligence that could otherwise be obscured by the sheer volume of data. These insights, in turn, inform messaging strategies for marketing and customer service strategies. Segmentation can also help banks better understand the customer lifecycle and predict customer behavior.

Examples of common customer segmentation criteria:
  • Customer value – How many products & services customers purchase and what kind of revenue that generates for the bank – past, current, and predicted for the future
  • Demographics – Age, geography, gender, generation (e.g. Millennials and Baby Boomers), income level, marital status, and other “vital statistics”
  • Life stage – Slightly different from age, focused instead on customers’ journeys through various milestones and markers; for example, graduating college or starting a family
  • Attitude – Customers’ subjective stances on things like the financial industry as a whole, online and mobile banking, the economy, and their satisfaction with their bank
  • Behavior – Interactions and transactions between customers and their bank, which channels they use and how often, and which products they adopt

Similar criteria can be applied to banks’ business customers – profitability, number of employees, “life” stage (start-up, established, legacy), and so forth.

These are the traditional ways that customers have been segmented for decades. However, relying just on these categories is not going to yield many actionable insights.

In the age of Big Data, you sometimes have to think small. The real power of segmentation is not the quantity of data you can collect – which, with today’s technology and methods, is virtually infinite. It’s in the ability to drill down to the information that actually teaches you something about your customers.

Often it’s not the segments themselves, but where they overlap, where you’ll find the most valuable intelligence.

customer segmentationSome examples: unmarried, home-owning, degree-holding women under 45; middle-income married parents of high-school-age children in a particular school district; and minority Millennials who are starting their own digitally driven businesses.  Any of these micro-segments may prove valuable customer niches for banks to prioritize. But first, you have to conceive of their existence. Second, ask the right questions. And third, conduct the relevant research to answer those questions.

To understand how this can come in handy for banks, just think about the sometimes bizarre categories that show up in your Netflix queue based on what you’ve been watching lately. Vintage sci-fi with a strong female lead? Critically acclaimed British nature documentaries? Criminal investigation murder mysteries based on books? The more they know your tastes, the more likely you are to keep using their service based on their recommendations.

The options for how segments can overlap are nearly limitless.

Nearly. There is a bell curve to the usefulness of segmentation. Too broad, and the results are less than insightful. Too narrow, and the value of the insights gained will have minimal bottom-line impact.

This is where it helps to have experienced data scientists on your side. The purpose and advantages of segmentation are easy to enough to grasp, but the farther you get into analytic methodology, the more highly technical it becomes, and the more you need to understand about mathematical models and formulas. If things like our guide to data visualization make your eyes glaze over, chances are that the nuances of segmentation will put you right to sleep, too.

But you’re in luck, because CSP’s customer experience & research experts are passionate about getting you the insights you need out of the wealth of data we can gather. So if you are interested in getting to know your customers down to the niche level that segmentation empowers, give John Berigan a call at (800) 841-7954 ext. 101 or contact us by email to start a conversation.


More articles on using data to your advantage:

The Future of Banking in 2017 – and What it Means for the Customer Experience

January 26, 2017

2017 outlook and predictionsIn this season of annual meetings and strategic planning, those with a 30,000-foot view on banks and credit unions are predicting what the year will bring. Some of these predictions are fueled by polls and studies, while others come from the informed instinct of seasoned experts. Having served the financial services industry with quality customer research for 30 years, CSP is interested in how these predictions could impact the customer.

So let’s review some of what the experts foresee for banks and for customer experience trends across industries, through our own unique lens:

“Banks will open 1,000 new branches, with an emphasis on the right location.”
– David Kerstein, BAI Banking Strategies

Our Take: The influx of digital channels has had banks questioning the relevance of the branch for years now. As banks reassess and update their branch placement, they will need to look to their customer data to evaluate how the new locations are serving the customers, both new and current, now using those branches. Brick-and-mortar branches aren’t dead, but the successful banks will be the ones who optimize the in-branch experience around customer needs.

“CEOs will exit at least 30% of their CMOs for not mustering the blended skill set needed to drive digital business transformation, design exceptional personalized experiences, and propel growth.”
– Forrester’s
2017 Predictions: Dynamics That Will Shape The Future In The Age Of The Customer

Our Take: As we’ve reported before, more and more CMOs are finding themselves saddled with the responsibility for the customer experience. While not a traditional marketing function, new research unequivocally proves customer experience to be not only a decisive factor in brand identity, but also in differentiation within the marketplace. An alternative would be the fairly novel position of CXO – Chief Experience Officer – but the point remains that this person would need the left-brain/right-brain balance of data analysis and experience design expertise.

Consumers will take more control of their financial relationships and will look for digital tools for advice and insight. Banks will come to realize that fintech is not a threat, but rather an opportunity.”
– Bryan Clagett, CMO at Geezeo (
as reported by Jim Marous at the Financial Brand)

and

“One product that will likely receive greater attention in the next year is digital personal financial management (PFM). As customers develop higher expectations of their banks, reporting basic account data is no longer enough. Today’s banking customers are in greater need of financial advice than ever, and internal data silos prevent banks from providing effective and personalized guidance.”
Rob Guilfoyle of Abe, a customer service AI for financial institutions

Our Take: Customer loyalty is all about that relationship-building.  Digital tools and advances in artificial intelligence add convenience and responsiveness to daily transactions. That said, customers still like to talk to real live people when it comes to more complex money matters. That means understanding both the uses and the limits of automation and AI. Fintech-enabled solutions should seek to bridge the gap between software and staff, providing customers a direct and convenient channel to a trusted advisor.

And let’s not forget that a great customer experience starts with the employee experience:

Creating a culture of continuous feedback will be top priority for organisations and is being driven by millennials’ expectations for regular, ongoing feedback and the increasingly fast-paced business environment.  Adopting tools that enable people to receive regular feedback from different sources, such as peers, customers or multiple managers for instance, will therefore become more and more important for boosting engagement among the growing millennial workforce and improving overall productivity.”
– Sylvia VorhauserSmith of PAGEUP, an HR solutions provider

Our Take: Regardless of what generation the majority of your employees were born into, transparency and trust are essential to a healthy workplace environment. Any manager who is charged with giving employees feedback on their performance must be willing to take feedback, too, and to use it constructively for the benefit of the whole team. That’s the kind of leadership that builds a healthy and productive company culture. Smart employers will have structured systems in place to allow for this multi-directional feedback, as well as training and development programs to foster leadership. (Hey, we know a thing or two about that…)  


You might also want to read:

Customer Experience for Women: What Banks Need to Know

February 12, 2016

How are women involved in their family’s finances? How confident do they feel about their financial know-how? What tools and services do they want their banks to provide to help them manage their money?

These are the kinds of questions financial institutions need to be examining to optimize the customer experience for their female customers. Married or single, mothers or child-free, college-age to retired, women are more empowered when it comes to money than they ever have been.

Here are some interesting findings on the preferences and attitudes of women banking customers (UPDATED February 2017):

Women tend to think of themselves as less capable or knowledgeable when it comes to finances than men do. In one study that used a scale of 1-7 to measure overall financial confidence, men rated themselves at an average of 6.20, while women came in at only 5.86. The numbers continue to drop among women under 50 (5.61) or when specifically addressing the area of investing (4.75).

56% of women said they turn to a financial advisor as one of their primary resources for guidance and information. The same percentage of men said they rely on their own prior experience and knowledge. Men are also more likely than women to reference financial books, magazines and websites. 

That said, women aren’t likely to seek financial advice out of the blue. A strong personal relationship opens the doors for women to come in and get into the nitty-gritty with an advisor. Once that foundation of trust is established, women will tell up to 52 people about a good experience they had with their bank, and even more if they had a bad experience. They are also more likely to listen to and act on recommendations, or dismissals, from others.

woman doing online banking on phone and laptop

Women are interested in convenient tools that help them manage their household finances.

Millennial women are more focused on paying off their debts than their male counterparts are. This sense of caution and sensibility is also reflected in their attitudes toward their financial future — 59% feel positive about the future, compared to 72% of men – and saving vs. spending. 54% of Millennial women said they avoid overspending, while only 40% of men said the same.  Women in general carry less debt, use less credit, and are less likely to be late on their mortgage payments than men.

When it comes to traditional vs. digital ways of doing business, women place more importance on the branch than men do, especially when shopping around for a new bank. Women over 50 are particularly concerned about the availability and proximity of branch locations when choosing a bank.

Women are a little slower than men to take up new tech tools like mobile apps and voice recognition. They won’t trust these services until they have evidence that it’s worth taking the leap into something new. That said, remember how they rely on word-of-mouth – once they hear good things about your digital experience, they’re open to coming aboard. Women are especially interested in tools to help them manage their budget. Even if women weren’t using the services directly themselves (maybe through a spouse or someone else in their household instead), they still expect banks to have them. 

Key Takeaways for Banks
  • Women prefer a human touch, someone to walk them through the complexities of managing their money. Your advisory staff should be visible and available to your customers. Make it easy to contact these experts directly to ask quick questions or set up appointments – no one likes being given the run-around or playing voicemail tag.
  • While men are generally content making transactions and purchase decisions directly with their bank, women want a relationship to create a foundation of trust before they’ll take your advice or sign on for additional products and services. Building the customer experience around this relationship makes them feel respected, valued, and welcome.
  • Convenience can come digitally, but not necessarily. It also means convenient access to branches and a pleasant in-store experience while at the branch. It also means the availability of tools, including online and mobile, that help women manage the day-to-day flow of their income and expenses, or that connect them quickly and painlessly to personal help when they need it.
  • FinTech could prove a significant draw. FinTech providers generally lead with the convenience and utility of their solutions. This could draw women customers, particularly younger women, away from traditional banks who aren’t innovating fast enough in the tools-on-the-go space.
  • Women are conscious of financial responsibility, like reducing debt and paying bills on time. So what if their bank started incentivizing and rewarding their financial sense? Little gestures of congratulations, even for something as small as saving a little extra this month, could go a long way in strengthening the relationship between banks and their women customers.

As with all things, these preferences and priorities will vary somewhat from region to region, bank to bank, maybe even branch to branch. Use Voice of the Customer data to track, illuminate, and strategize around the customer experience of your women customers and earn their loyalty.

To learn more about Voice of the Customer solutions, contact CSP.

SOURCES

Scale of financial confidence
Reliance on financial advisor
Preference for strong relationship of trust
Women’s word-of-mouth
Millennial women & debt
Women’s financial responsibility
Women pay attention to branches
Women expect banks to provide tools

Improving the Customer Experience Through Benchmarking

August 11, 2015

Benchmarking is the process companies use to identify and establish key performance standards, or benchmarks, and measure their performance against those standards over time. With a benchmark analysis, a company can compare its current scores in critical areas against its own past performance, as well as against its competitors.

NewBAR

Done in-house from the ground up, benchmarking can be a dauntingly complex process. Benchmarks must be agreed upon, measurement tools and strategies implemented, research assigned and completed (which, in some cases, means navigating security and permission concerns), and reports compiled. The information in the final analysis can be invaluable, if the right resources, attention, and talent are invested in it.

What’s more, benchmarking is not a one-time exercise, but a living process that depends on continuing collection and interpretation of current data. The shelf life of a single analysis report is fairly short, but properly maintained, a benchmarking strategy can be a gift that keeps giving.

Where does benchmarking fit into improving the customer experience?

Often used to determine how a company is faring against its peers financially, benchmark analysis also has a qualitative application. This includes measuring the critical metrics of customer service and experience that carry the most weight with overall customer satisfaction – what CSP calls key drivers.

Responses to Voice of the Customer initiatives like surveys can be translated into scores and percentages, which then get used to identify the top, bottom, and average range of responses to those metrics. Comparing the most current available scores against these ranges gives an indication of whether the customer experience is excelling, lagging, or falling behind.

Benchmarking is a way for managers to reality-check their perception of how their strategies and employees are performing against what the customers are actually saying.

Benchmarking provides a competitive advantage

The quality of a business’s customer service is often a make-or-break factor in customer satisfaction, loyalty, and likelihood to promote that company to others. In many ways, customer experience is the marketing that keeps happening even after you’ve initially earned the customer’s business.

Benchmarking not only demonstrates a company’s performance against itself, but against a defined peer group of its competitors, measured by uniform standards. While a direct Company A vs. Company B comparison may not reveal much of use, there is valuable insight in identifying one’s overall standing among the rest of the pack.

For instance, let’s say a manager has grown concerned about how long customers are kept waiting before they speak to a representative. Maybe she has noticed longer lines on the sales floor, or customers looking frustrated or impatient while in line.

Through benchmarking, she has been tracking “wait time” as a key driver for six months, and sees that this month, customers have indeed indicated a drop in satisfaction against this metric. She then reviews the wait time satisfaction scores of her peer competitors and determines that they have seen a slight increase in the same period of time, dropping her company back in the ratings from the “top” to “average” category. Now there is a risk she may start to lose customers to the better-performing competitors.

This intelligence informs the manager of an opportunity to improve the customer experience by implementing new strategies to affect the wait time at her location. Continued benchmarking will help her track progress against that goal, and identify any new opportunities for improvement that may come along.

It doesn’t end with the report

Benchmarking is one step in the process – a critical one, but nonetheless, just one. As with all Voice of the Customer data, its ultimate value depends on how the information is used to improve the customer experience with well-informed training, continued evaluation, and timely reporting.

That’s why CSP’s new Benchmark Analytics Reporting Dashboard pairs so nicely with our training and employee support, such as the STARS library available to our clients, to create a balanced ecosystem of process, performance, and progress. The dashboard takes much of the rigorous research and reporting aspects of benchmarking and delivers an easy-to-read analysis that can tell you, at a glance, where you fall among your peer group.

To learn more about benchmarking, the new dashboard, STARS, or any other component of customer experience management, contact us with your questions.

What is Customer Experience Research?

March 6, 2015

Traditionally, Customer Experience Research falls into two main categories.

In the first category, there are market research firms that take an academic or scientific approach to collecting data and presenting the findings. These providers emphasize the purity of their data and the rigor of their methods and processes for collecting that information.

In the second category, there are data collection firms that specialize in gathering, storing, and organizing vast amounts of data from a variety of sources. Through their proprietary systems and tools, they make their findings accessible and digestible to the end user.

What does customer experience research capture?

The two metrics most important to customer experience management are customer satisfaction and customer engagement, which exist on a continuum and influence each other in both directions.

Customer satisfaction is an immediate measurement of an experience, from something as small as an interaction with a customer service representative to the overall feeling a customer has that his or her expectations and needs are being met. This is arguably the starting point for all customer research.

Customer engagement is what keeps customers coming back. It captures the long-term equity that is built on satisfying experiences by measuring things like loyalty and how likely a customer is to refer others to their preferred brands and businesses. In this way, it’s a more useful measurement than simple satisfaction: customers who are strongly engaged over time are more willing to overlook or tolerate the occasional less-than-satisfying experience.

A great example of this comes from the consumer technology industry. Brands like Apple and Google each have dedicated, loyal audiences that will continue to buy their products and tout their benefits to friends and family, even when the products themselves fall short of 100% satisfaction (think: buggy software releases or smartphones so thin they bend in your back pocket). This is the kind of engagement every brand dreams of.

The Journey From Data to Information to Knowledge

data information and knowledge

Both the academic and data-collection approaches to customer experience research have value. Market research can reveal trends, insights, and patterns across large populations and broader spans of time. Data collection, meanwhile, has grown so sophisticated as to merit its own industry, aimed at helping the everyday business manager access intelligence about their customer – because it’s unlikely they have the expertise or time to sift through it all themselves.

Both methods also have their limits. Statistical research may be useful in an ideal world where all customers have the same expectations and needs, and all businesses face the same challenges in meeting those expectations. But in a real-world setting, the insights garnered from this research often ends up “watered down” and are unlikely to apply to each unique business or brand the same way.

It’s not unlike the idea of the self-help book, which can be a useful way to talk about people in general, but won’t always apply on an individual level. You can do everything “by the book” and still fall short of your goals if the book you’re going by doesn’t account for the nuances of your business or your customers.

In turn, data collection is exactly what it sounds like: collecting data and presenting it as information. But turning that into knowledge that you can act on? That part is up to you. These firms often step out of the picture at that point, leaving you to figure out how that information factors into your strategies and tactics, what merits your attention and what doesn’t, and what steps come next.

Bridging the Gap Between Research and Reality

The shortfalls of traditional customer experience research are how businesses end up thinking they know their customers, without actually knowing them. There’s a break in the process that prevents them from getting to that next level of knowledge and using that knowledge to improve their customer experience.

In our 20+ years of customer experience research, CSP’s guiding principle has been to not only gather and present the information, but to then guide our clients in creating the roadmap to a better customer experience based on a thorough understanding of their unique customers.

Why should anyone have to figure this out from scratch? CSP has seen it all before, and we know what works and what doesn’t. Our experts are flexible enough to adapt to any given brand or business with a methodology that’s personalized every step of the way. Your specific questions about your customers, your market, and your competition are built right into the program, along with ongoing support, tools, and coaching to help you define and achieve your goals.

This level of customization and personal attention is hard to come by with traditional research models, but we believe it’s the key ingredient to successful customer experience management. We’re not passionate about data – we’re passionate about improving the customer experience, full stop.

For more information about CSP’s customer experience research methodologies and the programs we build to support them, contact us today by phone at (402) 399-8790 ext:101, via our website, or on Twitter @csprofiles

Great Expectations: Report Finds Banking Customers Demand More of Social, Mobile Channels

October 22, 2014

Banks around the globe have seen a significant decrease in customers’ reports of positive experiences in the last year, according to the 2014 World Retail Banking Report from Capgemini.

While customers continue to take advantage of multiple traditional and modern channels to meet their banking needs, social media and mobile platforms are gaining ground as customers seek quick and easy ways to access and manage their accounts whenever and wherever they are.

Today’s consumers have grown accustomed to other digital-dominant vendors like Google, Amazon and Apple, which continually develop and offer innovative solutions to make the user experience more seamless and convenient. So to the customer’s mind, why should their banks be any different?

Why shouldn’t they be able to send their friends money through Facebook? Why should professional financial advice require an appointment and branch visit? Why should ATM interfaces still look like they did in the 90s? Why shouldn’t a teller be able to deposit a check and show customers how to use the bank’s mobile app?

This attitude is especially common among Generation Y – so-called digital natives with a low tolerance for outmoded, clunky, or inconvenient services and products.

The report found that of all the age groups, Gen Y is considerably less likely to have positive experiences with their banks, indicating that their expectations are higher.

This could be a tipping point for banks as they seek to balance the needs of this new digitally dependent segment with those of long-held customers who place less importance on mobile and social.

The report also examined how positive experiences have a striking influence on profitable customer behaviors like loyalty and referrals, so it won’t suffice to simply find some kind of neutral middle ground. Banks must strive to generate more positive experiences to keep satisfaction high across the board and improve retention.

And indeed, some institutions around the world have begun implementing or experimenting with social-media-powered banking, like Facebook payments or customer service via social channels, and smartphone apps that aren’t just a mobile version of a website.

For example, Moven sells itself as a tool to help its customers keep an up-to-the-minute budget with instant notifications for every transaction, and automatic categorization and data on those transactions – without fees.

But for most institutions, two significant barriers remain:

  1. Legacy technology systems, methods and policies are not equipped to support mobile and social platforms, and upgrading these systems is an enormous and expensive undertaking.
  2. While customers may see social and mobile banking as a no-brainer, it’s fair to say they may not realize that working with third-party systems and platforms opens up a can of worms around privacy and data security.

Look no further than the grand-scale hacking attack against JPMorgan Chase in early October 2014 for evidence that talented hackers are waiting in the wings to exploit intrepid institutions at every turn. Experimental endeavors in social and mobile media are low-hanging fruit for these cyber criminals, so it’s no surprise banks haven’t charged ahead into the digital domain as vigorously as customers might prefer.

While this report offers an intriguing, and perhaps troubling, global picture of retail banking, enterprises should still focus on the voice of their own customers, as measured by current and thorough data, to drive decisions around customer experience management.

As you look ahead to 2015 this quarter, consider tapping CSP’s resources and expertise to guide your strategy. We are passionate about improving the customer experience by turning data into plans for action to drive results. Contact us to learn more.