In this guest post, Confirmit’s manager for Australia and New Zealand, Jason Mallia (pictured below), argues why brands and marketers need to ask less and act more to enhance the customer experience…
Customers must often feel like frustrated parents with a whiney kid constantly asking, ‘but why?’ every time they try to explain something.
No matter how many surveys they fill out to detail their experience or thoughts, they’re asked more of the same sort of questions.
It’s understandable if eventually they start replying to endless customer experience surveys with a mindless, ‘just because’.
But with increasing competition and expanding customer expectations, there is a growing need to deliver convenient, personalised services – without annoying the hell out of your customers as you try to find out what that may be.
As customer experience professionals, we are always looking to find out more about our customers by asking questions such as: would they recommend us? Why? What prevented them from making a purchase? Was their recent visit to the store enjoyable? Were they disappointed in our service?
However, sometimes the best insight comes from not asking any questions at all. The answer could be right in front of you, in the data you already hold.
It may be hidden within the steady stream of even more data rolling in or lost in the excitement of new digital innovations.
Shiny new technologies and clever new surveys can blind organisations to their original purpose of improving customer experience.
So, stop and think for a moment about the data you already have. Contact centre records, emails, complaints processes, CRM databases… do you NEED more?
If yes, great. Send out the surveys. But don’t ask questions if you don’t really need to, or worse still, if you already have the information. Don’t waste precious resources and – the patience of your customers – by collecting more. If you have what you already need, fantastic!
Use what you have and, most importantly, make sure you close the loop by ensuring your customers know you value their input by acting on it.
Stop what you are doing
Many organisations know that data collection is important, so they assume they need to collect it constantly.
However, repeatedly going after more data can eventually hinder customer experience improvements because what is needed is not necessarily the data itself, but insights gained from the data.
Collate and integrate the data you already have to determine if you need more.
Then, start working on translating the data into actionable insights to get a deeper understanding of the customer experience throughout the entire customer journey.
Listen to what the data is trying to tell you
Listening to the voice of the customer is imperative to any customer experience strategy.
It’s clear that customer feedback is important, as it can provide early warning signs of dissatisfied and at-risk customers and can also help you spot broken processes or issues with specific employees.
Often, however, companies don’t act on customer problems or complaints until it’s too late (for example, if the customer cancels a service or switches to a competitor).
One additional way to combat this is by setting up an action management process that automatically analyses customer feedback straight away and sends alerts – and escalations where necessary – to ensure you respond to issues and problems.
This gives you the opportunity to proactively close the loop and positively influence customer retention.
This operates at two levels. Firstly, you can resolve individual customer issues. Secondly, aggregated data and root-cause analysis can help you identify and improve poor processes or employee training requirements.
Numbers don’t always count
Many customer experience professionals rely on numbers such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Effort Score (CES) to determine their organisation’s effectiveness.
These numbers can be useful, but what you do with them is more important.
For example, the NPS measures satisfaction and customer loyalty by the customer’s willingness to refer your business to a friend. The CES measures the effort your customers make to complete a transaction to their satisfaction.
The first step is to stop speaking in numbers and to start using your words, as parents might say.
Use words to analyse those numbers. Use words to explain the significance of your findings. Use words to close the loop by telling your customers you have listened to them and are acting on what they said.
Closing the loop
And this brings us back to the start.
If an organisation decides to send out a survey, they must close the loop.
Designing a customer experience program is never ‘one size fits all, but what is always the same is the importance of making sure you are truly listening to the voice of the customer and acting on their words.
Collect the data, assess the data, act on the data and then let your customers who were a part of the survey process know what has been done based on their feedback.