Confirmit wanted to find out how CX (Customer Experience) practitioners could develop a holistic approach to their domains through tactics such as improving the survey and re-evaluating KPIs, and exploration of new and additional technologies available to CX Professionals (text, social, and predictive analytics & Video and speech).

Loyalty360 spoke to Shelly Chandler, VP, Customer Experience Consulting, Confirmit, to learn more about this unique analysis.

Can you talk about the main customer experience-related themes behind Going Beyond the Survey: Harnessing the Power of CX Innovations?

Chandler: This was a client event we hosted earlier in the year in which we explored the ways Customer Experience (CX) practitioners can develop a holistic approach to their domain, which includes practices beyond the Voice of the Customer.

CX spans the full range of customer-related activities, from customer journey mapping to measuring results and, most importantly, driving action. At the same time, surveys continue to form the backbone of a strong CX program. This means it’s essential that businesses keep up on innovations in data collection that will improve their ability to collect and analyze feedback to enact change in your organization.

Can you talk about how CX management is much more than surveys today, and what that entails?

Chandler: If we consider the Customer Experience to be “the customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels or products,” which is how Gartner defines it, then it becomes clear why it’s about more than just the customer insights components of a CX program. What this means for businesses is that they need to ensure go beyond listening and analyzing insights to making systemic changes in how customers experience their brands. All employees, both customer-facing and back office, need to understand the impact they personally have on the customer experience, and what the boundaries and guidelines are for them to shape it.

As for customer insights, surveys play a critical role in helping to understand how customers feel about their interactions with a business, but they only go so far. Many customers (and non-customers for that matter) don’t take the opportunity to complete a survey but may choose to make their feelings known through social media, for example. Companies looking to get a holistic view must seek out these unsolicited channels to build out that picture. This could be a rich source of innovation—customers will tell you how they want you to serve them, in many cases, or provide clues to the experiences they desire.

How would you define today’s customer journey and how should brands view and approach this?

Chandler: In some ways, customers’ journeys are getting easier—the advent of the online company and all of the ways we interact with brands today make many companies easier to interact with, and helps them to be more nimble in adapting and changing.  At B2B companies, more and more CX practitioners are using tools and techniques borrowed from the consumer side, while paying special attention to the multiple views a B2B company has with its diverse customer base of distributors, brokers, resellers and direct customers.

Either way, journeys should be defined as the moment you begin to think about a brand to meet a need or desire, until the point at which you decide to repeat your business with them including all digital and physical touch points in between. Brands should understand their customers’ journeys by segment and persona, and compare that experience data against operational, transactional, behavioral, and financial data as well, for a complete view of the experience they are delivering.

How are surveys still relevant in this age of artificial intelligence and unsolicited feedback?

Chandler: There are a number of approaches that CX professionals need to consider when it comes to keeping their customer insights program innovative. Perhaps counterintuitively, one of those considerations is to send fewer surveys! When it comes to capturing customer feedback, it’s important to take a step back and think about the data you already have; contact center records, emails, complaints processes, win/loss records, CRM databases … do you need more? If yes, go ahead and create a survey.

If a new survey is the right approach, again, think of the data you have and only ask the questions that you don’t know the answers to already. A well-designed CX solution should enable you to integrate data such as that mentioned above with feedback so you can append survey data with details of products purchased, renewal dates, and website interactions. Customers are bombarded with surveys now, and one surefire way to undermine a positive customer experience is to ask unnecessary questions that customers KNOW you already have the answers to. Survey fatigue is a big issue–don’t make it worse!

It’s also important to keep surveys short, to the point, and to enable customers to use the channel of their choice to provide feedback. Asking 40 check-box questions about different aspects of a given experience will garner a lot of data, but will bore your customers senseless and provide a limited amount of true insight.

With improvements to text analytics technologies, it’s becoming much more feasible to allow customers to provide comments in their own words. This reduces the number of questions you need to ask and can uncover much richer insights. In fact, beyond text analytics, another approach is to enable customers to provide video feedback. Recorded on a mobile device and uploaded directly through a survey, this can offer a great way to engage those elusive Millennials, and the resulting content is incredibly powerful when shared across your organization!

How are metrics that measure CX success changing today and what should brands focus on?

Chandler: There are a number of metrics which have been popular in CX programs for years and which continue to underpin the majority of programs today. Net Promoter Score® and customer satisfaction, for example, remain core measures and are universally popular because they provide that single-glance view that is popular with time-poor executives.

Increasingly, though, forward-looking businesses are using additional metrics which are a more accurate reflection of the Customer Experience. Measures such as Customer Effort Score for transactional experiences, or customer emotion scores based upon leading indicators of business outcomes are useful.

At Confirmit, we recommend that our customers develop their own benchmarks internally against their own performance in key areas based upon customer journeys. While it can be useful to benchmark against key competitors in verticals in which all things are equal (and they rarely are), without that certainty companies should measure their baselines and compare performance at least year over year, if not more often for key moments of truth.

The most important rule to remember is that the metrics you use must not become the end goal. Numbers can be viewed as an indicator of success, but actual success is never truly measured with a shift in a dial. Alternative approaches to understanding the customer experience, such as social and text analytics, sentiment measurement, and measuring actual customer behavior are areas we recommend businesses investigate.

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