Customers are at the heart of every business, and their loyalty will make or break your brand.
According to research from Bain & Company, “loyalty leaders grow revenues roughly 2.5 times as fast as their industry peers and deliver two to five times the shareholder returns over the next 10 years.” The business case is clear, yet many organizations under-value customer centricity, and they pay the price by lagging behind their competitors.
“Over 70% of CX leaders struggle to design projects that increase customer loyalty and achieve results,” says Gartner. You would think making customers happy has now been ingrained in the DNA of most customer experience (CX) leaders and their companies. Running a successful CX strategy sounds simple, but there are challenges to consider and overcome, as well as competing business priorities that favor short-term results over the longer term investments in CX.
Listening to what is and isn’t working from your customers—your brand’s most important audience—is critical to improving the experience you deliver and building loyalty. Yet many companies overlook the need for including a customer feedback model in their CX strategy.
I recently sat down with our partners at SurveyMonkey to offer my perspective on collecting, analyzing, and distilling customer feedback into a successful CX strategy. Essentially, it boils down to three key steps: aligning your feedback systems (measuring the experiences that matter), analyzing your data, and acting on your insights.
For even more information, view the complete video interview series and accompanying exercises.
Resist the temptation to commit to goals until you have enough relevant data. As with any new function, it’s tempting to commit to metrics to start measuring growth, but those metrics often fail to tell the whole story. Start with a baseline of net promoter score (NPS) data and other customer feedback and metrics to establish a story / starting point before you commit to tangible goals, particularly when tying them to compensation.
Ask questions that get at solutions, not just problems. The way you ask for feedback can greatly affect the time a customer invests and the feedback they deliver. Vague questions beget vague answers. When asked “Why did you rate your satisfaction a 6 out of 10?”, customers could respond with anything from “Love your product” to “Support is terrible.” Such responses are almost impossible to take action on.
Consider posing more focused, specific questions like “What could we do differently to make you more likely to recommend us in the future?” Answers to such questions tend to be more detailed and actionable. ”Offer virtual visit options” or “Shorten the onboarding process to a month” are much clearer and easier to address.
Measure the end to end. Relying on one metric can leave out important insights related to desirable or undesirable behavior. Brand (NPS), Product (pSAT), Support (cSAT) and journey steps collectively make up a holistic experience. Measure them all. The less you’re forced to extrapolate from customer feedback, the better.
Consider the context of your responses. The customer experience is subjective. A new customer might feel differently about a feature than a seasoned user. A negative story in the press might impact someone’s otherwise positive perception of your company and may impact two different customers completely differently. Surveys sent after a specific experience—good or bad—will be disproportionately impacted by that experience. Each facet has an impact but can be easy to overlook when you’re analyzing data in aggregate.
Check for trends against a few key filters. To gain insight when you can’t get into the nitty gritty, consider dividing feedback into groups to compare and contrast. From there, you can track trends over time. Every CX feedback program should track at least a few demographics, such as age, product used, region, or others that are more specific to your business. In the video, I share a few examples used by Oracle.
Don’t draw conclusions until you have the whole picture. A single source of information isn’t enough to justify drastic action. A cohesive CX story comes from combining multiple sources: surveys sent at various points of the customer journey, focus groups, support feedback, behavioral data, etc.
Align with internal stakeholders through regular, collaborative meetings. The amount of value CX teams offer is directly connected to how well they work with internal stakeholders to help them understand and act on customer feedback.
Clearly defined responsibilities in these “pivot-to-action” meetings are critical. The CX team brings the voice of the customer, while the business teams offer corporate strategy and behavioral data. The best interpretation of customer voice happens through internal collaboration—and ultimately following through with customers.
Simple changes make a big impact on culture. I start every meeting with a customer quote, a practice many other leaders have since borrowed. It’s a simple exercise that requires only a few minutes per meeting and keeps customers front and center as employees make decisions.
Minor tweaks like this one can help to shape company culture with minimal investment. A product designer might remember that customers loved the color of the last product and keep it around for version 2.0. A marketer might be inspired to highlight a completely different aspect of value. An executive might decide, on reflection, that it is worth investing in customer service after all. Customer voices take the forefront.
CX success requires leadership buy-in. Sweeping change is only possible if executive leadership buys in because that’s what people prioritize. Reflect customer priorities and needs in corporate key performance indicators and goals, and allocate resources to fulfill customer requirements. Without explicit support from leadership, CX teams will struggle to be successful.
Keep feedback cycles open. If you want to see an impact from your CX efforts, keep your feedback cycles open and ask customers directly about the areas you’re trying to improve. If you can show success and present it effectively, you’re more likely to secure the budget, permissions, and support you need to make your business a CX success.
Building up a successful CX function requires juggling multiple priorities. Understand what’s really best for your customers, advocate for them, and see your improvements through. Always keep your marketing team supplied with fresh material and your product team supplied with helpful insights.
The more robust your customer feedback program is, the clearer their voice will be to guide you.
To learn more, check out the on-demand learning experience, “Driving a successful CX program with Joshua Rossman.”
Joshua Rossman is the vice president of customer experience strategy for Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience. He is a senior executive with over 20 years of experience in customer loyalty, analytics, and insights with large, Fortune 500 companies, early to mid-stage startups, and PE-owned companies in turnaround situations. Joshua has worked for or with over 40 organizations on how to approach the deployment of customer and employee experience (CX/EX) programs, loyalty, and NPS/satisfaction efforts, as well as on product design and strategy. His team at Oracle, the CX Strategy team, has begun the process of building out an end-to-end measurement system of the Oracle customer experience, anchored in NPS. They have started working with the OCI team on product sentiment and are in the process of scaling their work out across the broader product portfolio.