Customer Experience Lab

You Need More Than a Survey Tool to Run a Successful Customer Experience Program

By Jakub Jez on April 30, 2018

You are serious about customer experience (CX). You want to collect feedback. You need to learn more about your customers’ pain points and needs so you can increase their loyalty and retention over time. Great! With a high-level strategy in hand, one of the first technology decisions to make is deciding which customer feedback tool to purchase. The most common practice is to utilize a traditional survey tool since there are many to choose from and they are inexpensive. So you pick one, sign up, upload a list of emails, build your survey, send it out, and wait for the responses to come in. And on to the second survey and so on. Mission accomplished. Well … maybe.

 

survey-1594962_1920Survey tools can collect vital data on the pulse of your customer base, but they are not enough to transform your organization into a company that uses customer feedback to drive business results. If your goal is to embed customer feedback and insights into everyday operational decision making throughout the company, you need more than a survey tool. You need a customer experience system capable of linking your organization’s customer behavioral data (transactions, call center logs, service orders, etc.) to customer feedback data (response data collected from surveys). You need to connect the “what” with the “why”. You need technology that uses the insights derived from the intersection of these two data sources to design and execute targeted customer experience programs. It’s only when the “what” and “why” are combined that you can uncover actionable information behind customer decisions to confidently make operational changes that drive results.

Customer experience systems are a new type of technology that combines the power of feedback collection, customer intelligence, and predictive analytics to deliver a smarter and actionable way to execute customer experience efforts. [Click to Tweet!]

For example, it’s simply not enough to know that a customer provided negative feedback about her most recent purchase or interaction with your brand. To really understand the context behind the feedback, you need to know if the customer had raised an issue before, what type of customer she is, her lifetime value and purchase history, how engaged she is across all your purchase channels, and any other available customer information. Most importantly, you need to know the best way to address her feedback, and you need to do this at scale for all your customers to determine the biggest customer experience pain points and come up with both quick wins and long-term improvements.

Survey tools are not designed to give you this connected view of the customer to execute customer experience programs at scale. Their main purpose is to collect and report feedback in isolation. If you want to connect customer feedback with customer insights and truly determine the drivers behind customer decisions, you need a technology solution capable of bringing all of this information together. That way, quick wins and long-term improvements will lead to quantifiable improvements in customer retention, loyalty, NPS, or other customer experience KPIs.

Here are five reasons you should consider investing in a CX system versus a traditional survey tool for your customer experience needs:

  1. Data-driven customer experience: Merge customer data across systems into a centralized location to enable more targeted feedback collection and personalization of your CX programs.
  2. Cross-channel feedback collection: Conduct CX programs from one platform across all your outbound channels (emails, SMS, digital, call center) and let the data decide the right channel for each customer.
  3. Targeted follow-up communications: Close the loop with customers that had a less-than-desirable experience. Quickly address their issues and use analytics to determine the right channel and messaging for each customer.
  4. Distributed customer feedback: Share customer feedback and behavioral insights across your entire organization (stores, branches, call center) to make your employees more connected to your customers and enable them to act on feedback quickly.
  5. Actionable measurement and reporting: Identify CX programs with the highest impact on customer behavior and your bottom line by linking your CX efforts to customer purchase data.

 Let’s dig into each of these reasons a bit more.

Data-driven customer experience

Survey tools let you upload a list of customers and send out a survey. One customer file for one survey. If you want to send out another survey, you need to find a new data source, upload it, build a new survey, and send it out. This is very manual, inefficient, and hard to manage. However, the biggest issue with this approach is not the level of manual effort but rather the lack of control over what type of feedback is being collected from each customer and when it is collected. For example, you may have a transactional NPS program that sends a quick survey to every customer who made a purchase or interacted with your brand in some way (called the call center, visited a branch, received a shipment, etc.). Everyone gets the same survey regardless of their customer profile, their historical or lifetime value, or whether they filled out the same survey three months ago and complained about something. This lack of personalization from customer insights is one of the primary reasons why survey response rates are low and customers generally ignore them. Intelligent personalization is no longer merely a nice-to-have, and it needs to apply to your customer experience efforts as well. This is where CX systems can help.

CX systems can be integrated with various data sources across the entire organization: point of sale systems, billing/payment systems, call center logs, service delivery, marketing response data, and even other survey tools. The goal is to bring all the different customer data together into one connected platform. Once connected, a CX system creates a full view of the customer and intelligently decides when and how to ask customers for feedback using a combination of business rules and predictive analytics. Further, a good CX system should also integrate back with the source systems so that the collected feedback data is made available to all technologies used to interact with customers.  

Does your company generate customer interaction data across different channels and touchpoints?  Do you need a coordinated way to collect customer feedback? If so, you need a CX system capable of prioritizing when customers are asked for feedback based on their actions and profile, and what type of feedback is critical to collect. Survey tools are not designed for this level of data-driven targeting and personalization.

Cross-channel feedback collection

cross-channel feedback collectionA good CX system gives companies a single platform for feedback collection. Whether you want to send a survey via email, SMS, or mobile app, collect response data over the phone, or have employees collect feedback directly, all feedback collection efforts should be managed via the same system.

Why is it important to have a centralized platform for different teams to collect feedback and follow up with customers? Because aside from business strategy, the data should determine the right channel to ask customers for feedback or to follow up with them about an issue.  You need a platform that enables a smart and efficient way to manage customer feedback collection and determine the right channel for each customer based on their profile, value, and your business strategy. For example, if you are a retailer, you may decide to have store managers reach out to some of your best customers who recently made a high value transaction to seek their feedback, but to send an email survey to the remaining customers. Or if you’re a cable or broadband provider, you may have your contact center retention team proactively reach out to specifically targeted customers with high likelihood of churn to seek their feedback on service quality, to hopefully reduce their chance of disconnecting. Or you may have different strategies for customer follow up based on customer value and complaint type: high value customers with a specific issue might be worth a personal phone call by a supervisor, while another customer group can be followed up via email to reduce the operational costs of the program.

Targeted follow-up communications

Sure, some survey tools can do “follow ups”. You have a process that uploads a list of customers who visited your location or purchased a product or service and you ask them for feedback. What happens when one of your best customers -- or any customer -- provides negative feedback? Does your survey tool automatically analyze the response data as soon as the feedback arrives and determine what should happen next? Most likely not. You need a platform that can automatically detect the nature of the negative feedback and cross-check against the customer profile to determine the next best course of action.

For example, if a high value customer leaves critical feedback about their recent experience and mentions that this experience has negatively impacted her impression of your brand, your customer experience platform should automatically do the following:

  1. Place the customer on a follow-up list, mark as high priority, and select who needs to follow up with the customer.
  2. Determine the right set of personalized offers based on the customer’s profile that should be presented to the customer when follow-up takes place.
  3. Send an email to the appropriate teams that a high value customer left negative feedback and what the feedback was about.
  4. Immediately email the customer to apologize for their negative experience and inform them that someone will reach out to them within 24 hours.
  5. If no follow-up action is recorded within 12 hours, alert key team members to take action immediately.

Fixing customer issues quickly is more important to customer satisfaction and loyalty than almost anything else. For example, the recent Centriam Retail Survey found that 81% of shoppers say they are more likely to shop again if a store promptly responds to a complaint. If you want to turn detractors into fans or keep promoters happy, you need a system that collects feedback and enables quick and targeted issue resolution, not a survey tool.

Distributed customer feedback

distributed customer feedbackWhat happens when a customer responds to your survey and leaves a comment about their most recent purchase, branch visit, or customer support call? Is the response immediately analyzed and shared across your workforce so appropriate employees can see the feedback and act on it? CX systems enable you to share customer feedback and insights across all your teams through built-in dashboards and reporting. This enables the right teams to view feedback in real time, act on it appropriately and quickly, and even compare customer experience scores across the organization’s stores, branches, districts, or regions.

A good CX system will provide more insights about the feedback than simply the feedback itself, such as:

  • What customer interaction triggered this feedback?
  • What is the profile of this customer? Is he/she one of your best customers?
  • Did the customer leave similar feedback in the past?
  • What are the top three things I should know about this customer to make the conversation more valuable when I follow up with him/her to resolve the issue?

Empowering the right people and teams in your organization to have access to customer feedback and insights, all using one platform, can have a transformative impact on how your organization thinks about customer experience and strives to improve it.  

Actionable measurement and reporting

actionable cx reportingDetermining which CX programs have the highest impact on customer loyalty and revenue is probably the most critical component of your customer experience efforts. A good customer experience program can create a significant competitive advantage if all the collected feedback is turned into actions that improve customer engagement and brand perception. Therefore, a core feature of any platform must be robust feedback analysis capabilities as well as the ability to accurately measure the impact of CX programs on customer behavior.

Here are several examples of measurement and reporting capabilities your platform should support:

  • Analyze and show the key behavioral drivers of a customer being a Detractor versus Promoter, derived from the combination of survey response data and customer behavior data, such as shopping patterns, calls to the call center, or product usage
  • Determine with statistical accuracy that a customer follow-up program lead to a 10-point improvement in NPS over a 6-month period
  • Determine that a proactive retention program lead to a 2.5 ppts improvement in overall retention and therefore “saved” $3.7 million in revenue
  • Show that contact center agents with a specific profile receive significantly higher post-call customer NPS from customers that subscribe to certain products

Having a CX system that can support the above analyses will not only help justify the investments your organization is making into customer experience, it will also make your entire company more customer centric with a clear vision on what makes your brand succeed and grow. 

The CX system you choose should provide the following types of reporting and measurement capabilities:

  • Robust survey analysis capabilities including advanced text analytics to accurately analyze sentiment and true meaning of customer comments.
  • Ability to connect survey response analytics with customer behavioral insights to report how customer feedback varies by different segments or behavioral patterns.
  • Ability to measure customer-facing CX programs (such as customer follow-up or proactive retention efforts) against control groups and determine both short and long-term impact of such efforts on customer behavior.

So here is the difference between a survey tool and a CX system regarding measurement and reporting: the purpose of a survey tool is to collect and analyze individual surveys; the purpose of a CX system is to execute a wide range of multi-channel CX programs and measure the impact of both the individual programs and the aggregate effect all CX efforts on customer behavior and revenue.

What should you do next?

next stepIf improving or competing on customer experience is a key strategic initiative in your organization, consider implementing a CX system versus utilizing traditional survey tools. While survey tools can be a cost-effective way to execute surveys quickly, a modern organization needs a CX system that can ingest all of your customer data from every touchpoint between you and the customer, design and execute multi-channel targeted CX programs, effortlessly share the collected insights across the entire organization, and measure the impact of all your CX efforts to the bottom line.

In most industries, consumers have virtually unlimited choices on where to shop, eat, bank, stay, subscribe or purchase a service. You can try to compete on price and product/service selection, but the experience with your brand is ultimately what will make customers keep coming back. It is critical to your long-term success to collect intelligent and accurate insights about your customer experiences and act on them in a targeted way, so that you continuously improve how your customers evaluate your brand. If improving customer experience is a key part of your customer strategy, a good CX system can play an integral part in those efforts and your company should invest time to explore them. 

 

Learn how Centriam can transform your customer experience efforts into scalable and data-driven programs that improve customer loyalty and revenue.

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Author: Jakub Jez

Jakub Jez is the Founder and CEO of Centriam and he is responsible for setting the overall direction and strategy for the company. Centriam’s customer experience (CX) management software improves customer intelligence, enables targeted and scalable CX programs, and identifies CX efforts with the highest impact on customer loyalty.
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