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Tagged: custexp

Get Your Decision-Makers to Listen to the Voice of the Customer

May 12, 2015

A satisfying customer experience is organizational, not just transactional. The most direct way to affect your customer experience is to start with your own staff. Everyone must be on board, especially managers and executives.

It’s critical that the top decision-makers at your business believe in the customer experience and stay tuned in to the voice of the customer, even if they never interact directly. Without this investment of attitude and effort, they risk developing blind spots or working off of assumptions that are not aligned with the customer’s reality.

Reasons to Believe in Customer Experience Management

executives

If there is reluctance or uncertainty among senior staff about the value of being involved with the customer experience, they might just need a nudge in the right direction.

Objection: I’ve been in this business for (x) years. I know my customer.
Reality: Your customer today is almost certainly not the same one you were serving (x) years ago. Customer expectations of their experience have changed rapidly in the last several years, and customers are forever looking towards the future. What satisfied them yesterday is old news today and will have them yawning tomorrow. Meanwhile, agile, innovative start-ups and tech-savvy companies have changed the face of customer service and set the bar higher for the rest of the marketplace, not just their own competitors. So you may think you know your customer, but would your customer agree?
Objection: There’s just too much data to make sense of.
Reality: That’s precisely why it’s important to make sense of it. With the explosion of data in the digital age, there is so much to learn about customers to enhance what we already know. As more organizations adopt an omnichannel approach to customer service and marketing, it’s essential to dive into the data and see how all of the parts are functioning. Only this 360-degree view can tell you how well your business is performing as a whole.
Objection: Should we really be budgeting for this?
Reality: What is more costly to a business in the long run – a system for measuring customer satisfaction, or dissatisfied customers? If you’re investing in customer service at all, it’s better to work from a foundation of current and thorough information about the key drivers of satisfaction among your customers, than to go by your assumptions of which areas are performing well and which ones need more attention.
Objection: There’s plenty of market research already out there we can use.
Reality: You can take your chances by basing your decisions off of large, sweeping studies and reports, drawn from a sample size that might not even include any of your own customers. Or you can ask them directly and know that the information you’re getting is immediately relevant to your business and your market. While the large-scale market research is helpful for noting trends and patterns, no one can speak for your customers as well as they can themselves.
Objection: I’m an executive, why does this involve me at all?
Reality: When the customer experience is hurting, other parts of the business – including some of the parts the C-Suite cares about, like sales and workplace performance – will suffer, too. Even if your role never has you interacting with customers directly, you still have an indirect effect on their experience by modeling the right attitude to your team. If those working on the front lines don’t feel like their higher-ups value the customer, they’re not likely to go the extra mile themselves.

Consider, too, that in today’s social media age, businesses aren’t as opaque to the customer as they once were. Customers who have any reason to be upset are not shy about publicly calling out Owners, Presidents, Board Members and CEOs. When there’s a communication breakdown or a scandal between a business and its customers, the public looks to the leaders for explanations and accountability. They can tell the difference between canned PR apologies and genuine concern – which can only come from genuine engagement.

The Takeaway

Superior customer service starts from within and moves outwards, but it can only do so if the internal influencers within your organization are giving it the proper momentum. Managers and executives might sign the paychecks, but the customer is really the boss.

Report: Techy Competitors Turning Bank Customers’ Heads

April 29, 2015

Capgemini has released the 2015 World Retail Banking Report and their Customer Experience Index, calculated from the results of a comprehensive Voice of the Customer survey of more than 16,000 respondents in 32 countries.

The CEI has dropped only slightly from 72.9 in 2014 to 72.7 in 2015, indicating that customer satisfaction is stagnating as banks try to keep up with modern consumer demands and innovative competitors in the digital space.

More highlights from the report:

  • smartphoneGen Y customers registered lower customer experience levels than other age groups.
  • North America continued to have the highest level of overall positive experience compared to other countries, but still saw a dip in positive experiences compared to last year.
  • Customers around the world reported increased likelihood to leave their bank within the next six months. Gen Y in particular has a tendency to move banks, and are more open to internet-based providers or simple financial products offered by retailers.
  • Banks and customers don’t agree on the role of the branch. Banks would prefer that customers purchase simple products online, and visit a branch for help with more complex solutions. Customers continue to use banks for simple transactions and don’t trust that the online options will be as helpful to them as a live person.
  • The rise of FinTech firms means customers can complete their entire banking lifecycle without ever approaching a bank.

You can read the full report here.

Customers are clearly not thrilled with the status quo. They want their banks to keep in step with the other digitally savvy experience they’re having elsewhere in the consumer marketplace, from retail to healthcare to entertainment. The newest young adults have grown up with the convenience of instant, constant connectivity, and highly customizable products and solutions.

“Status quo” is what you get when you assume you already know your customers. The global numbers won’t tell you what intelligence you’ll gain from your own Voice of the Customer research. Every bank serves different customers and it’s their needs and expectations you need to be listening to, measuring, evaluating, and integrating into your customer experience.

If you’re concerned about your status quo or want to know what you can do to change it, contact Customer Service Profiles today by phone at (402) 399-8790 ext:101, via our website, or on Twitter @csprofiles

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

Onboarding is a Make or Break Moment in Customer Experience

October 8, 2014

As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a lasting first impression. The beginning of your business’s relationship with a customer is one of many moments of truth that will shape that customer’s continued engagement and loyalty.

Onboarding may be near the top of the sales funnel from the enterprise’s point of view, but it’s likely that a first impression has already been made before that customer even walked in.

In all probability, that customer has already been exposed to your brand and business practices for some time before deciding to come on board. He or she has observed your marketing and promotional messages, visited your website and perhaps your social profiles, and run your brand name past friends, family and search engines alike.

Some of these impressions are carefully controlled by your marketing and public relations initiatives and are meant to encourage adoption. Word-of-mouth, whether collected from personal acquaintances or anonymous online reviews, can be a mixed bag.

But obviously, the first impression was positive enough to bring them to the table to begin onboarding. This next moment of truth is your opportunity to reinforce everything positive they’ve absorbed about your brand, and if necessary, dispel the negative (but only if the customer brings it up).

Think of it as a gesture of good faith, promising that the experience will be everything they expected – and then some. While overenthusiastic selling may leave a new customer overwhelmed, this is a perfect chance to raise awareness of your various products and services and encourage early engagement with these additional touchpoints.

Adoption of those products and services ensures that the relationships are stickier, which means reduced account attrition and reduced pressure on acquisition.

Provided that you have a robust, optimized customer experience strategy and can deliver on your promises to your new customers, the right onboarding process puts you a step ahead on the path to customer loyalty.

This makes it critical to have the right tools in place to identify and measure the key drivers of customer experience across all channels. CSP’s research methods, expertise and resources empower you to keep your brand promise. Contact us today for our insights into customer onboarding and beyond.

The Rise of Predictive Analytics in Customer Experience Management

September 17, 2014

The emergence of Big Data has been one of the most disruptive events of the new millennium, impacting practically every industry.

Technology has leapt forward again and again over the last decade, and brought us new tools for accessing, collecting and delivering data with mind-boggling volume and velocity. With the floodgates open, businesses large and small are still looking for the best way to turn this vast ocean of disparate information into valuable insights, action steps and outcomes.

One new tool enabled by Big Data fits comfortably into the customer experience manager’s tool belt: predictive analytics. By streamlining internal and external sources of customer information, this method of data-mining is applied to anticipate an individual customer’s needs and wants with greater speed and reliability than has ever been possible.

Finding Shapes in the Cloud

Predictive analytics, in a nutshell, means identifying patterns in an existing data set and extrapolating those patterns to deduce what is most likely to occur next. Businesses were already doing this before the Information Age, but by largely outsourcing the task to algorithms, we’re now able to crunch much larger data sets in much less time and come out with much more nuanced portraits of customers.

Another advantage of predictive analytics is the ability to quickly and easily drill down to the individual level. A single customer produces a wealth of data on a daily basis by simply going through the motions of his/her life. By applying resources to examine just that customer (rather than the general demographic or profile he/she fits), a business can design a tailor-made experience with the best likelihood of producing the desired outcome – be that sales, loyalty, or resolution of a complaint.

Export that ability across every individual in your customer base, and you can see how the lines between responsive and proactive are blurring. For example, Wells Fargo rolled out ATMs that deliver a unique display of buttons and options each time a customer signs in, reflecting how that particular customer has used ATMs in the past and will likely use it this time.

Big Data vs. Big Brother

In a way, predictive analytics has taken us back to the Main Street General Store model of doing business, where the proprietor not only knows your name but has your shopping cart all but ready to go when you set foot inside the door. This kind of personal attention is what customers want and what keeps them coming back, right? Yes – to an extent. But it’s deceptively easy to cross the line.

You may recall this headline from 2012: Target figured out one of its customers, a teen girl, was pregnant before her father did. The retailer relied on patterns in her customer data to reach this conclusion and ‘congratulated’ the young woman with personalized coupons for maternity and baby gear. Her father intercepted the mail, leading to a very irate confrontation with an oblivious store manager who had nothing to do with the decision to target (no pun intended) this customer with maternity messaging.

As it turned out, the data didn’t lie, but the damage was done and not limited to just that household. The story spread rapidly across the Internet and became part of the growing narrative of distrustful consumers and intrusive, creepy companies who know just a little too much. Brands want relationships with customers, and customers do respond well to the personal touch, but they sure don’t want to be stalked.

That’s why, even as the technology continues to leap forward, there’s still no real substitute for the kind of expertise that comes from years of hands-on customer experience management. With great power comes great responsibility, and as a discipline, predictive analytics is still maturing. Leaving all decision-making to the algorithms may be accurate, but wisdom doesn’t translate well to automated code.

By integrating CSP’s Voice of the Customer research with actual sales results, our Predictive Sales Analysis (PSA) brings together the best of both worlds. We produce a unique set of key drivers determined by employee behaviors that have the greatest correlation to sales metrics, and coach clients to focus on the areas that are most important to their business strategy. Learn more about PSA.

Mid-Year Check-in: Technology Driving Customer Experience Trends

August 6, 2014

With 2014 just a little over halfway behind us, it’s an ideal moment to step back and take a big-picture view of customer experience management as a discipline, to see what forces are coming together to influence customer expectations and best business practices for driving loyalty.

Without a doubt, technology continues to provide both the incentive and the tools to improve customer service across all channels.

Consumers are usually faster to try, adopt and master new technologies than businesses are. Few organizations were prepared for the mobile explosion, and even now, several years into the “smart device” age, many are still catching up to what consumers have come to expect.

It’s not just the mobile platforms themselves that merit attention. Because of them, consumers have grown accustomed to new habits and behaviors – swiping and tapping instead of pointing and clicking, cameras that do much more than snap a photo, and thumbprint-based identification, to name a few.

Suddenly, a typical ATM interface feels about as sleek, sophisticated and modern as an Atari.

This shift in customer expectations and behaviors outside the walls of your business is one of this year’s major motivators to be proactive in improving the customer experience.

On the other side of the technology coin, though, is data. All of these interactions across the different channels produce an abundance of information that enterprises can use to identify, measure, and track the key drivers of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Leadership and shareholders alike are beginning to see voice of the customer research as a must-have, enabling them to turn all this data into action steps like customized employee education programs and initiatives to align the organization’s sales approach with the overall culture.

Basically, they are realizing what we at CSP have touted for decades: The better the understanding of the customer at the enterprise level, the better equipped the enterprise is to deliver the optimal experience at every touchpoint.

It seems simple, but it takes the right combination of tools, resources and expertise to create the bridge from research to results. While the marketplace at large is showing more proactive interest in the voice of the customer, there’s still a lot of room for improvement over the rest of this year and beyond.