CSP Happenings

Topic: Customer Service Experience

Holiday Customer Experience Considerations

December 12, 2017

Holidays are an economically abnormal period. According to USA Today, the average American spends $1,189 during the holidays, creating a flurry of economic activity in a short amount of time. This activity provides opportunities and challenges, especially for the retail space. B2C business owners and managers should consider these factors during the holiday season:

An Influx of Traffic

Retailers experience more purchases and customer traffic during the holiday season, and this influx dictates the retail environment as the year ends. There are new opportunities and challenges that aren’t present during the rest of the year, so it’s important for retailers to be prepared for the difficulties, but also opportunistic for the chance to delight customers and gain new brand advocates.

Things May Go Wrong

With so much traffic, things are likely to go wrong. Customers may experience delays in deliveries, stocking of items might be inadequate or waiting times in call centers may be higher than normal. When customer experience suffers, businesses need to be ready to own up and apologize. Surprisingly, acknowledging and apologizing can be difficult for some companies and their employees. Most businesses strive to avoid situations where they need to apologize, so when the time to say “sorry” arrives, they aren’t well-versed. Failing to apologize when it’s due can turn otherwise forgiving customers away. Don’t hesitate! Believe it or not, customers tend to understand the challenges business face during the holidays. When customers hear their frustrations acknowledged and receive an apology, they tend to forgive, and the business-customer relationship remains intact.

Stresses on Systems

Employees are usually pushed to perform their best during the holidays. More specifically, their personal capacity is stretched beyond what they would normally be expected to achieve. In the retail apparel space, for example, the average store representative must help more customers, complete more transactions and move more merchandise than any other time of the year. In order to maintain a high level of customer service, they need specific coaching strategies about how to more effectively spend their time. Furthermore, management needs to give employees extra encouragement and tangible methods to manage stress and deliver the best experience possible.

Opportunity and Preparedness

Among all the stress and turmoil during the holiday shopping period, B2C enterprises can take advantage of the economic opportunity by being overly-prepared. For customer service, this means coaching their staff for an unusual and overwhelming workflow where they will have to work with more customers and delegate their time more efficiently than ever before. Additionally, managers and retail business owners need to be prepared with temporary staffing for positions like inventory management, floor sales, transaction processing and call centers. Beyond the short-term opportunity to meet holiday sales goals, businesses can gain new long-term customers by delivering a strong experience. Shoppers often explore new products and businesses during the holidays, and the long-term opportunity for repeat business needs to be sought out, even when businesses are stretched so thin. Being prepared pays off for the rest of the year.

B2B is Busy, Too

Most B2B entities are stretched thin during Q4. Among reaching sales goals, executing client projects before the year ends and setting sights on changes in 2018, most B2B enterprises are feeling the pressure. You’re not alone! More than ever, trust, communication and understanding are important among colleagues and clients alike.

Work hard, trust your colleagues and let’s all have a successful end to Q4 and 2017.

Happy holidays from the team at CSP! We wish you a wonderful end to the work year, and peace to your family and loved ones this holiday season.

4 Benefits of the Universal Banker

December 7, 2017

The universal banker is a jack-of-all-trades representative who can solve a wide variety of problems for bank customers. From loans to digital services, the universal banker is highly trained to take customers through their entire interaction once they walk in the door, and this leads to the universal banker having a better understanding of the customer they’re working with. This becomes especially true when a customer needs multiple transactions or processes complete, from opening an account to learning about a new piece of personal finance technology. The universal banker grows the relationship and gains intimate exposure to the customer. Here are four key benefits of staffing universal bankers:

Resolving Issues Immediately

Immediacy of resolution is huge for customer satisfaction. Imagine the scenario: A customer calls in about a problem with their debit card, and must navigate through an automated directory. They finally get to a live representative, tell the representative their card information, and that individual ultimately decides the customer needs to be transferred to a different department. The whole process takes 45 minutes, and the customer is displeased. Does this sound familiar? Universal bankers help avoid the run-around of being transferred to different individuals – something that can happen over the phone or in a branch. The experience of having the first person a customer talks to resolve their issue is incredibly refreshing, and scores big points for new customer acquisition and existing-customer retention.

Channel Fluency

Understanding the channels of interaction with a financial institution is important, and universal bankers know how to navigate everything. They know how to navigate the mobile app, or if a customer calls and asks about the financial institution’s website, they can walk the caller through and help them understand how to navigate the site. The common theme, regardless of channel, is a solution: the customer wants to make a transaction or solve a problem, and will use the most practical channel to solve it. Whether a customer uses the mobile app or comes into a branch, they expect a similar experience of quick problem resolution and smart people to help them make smart decisions.


Banking customers are transitioning away from the need for a traditional teller to complete transactions. With the rise of digital and mobile banking, consumers are relying less on simple tasks, and looking for a strategic educator in their banking personnel. They want to be informed about personal finance tools available to them, or how to make the most of their personal accounts. A universal banker can provide strategic advice and position themselves, and the financial institution, as a reliable advice-giver and source of knowledge.


Being Useful and Friendly

More and more, customers are looking for relationships with a banking expert. A great way to break the ice is by being useful. When a customer comes into a branch, they may be curious about a loan, interested in opening a new account, or simply trying to understand how their mobile app works. The universal banker is equipped to answer these questions, and more, and when an individual is properly trained, it opens the door for an organic relationship to occur. The universal banker can address a problem thrown at them and begin to understand the broader needs of the customer. This natural interaction puts the customer at ease and leaves them satisfied and open to building a relationship.


5 Types of Impact for Customer Experience Research

December 1, 2017

Customer experience research helps align brands and companies with the consumers they want to satisfy. However, the way consumers think about their purchases and the products/services they interact with is multi-faceted. For companies who conduct customer experience research, this is great news. Businesses that take the time and effort to learn about their customers stand to benefit in a myriad of ways, or more accurately, they gain the chance to shape customers’ thinking in a variety of manners:

Experience with the Brand

Through the process of customer experience research, companies can learn about customers’ experience with the brand. Customers share positive experiences and negative experiences, and when their feedback is aggregated, customer experience researchers can put together a collective perspective of the brand. With this feedback, companies can implement change and shape future customer experiences. This includes delivering quality customer service, helping guide purchase decisions and making sure the customer has a positive experience after a product/service is purchased.

Thoughts About the Brand

Customers’ collective experiences, mixed with marketing and things they hear, all shape their ultimate perceptions of the brand. When a current or potential customer thinks of your product or service, what comes to mind? Customer experience research affects not only their interactions with the brand, but the way marketing and messaging help create a distinct and valuable competitive advantage, which future customers will flock toward.

Expectations of Future Interactions

Future expectations can hit a tipping point: If a customer becomes mildly dissatisfied, they risk falling into a feedback loop of dissatisfaction. In other words, a past negative experience could make them irritable, so the next time something goes wrong with the same brand, they have less patience. The opposite is true as well: Customers will gloat about the merits of a brand based on one particularly positive experience. For example, if a brand gives them a free item or goes out of its way to resolve an issue, the customer may be so impressed that they will view every future interaction through rose-tinted glasses. These same individuals become passionate advocates for the brand, and tell their friends, family or colleagues about their positive experience.

Perception of Competitors

When a brand controls the way its products/services are experienced and perceived, it gives itself a leg up against competitors. For example, if a financial services customer has a great experience at their bank, they will look at competitors and assume the competitor can’t provide the same level of customer service as their current bank. On the other hand, if their current bank has terrible customer service, a competitor bank will be especially alluring to the dissatisfied customer.When a competitor’s marketing and advertising promises attentive and engaged customer service, the dissatisfied customer’s ears will perk up, and they become vulnerable to leave for greener pastures.

How the Product/Service Affects Their Lives and Sense of Self

The ultimate, and often overlooked, way a brand affects its customers is through their sense of self. When customers engage with a product or service, they’re looking for a significant way to better their own lives. This is especially true when they develop a long-term relationship with a brand involving multiple purchases. They typically look for reliability, quality and cost-effective options to help them live a better life, and ideally, a great brand will have the ability to truly make one facet of their lives better. Customers are humans with needs, and they look to trusted brands to deliver on those needs in a meaningful way. When they aggregate enough trusted brands – from financial services to paper towels – they reap the benefits of those relationships by living a better life for a lower cost.

Customer Journey Mapping: 5 Key Benefits

November 2, 2017

Customer journey mapping helps bring a unique and important perspective to businesses and products. This spans the entire path to purchase and beyond, from initial need or exposure to a product/service all the way to eventually being finished with the product/service. In between, there are a plethora of marketing, customer experience, customer support, research, and advertising opportunities for companies to consider. Ultimately, these different factors shape the consumer’s perception of the brand. This Harvard Business Review article summarizes the customer journey mapping process well:

“A customer journey map is a very simple idea: a diagram that illustrates the steps your customer(s) go through in engaging with your company, whether it be a product, an online experience, retail experience, or a service, or any combination.”

cross-departmental collaboration can't happen without the right leadershipWhy is customer journey mapping important? Here are a few eye-openers that happen during the customer journey mapping process:

Perspective of the customer

The most important aspect of the customer journey mapping process is seeing the brand and product/service through the eyes of the customer. Inherently, when an employee works within a company, they see the products/services they provide through a unique lens. Often, they get so caught up in their own perspective, they forget to consider what things are like for the customer. This lack of customer empathy causes them to make errors in the way they communicate or deliver a product. Consider the example of a pizza shop owner. Perhaps the owner obsesses day after day with fine-tuning the recipe for her sauce. However, her customers already love the sauce, but think the pizzas always come out burnt. She lacks understanding of her customer because she sees things as an owner and fails to understand their perspective. Customer journey mapping helps align us with what customers are saying through all stages of interaction with a brand.

Blending different departments

Most organizations work in silos – maybe they have a product development department, a marketing department and a customer service department, along with the individuals working in the storefront. Marketing employees think about marketing and communication all day, while product developers think about the next innovation to address a customer need. However, the customer doesn’t see these departments, or more accurately, sees the work of all these departments as a single entity. When the customer sees an advertisement, they don’t think about how well the message of the ad is crafted – they think about whether the product/service will help them. By seeing the sum of the individual parts, each department can better understand its role in a singular, holistic customer experience.


The process a customer goes through with a brand affects their perspectives about what will happen next. If they recently purchased a product, there’s no need for advertising to this individual – instead, they need customer service support to get set up, and resources for how to get the most out of the product. This is an obvious example, but studying the chronology of the customer experience helps put the different pieces in perspective to optimize their overall experience.

Giving perspective to time in relation to customers

The timeline and processes for the customer journey vary not only in terms of the order of events, but the time it takes for those events to occur. For example, the decision to do business with a specific financial advisor will involve a lot of background research and contemplation, while the purchase of a pack of gum in the checkout line at a grocery will be more impulsive. These lengths of time affect the level of information a customer wants and how they will make purchase decisions.

Expectations and Experiences

Throughout the customer’s journey, they will have positive or negative experiences that have already happened and expectations about what will happen in the future. A great ad might entice them to research a product more. If the ad makes promises, they may look to online reviews to see if the product lives up to its promises. Likewise, if they have a poor customer service experience, they might not turn to customer service the next time they have a product issue. As a result, they could become frustrated and not get their problem resolved, which will affect their experience negatively. Business owners and managers need to get inside their customers’ heads and see things from their eyes to create a mix of compelling communications and outstanding product/service delivery.

4 Ways Financial Institutions Can Personalize Customer Experience

October 17, 2017


When a customer works with any type of business, their satisfaction of the price, quality and delivery of the service/product only makes up part of their loyalty to that business. The aspects that truly solidify their relationship with the brand are the interpersonal and emotional bonds they form. They want to see familiar faces, feel well-known by the company they do business with and have a personal touch that makes them feel like more than a revenue-generating number.

Despite financial services’ efforts to provide a personalized touch, the world of banking can feel a bit cold for some consumers. Increased levels on non-interpersonal banking and the hard decisions that often revolve around personal finance are the major culprits. In order to protect existing customer relationships, financial institutions must do everything in their power to enhance the personalized experience and show customers they’re valuable. Consider the following tactics:

Encourage Relationships

Customer service can be misleading. Employees are encouraged to make the customer experience great by meeting all their transactional needs efficiently. However, this overlooks the element of interpersonal care and attention. Simple questions about the customer’s day can open up opportunities to learn more about that individual. If the customer opens up about their job, for example, tellers can inquire about it the next time that customer comes in. These simple, inquisitive probes are the roots for a more engaged customer experience and amiable business relationship.

Customize Accounts

A simple way to make the banking world more personal is to let customers customize their accounts. If they have different savings goals, they should be able to add different savings accounts and give them a personalized name. Similarly, they should be able to tinker with their own online user interface so they can view their account balances and transactions in a way that makes sense to them.

Eliminate Redundancy

When a customer calls in about a question on their savings account, how is the navigation handled? Often, they’re sent through an automated system, where they enter their information. After this, they sometimes speak to a representative – again providing their card number and social security number. In especially bad situations, they’re transferred to a specific department, and must provide their information a third time. This process is frustrating, and makes customers feel their time isn’t being respected. Anything financial services can do to eliminate this redundancy enhances customer satisfaction. This idea applies to other areas as well – saving their login information and offering quick-glance buttons are other digital methods of streamlining the customer experience.

Offering Opinions and Educating

Customers look to their banking representatives for advice. Especially when deciding among complex and major choices, like a small business loan or a mortgage, they want the best advice possible. With proper training, banking representatives should offer this advice freely, and lean on other staff members when they don’t have an answer. Customers don’t care about the expertise of a single individual, but want the financial institution’s collective knowledge to put them on the right path. This aspect is where interpersonal touches and concrete value truly intersect, and financial services can lay a strong framework for a meaningful and lucrative business relationship.

First Impressions Matter for Financial Institutions

October 12, 2017

shaking hands on a first impression can impact loyaltyWhen a new customer walks through the doors of a financial institution, they offer potential. They have the potential to be a loyal customer, a promoter of the financial institution and a lucrative business partner. Walking through the door confirms that the financial institution’s promotional strategy is working – they learned about the brand and were inclined enough to stop by. Needless to say, the pressure is on to impress this individual. However, impressing a new customer is easier said than done. How can staff make a meaningful connection? How do they connect without seeming pushy? When is the right time to offer new products? Consider the following aspects for a positive new customer experience:


If nothing else, hear what new customers want. Specifically, listen for their reasons for looking for a new financial institution, negative experiences they’ve had in the past, and any other information they offer. This information tells you about where their head is at, and what their biggest grievances are. Importantly, this information should be documented in a CRM tool, so their second visit repeats the success of the first.

Make Their Business Feel Desired

Customers are highly aware of the value they offer, especially for a financial institution, where relationships tend to be long-lasting. Similarly, they will be skeptical, especially if they were dissatisfied enough to leave their old financial institution. Showing respect and appreciation for their business is an obvious but important box to check. Most financial institutions do this well, so it won’t set yours apart, but neglecting this aspect is a sure way to lose out. Inquisitive questions, full attention, short wait times and showing general respect help communicate appreciation for their business.

Meet Their Most Pressing Needs

Understanding what new customers want through attentive listening yields opportunities to impress. If customers are considering a loan and are concerned about their credit score, help explain the different elements that might affect their score. Serve them in their core need to the best of your ability, and they will thank you.

Overcome Learning Curves

New customers might be used to different procedures, interactions and online interfaces. Help them get settled in as easily as possible. Be proactive to things about your financial institution that might be new to the customer, and avoid business jargon. Help walk them through online banking and get them set up. Show them your institution’s mobile app capabilities, and show how they can save time using mobile deposit. Getting your new customer settled in and comfortable will help to overcome any growing pains your partnership would otherwise experience.

Cover Their Blind Spots

What isn’t your new customer thinking about that might be important? Perhaps there may be charges they should know about, which is always better than an unpleasant surprise. Maybe they need to switch their direct deposit to their new account with you, or switch any automatic payments from their old debit card onto their new one. Proactively addressing these easy-to-forgot details shows the new customer you’re invested in their wellbeing.

Don’t Push Anything on Them

Finally, it’s important not to push the new customer toward any specific products or services they haven’t requested. Sometimes, financial institution reps push their own agenda too hard instead of considering the customer. When the customer senses they’re being sold to, they switch off and begin to wonder if they’ve made the right choice in their new financial institution. It’s important to establish trust by meeting your customers’ needs, and anything besides their most pressing needs should be postponed until a strong partnership is established.

KPIs: Where to Start

October 5, 2017

Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, are essential to an effective business. The biggest reason? Clarity. Most business owners’ primary goal is to generate revenue and turn a profit. However, beyond this, business owners and managers sometimes lack clarity in their goals. How are their goals of revenue generation achieved? Why do customers come to their brand instead of their competitors? What are employees doing that customers like? What actions should their companies take that will make them successful?

Beyond the need to drive revenue, owners and managers need to know why they succeed or fail, and this explanation is the central function of a KPI – to say that if they succeed in a certain action/behavior/statistic/result, their business will do well.

Because they’re so important, developing and identifying KPIs can feel like a daunting task, but a top-down approach makes the process seem manageable. Consider organizing your approach this way:



There’s no single way to identify and organize KPIs. However, for business owners looking to establish KPIs for the first time, taking a broad-to-narrow approach is convenient because it helps them move from obvious performance considerations to less-obvious metrics they might need to conduct more research on:

Financial Metrics

Financial metrics are usually the most obvious place to start. Total profit is the ultimate KPI, which can be broken out into revenue versus expenditure. There is a whole world of “behind-the-scenes” expenditure metrics, but for enhancing customer relationships, focusing on revenue metrics and how to enhance those revenue streams are most useful. Understanding total revenue, revenue broken out by product or service and other considerations like acquisition cost help to establish bottom-line KPIs and performance indicators.

People Metrics

Breaking revenue out into different revenue streams is worthwhile to remind business owners and managers of their core services, versus those that are peripheral. Most businesses have their core service(s) they provide, but then have other aspirational products or services they want to push. Sometimes, these aspirational products/services aren’t aligned with how their customers think of them, and seeing a revenue breakout is helpful for businesses to see themselves from a more neutral perspective.

Individual revenue streams also open a world of questions about consumers. Primarily, the question, “Why do our customers buy X product from us?” is important. When a business understands this, they understand the problem they solve for customers and their blueprint for success with future customers.

Understanding the motivations and customer behaviors that lead to a purchase helps managers convert opportunities into sales. Information such as customer satisfaction fuels important KPIs such as customer loyalty index. Businesses also need to understand the qualitative and quantitative characteristics/behaviors that lead to purchases so that they know when to promote a product or service to a customer. Understanding motivations, like why customers choose a company over their competitors, helps that business understand what aspects of their business are most valuable and most essential to success. 

Action Metrics

Once a customer or potential customer is well-understood, identifying actions a business should take to cater to that customer represents another level of KPIs. Pretend a company, which has a gaming console product, focuses on promoting to men ages 15-30. How much ad traffic are they generating online? How many of those that click on the ad download the promotional offer? How many new people in this demographic subscribe to their YouTube channel each month? Any of these could serve as a KPI for new customer acquisition. The actions a business takes, based on the customers they have and want, should show that the company is exploiting a major opportunity to increase revenue. Actions the company takes should motivate target audiences to see the value in their product and service, and move to action (purchase).

Approach Metrics

Finally, the way in which actions are performed, often through specific employee actions or behaviors, should support the action metrics above. Managers should consider when their employees present an offer to a customer, how they describe benefits to customers and where in the path to purchase the customer is when certain actions are taken. Additionally, soft skills regarding customer interaction are important in this type of KPI, and training the right behaviors can lead to major achievements for a company.

Despite being furthest down the line of action, these specific approach metrics affect the major goal of revenue generation and overall profit. The way the employee/company approaches customer interaction supports the action metrics, like sales conversion, they try to achieve. Similarly, converting sales and the actions they take are based on what they know about their customers, and what their needs are. Those factors combine to support the most important goals of revenue generation and company profit. Analysis for KPIs starts at the top, and once various KPIs are identified and measured through these different categories, a business can truly understand how well it is performing and drive a comprehensive customer experience that impacts the business’s bottom line.

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

Six Ways Customer Experience Research Makes Money

September 11, 2017

We all want to deliver a great customer experience, but it’s sometimes difficult to understand how those efforts generate revenue and save money. Below are six different ways:

Improving Digital Customer Experience

Based on customer experience research CSP has done in the past, the digital channel tends to trend lower in customer loyalty index than in-person interactions. This is true for most businesses. Imagine if this could be improved. A major part of customer experience research in through the digital channel, and an improved digital experience leads to more money. Even this Forbes article states “Higher adoption of a digital interaction drives higher revenue or lower cost.”

Serving as a Compass For Efforts

Businesses are a lot like people, they have natural talents and shortcomings. Take the example of restaurants – some have great food, but long wait times. Others have a great atmosphere, but are understaffed. For managers to be successful, they need to leverage customer experience research to gauge these strengths and weaknesses. Focusing on strengths, especially when they’re effortless, is a waste of resources and is lost opportunity to make progress on a weaker and important customer touchpoint. Managers know their efforts must be used efficiently, so they need customer research to guide their choices.

New Customer Acquisition

Customers make decisions and build perceptions about businesses very quickly, sometimes within a matter of seconds. Customer experience research helps dial in the way customers feel in those crucial “acquisition-or-not” moments. Similarly, a good customer experience consultant will work with your team to train specific behaviors that will lead to acquisition. Follow-through is just as important as the research itself.

Comparing Revenue Against Customer Loyalty Index Scores

One of the great things about customer experience metrics is that scores can be compared against revenue. When scores improve in a channel, like in-store customer experience, businesses see a higher trend of sales, higher average purchase values and higher first-time customer acquisition. This is the quintessential definition of ROI for customer experience research: seeing revenue in a category reflect measured improvement.

Covering Blind Spots Against Competition

Most customer experience research allows different types of comparisons: comparisons against oneself, against other nearby businesses and against top competitors. Specifically, understanding this competitive landscape saves time and energy in developing business strategy. When a business sees how they compare to competition, they understand what they’re good and bad at and what they can improve on. Respectively, they learn what they should promote, what they should make peace with and where they have opportunity for growth.

Delighting, Rather Than Satisfying Customers

Warren Buffett made the idea of delighting customers infamous with his quote: “When you look in the mirror after you’ve gotten up, just write on the mirror, ‘Delight my customers.’ Not ‘satisfy…,’ delight.” As he explains, excited customers are the best possible sales team through their genuine brand advocacy. In this way, customer experience research helps you quantify exactly how well your business is delighting, satisfying or disappointing customers. The difference between satisfying and delighting is incredibly important in the age of brands using customer experience as a major competitive piece, so understanding exactly where your business lies is invaluable.

Customer Reviews: Your Best Friend

The most obvious public forms of customer feedback are customer reviews. We see them when we search online for restaurants, when we’re considering a purchase on Amazon, or when we look for the best physical therapists in our area. As business owners and managers, we know customer reviews are important, but do we always understand why?

Pretend you own a pizza shop, and Bob is your customer. Bob comes in, receives pleasant service, gets his food quickly, thinks his pepperoni slice tastes great and is happy with the price. Because his experience was so great, he goes home and writes an online review, expressing the various elements that made his visit enjoyable. You, the owner and manager, see his review. What does this mean for your business? Most managers give themselves a pat on the back, tell their staff to keep up the good work and see the review as a nice compliment and affirmation of their efforts. However, the review’s power is much more substantial than a figurative high-five.

The reality is that good customer reviews impact your business’s bottom line. When a customer gives a good review, it starts a cycle of opportunity and revenue. The individual is already happy, so they’re more likely to come back, and they’re excited enough to voice their support. Customer reviews enhance SEO, and make your business’s footprint more obvious online. This, alone, makes potential customers more likely to come across your business.

mobile banking digital app

Once a customer comes across a positive review of your company online, that individual is more likely to solicit your business. Companies spend millions on new customer acquisition, and this “passive form” is powerful due to the validity of a review (instead of promotional material). Similarly, once that individual comes in for business, they already have a positive perception (and your business already has a great customer experience in place). They come to you, they’re happy with their experience and they purchase. From here, the cycle begins again – the new customer you just acquired is likely to leave a positive review and amplify your reach.

Besides creating this positive cycle of customer feedback and acquisition, reviews can help other projects, like marketing and customer experience research. Owners and managers should pay attention to how satisfied customer talk about their business – what are the key themes that keep coming up? Sometimes, managers have a skewed perception of the most important parts of their business. Managers might be emphatic about competitively low prices, for example, while the customer is more concerned about the user interface for that business’s app. Understanding customers in their own words should direct marketing material because others will likely care about the same things.

Similarly, customer feedback in the form of reviews opens opportunities for customer experience research. The customer review trends are like the beginning of a path, where further customer experience research can explore. What questions do the reviews raise? What parts of your business are they critical about? Unanswered questions from reviews are a great starting point for customer experience research.

Finally, what if your reviews are negative? It’s okay, don’t panic. This is an opportunity, not a legacy, and negative customer reviews can change over a relatively short amount of time by improving pain points and asking for reviews once those points are addressed. The sooner your business addresses those shortcomings, the sooner the cycle of review-to-revenue growth can begin.