15 CX Experts talk about the Future and Challenges of Customer Experience in 2018 [part 1] 

Customer experience has been already a hot topic in business during 2017 and is promising to be even of higher importance in 2018. “CX transformation is no longer a nice-to-have, it's a necessity” – concludes Forrester, one of the most influential research and advisory firms in the world. It’s predicted, that by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator when making consumer choices. 

We were curious to know what CX professionals should pay attention in the coming year and asked the leading CX experts for their opinion.  

That’s what we asked each of them: 

  • How do you see the future of customer experience?  
  • What are, in your opinion, the top challenges in customer experience that companies should be aware of in 2018?  
  • How to overcome those challenges? 

Some hints: big data, omnichannel, personalisation, AI and organizational culture. 

Read the full answers: 

Ian Golding, CCXP, CX Consultant and Trainer

@ijgolding | blog 

“CX is at a very interesting point in its evolution. There is no doubt that across most industries, the end-to-end CX has improved over the last twenty years. Much of the improvement has been driven by advancements in product innovation and digital technology. HOWEVER, I also argue that despite that, too many consumers continue to endure ‘random’ or ‘unexpected’ experiences as a result of the inconsistent delivery of the end-to-end customer journey.  

Too many organisations are still focused on ‘making money first’, with the customer coming a distant second. That is why although CX is evolving, it is doing so far too slowly – hence the need for CX Professionals and anyone with a passion for CX, needing to continue building a revolution within companies to get those business leaders who still do not understand the fundamentals of CX to wake up and smell the coffee. As more industries continue to be disrupted by smaller, more agile, niche specialists who are better able to meet the needs and expectations of customers, larger, legacy businesses are at serious risk of losing relevance with their customers and potentially ceasing to exist. 

In my opinion, three things that are essential for CX in 2018 include: 

  • Restoring trust – 2017 has seen more examples of organizations continuing to fail to meet basic customer expectations. In Europe, the Ryanair debacle is the most prominent case of all. In 2018, all brands across all industries are going to have to work hard to restore trust with the everyday consumer. 

  • Value for Money – we live in a world where disposable incomes continue to be challenged on an annual basis. Consumers will continue to look for brands that offer the best value for money for the ‘end to end’ experience. That includes how much it costs to deal with things when they go wrong. 

  • Honesty and transparency – the brands that continue to do what is right for their customer, when things go right and wrong, are the brands that will continue to flourish in 2018 and beyond.” 

 

James Dodkins, CX Revolutionist, Keynote Speaker and Author

@JDODKINS | blog 

“I see the future of customer experience being ‘hyper-personalisation’, moving away from process standardisation and towards experience personalisation. Understanding that each customer and each experience will be different every time and creating your business to incorporate, embrace and excel at this. 

The biggest challenge, in my opinion, will be trying to meet all of these new customer demands within industrial age organisation structures, structures that were never designed to deal with ‘customer experience’ let alone the customer experience of the 21st century.  

How to overcome those challenges? Stop organising by function and skill set, start organising by ‘ability to deliver customer success’ create ‘experience teams’ of people with different skills and different core competencies that can manage the entire customer life cycle and reward them together for the achievement of customer success, not completing tasks and activities.” 

 

Blake Morgan, Customer Experience Futurist, Keynote Speaker, Author

@BlakeMichelleM | blog 

"The future of customer experience is around providing tailored and personalized customer experiences. Customers want you to know them. At this point we have the technology and data prowess to actually know our customers - and predict their needs - but we still aren't there yet. With advanced data and personalization, we should be able to provide truly personal and omnichannel experiences to customers. As more companies figure out how to do this, in the future customers will demand it or leave. 

The first challenge is the focus for most companies on quarter profits. Once we stop obsessing over wall street and quarter to quarter how we are perceived - we will be able to achieve transformational growth. But that requires being misunderstood for long periods of time. Consider the words of Laurence Fink, co-founder and Chief Executive of BlackRock with 4.6 trillion in assets recently said, “Today’s culture of quarterly earnings hysteria is totally contrary to the long-term approach we need." 

How to overcome those challenges? 

Talk to your board. Find someone to champion customer experience at the c-suite and give them influence and resources to actually get things done”. 

 

Chip R. Bell, Customer Loyalty Keynote Speaker, Trainer, Author. 

@ChipRBell | blog 

“We will continue to struggle with the proper balance between technology and people. Many organizations are currently enamoured with the promise of technology and big data. However, research shows most customers still value an emotional connection with the people fronting the organization.  

With rising customer expectations, good service is no longer good enough. Customers want unique, special and innovative. Organizations will want quantitative justification of their investment in great customer service. Organizations will continue to look for more effective ways of gaining real-time customer intelligence rather than rear-view-mirror methods like surveys. All will take leadership deeply committed to customer experience as a significant marketplace differentiator.” 

 

Adam Toporek, Customer Service Expert, Speaker and Author

@adamtoporek | blog 

“The future of customer experience will involve finding ways to use technology to create and maintain positive emotional connections with customers. Despite the human brain’s remarkable inability to distinguish the artificial from the real, organizations will still need to find the magic balance between technology-faced and human-faced experiences. 

The shifting sands of artificial intelligence will keep many organizations on unsure footing in 2018. For larger organizations, the top customer experience challenge will be figuring out how to strategically invest for the present while staying nimble for the future. For smaller orgs, the challenge will be figuring out how to gain and sustain competitive advantage in the face of larger competition that is able to use technology to deliver faster, more personal experiences at significantly less cost. 

For larger organizations, the best path is to focus on the current experience while keeping an eye to the future. You don’t need to worry about being left behind in five years if you can’t keep your customers for the next five weeks. Smaller organizations need to maximize their competitive advantage by delivering experiences that larger orgs can never truly emulate, no matter how good their technology.” 

 

Diane Magers, CEO at CXPA 

@DianeMagers 

“Customer Experience has been a catalyst for organizational change.  As we understand the customer’s varied interaction with our brands, their needs and wants, it has shaken the foundation of many organizations – the way they work, how they make decision, how they collaborate, how they use data, how they build products and services. The focus on acquisition, scores and fixing issues has been replaced with outside disruption, market ecosystem expectations (i.e. Blockchain, GDPR) and coordination.  This will push more aggressive change driven by Customer Experience professionals.    

  • Organizations will have to rethink how work gets done. Organizational alignment will be most critical – both internally and to the market and customer expectations.  

  • A talent shortage will be evident.  Not just talent in general, but workers with cross functional skills, collaborative and design skills.   

  • Data, digital and technology transformation will be critical and many organizations have only scratched the surface to keep from becoming just a functional utility.   

Successful organizations will drive deep, orchestrated transformation rather than just fixing customer issues or tracing scores.  It will require experience professionals to help drive more collaboration and alignment of operations, measures, metrics, processes, governance, workflow – true and real strategic organizational transformation.  

Aggressive action will be required for many organizations – business model changes, more extensive rigor on digital enablement, acute awareness of customer behaviour in the market and knowledge of ever changing impacts on organizations (i.e. data security, gig economy, AI, machine learning).” 

 

Rüdiger Pläster, Executive Managing Director at ORT Medienverbund 

“I do see a bright future of all facets of CX. Never underestimate the customers expectation in CX. It will be growing and growing. Once the customer had a positive CX, it will set a new benchmark. It will also be thrilling to see how UX, customer centricity and empathy will be connected to the field of AI. 2018 will be the year of CX and AI.  

Finding talents that understand the challenge and will be able to work on the ongoing convergence of analog and digital, will be still the top challenge. Also, companies really need to transform their structures to reflect customer centricity. This includes breaking down silos, which is still an issue. Let’s think in customer touchpoints instead. As I often refer to in my presentations: CX is not a package tour, it’s an expedition.  

Don’t underestimate culture. Plan transformation, reflect what business case makes it necessary, and take your co-workers and customers with you, that’s what we are doing. Start experimenting, build your hypothesis, fail fast and learn – and start all over again. A lean and agile culture will definitely support you in that matter. We call it discovery and delivery track – internally we call ourselves the “dual track agency." 

Jeremy Watkin, Director of Customer Experience at FCR 

@jtwatkin | blog 

“Customer experience doesn’t begin with awe and delight as much as we love reading about this on social media. It’s about bringing all groups within an organization together with a focus on making each experience more effortless for customers. This is hard work but it’s that work that ultimately brings about happy, loyal customers. More and more companies will focus on having top leaders who are instrumental in bringing everyone together. 

We will continue to hear more about artificial intelligence and chatbots in the coming year. When it comes to using technology to allow customers to self-solve issues, some companies automate too much and some don’t automate enough. These new technologies are here to stay and we’re wise to vet and implement them carefully, testing frequently to ensure they are truly improving the customer experience rather than detracting from it. 

How to overcome those challenges? 

Three words: voice of customer. With any changes and enhancement to the product or service, it’s critical to keep a finger on the pulse of the customer. Customer surveys, deep dives into customer service contacts, and conversations with key customers are great ways to fuel continuous improvement. I’ve asked many customer service professionals and customers alike for their feedback and have never had a shortage of insights for improving the customer experience.” 

What do you think is the future of Customer Experience? Download our guide to CX to know more.

From corporate world to entrepreneurship: what have I learned?

My first full year as an entrepreneur has come to an end. Our company, Lumoa, has now been there for a bit more than one year. In fact, we celebrated our one-year anniversary on 14th of November. What have I learned?

First of all, it has been a great year. I’ve enjoyed it tremendously. It actually surprises me, how fun it has been. We started Lumoa with Carlos and Suvi after leaving Microsoft in August 2016. I was personally driven by a strong need to do something totally different after 12 years in large corporations. I wanted to learn new things and make a difference.

Since that we have launched a product, acquired our first customers, grown from the 3-person founding team to a 7-person team. It has been busy. I’ve worked longer hours than during my corporate years. But as an entrepreneur, it has felt like my own choice. There have been some tough days as well but most of the days have been good.  

Being a first-time entrepreneur, I’ve obviously learned a lot about business and, more importantly, about myself:

  1. The best thing about running a startup is the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone regularly. It is fun to learn new things almost every day. And it is extremely rewarding to be in a situation where I am regularly pushed out of my comfort zone. Because that is a way to learn more and even faster. 
     
  2. You don’t need to be a risk taker to be a good entrepreneur. I always believed in the stereotype, that risk-averse people (such as myself) cannot become entrepreneurs. I was wrong. Risk taking is not what is needed. What is needed is the ability to juggle many things at the same time without getting too stressed out and ability to live with uncertainty and constant change. While I am analytical and risk-averse, I still don’t worry too much about the future which keeps me functioning even when some other people paralyze.
     
  3. The team is the most important thing. If people are not feeling well, you cannot get too much done. If people are great and doing well, you can make miracles. Building a team, seeing young professionals learn and develop is the biggest joy of my everyday work. I am super proud of our whole team.
     
  4. Simplicity is valuable. Many companies have built complex solutions for simple problems. They are not willing to let them go because their middle management is very dependent on the complexity: a large part of their jobs exist to maintain that complexity. They have suppliers selling them complex IT systems and an army of analysts to make sense of complex data in a complex manner using expert solutions very few people can even access within the company. And often the status quo is not challenged because the complexity is a great smokescreen: very few people understand it and is, therefore, able to question it. Our service is an antithesis of this approach: it is super simple, anyone can use it and it solves a big problem in an easy manner.  
     
  5. Good advice comes from many directions. Most people are nice, and many are willing to give advice. Not all of the advice is good but large part is still worth listening to. We as a team have learned to listen carefully, consider and adjust quickly if the advice has been good. Not all entrepreneurs are like that. Some are stubborn and some just hate changes. We believe that the best way to progress is to listen, learn, adjust and move on.
     
  6. As much as I love stepping out of my comfort zone and challenging myself, I cannot make myself love mandatory admin work such as invoicing or sorting out the receipts for our accounting company. It is boring and drives me mad. The only good thing about admin work is that I can joke about how much I hate it.
     
  7. I like to make people laugh. A common laughter is a good thing in this world. 
     
  8. Corporate cultures are (horribly) different. I and other Lumoa co-founders come from large corporations and in many discussions with our customers that is a great asset: we are familiar with the way most large corporations operate. But still, even large corporations are different when it comes to their culture. Some are fast to try out new things and positive towards change. Some are the exact opposite: they are so afraid of making mistakes that they freeze and end up watching the world go by. The biggest surprise to me on this journey has been that this culture is not always visible to the outside world. Many times, it, obviously, is: in some industries, everyone is able to identify the leaders and laggards very well. But then there are companies, who don’t have a specific reputation, who can be even leading companies in their industries, but who still come across as the most risk-averse and slow. 
     
  9. Finally, we can actually help companies. The world is full of smart people with clever solutions to all sorts of problems. Still, the problem we are solving is so widespread in large corporations that it regularly blows my mind. So many companies collect feedback and receive tons of it but get very little value out of it. This is the best prize easily compensating for the all the hard work and long days: seeing that we can make a difference and help businesses in improving their customer experience.  

Text analytics as future of customer experience? We asked Jim Tincher.

The topic of customer experience has been trending throughout this year. More and more companies put a customer at the centre of their business operations. At Lumoa, we believe that it’s only the beginning. Customer experience and engagement are already changing the way businesses work covering larger and larger industries.

To stay ahead of the time and to be successful, it is crucial to follow the newest trends in CX. There're great professionals who feel the customer pains and embrace their successes. We introduce a new column in our blog - “Experts in the Spotlight” with our first guest, Jim Tincher.

Jim, CCXP (Certified Customer Experience Professional), is a founder of a CX consulting agency, Heart of the Customer, and sees the world in a special way: through the eyes of customers. Jim is a big fan of customer journey mapping and helps companies of all sizes - from startups to largest corporations to improve customer-focused results.

We had a talk with Jim on the future of customer experience and current trends in the field and wanted to share our findings with you.

State of CX - where are we going?

“Since I started, customer experience and, specifically, customer journey mapping have become much more popular than before. The challenge is that you have to adapt, learn very quickly and grow with it.

Right now, companies are working on bringing value through customer experience. How can we drive business value through customer experience? It’s relatively easy to start “doing Customer Experience” in a company, but how can you ensure results that will benefit both your business and your customers?"

The paradox of choice - too much or too little?

"In America and also in Europe, the individual choice rules consumer behaviour in many aspects. Everyone wants to feel unique and make their own unique choices. The companies follow the customer desires - so they provide us with a variety of choice. At the end of the day, sales numbers fall because customers are lost and overwhelmed."

Jim referred to a famous jam study, conducted in 1995 by Sheena Iyengar, a professor of business at Columbia University and the author of “The Art of Choosing.” In a supermarket, the professor with her students set up two jam testing sessions. Every few hours they switched from demonstrating 24 jams to 6. After customers tasted the jams, which on average in both cases were 2 tastes, they received a discount coupon to buy the jam.

As we know, larger choice drives higher satisfaction rates. 60% of all shoppers stopped at a booth with 24 jams and the number dropped to 40% when there were only 6 jams presented. The surprising discovery was that when six jams were presented, 30% of shoppers purchased, whereas when 24 were offered, the purchase rate was only 3%.

20171204.png

"Customers want choices, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to choose.” - Jim concludes, - "When you analyse customer satisfaction, more choices will usually win, but when you check the business results, managing fewer choices works better. Although it’s important to have those choices available, you need to filter them down to a manageable size, then give your customers what they need.”

The future of the feedback analysis - text and voice analytics.

“Collecting customer feedback might seem very easy, but it all escalates very quickly if you don’t have a system in place. Make sure the right people are following the process and the feedback is curated in a sustainable way.

Some larger organisations might immediately get 5.000 to 10.000 individual comments. How do you manage that? Are you going to read through every each of them? Probably not. How can you make sure that all of the comments are reviewed in such a way that they have an impact on your business? You need technology that can sort them out.

I am a big fan of text and voice analytics. There’s a recent study in the automotive sector that the more surveys your customers receive, the less they spend on your services. So, companies need to be smarter about how to collect feedback. We’re moving away from the standard “give-me-a-number“ survey and are going towards “how-did-you-feel-about-the-service“, open-ended questions. Text and voice analytics dive deep into that and essentially, if you wish, create a score based on how customers actually felt. Hopefully, that system will change the way we analyse feedback in 5-10 years."

"Text analytics help you to hear the real voice of the customer.”

Jim mentioned another case, study of Jiffy Lube, an oil change provider in the United States. The company used an NPS survey, yet they couldn’t tie the scores to any business results. Once they analysed the text, they found if their customers wrote words “ease" or “efficiency” at least 1% more often, the revenue went up by $14k. When customers mentioned words such as “management” or “respect,” sales were lower. “That's where text analytics really help - you understand what your customers are actually saying, not only the numbers they happen to click on the survey.“

It’s not about the score, but the system: NPS.

“Plenty of customer experience professionals refer to NPS as very predictive, while others completely disagree. I say, it varies by the company or the industry. For example, we worked with the financial services company and asked the standard NPS question: “How likely are your to recommend [company] to a friend or colleague?” A surprising amount of people said they don’t discuss finances with their friends nor colleagues. As a result, the scores were low, even though the customers actually liked the service."

Recently, Bruce Temkin found out that 43% of CX professionals prefer NPS to other metrics, but also 42% of those consider NPS just “another metric”. "We’re stepping away from the idea that NPS is "the only" metric and thinking more like it’s "just another" metric.”

"For me, the main problem of NPS is that people focus too much on the wrong ‘S.’ They think about the Net Promoter Score instead of the Net Promoter System. Companies miss out when they just focus on the score, and don’t go deep into the text responses. Text analytics let you see all kinds of customer motivations, and show you whys.

If you want to bring customer feedback into your organisation - the requirement #1 is to have a broad cross-functional team. Have all your employees involved so that they’re interested and active in the process and you don’t have to push your organisation alone. If you want to be successful, you should think strategically, find the right people to join you, and also learn the best practices from others (you could check Jim’s blog for great insights! - author's note). Follow the changes and trends in customer experience, I do believe we’re going to see more of text and voice analytics at work.”

Did you like the article? Are you interested in Customer Experience? Our team has prepared a guide to CX for you. 

Lumoa just got better.

Wow! Have you seen the new update?

We are happy to announce the product update that our team has been working on for the last months. The update touches all your favorite features and turns them into even more a productive toolset, so you can dive deeper into your customer feedback analysis and execute accurate actions based on that.

Watch the video below if you want to know how to get actionable insights with the help of the new and updated features.

Let’s go through the updates one by one.

Search is here to stay!

We are happy to announce that, search, the most requested feature is part or our new release. Find fast answers to business questions searching on the fly from all consumer responses. Keep in mind that, once you search, all the dashboard components will update showing you how NPS scores, trends and impact looks like based only on the comments that match your search terms.

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 14.01.36.png

The updated NPS Graph. What do the numbers say now?

The NPS graph now consist of three components; the NPS score, NPS Chart and date ranges for the graph. 

https://gyazo.com/1947154ac7c369c395ab89cb5e29bcc4

NPS Score 

Have you noticed the rolling on the top left corner?  You can now change the period of NPS calculation with options to have a daily, 7-day, 30-day or 90-day range. This example uses a 30-day NPS calculation. This means that the NPS score is calculated using all the data available for the last 30 days.

This choice affects also the darker line in the chart at the right of the picture below. Here, the line is the value for a 30-day rolling NPS. This can be interpreted as at any given date of the chart the previous 30-day average value is drawn as the line value and will give you more accurate measurements of NPS varying on the period of your choice and helps you to analyze and see the changes quicker. 

Tip: use longer periods (30/90-day range) to get a more stable read on NPS if you don’t receive feedback on a frequent basis. Switch to 7-day NPS to track and act on sudden changes or if you receive larger amount of NPS every. 

NPS Chart 

The date range of the NPS chart can be adjusted from the right top right corner of the page. Note, the data range for the chart is different to the one at the impact factors!

Now the chart has three different values. To the rolling value you are familiar with,  we have added the daily NPS and the number of daily responses.

The daily NPS allows you to see sudden changes at a glance (can be highly volatile depending on the amount of feedback received and you might see it negative for example during the service downtimes) while the amount of feedback (bars at the bottom) shows you how reliable the data is.

The heart of Lumoa: the Impact Factors and Comments

The impact factors section has been upgraded as well, categories and subcategories are styled and, just as always, tailored to your specific company or industry.

 
 

Now you can control separately the time period for which you want to calculate the impact. This time period is visualized in the NPS trend chart by the blue box.

Tip: When you click on an impact factors, you can now analyze in even further detail the categories and read the matching comments when clicking the specific category. This allows you to get insights straight from the comments.  

The comment section 

Now you can see the details from each response, allowing you to  get to insight faster.  The information you can find will match the filters from your company. Moreover, now you can also see all the categories and sub-categories your comment is allocated to.

 
comment 1.png
 

The displayed comments are influenced by the impact range, filters on the left and also by the impact factors themselves.

Tip: Categorizing the feedback by the impact factors helps you to find what your customers love or hate with higher accuracy and implement actions based on the feedback.

What do you think? What is your favourite feature? What do you want to see in the next updates? Share you opinion in the comments below or with #LumoaUpdates.

Do you already have a Lumoa account?

Are Your Customers Happy? CX Insights from Slush.

Helsinki has welcomed 20.000 innovators at Slush, the world's leading startup event. This year among the main topics of "Technology" and "AI in Our Lives",  you could also hear companies, both scaling and large, starting to talk about customer experience.

It has been our second Slush and we enjoyed every bit of it. Slush gave us an opportunity to meet new and already familiar people, secure a couple of deals and have meaningful conversations on customer experience.

Customer-obsessed cultures take a lead.

A fantastic discovery was that more and more companies are paying attention to its customers and build the whole product based on customer wishes.

Are you customers happy? You should constantly ask this question whether you’re a startup or a corporation.  

AI comes to Customer Experience - bad or good?

Digitalisation of customer experience has been one hot topic at Slush. Will AI help in solving customer-related issues? Certainly, yes!

AI is of help when it comes to engaging with customers and, also, analysing the data

Did you know that text analytics at Lumoa are powered by AI?

Transformation of traditional industries

Customers are already getting to the centre of operations of many traditional industries. Despite the revolution of healthcare, food and energy industries are no exception, with more to come in the nearest future. 

What is the end goal?

Customers might drive your business to the skies if you're dealing them properly. Although, at the end of the day, what matters is doing the right thing. At Slush, another important topic was "How can you improve not only a life of your customer, but the wellbeing of the whole planet?"

This year has been a fantastic time for customer experience field. Companies are quickly progressing on the way to understand customers and bring business value through customer experience. Customers are more and more often on the agenda of business and startup events, and what is even more important, in the entrepreneurs' minds.

Start your CX journey by downloading our guide to customer experience.

Collecting customer feedback: too difficult or too easy?

For some companies collecting feedback is easy.

Maybe even too easy: I’ve come across a big corporation, which collects feedback, stores it somewhere and does nothing with it. There are no resources to read it through.

While server space is cheap, and this might feel like an easy way to make customers believe you listen to them, don’t do like this. You are just wasting your customers’ time and fooling yourself at the same time.

This company I came across is not happy with how things are, analyzing text feedback just happens to be too difficult and expensive with their current methods and resourcing. Collecting feedback is too easy for them.

For some companies collecting feedback is hard.

They are often B2B2C companies with no direct link to their end-customer. Many of these companies spend tens or hundreds of thousands of Euros on consumer research, doing annual or biannual surveys leading to very few insights. And when it is done seldom, there is a huge internal pressure to do it properly.

This often leads to overly long surveys which customers hate. In many cases, the results are still disappointing. The data and analytics arrive too late to have any proper value. The management feels they “knew this already” as it can take the research agency as long as 3 months to find the target group to interview, do the study and report the results.

Luckily there are more and more success stories in this field as well: companies who manage to ask the right question in the right place at the right time, not to burden customers with the surveys too much and who have a consistent method for analyzing the data, extracting the insights and acting on feedback.

So that being said...

How to collect customer feedback?

To start with, you should understand the purpose and targets of collecting the feedback. Asking customer feedback is the very first step on the way to building a successful relationship between the customers and the brand. 

Actionable feedback should be one key source of insight behind your business development strategy. Who, if not your customers, know better how to improve your service?

Collecting customer feedback will help you to identify customers who’re at risk of leaving and stop reoccurring problems.

Also, happy customers are the best brand advocates you might ever have. And, as you might guess, the unhappy customers are the worst. According to the statistics, one happy customer will share their positive customer experience with 9 people. Unfortunately, the unhappy customers are even more likely to share their experiences: on average an unhappy customer tells about their bad experience to 16 people.

 
 

Before you start collecting customer feedback, make sure you know exactly:

  • what part of customer experience you want to improve,
  • how are you going to use the data,
  • which channel works when communicating with your customers.
  • All the three aspects are important for implementing a successful customer experience feedback collection strategy.

Resist the temptation

Your immediate reaction might be to create a survey and ask what your customers think about every single aspect of your service. Don’t. The statistics gathered by Quicktap Survey show that the more questions you have, the less time customers spend on every question.

Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 17.46.42.png

What to keep in mind when planning the survey? The more questions you ask – the less meaningful data you receive.

Long surveys have another downside as well: the more data you receive - the less likely you’re to go through all the data.  As mentioned in the beginning: asking for feedback and just storing that somewhere is not going to help you nor your customer. 

Keep it short. Our favorite metric system is Net Promoter Score that consists of only two questions: a recommendation score and an open why-question. The free text feedback is a great source for insights while the numbers can be used in metrics follow up and target setting. You have probably already seen the standard NPS form many times.

 
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The NPS is short, simple and easy to implement and use. From Apple to Airbnb, from Slack to Microsoft, multiple global leaders are already using the metric to their advantage.

Where to ask for feedback?

Customer feedback survey placements largely depend on your customers. What kind of business do you have? What is your main channel of communication with your customers? Taking that into consideration, most common approaches include:

  • E-mail surveys
  • In-app surveys
  • Forms on web pages 
  • SMS surveys
  • But there are many more

Choose a channel which is the most natural one from your customers' point of view. If they are using your app, use an in-app survey. If they have recently made a purchase in your online shop, send them an email asking for feedback about the purchase. 

What is important to understand is that once a customer leaves feedback, it’s your turn to act.

Have a follow-up plan

We have seen small and large companies that collect customer feedback for the sake of... collecting customer feedback. Whenever you are asking for feedback, be ready to take action. Make decisions based on the feedback in a systematic manner. To be able to do this, we believe that the feedback should be analyzed in a manner that leads to actionable insights. (A list of customer comments is not actionable.) Read here how AI can help in making customer feedback more actionable

The golden rule of customer experience is to follow up with your customers.

Ideally, you would respond to every single customer in a unique way, but in order to save your time, automate the process by creating a template for each category of customers, depending on their scores and type of feedback. Building personal relationships with your customers will both raise the response rates in the future and the scores themselves.

Let’s start with negative feedback

Thinking that you can never keep an angry customer is a very frequent mistake among businesses. An angry customer, who leaves feedback, is often open for dialogue. They give you a chance to apologize and take the issue into account.

According to Bain & Company, companies that managed to increase their customer retention rates by as little as 5%, could experience revenue growth by from 25% up to 95%. Accurately solve every negative case adding a personal touch and showing how you much care about each of your customers. If you manage to solve the issue successfully, your unhappy customer, experiencing excellent customer service, might turn into a loyal one. 

Don’t forget about the happy customers!

Another mistake, done by many businesses, is that companies do not take any action with satisfied customers. Needless to say, happy customers often have ideas for service/product improvement, but they also are the biggest advocates of your company. Show them your love!

Even if you don’t reach out to every single happy customer as you might want to do with unsatisfied ones, there are different ways to improve the customer experience for both parties. Grow your happy customers into strong advocates of your brand. Do simple things – just sending a thank you note can work well.

Don’t collect customer feedback to keep it inside of your company. Create customer insights, take action, and, importantly, show your customers how you deal with the feedback they deliver.

Collecting feedback should nowadays be easy for almost anyone. Acting based on the feedback is the more difficult part. Luckily modern technology, and services such as Lumoa's, can help in dealing with that challenge as well. 

Celebrating One Year in Business

On 14 November 2016, exactly one year ago,  Lumoame Oy was registered in Helsinki. This year has been an amazing journey for us and we wanted to share this important moment with you.   

No surprise, the main discussion topic at #LumoaAnniversary was Customer Experience. We celebrated our first year with our supporters, friends, and customers. Customers have been at the center of all our operations since the very beginning.  

Johanna Vesterinen giving a presentation on how to deliver great customer experiences.

Johanna Vesterinen giving a presentation on how to deliver great customer experiences.

 One of our speakers, Johanna VesterinenXperiencefocus, noticed that many companies collect customer feedback, but fewer and fewer keep going through the CX funnel itself and reach the end. That brings us to the question:  

What’s the purpose of customer feedback?  

Customer feedback allows us to go deeper into customer experience and understand what drives your revenues up and down.   

Currently, lots of the companies implemented the process of collecting customer feedback. Often, these companies also are using massive questionnaires asking about each aspect of CX. Sadly enough, the more questions you ask - the more data you receive - the less likely you’re to go through the data.  

Johanna stated: "typical areas of development are feedback collection system in need of updating, issues with analysis and sharing data and/or immature measurement, meaning unidentified metrics or goals”.  

Tommi Vilkamo talking about the current state of AI in the Finnish companies.

Tommi Vilkamo talking about the current state of AI in the Finnish companies.

The increasing role of machine learning in all business fields, including customer experience, was the presentation topic of Tommi VilkamoeCraft. Tommi told us that even though some people are afraid of machines taking over, most of us are excited to start using artificial intelligence technologies.   

In fact, the machine learning will possibly substitute routine, high-volume and high-speed tasks and humans will focus more on strategic, creative and unique tasks. This way, the cooperation between humans and machines, results in the highest productivity.  

According to Tommi, machine learning is going mainstream and 85% of companies already see it as a potential key source of competitive advantage. However, the opportunity is still open as only 5% of companies has managed to adopt it in scale.  

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We are excited about the next year. More product development. More meetings and conferences. More customer experience. More Lumoa.   

A few more pictures

Pictures taken by Verena Rentrop

Making customer feedback actionable - how can AI help?

In many companies, customer experience is measured, but the results are not actionable. The most widely used customer experience metric NPS (Net Promoter Score) actually gives all the necessary ingredients for the actionability – when customers are asked not only the score but also why they gave that score, they provide very useful information about the drivers of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The problem, therefore, is not the lack of data, but the fact that the data is not analyzed and utilized as it should. 

It is very typical that a customer experience metric is followed on leadership team level only as a number. As long as the metric goes up, everybody is happy. But as soon as it starts to decline, there is panic in the air. No-one seems to know what should really be done to improve the metric.

There are a lot of anecdotes floating around, strong opinions and some blaming as well: marketing is confident that the product is to blame while the product team sees marketing as the culprit. Task forces are being initiated to investigate the reasons behind negative development. Market research is being commissioned and market research agencies start doing both quantitative and qualitative studies to get to the bottom of the issue.  

All of this takes both time and money. Luckily, with the help of modern technologies, that should no longer be needed. And artificial intelligence has a role to play in this. 

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The most important AI technologies relevant for analyzing customer feedback fall in the area of natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning. Both groups of technologies can be utilized to make analytics more actionable.

When it comes to text feedback, they are beneficial even on the basic level of descriptive and diagnostic analytics, but the benefit becomes more obvious when we aim at predictive analytics. Machine learning is can be utilized to make predictions based on the historical data as long as there is a large amount of it. It can help us to understand how likely is a person with certain characteristic to churn, what could they buy next or what would be the ways to improve their loyalty. 

Some routine decisions can be automated as well: the machine can respond to the most typical complaints and suggest solutions to problems that many people have. However, human judgment is and will be needed in strategic decisions and in seeing the results of analytics in the full context. 

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Today, the most optimal analytics solution is typically a combination of machine and human intelligence. While the machine learning brings in speed, cost-effectiveness and ability to process massive text volumes in a split second, the humans are needed to interpret and make judgments. 

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Lumoa’s analytics solution is built on top of this philosophy. We combine machine learning and other AI technologies with human-built rules that are specified for each industry and sometimes also tweaked to match the business of our biggest customers. This way the results are always relevant for the businesses we work with, but the modern technologies help us in increasing the efficiency and reducing cost level. 

We recently talked about this topic in a breakfast seminar hosted by Sininen Meteoriitti. If you are interested in reading more about the topic, you can download our slides here: 

 

 

The Metric Anxiety – and how to get rid of it

We talk every day with companies of different sizes operating in different industries. Most of them measure customer experience with some widely used metric – most commonly Net Promoter Score. But there are still some companies who don’t measure customer experience at all. These companies can be of any size. Many of them are B2B companies but some of them are B2C companies. Some of them are leaders in their industry and confident that they can stay that way. Some of them are laggards and fully aware that customer experience is one of their major weaknesses. So, they are very different. And still, somehow, they are very similar to one another. Many of these companies are suffering from a disease I have diagnosed as the metric anxiety

Do you suffer from metric anxiety?

Metric anxiety is an easy disease to diagnose. If the only thing preventing you from measuring something like customer experience is the fact that you cannot decide on the metric to use, you most probably suffer from metric anxiety. 

Some of the companies suffering from this disease waste time on development and strategy projects where the potential metrics are being assessed and compared. They use their own resources or consultants to create fancy proposals and compare pros and cons. The more they invest in making the right choice, the more the choice starts to feel like a matter of life and death. 

There are also some companies, whose issue is not the lack of customer experience metric. Instead, they are facing problems because they use so many metrics to measure one thing, that no-one outside of the CX team understands what is being measured and how.

They believe it makes sense because they have chosen a perfect metric for each separate part of the business. From their point of view, it doesn’t make sense to measure customer experience in the support touch point using the same metric as customer experience in the sales touch point because the touch points are so different. And when they then are asked, whether customer experience is measured at the company level and brought to leadership scorecards, their response is: ”No. It is too complex. Our businesses are so diverse.”

If you are in one of these companies, hear me out: Of course, your businesses are diverse. Most large companies have different businesses and diverse touch points. Still, the benefits of choosing one simple metric to follow on leadership team level and utilize across the company, easily overrule the fact that the most optimal metrics for different customer touch points could be different.   

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Is it the disease – or just one of the symptoms?

Of course, most often the metric anxiety is not the real disease. It’s just a symptom of something much more serious. The leaders of large corporations know that decisions need to be made also in the light of imperfect information. They don’t suffer from metric anxiety. They don’t easily fall into the trap of analysis paralysis.

Instead, they suffer from the lack of focus and have only limited interest in customer experience. And when there is no urgency from the top management perspective, the strategy team, quality team, customer experience team (or whoever is responsible for the metric development) paralyzes and starts complicating things. The company suffers from lack of customer centricity. And the employees responsible for metrics keep themselves busy by over-analyzing, over-investigating things. 

Been there, done that!

If one is tasked to develop a scorecard or suggest a specific new metric for the company, it’s very easy to start over-engineering things. I’ve personally done the same mistake. I used to build a scorecard for our business unit in a large company I worked for. This was ten years ago so I was a young and ambitious strategy manager and I wanted to create a perfect proposal. A proposal with a great balance between different types of metrics. A proposal where every metric would be the best metric for that particular purpose and easy to defend against any criticism.

I listened to the stakeholders, utilized every bit of expertise we had within the company and ended up with a great proposal. All the metrics proposed made sense. Except for the customer relationship metric, which didn’t. If you are curious to know, what customer relationship metric I proposed, I can confess: it was Customer Lifetime Value. Why didn’t it make sense? It certainly makes sense for many companies. Many large telcos, for instance, use it successfully. And for many SaaS companies, CLV (or a simplified version of it) is an extremely important metric. 

But for my employer, it didn’t make sense: we didn’t have the data required, we didn’t have the culture. We didn’t have a history of thinking about the value of customer relationships. It was seen as a good and comprehensive metric but it could not be taken into use without a long new development project eating valuable time and resources. And that project (I was no longer part of it) took another year. The end result? It wasn’t a success.

If you want to avoid the metric anxiety, keep in mind the following

1. Complexity is not a virtue

The more perfect and comprehensive metric you want to have, the more complex it easily gets. Complexity is not a virtue – simplicity is. A stupid metric choice is obviously a stupid thing to do as well because as they say, you get what you measure. But if your employees don’t even understand what your metric has eaten, it won’t drive the action in the right way. A simple metric which people can understand is often the best choice. 

2. Any metric is easy to criticize

Choose any metric and you can easily find a lot of criticism against it. The more popular the metric, the easier it is to find such critique with simple googling. In most organizations, there are skeptics who do a bit of this googling and after that shoot any suggestion down. Keep in mind that perfecting the metric will not improve your business. And wasting time on perfecting it can be extremely counterproductive. No company is successful because of the beautiful metrics they have. But some companies manage to kill themselves with analysis paralysis. 

3. Just pick a metric and stick to it

This is our advice: Choose a metric and stick to it. In the area of customer experience, choosing a metric with both number and text makes sense. (You can read more about that here). But when you have done your choice, start measuring and move on. You have just taken the first small step on a long journey. When you have the data and measurement in place, you need to start improving your business based on the results. That is a much more important part on your journey to great customer experience. 

How to influence customer experience through social media

 Customer experience consists of countless details, but at the end, it all comes to what a customer thinks of your brand. Sometimes, you think your brand and customer experience are the same thing. In reality, if a customer perceives your brand in a different manner compared to you, that would be your true customer experience. 

You could use millions of different methods to improve customer experience - from service design to detailed research and questionnaires. One way is right in front of you.

Brands are often missing that “social media” is a social platform. Although social media is often used for advertising and brand awareness, do you remember that the best advertisement is a happy customer? Social interaction and engagement is what makes your brand personal and builds connection to the audience.

Very often, your customers are already using social media to discuss your brand. To be precise, in the US alone 67% of consumers have used social media for customer service. Your task is to be available for your customers and (remember, the golden rule!) follow up. Did they ask you a question? Answer. Did they leave a positive note? Thank. Was it a negative comment? Solve it!

Don’t be a stranger

If your customers like to share about your products/services, then that’s a place for you to be! Engage with the customer feedback, both negative and positive. Follow up positive comments of your customers with a thank you-note, show that you are close to them and care about them. 

To provide an example, Kathryn Rannikko found a new product of Jaffa and Fazer and tweeted about it. Fazer did right what it had to do - the company thanked Kathryn for the feedback. 

Lesson learned: always acknowledge or respond to the positive feedback. That is how you build trust and relationships with your customers.

Respond to everyone

Be available to your customers on social media and answer their requests. Let your social media function as a customer support channel. Find all the channels your customers are using for servicing and be there.

A key to success is persistence. Show your customers that every single comment matters and they will boost your engagement rates, asking for help, expressing their opinion and participating in the discussions. Isn’t it how the loyal brand communities are born? 

Canva shows a great example of how to improve customer experience through social media. Natalia O’Neill had issues when working with the software and reached Canva on twitter.

Canva replied on time and connected Natalia to the support team right away, resolving an issue in less than 30 minutes.

Lesson learned: customers might use different channels to contact you, your job is to be there when it happens and follow up.

Worried about customer complaints?

It might be, that once you receive negative comments, your immediate reaction would be to delete them. Don’t! Unless the comment is offensive or out-of-all-possible-rules, keep it. If you delete the complaints, customers might think you are hiding something and stop trusting you. 

Instead, contact the customer, ask what is the matter and do your best to solve the problem. When the issue is resolved, you might contact the customer and kindly ask to remove the comment by themselves. If it is not possible, leave a comment below the complaint that the issue is solved.

During a four-hour flight, TV connected to Esaí Vélez’s seat was showing nothing but a grey screen. He tweeted about it shortly after the flight. 

JetBlue was fast to respond, clarifying the matter with the disappointed customer. Shortly after the company suggested a refund. 

Results? Esaí Vélez is still a loyal customer of JetBlue Airways.

Lesson learned: a customer, who complains is often open for dialogue. Use your chance wisely to convert the unsatisfied customer to the happiest one.

Let your customer service team have fun

Chose a tone of your social media language, that reflects your target audience, and keep to it. A lot of brands use informal language and friendly style when it comes to social media. Let your customer service team have fun, think outside-of-the-box and enjoy interacting with your customers.

Skyscanner has performed a fantastic example of great customer support on social media. James Lloyd used Skyscanner to find a flight from New Zealand to the UK. The service suggested a route with …  a 47-year layover. So, James contacted Skyscanner on Facebook.  

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Skyscanner found a personal approach to the customer and in a humorous way answered the question. The answer went viral and soon after was picked up by the global media and worked as an excellent (yet unexpected) PR campaign for the brand.   

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Lesson learned: the social media is the voice of your brand. Always use a personal approach and don’t be afraid to experiment. At the end, it might go viral!

 

Want to know more about Customer Experience? Get our special guide.