Starting a business is by no means a small feat. Making sure it is successful is even harder. You rely on your team to be the face of the company, but with all the things needed to be done in a day can you answer the simple question: “Did my customer have a good experience today?”  Consider this, if only 5% of customers formally complain, where do the rest go to vent their frustrations? Perhaps to a group of friends at the pub, posted as an #epicfail on Twitter (impacting image), or they may end the relationship and take their business elsewhere (impacting the bottom line).

Few have adopted an all-inclusive approach to customer experience data collection. This lack of information forces companies to make decisions based on an incomplete, and often misleading, view of customer feedback. With the wrong information, companies could be associated with neglecting their customer’s concerns, or providing “lip service,” where an insincere expression of support is not backed by any significant action.

Companies are beginning to acknowledge that waiting for the customer to initiate the conversation is no longer an option. The demand is there and businesses have the ability and technology to proactively ask for feedback immediately following an interaction. Companies need to start providing real service.

A comprehensive approach to Customer Experience Management (CEM) ensures a business is providing the experience customers expect, real service. The success of a complete CEM program requires significant organizational commitment, investment in a CEM platform and overcoming several challenging barriers, the most important being:

  • Identifying the benefits of a CEM program
  • Tailoring insights to be relevant for job roles
  • Timely distribution of customer feedback
  • Effectively driving improvements using customer experience data

What to Understand about CEM Programs: Customer experience professionals will often run into push back regarding the justification of the investment of a CEM program. Frankly, establishing a customer-centric organization that can listen and quickly react to customer concerns will boost a business’ image and reputation.

Additionally, improving its services in areas where customers are dissatisfied, businesses can increase customer retention and improve revenue. In one example, a major European telecom implemented call centre improvements driven by a CEM program, which resulted in a 3% churn reduction with a newly implemented callback process.

During the heart of the financial crisis, a US financial institution used a CEM program to lower its operational costs related to employee training. Traditionally, they had used representative samples of customer surveys to determine areas of improvement for their call centre. With a CEM program in place, they were able to drastically reduce their training costs, as employees only received training that was relevant to their individual scores. This visibility encouraged employees to improve their behaviours and knowledge, which resulted in increased motivation, decreased employee churn and overall improved customer satisfaction.

What Happens To All That Collected Data? To be effective, the customer voice needs to be heard across an entire organization. Employees at all levels of an organization need to know if their customers had a good experience today. It is also important to remember the information relevant for the executive team won’t necessarily be the same as what’s relevant to your line employees.

For frontline employees, granular data delivered on a daily or weekly basis will result in immediately actionable information. Managers will gain valuable insight into their team’s scorecards and will be able to use specific examples and verbatim comments to pinpoint key areas to target for training and coaching, as well as to reward high achievers. The executive team will be concerned with high level aggregates and average scores focused on annual, quarterly and monthly timeframes broken down by region and segment.

By creating transparency and empowering store managers and sales reps to drive improvement, the benefits can be substantial. The diagram below highlights the difference in the sales rep’s customer experience scores provided by customers who have purchased a handset (sample size ~1,000,000 surveys for the time period indicated) in an integrated telecom’s retail store.

Surveys are completed within 24-48 hours of purchase. The sample looks at two timeframes – Q1 2011 and Q4 2011. The improvements across the year demonstrate the huge influence a CEM program can have on the customer experience when the information is not only disseminated to the front lines, but where the organization is supporting the program effectively.

Satisfaction Scores for Sales RepsSatisfaction Scores for Sales Reps (Q1 2011 v. Q4 2011)

Where to Best Utilise the Data Getting the right information to the right person at the right time is a key hurdle for organizations to overcome. It used to be that companies looked at customer satisfaction data months or even quarters after it was collected and compiled, long after the data was relevant. The timeliness of this information is imperative to immediately target operational areas for customer experience improvements. However, as previously discussed, the format may vary based on the employee’s role.

By using a CEM platform that can automate the distribution of data and allow the configuration of alerts, the right people can receive the customer insights they need at the right time. Negative survey responses can be flagged for immediate attention, automatically notifying the appropriate manager. Dashboards to higher-level executives can identify business areas that are showing improvement, or need additional support.

The following case study looks at the impact that resolving issues quickly can have on the individual customer’s willingness to recommend a service, as seen by a top North American airline. Each customer in the below sample provided feedback about their experience that classified them as a detractor (rating 0-6 of 11 points) on the NPS™ (net promoter score) scale. Each customer within the sample was called back by the organization within 48 hours of completing his or her survey. Following the call-back, the customer was surveyed again to ask about their willingness to recommend.

The table on the left indicates the customer’s original rating and the chart on the right showcases their rating after having their issue responded to by the organization.

Initial customer NPS rating

The impact resulted in a decrease of truly “at risk” customers (rating of 0-3) from 67% of the sample to 37% in a 48-hour period.

How Can You Leverage Customer Experience Information? Let’s say half the battle has been won; a CEM program has been implemented to collect, measure and report on customer’s experiences. Now what? Next on the list is deciding what to do with this information and how to turn it into actionable intelligence.

1. Review Satisfaction Levels and find room for improvement.

In what areas are your customers unsatisfied? Observing the customer experience and satisfaction scores across various solutions, such as Purchase Experience, Contact Centre Experience or Online Channel Experience, and then drill down further to see details on those various experiences to get an idea of which metrics are most important for your organization to improve on.

Review Satisfaction Levels

2. Find which Metrics Impact Customers

Once you’ve identified which metrics to target for improvement, you must determine what impact these will have on key drivers. To find this, conduct correlation analysis to see which metrics have an impact on customers. From that point, it should become clear where to focus your improvement strategies.

Find which Metrics Impact Customers

3. Ensure Consistency of Delivery

In order to ensure consistent delivery of your CEM solution, it is important to identify any significant outliers within your CEM reporting. These areas can be efficiently targeted through micro training specific employees to improve areas of low scoring.

Ensure Consistency of Delivery

Summary Companies need to clear four key barriers to successfully adopt a holistic CEM solution:

  • Focus on real service, not lip service. The benefits of a CEM program must be understood in order to garner full commitment from an organization in delivering top service and quality to its customers.
  • Information must be appropriately tailored for all levels of an organization, providing executives to frontline employees with the information they need to better their service, and their customer’s experiences.
  • Customer experience information must be distributed in a timely and relevant fashion, utilizing a platform that can provide automation and preconfigured alerts.
  • An understanding of how to leverage customer experience information must be acquired and acted upon, improving customer interactions with an organization.

When considering a customer experience program, the deployment may seem daunting. It is important to understand the key barriers described above, and how to overcome them, to deliver the best possible customer experience.