CSP Happenings





Tagged: customer feedback

Customer feedback: Why your business needs a panel

July 27, 2017

Customer feedback is the most direct way to impact customer experience. According to Walker, by 2020, customer experience, will be the standout distinguishing characteristic of business strategies for B2B companies. Price and product are secondary, but customer experience stands head and shoulders above the other elements as the most important. It’s incredible, really. We live in a business culture where we’re often told that the best product for the lowest price wins. However, the delivery of that product, and the way the product resonates with the human purchaser, are the factors that reign supreme.

Needless to say, customer experience is important. However, most companies don’t know how to instigate improvement in customer service within their companies. Mangers tell their employees to try hard, repeat mantras like “the customer is always right,” and hope that pure willpower will take customer experience to the next level. These efforts, while admirable, aren’t especially productive. Most importantly, they’re not measurable or sustainable.

To create lasting customer experience improvements, companies should partner with a customer experience research expert. Among other things, customer experience researchers develop customer panels, or groups of customers who give honest and open feedback. Customer panels are invaluable for many reasons:

Statistical validity of customer feedback

When customers decide to participate in a panel, they do so voluntarily. Customer experience researchers can make sure to pick and choose customers that are representative of the whole, based on factors like shopping location, income, type of customer and other demographic factors. The feedback from customer panels is intended to instigate change, so making sure the data is accurate and representative of the customer base as a whole is vital.

Actionable and diagnostic

Using customer panels benefits the sponsoring company because the feedback is unequivocally significant to customers. By probing on different customer experiences and interactions with the brand, a business can affect change in the most direct way possible based on the most pertinent and important feedback.

Identifies individual employees

Customer panels can be accessed at different points of purchase/interaction. As a result, individual employees can be identified. This isn’t intended to persecute employees, but rather, to help provide the most targeted and specific customer feedback possible. Feedback that is too general falls on deaf ears for employees, or doesn’t render itself important when they think about their job duties and responsibilities. However, providing direct feedback from customers about individuals inherently demands employees’ attention. Employees learn about their own job performance from real-life case studies, and the quality of the feedback leads to meaningful lessons and actions for improvement.

Ongoing feedback

Iterative feedback may be the most important benefit of customer panels. By routinely collecting scores and evaluations, companies can learn about their own improvement and the overall direction of customer experience within their company. Without iterative feedback, managers have no way of knowing whether their efforts are helping, and have no goals to work toward. Regular, statistically valid feedback from customer panels creates the framework for continuous and incremental improvement in customer experience.

While different for each company and type of business, customer experience is directly related to revenue per customer and customer likelihood to refer new business. CSP serves as a customer experience research partner with the experience and capability of developing a statistically valid customer panel. CSP’s Voice of the Customer Research turns that panel into actionable insights managers and executives can use to drive revenue through a proven model.

Financial institutions: Are you leveraging benchmarking data?

July 12, 2017

An example of benchmarking categories

When a financial institution evaluates itself to identify opportunities for improvement, key performance standards, also known as benchmarks, are essential. Benchmarks paint a clear picture of a bank’s performance. More importantly, benchmarking sets up a long-term framework the bank can use to consistently measure its performance against key performance standards over time. This feedback, gained directly from customers, is invaluable for managers.

In 2017, benchmarking is a practice every financial institution should undertake. Key performance metrics are centered around impacting the bottom line, and improving benchmarking scores results in improved revenue. Things like overall customer satisfaction, customer evaluation of employee performance and wait times for help from call centers influence customer decisions. Happy customers are likely to open new accounts, develop more comprehensive relationships and vocally advocate for their financial institutions.

One of the most effective ways customer experience researchers and performance managers help their clients is by not only executing benchmarking programs, but by giving their financial service provider clients context around the benchmarking. Which metrics are being measured? How does customer experience vary across different channels? How does one financial institution’s performance compare to its closest competitors? The context of these answers brings benchmarking to life for managers.

Metrics

One of the ways managers learn about their overall customer experience is through a variety of metrics. Different metrics about specific performance indicators give managers perspective on their financial institution’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, a financial institution may have highly competent individuals in its call centers, but have a long wait time. As a result, customer satisfaction may be low with their call centers. Without standalone benchmarks for “call center employee performance” and “call center wait time,” managers wouldn’t have a clear understanding of why customers feel dissatisfied. A manager may falsely identify irritable employees as the issue, instead of the wait time. By having clear benchmarking obtained through feedback, financial institution managers can properly diagnose their underlying business issues.

Channel

Another source of context for managers of financial institutions to learn about their customer satisfaction is through various banking channels. Lending (consumer, mortgage, business/commercial), online, mobile, branches and call centers all offer unique challenges and opportunities. Mobile, self-service banking apps need to be optimized for a simplistic user experience. On the other hand, branch employees need wear many hats as trusted advisors, and need to be able to answer a multitude of diverse topics for customers. Benchmarking not only these different channels, but the most important elements within each channel, helps clarify financial institutions’ strengths and weaknesses. Then, leadership and financial officers can work together to decide where to best invest their time and resources to drive improvement.

Competition

One of the most valuable uses of banking for financial institutions is to reference against their competitors. This can be delineated in ways like portfolio makeup, asset size and geographic region. By gauging against competitors, financial institutions discover their own relative strengths and weaknesses. Strength areas can be promoted to customers as a competitive advantage, while weakness areas can be targets for resources and enhancement. Working with customer experience researchers and performance managers helps to assess the risks and benefits of each category strength and weakness to further specify a financial institution’s biggest opportunities.

Benchmarking offers a multitude of valuable insights financial institutions can’t afford to pass up. By developing key performance metrics and making consistent efforts to improve benchmarking scores, financial institutions can stand on firm ground knowing the resources they invest in today will enhance their revenue and business goals tomorrow.

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.