From Voice of the Customer to Customer Health
POSTED : October 23, 2017
BY : David Rosenstock

The dreaded customer satisfaction survey

Designed as a tool for organizations to test customer brand loyalty, the satisfaction survey has morphed into a completely different beast. Ironically—in the drive to understand the customer’s experience—there has been great oversight in creating a positive experience in how that customer feedback is captured. Customers are asked for feedback on almost every brand touchpoint. The consequence is that customers become tired and irritated by the brands they want to love and that fragile relationship hovers on the verge of permanent damage. That begs the question: How do you assess and measure customer health over time—while also creating a positive experience for your customers now?

PK recently facilitated a workshop with CX research analysts from Forrester Research and senior-level marketing leaders across travel, retail, healthcare, and tech industries. Here are some common themes discussed in the session:

Creating a CX-focused culture: Respect the metrics

For CX metrics to have real meaning, there needs to be understanding of and respect for what the metrics are trying to measure. This mindset begins with leadership defining the intended customer experience, making the necessary investments in the business to maintain and grow its CX, and then to evangelize this mindset throughout the organization.

One number doesn’t fully communicate an experience and chasing a perfect score is meaningless if employees are not incentivized to create great experiences. If you’re not getting the results you want from your CX program, talk to your customers and find out why.

Voice of the Customer programs: Evolve or destroy your customer relationship

Voice of the Customer programs have been used for years to help brands collect customer feedback about their experiences, products, services, and expectations. However, without proper consideration, a VoC program is not always effective and can often miss the point, as described earlier with customer satisfaction surveys. Instead of generating engagement between the brand and the customer, the ubiquity of these programs places demands on the customer which harm the delicate customer/brand relationship. As these Voice of the Customer programs mature, they need to evolve. There’s no easy fix and challenges remain in all phases of CX, ranging from collecting and analyzing data, to reporting and acting on customer feedback. However, a successful company must face these challenges, integrate these data views, and act. Organizations that can create stellar customer experiences using their data will continue to thrive despite heavy competition.

What are the right metrics?

An effective customer measurement approach gives companies insight into the quality of their customer experience and direction on how to improve it. It is important to choose the right metrics to measure the right parts of your customer experience.

  • Specific customer interaction metrics reveal opportunities for improving end-to-end customer experience and reducing pain points.
  • Customer journey metrics show companies how to integrate touchpoints across their customer journey.
  • Customer relationship metrics help predict customer behavior.

The danger in metrics is that they can easily become singular points of reference. Customers experience your brand as a whole, so CX initiatives should not be a siloed effort in any organization. Similarly, the metrics and KPIs that support these efforts should not be siloed. Often individual departments use their own KPIs to view the customer, but these department-level KPIs can cause conflicting priorities within an organization. As different departments see different slices of data, perspectives of the customer can emerge that are overlapping, or even in conflict, but still correct. This leads to our next point.

A successful CX program requires involvement from the whole company

It is the primary role of the CX executive to distribute the customer experience responsibility and establish a customer-centric mindset throughout the company. CX programs are often designed by one team (e.g. Marketing) and executed by another (e.g. Operations)—but instead of a continuous feedback loop to advance a CX program based on data and learnings from the implemented program, it becomes siloed and improvement stalls. It is critical to engage all employees in developing a great customer experience – both customer-facing and non-customer facing.

For example, digital experiences are different than physical experiences, and putting engineers in direct contact with your customers to get feedback can create a different kind of empathy and build a better customer experience from an engineering perspective than giving them indirect feedback based on survey data. Companies that have employed this kind of customer research have made great strides in developing customer-centric products.

Don’t bombard customers: Use indirect approaches to listen to your customers

There are tools available to organizations to better understand their customer’s experience outside of traditional customer feedback surveys. Social listening studies monitoring brand properties and non-brand properties (like message boards) can help companies understand what customers are saying about them as well as their competition. Brands can index advocacy/detractor statements and people’s real behaviors vs. market share. These assessments are a non-invasive way to “listen to” your customers.

Customer Experience is inherently complex. There is no single metric that fully communicates an experience and there is no single person at a company who can be fully responsible for all customer experiences. But, if brands keep the experience of the customer at the forefront of their thinking, use Voice of the Customer programs to capture real information and the right metrics, use social listening to understand what their customers are really saying, and create a CX focused company culture, they will thrive amidst heavy competition.

Learn more strategies for creating a customer-centric culture at your organization.

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