Customer Experience Elevated Conference – Wednesday, February 10, 2016

8:30 A.M. InMoment CEO John Sperry: A Thousand Reasons to Rise.

Customers now have a tremendous amount of power. If brands really listen to and act on what customers tell us, those insights will help us move beyond surviving in this new landscape to thriving.

When you ask customers a question, their answer is important to YOU. When you ask them to share their experience, they naturally talk about what’s most most to them.

We are moving from a 100+ year-old survey methodology, to an experience methodology that takes us beyond simple scores to a deeper understanding of customers’ experiences.

When we say customer stories, we are talking about the type of insights surfaced when we bring together different types of customer data — from structured survey questions, to transactional, CRM and loyalty information, to voice, written and video comments.

9:15 A.M. Forrester Analyst Joanna van den Brink-Quintanilha

Forrester research shows that 2/3 of customers are willing to pay a premium price for a consistent experiences. Customers want a customer experience (CX) that is controllable, emotional, continuous and individualized.

There are four key steps to customer journey mapping:

1. Prioritize journeys that align with the brand promise.

2. Support differentiation and strategic investments.

3. Drive business metrics.

4. Focus on what teams can change.

Focusing on journeys provides a number of benefits, including:

Addresses functional, emotional and social aspects of customer journey.

Uses functional, emotional & social “jobs” as a framework for product development

Journey thinking helps instill empathy and discipline.

Understanding the customer’s emotional journey & steadily weed out pain points.

Knowing what makes your brand unique and be disciplined about delivering.

Measure CX and make CX metrics easy to act on.

11:45 A.M. Roundtable Discussions

Retail group topics include rating methodologies, feedback volume, data integrity, non-purchaser input, and information sharing. Great perspectives from department stores, luxury brands, photography studios, apparel, C-stores, automotive, and more.

3:30 P.M. Brennan Wilkie and Julia Staffen present “Using Your Brand’s CX Personality to Go from Now to Next”

These two customer experience strategists take us across the 9 brand personality profiles of InMoment’s proprietary CX spectrum, starting with Hostile and ending with Unified.

Brand profiles along the way include Atari, Uber, TJX, and Lego.

Atari brought the arcade experience into the home and introducing head-to-head video gaming to families, but that all essentially ended with a giant E.T. cartridge graveyard somewhere in New Mexico.

All different brand personalities, Uber is meeting mass needs that had gotten away from the taxi cab institution; TJX cooperatively nurtures the experience of the treasure hunt; Lego embodies an impressive long-term leap into learning through playing, through thinking, through creating.

Performing to a CX ideal and aligning to a true brand promise starts with taking inventory and determining your own brand personality.

3 p.m.–4 p.m. Breakout Session with Dr. Paul Warner

Dr. Paul

In his breakout presentation “The Virtuous Cycle: Understanding and Leveraging Employee-Customer Connections,” InMoment’s VP of Data Science, Dr. Paul Warner, discusses how to create a virtuous cycle of engaged employees—and satisfied customers. Here are the six ways to create the cycle:

  1. Integrate associate and customer feedback
  2. Link behavioral engagement with financial outcomes
  3. Link state engagement with human capital metrics
  4. Train employees on CX focus
  5. Evolve from score to story focus (scores and comments)
  6. Create transparency in metrics to improve accountability and recognition
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Recipe for Success: What Pharmacy Industry Leaders Are Doing Right

The booming topic of conversation lately has been the competitive advantage that non-traditional pharmacies (big-box retailers and grocery stores, for instance) have over traditional chain pharmacies. I have always wanted to peel back the layers of the pharmacy industry and determine what exactly differentiates the consumer experience with these two types of drugstore retailers. And now appears to be the perfect opportunity.

We recently launched our annual Pharmacy Benchmark study to our InMoment panelists, and more than 6,000 North Americans shared their thoughts about recent experiences with various drugstore retailers. Our study allowed consumers to openly voice their opinions, which helped us to surface some precise strengths that non-traditional pharmacies enjoy over traditional chain pharmacies.

By looking at key attributes that our identified pharmacy industry leaders are executing at high levels, I was able to draft a “recipe for success” for pharmacy industry leaders.

Recipe for Success for Pharmacy Industry Leaders

  1. Mix your pharmacy with quality products that consumers demand
    Non-traditional pharmacies can offer lower prices because they compete on a mass level, hence the name “big-box.” Despite low prices, consumers are interested in the products offered at these locations because of their known quality.

    In order to compete on the level of the top industry leaders, it is important to highlight quality products that are in high demand for consumers. Limited-time promotions and deals that may even incorporate a consumer’s loyalty card generate the most success in these circumstances.

  2. Season your pharmacy with well-trained, genuine staff
    Aside from convenience, one of the top reasons consumers were drawn to a particular drugstore was for the experience provided. Experiences help to drive loyalty, and, in our study, it was the staff who specifically drove consumers to have an exceptional experience.

    We asked consumers to rank various staff members based on availability, friendliness, expertise, and attentiveness. For the top industry leaders, consumers gave high acknowledgement to the pharmacist and pharmacy staff. The major differences between top and bottom competitors were focused around wait times and expertise level.

    Friendliness of staff members proved to be an expectation, a minimum requirement. It takes a lot more for consumers to confide in a pharmacy as their primary prescription provider. This is why I say it is crucial that pharmacy staff and pharmacists are educating the consumer as much as possible about their prescription(s) and quoting accurate wait times.

    Tips to Improve Wait Time and Staff Expertise

    • Increase staff count during peak hours
    • Encourage consumers to use time-saving ordering methods (call-ahead, online/apps etc.)
    • Train staff on ways to effectively communicate with customers
  3. Add a dash of a personalized experience
    The nature of consumer feedback has moved toward being more positive than ever before. Our recent CX Trends report highlights this concept, and it was shown to be important for pharmacy leaders looking to provide a personalized experience.

    Personalization means much more than knowing someone’s name, and that’s where the consumer’s voice is so important. Let them be heard! Offer them the ability to talk about the experience, provided there is a solid foundation to handle the influx of comments.

    Whether it is face-to-face or through social media, attentiveness is a quality that consumers who gave the highest rankings to industry leaders monitored closely. Consumers’ voices are empowered in today’s market, and if optimizing these interactions is set as a high priority, consumers will appreciate the extra mile their pharmacy is willing to take for their business.

Online Retail: Opportunity, Not Weakness

We can define “competitive leaders” in every industry—brands that have captured the market by differentiating themselves on several levels from other direct and indirect competitors.

In every client presentation or webinar I’ve ever done, I try to remind the audience that their weakness should be viewed as an opportunity. And yet, when I talk about weakness in terms of online presence, quite a few brands seem ready to give up on expanding online options and services. Our research shows that this approach could diminish brand exposure and dull competitive edge.

In our recent Online Retail Industry Benchmark study, where 15,000+ North American consumers shared thoughts on the their online experiences at various e-tail and brick-and-mortar stores, we noted three key areas that can drastically help your brand rankings in the online space:

  1. Make it quick. Make it simple.
    The Top 10 industry leaders got this right. User friendly websites with organized content can truly increase both your Likelihood to Recommend and Return ranks, which, in turn, increase your Overall Satisfaction measures.

    Consumers are asking for a means to quickly research and purchase products with a few clicks of their mouse. Slower page response times cut into an e-tailer’s bottom line, because consumers want to be able to purchase products in a matter of minutes.

    Also, they want to avoid the additional “promotional,” loyalty, or feedback pages. Those should come later, in an email they can circle back to at a more appropriate time.

  2. Don’t be afraid to offer more products and services.
    Online consumers are more careful than your average in-store consumers. This is mainly because they understand that products can be researched with a simple click of a button and feedback can be found on every product/service today.

    Yet, one key notion e-consumers agree on: They are willing to pay more for products and services that truly match their needs. Our top 5 e-tail and brick-and-mortar brands do just that, offering not just unique products and exclusive brands, but also services that can help consumers as well.

    This notion of more being better is also important on a shipping scale; offer your consumers more shipping options and you’re likely to see them return to your site in the future.

  3. By all means, give them social media!
    Unlike many of the offline industries, social media plays a valuable role online. Our top 5 e-tail brands all have a strong social media presence. In return, they noted a higher “likely to return” value overall.

    Consumers want to share their experience online and are likely to do so if you give them more unique means of building a stronger e-relationship with their brands. Encouraging your loyal consumers to interact with your brand should be approached in a manner that is relative to your product or service. In some cases, this could mean offering various e-points/e-rewards to help promote social media interaction.

    Remember, social media comes with both positive and negative commentary. Yet negative brand mentions should be taken as an opportunity, not weakness, and consumer transparency must be a key means of communicating change with your consumers.

You can read more about retail’s critical customer experience drivers in our Retail Industry Benchmark Report: Barriers & Perceptions.

The Nature of the Customer

Understanding your customers can be a difficult task. No one would blame you for feeling like they’re not always on your side. The truth, though, is that customers are actually quite positive and helpful by nature.

Customers are people who have chosen to “consume” your product or your service. They have already invested in your offering and gained some value from you, for which they are often thankful. They are not coming at you as a neutral third party; they are coming from the perspective of knowledge and connection.

Turn That Frown Upside Down

In our recent CX Trends report, we asked organizations to share their perception of how much negative feedback they receive from customers versus positive feedback. Our results showed that there is a disconnect between brand and consumer perception.

Of the brands surveyed, we found that their perception of customers leaned toward negativity. In reality, the numbers reported by consumers skewed toward the positive.

The CX Glass Is Full

Now that you know your customers are your friends, it’s time to view the CX glass as half full instead of half empty.

Positive customer comments can help your organization satisfy and retain customers. Identifying where you are succeeding in customers’ eyes can help you move beyond a solely reactive approach to a more effective proactive one. This strategy will align your brand’s perception of customer sentiment with reality.

Show Some Span: Pay Attention

Our business revolves around listening. Specifically, it revolves around empowering business organizations to listen to their customers on a scale and in a manner that drives improvement. And, as much as large-scale listening methods can start to sound like just “cold technology”—comment boxes, voice transcription, text analytics, mobile alerts, real-time reports, experience data—these methods still boil down to the same “warm listening” that courses through our human senses.

Cues for Communication
As the product team at InMoment works to model our accelerated listening solutions after the social and one-on-one interactions we experience in our private lives, it’s caused me to ponder the fundamental principles of the listening I do daily. I’ve thought about how involved my other senses can be (and should be) in listening. For instance, it’s amazing how important visual cues from the listener are to everyday conversation.

While thinking about this, my mind has returned to a phrase common in—but not exclusive to—my childhood: “Pay attention!” We’ve all had that message sent ringing in our ears at some point, haven’t we? It happens when someone is speaking—a school teacher, perhaps—and our eyes or minds or both have wandered, leaving our ears deaf to their words. As a child, this usually happens simply due to a short attention span, whereas, as adults… well, I guess it’s the same.

The point is, it’s extremely important to those with whom you converse that you show you’re listening, that you pay attention. I’m so impressed with my colleagues for understanding this as they’ve built those cues into our Experience Hub™, especially through Active Listening™. Tons of credit to our developers and product marketers for investing time into that authentic layer of listening, so that our clients can listen on a large scale to their customers in a way that shows they are, indeed, paying attention, and creating the reciprocal relationship that consumers crave.

Our newly released 2016 CX Trends Report: Trending Positively Toward Personalization and Transparency goes more in depth on the nature of today’s consumers and the ways in which they expect companies to show they are paying attention.

In the Moment
In this age of technology, if we remember the fundamentals of listening and paying attention, we can use our mobile devices and cool tech to converse in a way that informs, instructs, and connects—rather than distracts.

A year and a half ago, we gave our company the name “InMoment” to remind us of that very thing. If you are spending time with a friend, put your attention on that friend. If you are sharing the road with other drivers, put your attention on them. If you are helping a customer, put your attention on that customer. Or flip that last one: If you’re the customer asking for help, put some real attention on the employee helping you.

There’s really no end to the people we share moments with, and in every moment the principle remains the same: Pay attention.

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5 Keys to Successful Social Listening

Wade through the Digital Noise

Your customers have a voice, and they want you to hear it. Unfortunately, in the digital age we live in, customer stories can get lost in the deluge of social media unless organizations are properly equipped and prepared to listen.

Based on an article originally published on, we’ve put together five great ways your organization can develop a successful social listening program and start hearing the voice of your customers.

The 5 Keys of Successful Social Listening Programs

1. Come Up with a Strategy
A successful social listening program requires strategy and process. For example, don’t immediately give the job to young team members because of their perceived expertise with social media. Cater to all of your customers and ensure your organization harnesses customer interactions as an opportunity to build strong relationships. Before your organization can even begin to think about having an effective social listening program, it needs to have a plan in place. Success doesn’t happen on accident.

2. Define Your Strategy
When defining your organization’s social listening program, be sure to target all of your customers—not just the younger demographic. Your customers use social media in different ways, and your organization needs to make sure it’s tuned in to the specific social channels where customers are talking about your brand.

For most organizations, social listening programs require the ability to monitor and analyze unstructured customer feedback. Equipping your program with advanced text analytics tools should be an essential part of your brand’s social listening strategy.

3. Listen to Your Customers
It may surprise you to learn that the most valuable insights come from your customers. If that didn’t blow your mind, this will: Listening to your customers is a key component to a great social listening strategy. For organizations with large followings, create individual engagement strategies. Creating social customer advisory committees can also be an effective way of building relationships and uncovering valuable customer insights.

4. Identify Your CX Goals
Effective social listening programs provide information that can improve just about every area of the business, from new product ideas and escalating trends to upcoming competitors and shifts in customer attitudes. Identify what your organization wants to accomplish with its social listening program and shape your program around those goals.

5. Measure Your CX Efforts
Organizations often don’t identify what they want to accomplish with their social listening programs, which means they can’t measure or determine whether their efforts are successful. Determine the purpose of your brand’s social listening program and measure your customer experience (CX) accordingly.

Execution. Execution. Execution.
We’ve provided you with five keys to creating a successful social listening program, but the greatest strategy in the world won’t matter if the plan isn’t executed properly. Share your social listening strategy with your entire organization and make sure that each employee—from C-level to front line—is on board with the plan.

InMoment’s CX Analyst Tool: Ask Your Customers Anything

Businesses today collect a multitude of customer data—but many struggle to know how to use it in order to drive smart decisions and discover hidden insights. InMoment’s CX Analyst Tool is the answer. It gives brands self-serve access to immense processing power and industry-leading visualization capabilities to better understand big customer data—all without having to make massive investments in hardware, software, and personnel.

This new addition to the InMoment offering offers an unparalleled and unlimited ability to slice and dice customer data and create custom visualizations. In fact, it can analyze 1.5 billion data points, or 23 million surveys, in just 2 seconds. Not only that, but it also has the ability to access and analyze vast data sets from a variety of sources, including CRM,, Hadoop, SQL Server, Amazon Redshift, SPSS statistical files, Google Analytics, Excel, and more.

With so much power and custom analysis available, you can find answers to questions you didn’t even know you had. You can also ask your customers virtually anything—using the data they’ve already provided—without adding additional questions to a survey.

Here are just a few of the many ways clients are benefiting from this powerful tool:

See how company changes affect your customers: A large pharmacy chain used the CX Analyst Tool to find out how new programs, services, remodels, merchandising, and other changes affected their customers’ experiences, perceptions, and overall satisfaction. Using the tool, they were able to analyze how customers’ experiences differed before, during, and after the change took place, and view discrepancies between the pilot location and the control locations. This insight helped them understand what changes to implement permanently and which ones to abandon.

Understand where complaints are coming from and how to rectify them: A telecom service provider used InMoment to discover that their customers were experiencing frustration when receiving support from agents who were not fluent in English. Using the CX Analyst Tool, they were able to pinpoint which call centers had the most complaints, what type of calls were affected, and what location and agents needed additional training. They used the text analytics capabilities of the CX Analyst Tool to watch comment trends relating to language issues. The result? The number of complaints relating to a language barrier greatly decreased in the areas targeted for training.

Better understand areas needing improvement: A pizza chain used the CX Analyst Tool to focus on customer feedback at certain times of the day, so they could understand which issues were coming up most often, when, and why. They discovered that at the dinner rush hour, cleanliness, employee appearance, and speed of service suffered. The chain was able to pinpoint issues all the way down to the location, time of day, and category, allowing them to staff appropriately and train employees on specific areas of improvement.

These are just a few ways InMoment’s CX Analyst Tool can be used to make inquiries and drill down deep to find insights. The possibilities for discovery are endless: What questions can your customer data answer for you?

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The Importance of Leadership in
CX Program Success

A Rare Breed

A good leader can change an organization. A great leader can change history. Because leaders throughout history have had—and continue to have—such great influence over those around them, it’s not all that shocking that the qualities and traits of great leaders have been studied quite vigorously in the past few decades in an attempt to uncover the secrets behind history’s most influential leaders.

In one such study called “Follower-Focused Leadership: Effect of Follower Self-Concepts and Self-Determination on Organizational Citizenship Behavior,” Michelle Vondey investigates transformational leadership, which focuses on empowering individuals to work for the best interests of the organization. In her study, Vondey breaks down transformational leadership into these five characteristics.

The 5 Characteristics of Transformational Leadership
Communicate a Clear Vision

Effective leaders know what they want and understand the necessary steps to achieve their goals. By communicating these goals with every member of the organization, expectations are set and a game plan can be more clearly defined.

Explain How Vision Can Be Achieved

Once the vision for the business is defined, good leaders put together a detailed plan of action and share it with each member of the organization. A step-by-step plan helps everyone involved develop more effective processes and create clear expectations for each department of the organization.

Show Confidence in Both Vision and Followers

You’ve heard it time and time again: Confidence is contagious. And, you know what? It’s true. Good leaders show confidence in their vision and in the people executing it. That confidence leads to more confidence and ultimately results in achieving a collective goal.

Lead by Example

Every leader worth their weight in gold has followers. The thing about followers, though, is that they perform better with examples to follow. Good leaders don’t tell followers that they’re committed to the vision; they show it.

Here’s an example of Walt Disney showing off some of his magical leader abilities:

“Walt Disney used to walk through Disneyland [and] if he happened to see a piece of paper on the ground, he would stoop down to pick it up. He called this ‘Stooping to Excellence.’ He knew that as he walked through the park, all of the employees were watching him. He had to demonstrate excellence. He had to demonstrate that he wasn't beyond picking up trash off of the ground.”
—Shep Hyken, The Customer Focus

Empower Followers to Work toward Vision Achievement

Achieving a common goal is a noble cause, but it presents challenges of all sorts. To address these challenges, followers must be empowered to do what they need to do to achieve the vision of their leader.

Follow the Leader… to Customer Centricity

The right tools and technology certainly help to improve an organization’s customer experience, but a great leader makes all the difference. According to our recent report, company leaders that set a positive example for their employees are the number one critical driver of customer experience (CX) success. (Read more about the 5 critical drivers of B2B CX success in our blog.)

By leading by example and empowering employees to do their best work—and rewarding them for it—good leaders create an effective, customer-centric business.

5 Sources of Actionable Insight Every B2B Organization Needs to Tap

5 Sources of Actionable Insight Every B2B Organization Needs to Tap

In a previous blog entry, “Mind Your Q’s: The Two Types of Actionable Information,” we discussed the differences between quantitative and qualitative information. In this entry, we’re going to talk about the top sources of actionable insights that every business-to-business (B2B) organization needs to tap.

Five sources stood out from our recent report done in partnership with CustomerThink. Unsurprisingly, the best sources of actionable insights come from both qualitative and quantitative customer feedback.

5 Sources of Actionable Insight
1. Employees 66%
2. Survey Comments 57%
3. Interviews (In-Person, Phone) 56%
4. Customer Emails & Other Non-Survey Text 54%
5. Structured Feedback 47%
Quantitative Customer Feedback

Sixty-six percent of respondents chose “Employees” as the top source for actionable insights. These results suggest that the ready availability of employee-based insights may trump direct customer feedback in driving change.

Structured Feedback

Traditional, structured surveys are “traditional” for a reason. They are a proven method for gathering actionable customer feedback.

Qualitative Customer Feedback
Survey Comments

Open-ended customer comments are one of the highest rated sources of actionable insights because they provide customers with the freedom to share their brand experience—free of constraints.

Interviews (In-Person, Phone)

Having a true conversation with a customer (you know, the kind where one human converses with another) is a great way to uncover actionable insights. Technology is advancing at a breakneck pace, but nothing beats human interaction.

Customer Emails & Other Non-Survey Text

Sometimes the most actionable customer information doesn’t come from a survey. It comes in the form of an email or some other non-survey text. Through the power of text analytics, valuable insights can be gleaned from practically any customer communication.

Make the Most of Your Customer Feedback

Although the voice of your customers is always valuable, not all sources of feedback are created equal. Tap into these top-rated sources of structured and unstructured customer information and make the most of your feedback.

The Shine Report: Celebrate Great People and Great Work

The end of the year, and all that implies, is coming quickly. Holiday parties, bonuses, compensation plans, and general revelry are all right around the corner. It’s a perfect time to discover and recognize the employees in your organization who are going above and beyond.

While getting feedback from your employees and addressing their concerns throughout the year is an essential part of every business, it’s just as important to understand and celebrate the experiences that inspire your employees and make coming to work more than just a job.

Happy, inspired employees are good for your business too. According to an analysis of 225 academic studies, happy employees are 31% more productive and three times more creative. And one of the best ways to improve employee happiness is employee recognition.

For a limited time, InMoment is offering a unique take on employee engagement that focuses on the experiences that make work interesting and even inspiring for your employees. It’s called the Shine Report.

Shine Report: Standard Package
  • 1 standard employee pulse survey with structured and unstructured questions
  • 1 dashboard with custom visualizations
  • In-depth insights derived from employees’ stories using text analytics
  • Executive review deck that includes recommendations, strengths, and opportunities based on employee data

Employee Engagement

Shine Report: Executive Package
  • Everything included in the Standard Package plus:
  • 4-hour pre-survey consulting with a data scientist (stakeholder interviews, executive buy-in, question construction)
  • 8-hour post-survey consulting with an employee engagement expert (marketing/communications plan, strategy session, management training)

You can use this data at your end-of-year party to recognize exceptional people and their experiences. You can use it to inspire your employees. You can even use it to help you drive direction for 2016.

Interested in discovering and recognizing your best employees and boosting morale? Contact your client success manager or email

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5 Simple Tips to Improve Customer Experience in an All-Talk World

We live in a world that is all talk. With social media platforms everywhere and growing, more and more people are chatting 24/7. When it comes to business, customers don’t want to be talked at; rather, they want to connect with their favorite brands knowing their voices are heard.

Many businesses are missing the opportunity for building and fostering strong relationships with their customers by not showing up to the conversation. Successful companies, on the other hand, find ways to show up—not only in stores, but online and through social media interactions. By engaging with your customers, acknowledging their concerns and complaints, and striving to put them first, you can foster long-term relationships with them.

Your customers have their own stories, and, if you are willing to listen, they will tell you what it is. While you build and cultivate the customer experience, remember that experiences aren’t born but are made. Each moment a customer engages with your products, services, and people is a moment that could sway them to be a lifelong customer or turn them away.

How would you rate your customer experience? As you evaluate your customer experience, here are 5 things to help you improve it.

  1. Be proactive. Successful companies are always looking for ways the can provide their customers—current, past, and future—with the best service possible. By understanding your customers, being proactive, and anticipating their needs (and wants) businesses have the opportunity of gaining a loyal customer for life.

    You’ve probably heard people say, “Get out of your comfort zone.” Businesses can have trouble doing this, especially if everything seems to be going well. However, are you continually looking for new ways to improve the customer experience, or are you comfortable in a company structure that isn’t willing to try something new? There are a lot of companies out there taking smart risks and reaping the rewards.

  2. Show empathy. More companies are realizing that empathy is key to providing their customers with better service. Empathy is the act of putting yourself in someone else’s thoughts, feelings, personality, and circumstances. By simply taking time to be more empathic to your customers, you can better understand their needs and provide them with better service.

    InMoment believes that no one person owns the customer. Instead, everyone—customer and company alike—owns the experience, and by equally sharing in the experience, everyone carries equal weight. To better serve their customers, brands must understand why their customers have chosen to interact with their company. To do that is to show empathy.

    If you want to learn more about showing empathy to connect and build better relationships with your customers, take a moment to check out and download our empathy map exercise.

  3. Empower employees. Many companies overlook the power of their employees and miss out on untapped potential. In many cases your employees are the face of the company. Think about it. They are interacting with customers on a day-to-day basis, answering their questions, dealing with their complaints, and building (or not building) strong relationships with customers.

    Take time to train and ensure your employees develop the skills they need to be successful. Brands with a strong company culture that encourages employees to engage and share appropriate company Tweets and posts can have a positive influence on strengthening the company’s brand.

    Also, encourage your employees to offer feedback and suggestions, and listen to their concerns. Businesses that listen to their employees, along with their customers, have more insights on where they can improve and strengthen the brand image.

  4. Collect customer feedback. How do your company, products, and services rate with customers? If you aren’t taking the time to gather feedback from customers, you are missing out on actionable insights for improving the customer experience and implementing new strategies for meeting and exceeding their expectations.

    By collecting customer metrics and stories, you get a better idea of where you stand with your customers. In addition, the data gathered can help you develop more targeted interactions with your customer base and allow you have a more personalized experience with them.

    Creating more personalized interactions and connecting with your customers is important. So, how are you winning the moment with your customers?

  5. Exceed expectations. Stand out from the crowd by providing your customers with the best service, content, and overall experience possible. You are not only competing with your competitors, but with yourself. Where can you improve and how can you exceed your customers expectations? Look at what your competitors are doing and what they are talking about. Can you take another angle that they may not have mentioned and talk about it? There are always ideas out there that can be expanded on.

    With social media and other digital marketing platforms, create the best campaigns or blog posts that will not only inform but engage your online audience. Be authentic and add value to their lives in the content you create and share. In a world where there is a lot of chatter and information being thrown at people, you need to capture their attention with interesting and well-thought-out campaigns.

The more you understand your customers and their needs, the better products, content, and overall service you can provide them. InMoment wants to help you “own the moment.” That’s why we have developed products and services to not only improve the customer experience, but to truly empower each person in your organization.

More than Supply and Demand: Are Antiquated Notions of Value Hurting You on Product Selection?

For ages, the general “rule of thumb” has been that consumers are influenced primarily by scarcity and demand—the need for inventory over everything else. However, this is an antiquated thought that fails to answer the key question of “value” in a modern, and highly commoditized, market. Among the changes our studies have shown in overall industry trends is a regular shift in how consumers (on all ends) perceive “value.”

In my 15+ years working in market and consumer research, I have heard many variations of the same questions from retail brands: What are companies doing right? How are they providing value in today’s economy? What can I do to “WOW” my consumers?

Well, one thing top organizations do better than others is keep up with emerging drivers and influencers. On that note, our 2015 Retail Benchmark study with more than 20,000 North American consumer participants identified a couple valuable trends that could make or break your brand:

Brands that offered more selection of products scored well on overall brand value.

Meanwhile, brands that underperformed in staff availability showed a fairly large drop in overall perceived value.

These two findings indicate that the variety within your product supply, as well as the service associated with it, drive value perceptions and purchase behaviors. In our study, only 1/3 of the 150 brands we surveyed enjoyed higher perceived value and, in turn, a higher overall satisfaction score. These two findings clearly helped distinguish the best and the worst performing brands in all retail segments.

So when asking yourself the question, “What are others doing right?” remember it is much more complex than “offering inventory.” It is key that you continue to research and learn about your industry segments’ emerging trends and how you can apply them to truly beat your competition.

Look for our full retail consumer report later this month for insights into current trends.

Mind Your Qs: The Two Types of Actionable Information

Although collecting a sufficient amount of customer feedback poses its own challenge, actually mining actionable insights out of that customer information creates the largest obstacle for organizations to overcome.

To be actionable, customer information needs to be either qualitative or quantitative—or both. According to our recent report with CustomerThink, “Gaining a Competitive Edge by Optimizing B2B Customer Experience,” businesses reported that qualitative and quantitative information were equally effective at motivating their organizations to act on customer feedback.

To better understand how these types of information are valuable to your organization’s customer experience, let’s take a look at how they’re defined.

Qualitative Information

Qualitative | ˈkwäləˌtādiv |
Unstructured data; relating to, measuring, or measured by the quality of something rather than its quantity (e.g. customer comments, email, audio recordings, stories, etc.)

Qualitative information plays a crucial role in your organization’s ability to understand the significance of a particular customer touchpoint. For many brands, qualitative insights are broken down into three parts: doing, thinking, and feeling. In the context of the customer journey, “doing” represents the journey, “thinking” questions strategy, and “feeling” covers the range of emotions and responses associated with your brand’s customer experience (e.g. frustration, satisfaction, confusion).

Quantitative Information

Quantitative | ˈkwän(t)əˌtādiv |

Hard data; relating to, measuring, or measured by the quantity of something rather than its quality (e.g. customer satisfaction/loyalty ratings, retention statistics, etc.)

Quantitative information provides statistical significance for each touchpoint of the customer journey. This information varies from your organization’s voice of the customer (VoC) data to web traffic reports. Quantitative information can be used to help brands focus on specific parts of the customer journey as well as highlight correlations between aspects of the customer experience such as “engagement” and “type of interaction.”

By surveying business leaders from various industries, we learned that the majority of organizations put equal value in both qualitative and quantitative customer information.

  • Qualitative Information (26%)
  • Quantitative Information (23%)
  • Equally Effective (51%)

Respondents said that quantitative data was valuable in “proving the case” that their organization needed to make operational changes to its customer experience program. This type of data is particularly useful for promoting change within companies that make business decisions based on facts.

Qualitative information, on the other hand, was viewed by respondents as more effective at provoking emotional commitments from each member of the organization and promoting a better, more customer-centric experience.

Learn how your organization can make better use of its qualitative and quantitative customer information by reading the report we completed in partnership with CustomerThink.

3 Improvements and an Achievement: Top Benefits of B2B CX Programs

In a B2B landscape where 9 out of 10 managers rate “fostering long-term relationships” as one of their top three priorities for their CX initiatives, it’s no wonder the best benefits support the long view. Our recent study conducted with CustomerThink, “Gaining a Competitive Edge by Optimizing B2B Customer Experience” highlights the forward-looking benefits brands are seeing the most. Take a look at the top hits to see what’s really resulting from B2B customer experience efforts:

  1. Improved Customer Satisfaction
  2. The top benefit attributed to CX initiatives was fairly predictable, but it’s still encouraging with 73% of the pool stating they have seen this benefit. For your program, this one should be a staple. If you’re not improving customer satisfaction with your CX program, there’s a good chance your program is broken—unless your customer satisfaction is already maxed out (not likely, but possible).

  3. Improved Employee Engagement
  4. This second-rated benefit is a bit more surprising and equally encouraging. We’ve written before about this oft-overlooked flip side of Voice of Customer (VoC) and CX efforts. If you’re looking for ways to get the most from your CX initiative, we recommend joining 64% of fellow B2B brands in finding ways to put customers’ positive comments into employees’ hands.

  5. Improved Customer Retention
  6. This is quite possibly the clearest, traditional ROI-type benefit that CX initiatives are called upon to deliver. It’s also a byproduct of the benefits mentioned above. Naturally, improved customer satisfaction and employee engagement should lead to improved customer retention, which is where the loyalty and advocacy gains come in. It’s a shame to see even a 12% gap between this benefit and “improved customer satisfaction,” since the two go hand in hand.

  7. Achieved Competitive Differentiation
  8. A hard thing to track scientifically, this big-picture benefit is a very tangible element at play. More than just creating a good experience for your customers, to achieve competitive differentiation, it’s crucial to create the right experience. Creating a unique experience is key to a seamless brand experience, and it looks like 61% of B2B brands are on that path.

Other benefits are out there, some discussed in our report, some still waiting to be discovered and taken mainstream by intrepid practitioners. One thing is clear, though: Those who apply their VoC actively and purposefully will reap business benefits. Even the lowest-ranking benefit in our report was claimed by 35% of businesses and is of great worth: reducing operational costs.

Download the full report to find out more.

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5 Critical B2B Drivers that Ensure CX Success

Customer experience (CX) programs take more than good fortune to succeed. In fact, luck usually doesn’t factor in at all. In CustomerThink’s recent report, “Gaining a Competitive Edge by Optimizing B2B Customer Experience,” researchers found that certain CX practices give B2B organizations a significant competitive advantage.

We’ve curated the top five practices based on the differentiation between CX leaders and laggards.* Read on for a description of how these practices have allowed brands to set themselves apart from the competition.

5 Critical Drivers of CX Success Leaders Laggards Gap
1. Company leaders set a positive example 4.14 2.86 1.28
2. Identify high-impact “moments of truth” 4.05 2.97 1.08
3. Include people and systems in CX design 4.17 3.14 1.03
4. Share feedback with frontline employees 4.26 3.27 0.99
5. Empower employees with tools and information 4.04 3.11 0.93

* Rating Scale: 1 = Not at all effective, 3 = Somewhat effective, and 5 = Highly effective

Lead by Example

Unsurprisingly, good leadership is the number one critical driver of CX success. Customer experience starts at the top of your organization and trickles down to the location level. Every member of your organization must be committed to providing each customer with a positive and memorable experience.

Identify the “Moments of Truth”

By creating unique identifiers—or “moments of truth”—for each customer, your brand can produce a seamless and consistently great experience across every customer touchpoint. These identifiers enable brands from every industry to sidestep the pains of manually tying together customer interactions with disparate databases.

Design with the Customer in Mind

The wants, needs, and expectations of the customer should influence every decision your brand makes. Smart brands factor the customer into every company equation. Intelligent organizations align company culture with company goals.

Share Customer Feedback

With so much riding on every customer interaction, your brand can’t afford to leave its frontline employees hanging out to dry. Collaboration and data sharing across all departments and levels of management are a necessity for taking effective action on customer insights and creating a consistent experience across every customer touchpoint.

Give Employees the Tools They Need

Data silos are the enemy of CX success. Without actionable customer information, your employees won’t be able to create the effective Voice of the Customer (VoC) program your brand desires. One way brands are focusing less on data collection and analysis and devoting more time and resources to brand strategy is through the adoption of an automated VoC program. In addition to saving your brand valuable time, a VoC program also enables you to act on customer insights in real time and better meet customer expectations.

Set your brand apart from the competition by making these five CX initiatives the cornerstones of your organization’s VoC program.

* CustomerThink asked respondents to rate their organization’s effectiveness with each CX practice. These initiatives were determined through prior research, industry expert interviews, and sponsor input. “Leaders” are defined as those with measurable benefits or a competitive advantage. “Laggards” are defined as everyone else.

Retail Benchmark: What Customers Are Telling You

This article was originally published by Retail Dive on September, 23, 2015.

Benchmark studies are interesting animals. The primary take-away most brands look for are the ranking to find out where they sit on the competitive battlefield, and especially how they’re faring in the blood feuds against their chief nemeses.

InMoment recently completed its 2015 Retail Benchmark Study, which contained a high-level view of the competitive landscape (those brands that are winning and those that are losing in the customer experience space). We also discovered a few additional findings that take us deeper into the minds and hearts of the buying public in this continually evolving Age of the Customer.

First, a little bit about our methodology: InMoment maintains a healthy panel of North American consumers. For this study, we received feedback from more than 20,000 of them about how they felt about the top 100 retail brands. We weighted the sample to reflect the most current census distributions. We also measured the data against our proprietary InMoment Index of Customer Experience (InCX), a new metric that combines Overall Satisfaction, Likely to Revisit and Likely to Recommend rankings. For this study, we asked consumers about their in-store experiences only.

Following are the top five insights uncovered by our study:

#1: Putting Their Money Where Their Mouths Are
This is the inaugural benchmark study for our new InCX Index, and it synched up nicely with our original hypothesis: Brands that scored in the top box for Overall Satisfaction and Likely to Recommend also scored the highest percentage—72—in Likely to Revisit. On the other hand, the brands that ranked in the bottom tier in OSAT and Likely to Recommend registered just 10 percent on the Likely to Revisit question. To sum it up: If customers are happy enough to recommend you to their friends, you can bet they’ll be back.

#2: Following the Crowd
Brands within the same segments tend to have similar strengths and weaknesses. For example, most Big Box stores excel at having products on hand, but not so great at staff availability. Shoe retailers score high on the quality of their products and services but can’t seem to stay well stocked.

#3: Friendliness Doesn’t Matter, Except When It Does
Friendliness is almost universally accepted as a critical metric for all consumer brands. However, our study found that high marks in Staff Friendliness did not tend to impact customer’s overall satisfaction, their willingness to recommend, or their likelihood to return. On the other hand, retailers that scored low on this metric got pummeled. Why? Because the customer experience bar has risen. Consumers view Friendliness as a hygiene factor. You won’t get extra points for doing it well, but your brand will suffer if you can’t get this very basic element right.

#4: Venus vs. Mars
When it comes to retail, gender—apparently—does matter. For example, men have much stronger opinions about store atmosphere than women, voicing both approval and disapproval much more frequently and strongly than women. When it comes to Big Box stores, women care a lot about products being in stock, while men care most about store layout. As much as we would like data to support our assumptions that there are no differences in the attitudes of male and female consumers, we find common themes within genders—males and females do seem to be from different planets when it comes to what makes them want to refer and revisit.

#5: Value Ain’t What It Used to Be
When we used to ask customers about value, the most common understanding of that word had to do with perceived fairness in what they received for what they paid. Over the years, “value” has come to mean much more than a simple exchange of goods or services and money. Our Retail Benchmark study found that brands with the highest ratings in variety and selection also performed better overall. On the other end of the spectrum, not having staff available erodes value perception.

Wrapping It Up
While brands tease out individual elements of the Customer Experience into discrete parts with names like Staff Interaction, Product in Stock, and Store Atmosphere, consumers do not. Each element—as well as every interaction customers have with retail brands (from the direct market messages we send to the visual impact of a store to the greetings they receive to the ease of paying—is a piece of the experience mosaic.

Depending on which segment you’re in, and which customer demographic you want to please, these pieces may be weighted differently. The key is in understanding your customers, what they expect, what they love, and what you give them that no other brand can. Simply scoring high on the individual parts of the Customer Experience helps, but unless brands are willing to understand that their relationships with consumers are much larger than the sum of their parts, they will remain in the middle of the pack.

The great brands of today and into the future will understand how they’re doing against their direct competitors, but they’ll spend most of their time understanding how and why their customers feel the way they do.

About Dr. Paul Warner
Dr. Paul Warner is Vice President of Data Science at InMoment. He has dedicated his professional career to being both a scientist and practitioner, combining research and analysis expertise with practical knowledge of how to leverage data to transform people and business.

In this role, Dr. Warner leads InMoment’s Data Science Labs, which is responsible for enhancing the business value of the company’s customer experience technology solutions with deep analytics and insights services.

Dr. Warner is a trusted advisor to some of the world’s most admired companies and has coached hundreds of executives and businesses to transform the way they do business. He is passionate about creating cultures where employees and customers can share in a positive experience to create loyalty and advocacy.

Dr. Warner is also a recognized thought leader in the area of survey-guided feedback. Before joining InMoment, he was Vice President of Employee Engagement and Experience at DecisionWise, where he co-authored the book, Magic: The Five Keys to Unlock the Power of Employee Engagement. This book has received international praise and was recently recognized as one of the best business books in 2015.

Top 5 Issues Preventing Effective B2B CX Delivery (with a Hint of Advice)

As a “one-two punch” to win competitive battles, the vast majority of B2B companies are pursuing excellence in their solution offerings and the experiences they provide. That second punch of improving the customer experience is a key competitive strategy, but as shown in a recent study with B2B leaders, there is a lot of room for CX programs to more clearly deliver valuable business benefits.

In the same study, 65% of companies with CX initiatives in place said their company “delivers excellent customer experiences,” and 62% reported that their CX program had improved business performance. However, when asked to rate the overall status of their CX initiative, just 24% of respondents reported clear success as either (1) measureable benefits or (2) gaining a competitive edge.

When asked what’s holding the other 76% back, this is what respondents said:

  1. Lack of time, too busy with current departmental jobs » 50%
    Half of the business leaders in this study reported that employees simply lacked the time to devote to CX activities because they were busy with their current jobs. This was reflected in numerous interviews, where CX leaders said that unless CX becomes a part of employee jobs, or personnel is hired for this distinct purpose, it’s very difficult to move forward.
  2. Can’t measure ROI due to data/analytics challenges » 40%
    The customer experience is notoriously challenging to sum up in simple figures, but areas where it directly ties to the bottom line have been identified. Numerous case studies outline the key pieces of CX-based ROI: Optimizing single transaction amounts in ways that strengthen future revenue streams and increase operational efficiencies. This blog article gives one starting point for building a business case and starting to define value.
  3. CX goals and strategy not defined » 38%
    Ultimately, CX program practitioners must define success clearly and uniquely for their own organizations. Simply put, if you don’t define what success looks like and/or can’t measure whether you’ve achieved it, you’re not likely to view your CX program as a winner.
  4. Lack of people with the right skills » 37%
    In this blog article’s alter ego, “5 Critical B2B Drivers that Ensure CX Success,” we stop short of showing the 6th critical driver as measured by gap, which is a shame, since it’s actually the #1 overall score for leaders . We’ll share it with you here: Scoring a 4.33 out of 5 on average was the CX practice of “Train employees to deliver great experiences.” If you want people with the right skills, you’ll need to train them.
  5. Lack of cooperation across the organization (silos) » 37%
    This suggests that CX leadership must dedicate their energies to uniting the organization to think about the impact of the end-to-end customer experience. 47% of B2B leaders said that a chief customer/experience officer would be beneficial. Other CustomerThink research has found much the same thing: A chief customer officer would facilitate cross-department coordination and get support from the CEO and the Board.

For more insights on establishing an effective B2B customer experience get the full report.

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Work Globally. Listen Locally. Active Listening Now Available in 90 Languages.

Today’s companies stretch across the globe, spanning countries, cultures, and languages. To be successful in this ever-changing market, businesses must be able to understand their customers and quickly respond to their unique needs.

Unstructured feedback in the form of comments is invaluable in understanding and connecting with those customers. That’s why we are excited to announce that our award-winning, patent-pending Active Listening Suite is now available in 90 languages.

The Active Listening Suite applies text analytics in a unique, patent-pending way to get more actionable data, and make the feedback process a more engaging, positive experience for customers.

  • Strength Meter: Taps into the ease and fun of the familiar strength meter to gently encourage customers to keep telling their stories.
  • Follow Up: “It was great,” isn’t very helpful. Follow Up identifies comments low on insights, and then presents additional, relevant questions that ask customers to provide more detailed information.
  • Drill Down: When customers mention a flagged word or topic such as a new product, or area of concern, Drill Down presents specific questions for deeper inquiry. Drill Down can trigger off of both structured data (scores) as well as unstructured text (comments).

Active Listening

This innovation is just the newest step in our quest to offer a truly global VoC solution. It perfectly complements our Global Centre of Excellence (GCoE), which serves global and regional brands to effectively engage their customers in each market.

We’re not the only ones who think Active Listening is amazing. The suite recently captured the Gold Stevie, and People’s Choice Award for favorite New Products in the 13th Annual American Business Awards. It was also named the winner of a Silver Stevie® Award in the Best New Product or Service of the Year category in the 12th Annual International Business Awards.

5 Simple Steps Retailers Can Take to Build Stronger Relationships with Customers

Customer loyalty has become more elusive in the past few years. As customers seem to shop solely based on the best deal, it can be difficult for retailers to build a loyal customer base and leaves many wondering if customer loyalty is even worth the effort.

However challenging it may be for retailers, developing a loyal customer base is essential to maintaining an active, healthy brand. A loyal customer is valuable to retailers in a multitude of ways. Many studies show that repeat customers are likely to purchase more frequently, spend more money, and pay a premium for a product. In addition to generating more income from their own purchases, loyal customers are more likely to refer new customers to the brand.

As a retailer, how do you build these types of relationships with your customers? Read below for our five best tips.

  1. Personal Experience
    Your frontline staff play a large role in converting a customer from an occasional shopper to a brand advocate. Train your employees to go above and beyond to provide your customers with helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable service to create an experience your customers will remember. Work toward a culture of centered on employee engagement and provide your staff with regular training, feedback, and incentives to encourage consistently excellent performance.
  2. Store Experience
    Is your retail store an inviting place for customers to spend their time? If you design your store to provide an appealing experience, customers will be more likely to visit your store as an activity or a destination. Your store should be clean, attractive, and easy to navigate. In addition to the physical design and layout of your store, pay close attention to your inventory. Customers expect stores to be well-stocked with high-quality merchandise.
  3. Remember that retail purchases are intertwined with a shopper’s life, image, and identity. Your store experience and aesthetics should affirm to customers that your brand is a good fit with their lifestyle and personal identity.

  4. Price and Value
    Retailers often mistakenly think that customers will only buy the cheapest product available, regardless of the brand or retailer. While this may be true in some markets, many consumers are willing to pay more if they feel the price matches the product’s quality. Price your products so that the perceived value is high. Sales, coupons, and promotions can also help customers feel like your brand offers a good value.
  5. Many customers will pay slightly more to shop at a store that provides a better experience and that treats their employees well. As you improve your brand’s personal and store experience, your perceived value will increase.

  6. Marketing and Communication
    Once you’ve fine-tuned your brand experience and product pricing, you can begin to promote customer loyalty through marketing campaigns. Your marketing and communication efforts should positively reflect your brand. As you plan your marketing strategy, prioritize brand voice and consistency across all of your channels (e.g. social media, email marketing, online advertising, and in-store promotions). If you have customers who enthusiastically promote your brand online, engage with them and encourage their behavior.
  7. Again, consider that loyal customers will consider purchases from your brand as an extension of their personality and lifestyle. Use this to your advantage as you build customer relationships through your marketing campaigns.

  8. Loyalty Programs
    Loyalty programs are a great way to incentivize customers to visit your store more frequently. Discounts and promotions that are tied to a loyalty program can help customers feel that you value their business. The data generated by loyalty programs is also very valuable. When implemented correctly, you can use this data to help customers find products they’ve purchased in the past or return an item without the hassle of a receipt. On the retailer’s side, this data can also be used to learn more about customer purchasing habits. As always, use and protect customer data appropriately and with discretion.

As you harmonize the touchpoints of your retail brand, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by improved customer relationships and a stronger bottom line. InMoment’s products are designed to help retailers create a positive brand experience and to cultivate lasting relationships. To learn more about our products and services for retailers, click here.

4 Ways Voice of the Customer Supports Top Employee Engagement Companies

Employee engagement has become a distinctive trait of successful companies in today’s age of the customer. It has proven effective, too, when measured in the workforce with clear links to positive business results and performance outcomes such as customer ratings, profitability, productivity, and turnover.

The opposite is also true. According to a 2012 Global Workforce Study conducted by Towers Watson, “When engagement starts to decline, companies become vulnerable not only to a measurable drop in productivity, but also to poorer customer service and greater rates of absenteeism and turnover.” This drop in productivity and customer service invariably appears downstream in company profit and growth numbers, which makes finding ways to improve engagement levels within a group, location, and organization critical to success.

Forbes identified several key commonalities among the best companies to work for. While a few of the traits naturally extend beyond the scope of customer interaction, the majority of them can easily be centered on the customer and served through an integrated VoC approach. Here at InMoment, we’ve identified four VoC-supported characteristics of high-engagement companies. We proudly use these ourselves and encourage you to do so too:

  1. They understand what employees are thinking
    Rather than centering VoC feedback technologies only on the customer, many organizations have turned the focus of their feedback programs inwardly by leveraging their VoC technology and using it with employees to collect useful feedback through anonymous surveys.
  2. They demonstrate appreciation for contributions big and small
    There are tons of ways employees can contribute to a company, but no contribution is more valuable than the one that directly affects a customer. And customers are great at noticing what, or who, has made an impact on their experience. So, instead of showing appreciation only for task-oriented actions, strengthen your employee engagement by focusing praise around customer results. Take time to share positive customer comments that mention outstanding employees by name for something they did.
  3. They commit to open, honest communication
    Employees who are kept informed have a greater opportunity to engage than those who are left in the dark. Employees want to know what is happening in the places they work, and, more importantly to engagement, they want to know why. Company decisions—from the top down to the location—are now being informed by customer data. Share the customer-based rationale behind company decisions with your employees. Even better, base individual training conversations on the words of customers your employees serve locally.
  4. They know how to communicate the organization’s success
    Make sure your organization’s story is centered on the customer or you might be missing the full story. Make your stories powerful and relevant by tying in the customer perspective, so employees know whose lives they are improving through their work.

This excerpt was adapted from our eBook, Grounded in the Experience: Putting the Customer at the Center of Employee Engagement. Download it here.

3 Critical Ways to Boost Customer Satisfaction in an Omnichannel World

More than two decades after the first secure online purchase, the “bricks to clicks” revolution continues to transform the world of retail. In their forecast of the global retail market, eMarketer predicts that 8.8% of worldwide retail purchases will be digital by 2018. Does that mean physical stores are fading into irrelevance? Likely not, according to a recent A.T. Kearney Omnichannel Shopping Preferences Study that indicates bricks-and-mortar locations remain the favored shopping channel despite age demographic.

Regardless of whether consumers choose physical stores or digital commerce to make their retail purchases, both are viewed as a single entity, one that is a part of the customer experience continuum. Successful retailers recognize all facets of the shopping experience—both in the real world and its virtual counterpart—are absolutely essential to driving strong customer satisfaction and building strong, long-lasting consumer relationships.

Savvy retailers today, like hhgregg and Mattress Firm, are accomplishing this with three critical approaches to boosting customer satisfaction:

  1. Integrating retail channels now
    A true omnichannel experience—one that integrates a retailer’s online, in-store, mobile or social presences—is essential to nurturing an intimate connection with customers and differentiating brands from the competition. Consumers want engagement across the physical and digital elements. Retailers have two choices in the new world of shopping: Adapt or face declining profitability.
  2. Leveraging new technologies to
    create a more seamless experience

    Retailers are turning to customer experience reporting solutions, voice of the customer (VoC) programs and other cutting-edge technologies to effectively manage and improve the omnichannel environment. Email surveys, website feedback tools, social media dialog and other interactions offer invaluable perspective into what customers feel about the retailer and—most importantly—why.
  3. Listening to customers and acting on their feedback
    The growth of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter alongside consumer review sites like Yelp illustrates that consumers of all ages and all backgrounds want to share their stories with the world at large. Forward-thinking retailers should listen carefully to what their customers have to say across these channels and probe even deeper into the consumer psyche, implementing social advocacy and leveraging reviews that not only give shoppers a voice but allow them to tell their stories wherever and however they feel most comfortable.

Check out our playbook, Experience is Everything: 3 Critical Ways to Boost Customer Satisfaction in an Omnichannel World, to delve into these three approaches in greater detail, along with real-world examples.

New Research: 5.5 Secrets to QSR Success

Ever wonder what makes a QSR a QSR? Speed of service is a classic defining characteristic, followed by inexpensiveness and food consistency. However, QSRs must go beyond these three traits in order to be successful in today’s competitive market.

The InMoment QSR Benchmark Report, which had more than 9,000 American consumers weigh in, showed some surprising—and some not-so surprising—secrets behind what truly makes a successful QSR brand. Read on for 5.5 of a dozen learnings we came across.

  1. Just One Thing Great Will Differentiate
    None of the brands that ranked in the bottom 20 had a single high-performing driver to positively differentiate their experience. In fact, their overall scores were lower than 40%. Scoring above average on just one of the five top drivers we identified in our QSR consumer report statistically guarantees an overall score above the bottom 20.

    The lesson for low-performers? Start with one key differentiator, rally around it, and build on it.
  2. Value Goes Beyond Inexpensive Price
    While differentiating on price is well engrained in the QSR biz, our research confirmed that “value” is not as simple “inexpensiveness.” While digging around in the Value metric, we identified two distinct types of value brands: (1) those who serve above-average quality food at a “fair price” and (2) those who serve low-quality food for the lowest price.

    While the two groups rated similarly on Value, those that also rated high on Food Quality rated much higher in overall satisfaction. Better quality food at a slightly higher price will leave guests thanking you for their better experience.
  3. The South Is Doubly Social
    QSR guests in the South are recommending restaurants via social media roughly twice as often as those in other regions of the U.S. (~1 in 2 vs. ~1 in 5). Relatedly, snack and dessert-type QSRs were recommended on social media more frequently than other QSR types, falling in line with conclusions from a separate study that “Across all peers, the eating pattern most likely to be shared by socially connected individuals was ‘alcohol and snacks.’”

    QSR snack brands should be aware of the social nature of their establishment and build the experience around it.
  4. Being Big Appears to Negatively Affect Perceptions
    The inverse relationship found between a brand’s number of locations and its overall ranking in our study was hard to ignore. Evidence showed that big brands tend to be held to a different standard than smaller brands. The explanation for this phenomenon blends the operational struggles of large-scale service delivery with the psychosocial reticence of guests to award high overall marks to a larger “mainstream” brand.

    Rather than seeing this simply as an excuse for low scores, large brands should focus on measuring the how closely guests behaviors align with survey responses.
  5. What Gender Gap? Order Accuracy Is Unisex
    Believe it or not, when it comes to QSR preferences, the battle of the sexes is over. All attempts to drive a wedge between the two genders in this study failed miserably. Male or female, QSR preferences and expectations are much the same. There were certainly some faint clues of minor rifts here and there, but nothing so firm as the solidarity showed by the sexes around getting precisely what they ordered, how they ordered it.

    Finally, a common ground for men and women! Order accuracy.

5.5. Secret Sauce of the Tip-Top QSR Brand
When ranking brands from top to bottom, the difference between each spot usually came down to a percentage point or less. This largely the case for rankings by individual driver, as well—except for one notable (glaring, really) exception. This one exception looks a lot like an explanation of how the top brand was able to outperform the competition in other key areas.

To read more about the “secret sauce” and other QSR findings, download our consumer report, Positive Identification of Top QSR Characteristics.

3 Ways Voice of the Customer Programs Address Challenges with Location-Level Employee Engagement

Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs help organizations at every level to not only know how customers feel about their brand experience but why they feel the way they do. Technology advances in today’s tools, such as local VoC data and text analytics, help brands glean important insights found inside customer stories. In return, the information is filtered to the right people within the organization charged with taking action to drive important experience improvements.

Locations managers particularly benefit from these tools. These leaders are charged with driving frontline employee engagement so they can deliver the experience customers expect—at every visit. In leading customer-centric organizations, location managers have become reliant on VoC tools to address three common challenges:

  1. Focus
    The biggest key to staff motivation is making sure employees are focused on the right things. Smart VoC analytics help location managers to identify key themes within customer comments and focus on simple steps (based on real customer comments) to make a big difference on the customer experience.
  2. Communication
    One issue with staff communication is making sure it’s grounded in the customer experience. Using VoC as a basis for rewarding and retraining employees allows managers to have fact-based conversations with staff members using real customer feedback to drive the conversation.
  3. Visibility
    Not only should your location’s customer-centered engagement program curate relevant customer comments
 through text analytics, it needs to organize them in a visual format that is immediately understandable. Having customers’ words displayed where staff congregate keeps the customer experience front and center in employees’ minds.

In your vital efforts to keep employees engaged through a meaningful social connection to their work, don’t underestimate the power of the customer voice. Give location managers the right tools to leverage customers’ words as a clarifying, motivating, and empowering force for staff members. Companies that follow this model can expect an improvement to their customer experience and look forward to beating out the competition.

This excerpt was adapted from our eBook, Grounded in the Experience: Putting the Customer at the Center of Employee Engagement. Download it here.

Guest Centricity: The Key to the Heart… and Everything Else

As guest experience experts and consumers of food, we can say with a comfortable level of certainty that food is indeed one way to the heart. What we can say with even more certainty, however, is that guest centricity is the way to the heart and everything else related to business success.

In a recent webinar, Taco John’s vice president of operations, Shawn Eby, talked about how he and his team cultivated a guest-centric culture by using real-time reporting and actionable insights to create memorable guest experiences. Here are some of the ways Taco John’s created a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program built around the guest.

Become a Guest-Centric Culture
Taco John’s knew their first step was to become an organization that was truly guest-centric. This meant having the right program, people, and technology in place to truly understand and respond to the needs of guests, such as utilizing feedback provided about the restaurants to make immediate and positive changes that enhanced experience consistency across all locations.

A Single Program
The foundation of guest centricity encompasses a VoC program and buy-in from every level of the organization—from executive staff right down to front line employees. Without this support, no technology or program in the world will be effective. However, it takes the right technology to empower employees to continuously strive to better the guest experience.

Use Feedback to Motivate and Train Employees
VoC programs exist to help organizations deliver a consistent, positive guest experience with every brand interaction. One of the most important ways they accomplish this is by providing location managers with tools, like Comment Poster, that identify staff mentions in survey comments and connect employee names with actionable insights and key performance indicators. In return, location managers get an instructive snapshot of outstanding service experience enabling them to recognize positive employee behavior, as well as leverage as a motivational tool for employee improvement.

Real-Time Alerts
Understanding the guest experience in real-time is critical to being able to respond to both positive and negative experiences with the urgency they deserve. Taco John’s accomplishes this by using two essential real-time alerting tools: “Wow” and “Rescue” alerts.

Real-time “Wow” alerts notify managers when employees are mentioned by name for providing an outstanding service experience, allowing them to recognize and reinforce positive behaviors. On the flip side, the brand also leverages “Rescue” alerts to quickly surface unhappy guest experiences to address and resolve issues that need special and immediate attention. In the end, managers are able to coach and guide employees on the right and wrong experience behaviors ensuring on the positive are repeated.

To hear more, check out the full webinar and how Taco John’s is creating a guest-centric culture that continues to deliver outstanding guest experiences.

Customer Experience Disconnects: 5 Steps to Creating the Right Customer Experience

This entry was originally published
on Loyalty360 on May 1, 2015

Customer Experience is maturing. I rarely hear the phrase “customer service” anymore, and most business leaders know what acronyms like CX and VoC mean—without even Googling them.

However, maturing is a verb that indicates a process; it doesn’t mean we’ve completely grown up. In fact, we’re probably somewhere in our teenage years, which, just like that stage of human development, can be awkward and painful. Over the last year, I’ve seen an increasing number of news stories, blogs, and social posts recounting customer experience initiatives gone awry—from awkwardly executed campaigns to the imposition of “friendlier” lingo. Customers are rolling their eyes, posting comments of incredulity, and poking fun in live broadcasts.

Does the Shoe Fit Your Brand Experience?
While I won’t name names, this is happening to customer experience newbies and more seasoned brands alike. Why are these good intentions being questioned, begrudged, and even mocked?

Simple: Because in our rush to deliver great customer experiences, companies are designing experiences that simply don’t fit their brands. Normally, disconnects between expectation and execution present themselves in the form of a “bad” experience. But inappropriate experiences can come across as contrived, insincere, or just plain silly—and they can hurt a brand as much as those unpleasant ones.

When it comes to customer experience, it’s important that you don’t just try to be “the best,” but that you create and execute experiences that align with your customers’ best expectations. Following are a few important steps every company and CX professional should take to get, and stay, on the right path:

  1. Know Who You Are
    A brand isn’t just an image, a “look and feel,” or a catchy name. Your brand should capture the essence of who you are and the unique value you offer customers. Most importantly, your brand is a continual negotiation, a dance between your company and your customers. Scott Cook, the founder of Intuit, said, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is; it is what consumers tell each other it is.” This doesn’t mean you can abdicate the responsibility of doing the hard work of distilling that unique value and communicating it out. But it does mean that you must know, without a doubt, whether your brand promise resonates with customers.
  2. Know What Your Customers Expect
    Customers expect different things from different brands. For some, it’s “fast and accurate.” For others, “friendly and helpful” is more appropriate. And for some, “luxury and exclusivity” are baseline expectations. Deviating from these core promises gets brands into trouble. For example, “friendly and helpful” can actually get in the way of “fast and accurate.” Stay focused on delivering what your customers value most.
  3. Be Authentic
    There is no single formula for CX success because each organization and its relationship with customers are different. Simply imposing another successful customer experience blueprint on your own organization won’t work. There’s nothing wrong with learning from the best, but, if you neglect the important step of adapting rules to the specific needs of your brand and your customers, you’re likely to stumble.
  4. Be Deliberate
    Great customer experience doesn’t just happen. Identify the “moments of truth” along your customers’ journey that are most critical to their experience, so you can draw them closer at each interaction. And pay special attention to the language you use. Even subtle-sounding misfires, like using the word “guest” instead of “customer” can indicate you don’t understand what customers value from their relationship with your brand. This is not simply a matter of being politically correct. Words matter, so choose wisely.
  5. Listen
    Listening to customers cannot be something that happens once a year, once a quarter, or even once a month. Set up listening posts at every important touchpoint, provide open forums for customers to share when and how they prefer, and be proactive by listening on social media and other online forums. It’s just as important that you have the right technology in place to make sense of the mountains of customer data—and the organizational commitment to act quickly.

In a blog post late last year, Gartner declared customer experience “the new competitive battleground.” As you embark upon the fight for market share, be wise in the strategies and tactics you deploy. While you should learn from the past, the only sure way to win and keep the hearts, minds and dollars of your customers is to take time to create an authentic environment: one made up of individual experiences that are true to the relationship you want with your customers. And then, push yourself elegantly beyond that goal.

You’ll Never Guess What They Said…

This entry was originally published
on Retail Dive on March 24, 2015

What does the word “value” mean to you? In the world of buying and selling, it used to simply communicate a fair exchange. A retailer provided a product. A customer paid a reasonable price. The product worked as promised. Everybody won. But it’s not quite that simple anymore.

With the rise of instantaneous global communication and commerce, most products have made the transition to commodities. The world is a shopper’s market, with cheaper goods and more convenient access always just a click away.

Bigger Context. Bigger Meaning.
Brands have identified “customer experience” as the new differentiator, the next “competitive battleground,” according to Gartner. And as retailers run to better understand how to deliver the kind of experience that will bond buyers to them and encourage larger basket size, value has come to mean something different. Something bigger.

In working with some of the world’s best retail brands, I hear “value” used in a new context. I’m told, and know first-hand, that today’s customers want to feel valued. Not just as a sale or a transaction, but as an individual. Omnichannel strategies and technologies are striving to know and engage with customers in more personal and relevant ways. But that alone won’t solve the “value” puzzle.

A Simple Question
In the course of doing business, my company recently asked a group of brands and consumers what they think is most important when it comes to customer experience. We initially set out on this quest to identify both the common ground and the disconnects between the two groups. And we did. However, in the process, these consumers told us something that we didn’t even think to ask.

As a customer story junkie, I can’t get enough of the messages found in comment boxes at the end of surveys. Inside of those four walls, customers tell the best stories; it’s what’s most important to them. In this case they, unprompted, talked about the importance of feeling valued. One in three consumers explicitly included words and phrases like “valued,” “acknowledged,” “heard,” “appreciated,” and “respected” in describing how they want to be treated.

Dive Deeper to a Different Relationship
Makes sense. But then they went deeper. Consumers don’t just want to be on the receiving end of value. They also want to give value in return. In comments mentioning the word “value,” nearly half of respondents used the word to express their desire to provide value back to the company. And when asked why they give feedback, four in five said it was because they enjoy “making a difference.”

Why is this important? Because it means that your customers want a fundamentally different kind of relationship with you. Yes, they’re empowered. But what they’re doing with that power is asking for something more authentic. They want a relationship that looks more like other human relationships. And while this can sound frightening—and difficult—it also opens up a myriad of new opportunities.

Opportunity with Expiration Dates
The question for you is this: Will you take your customers seriously? Will you trust what they are offering? Or will you sit in a bunker, surrounded by sandbags full of reasons they’re wrong and reasons you just can’t change?

I’ve seen a few brands that are jumping into this brave new world. I see others who are waiting on the shore to see how the courageous ones fare. And then there are the ones who just keep tightening their blindfolds.

Most brands are spending time and resources asking questions. Customers are responding. Are you seeing and seizing the opportunities in their stories, or are you letting them expire with the loyalty of the customers who shared them?

Involved & Enthralled: 5 Ways to Improve Your Engagement Strategy

Gathering feedback is only part of the customer experience (CX) equation. Before your brand can even begin to collect feedback, it needs to engage both its customers and employees. That task is easier said than done, though.

Based on a recent InMoment-commissioned report by CGA Peach, we’ve highlighted five methods for increasing engagement at every level of your organisation. Read, reflect, and evaluate how your brand’s engagement strategy stacks up.

5 Ways to Engage Your Customers & Employees

  1. Improve Board-Level Buy-In
    Overall, 60% of leaders believe having active and visible board-level involvement will help deliver the frontline outcomes that should flow from their customer programmes.

  2. “Businesses that are customer-centric have the message clearly reinforced from the board down. They intertwine everything they do with this perspective. It is not something you do, but who you are.” —Gary Topiol, International Managing Director, InMoment

  3. Increase Interdepartmental Communication
    If customers are king, more transparency may be needed to ensure all departments focus on the “main thing.” Better understanding of the customer can improve the efficiency of all departments of a business—not just operations.

  4. Recognise and Reward Employees
    Given the interrelationship and interdependence between customer and frontline staff, companies that can bridge this gap and bring together the two sources of feedback could build themselves a clear operational advantage.

  5. Introduce Real-Time Feedback to Frontline Managers & Team
    Operators have a vast array of tools at their fingertips now, and that means they potentially have a mass of data to handle too. Nine in ten respondents of CGA Peach’s survey said they have seen an increase in the volume of data coming into their business over the last two years, with 30% seeing a significant rise.

  6. Understand Drivers of Engagement
    From an emotional perspective, nearly nine in ten executives think “feeling valued” is a key driver for customers—far more so than feeling excited, confident, or validated. Three in five leaders (62%) also rate “feeling listened to” as a key driver, which may be an underestimation in this age of social media.

Consumers to Brands: We Want to Be a Part of Your Success

On top of our Voice of Customer (VoC) technology, InMoment supports a consumer insights panel and a team of data scientists who conduct regular research on a range of customer experience topics.

We recently completed a study asking 644 North American consumers to rank six emerging elements of customer experience in order of importance. We also asked 131 customer experience professionals the same questions. In their responses, not only did we see where alignment and disconnects exist between brands and their buyers, we also found several surprising insights into what tips the scales on customer engagement and loyalty.

The Elements We Explored
  1. Mobile first: Ensuring 24/7 mobile support for customers
  2. More reliable online reviews
  3. Personalized experience: Brands using customer information to personalize messages and promotions
  4. Shorter surveys, more listening: Fewer set questions, more options for customers to share experiences in their own words
  5. Feeling trumps function: Relationships and customer experience will reign over function, price, and selection
  6. Transparency: Keeping customers informed on how their feedback is being used.

Biggest Disconnects
Consumers ranked “Reliable Online Reviews” #2 in importance, while brands relegated this element to last place at #6. But not all brands were on board. While one in four did rank it last, one in five executives actually placed this in the #1 position.

At first glance, we thought the split would have come between businesses that serve consumers and business-to-business companies. Upon further examination of the data, however, we found that this was not the case. This means that even in industries where online reviews have a big impact on choice and loyalty, some brands don’t consider them an important part of their customers’ experiences.

Our Take: Regardless of the business you’re in, consider and care for your online audiences. They are more connected, more vocal, and generally more engaged with your brand and their peers than other customer segments.

On the Same Page
Consumers and brands ranked “Shorter Surveys, More Listening,” #1 and #2 respectively. What we found particularly interesting is that consumers did not express a lack of interest in giving feedback. What they don’t like are long-form surveys that focus on what the company wants to know versus what they want to share. We saw phrases like: “fast and easy to complete, with relevant questions that relate,” and “ability to leave as short or as long a review as I want.”

Our Take: It’s worth the time it takes to design more considered, customer-centric questions. Keep the scoring to a minimum, and take advantage of online forums and open-ended comments to give customers their own sharing spaces.

The Value of Value
The most powerful findings came, not surprisingly, by looking at the rankings alongside the consumers’ verbatim comments. The short story: customers want to feel valued by the brands they support. One in three consumers explicitly included words and phrases like “feeling valued,” “acknowledged,” “heard,” “appreciated,” and “respected” in describing how they want to be treated.

While this might seem obvious, the comments helped us see an even more nuanced and powerful story. Consumers don’t just want to be on the receiving end of value. They also want to give value in return. In comments mentioning the word “value,” nearly half of the respondents (48.4%) used it to express their desire to provide value back to the company. And when asked why they give feedback, four in five consumers selected “I enjoy offering my feedback and making a difference.”

And consumers told us exactly how companies can do this:

  1. Tell them why: “I’d like to know that the information in the survey is useful. Maybe if there was an upfront comment statement like ‘We are interested in your opinion because…’
  2. Show you are listening: “It would be nice to not only be acknowledged, but to receive some feedback regarding the suggestion or comment.”
  3. Take action: “It would be nice if companies let us know what changes they’ve made in response to customer comments.”

» View our infographic: Make Them Feel Valued. Make Them Feel Heard.

Super-Empowered and Well-Intentioned
In a time when consumers have nearly infinite options and a global communication platform at their fingertips—and customer experience has become the place to compete—it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. And while customers do wield unprecedented power, they don’t seem to want to use it for evil. Instead, they are asking to become partners in brands’ success. The question is, Will companies take them seriously? Will they value customers’ advice as strategic business intelligence? Will they treat customers as individuals and not just transactions?

Our Take: The stars are aligned. Customers are clamoring to give exactly what companies need. If brands listen well and listen often, their customers will provide real-time guidance on how to deliver the best experiences and improve nearly every part of the business. Talk about a win-win.

» View the full report: Value Them and They Will Value You

3 Tips for Building a VoC Business Case

The customer experience is a team effort, so it takes an enterprise-wide investment to improve it. You’ll need the support of your peers, partners, and uppers. (You already have ours.) Successfully pitching and pushing any business initiative to your mates—even something so enlightened as the customer experience—requires a strong business case.

That shouldn’t scare you, though, because the evidence is now out there to be had. One resource to lean on is Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business, authored by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine. Aside from sharing multiple examples of successful use cases, the authors offer great advice on creating a case for yourself.

Credit to Peter O’Neill, Bradford J. Holmes, Paul Hagen, and Michael Shrum for curating and summarizing these three tips from its pages.1

  1. Start with Cost Avoidance
    Installing listening systems to collect customer feedback will almost always enable your company to reduce support costs. A positive fallout effect is collecting good research about the customer experience.
  2. Assign a Value to Customer Loyalty
    Forrester’s research clearly shows a correlation between customer experience and loyalty.2 Loyalty is an increasingly important factor in B2B as business customers become service consumers and switching costs ceases to be a barrier. All annuity businesses thrive or die on loyalty.
  3. Model the Effect of Customer Experience Benefits
    While initial customer experience investments will focus on identifying and repairing problems, three other types of revenue benefits have been tied to improving customer experience:

  • incremental purchases from current customers
  • retained revenue as a result of lower churn
  • new sales driven by customer advocacy

1. The Case for B2B Customer Experience Programs Is Revenue Generation and Renewal, Forrester Research, Inc., January 25, 2013

2. Forrester’s Customer Experience Index identifies customer experience leaders and laggards. This information was used to look at how customer experience correlates to loyalty. Across all industries, there’s a high correlation between customer experience and customers’ willingness to buy another product and their likelihood to recommend a company. See the March 26, 2010, “Customer Experience Leaders Garner More Loyalty” report.

Are You Interrogating Your Customers?

We’re well-intentioned. Really, we are. We Customer Experience professionals are passionate about customers and want to do everything within our power to improve their experiences. But in our rush to connect with our customers, we may actually be driving them away.

Understanding the customer experience your organization is delivering requires a lot of asking. We have a massive array of tools to delve into the state of our customer experience—from third-party perspectives like market research and mystery shop programs to transactional data that tells us how our customers behave.

The Ballooning Survey
One of the most powerful sources of customer intelligence is their direct feedback. And so we monitor social media, conduct exit interviews, and we survey. We love our surveys! So many lovely numbers that we can crunch, slice, dice, quantify, and measure. And as more groups within our companies discover the treasure trove of information within customer feedback, they want in on the fun. So the surveys get longer, and longer.

Our poor customers have become the victims of our exuberance. Slogging through question after question after question after question, most of which they couldn’t care less about. We have crossed the line—from earnest asker to unapologetic interrogator.

Feedback, a Positive Experience?
How do we balance our need to understand with our need to keep the feedback experience a positive one? Following are a few tips that will help you get even better data, while not just “doing no harm,” but actually improving your customers’ experience:

On Their Own Terms: The phrase “Customer Experience Management” is headed the way of the laserdisc. As a customer myself, I have absolutely no interest in having my experience “managed.” Today’s customers want more authentic relationships with brands, and they want to share their stories—but on their own terms.

Social Listening automates the process of finding and gathering feedback on brand- and location-level social sites, and in online review forums. You can view social feedback on its own or alongside other types of customer stories for a more holistic view. Links to social comments allow you to respond directly to customers.

Comment boxes are another incredibly valuable tool. Inside those four walls, customers tend to share details that give you specifics on exactly why they feel the way they do about their experience, and how you can either fix a problem or reinforce what’s working. In verbatim comments, customers also prioritize what’s most important to them, giving you the insights you need to focus on the areas with the most impact.

Actively Listen: While comment boxes are great, sometimes customers need a little nudge to get going—and keep talking. Active Listening tools can transform a comment into a conversation, where you’re subtly letting your customers know that you’re listening. A familiar strength meter lets them know that you’d like to hear a little bit more. Follow-up questions based on their personal stories keep the Q&A focused and relevant to what they want to tell you.

Let them Know: Customers want to know three things when they take the time to give feedback:

  1. That you heard them
  2. That you are going to act on what they said
  3. That the insights they shared will make a difference.

While few brands take these final steps, they are critical in building a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship between you and your customers. Today’s customers aren’t simply more demanding, they want to know that the time they spend makes a difference. Letting them know that you’ve heard them, and allowing them to peek behind the curtain at how you’re using their feedback to make positive changes, shows that you value them as human beings and as partners in an ongoing relationship.

End the Interrogation
It’s not okay to assault your customers during the feedback experience—even when you really, really, really want to know. It’s not nice, and it’s not necessary. With the right philosophy and tools, you can harness the important moment in your relationships with your customers to bring them closer—and get great data to crunch as well.

Understanding Empathy and Your Brand

While many companies operate under the model of “If we build it, they will come,” the most successful companies know it’s essential to understand and actively engage with a targeted customer base.

At InMoment, we believe that no one owns the customer, but instead that everyone owns the experience. Both the customers and the company equally share in the brand experience, and both carry equal importance in decision making.

To develop strong customer relationships, brands must fully understand how and why their customers choose to interact with their company. In other words, they must learn to empathize.

Understanding Empathy
To begin, let’s explore what empathy actually is. Empathy is frequently confused with sympathy, when in reality, they can have greatly different outcomes when applied.

Both sympathy and empathy involve relating to and having concern for the feelings of other individuals. Sounds good, right? In most circumstances, either sympathy or empathy are appropriate responses. However, when developing a relationship with customers and clients, empathy always wins.

Sympathy is feeling compassion for another person. Sympathizing requires little emotional investment or intellectual effort and can often be misconstrued as pity. Empathy, in contrast, is the act of projecting one’s self into another person’s thoughts, feelings, personality, and circumstance to gain greater understanding—walking a mile in their shoes.

The Benefits of Empathy
So what does empathy have to do with your customer relationships? People want to build loyalty and relationships with brands. By knowing your ideal customer and understanding how to attract them—in other words, empathizing with their experience—you open the door to developing a great relationship.

With this relationship comes success. When you understand your target customer, you can fine-tune your brand experience to better meet their specific needs and wants. In turn, companies experience the following benefits:

  • Understanding what drives loyalty towards their brand
  • Learning how to turn negative feedback into an opportunity
  • Increasing customer referrals and brand advocacy
  • Maximizing the efficacy of InMoment’s customer feedback products

Actively listening and engaging with your customers’ perspectives—whether through one-on-one interviews, in-person observations, or through InMoment’s customer experience software—provides the highest ROI on your market research.

Creating an Empathy Map
What does this look like in practice? How do you actually get to know your customer? Copyblogger recently produced a comprehensive guide to understanding your customers’ worldview. Inspired by the user experience world, Copyblogger outlined the process of creating empathy maps for your ideal customers. These maps address four key areas in which customers interact with brands: thinking, seeing, feeling, and doing.

Copyblogger suggests gathering several key players to map out your brand experience, including stakeholders, customer support leads, vendors, product developers, and marketers. In this exercise, you’ll sit down together to discuss both experience and specific questions (What do our customers say or feel when they use your product? What are customers hearing from other people who use the product?), along with more personal, worldview questions (How do our customers think about their hopes and fears? How do our customers interact with family and loved ones?).

Some of these questions may seem fairly abstract in comparison to typical market research practices. This is what makes the approach such a success. By striving to understand your customers’ thoughts and feelings beyond the confines of your brand experience, you better understand your customer as a person, not just a source of revenue.

Dr. Frank Luntz describes the necessity of this abstraction in his book Words that Work. “The key to successful communication is to take the imaginative leap of stuffing yourself right into your listener’s shoes to know what they are thinking and feeling in the deepest recesses of their mind and heart.” This “imaginative leap” will lead you to uncover the answers to questions that can truly revolutionize your business.

    A Few Questions from the Imaginative Leap:
  • What drives my customer to spend their money at my business?
  • What pain points does my customer experience in their average day?
  • Can I resolve any of these pain points?
  • What pain points do customers experience with my brand?
  • In what unique way can I improve my customers’ lives?

InMoment’s software is the perfect complement to these empathy exercises. We develop all of our products to capture the voices, feelings, and stories of your customers and understand them in our Experience Hub.

Take the data we provide to the next level by engaging in this empathy map exercise. To get you started, we’ve provided a printable PDF with the kinds of questions you may want to ask about your company and product. Let us know about your experience with this exercise. We want to hear about your successes and insights.

Click here to download the empathy map exercise.

Black Friday Lessons for the Whole Year

Holiday Spending Surprises
So far, the holiday shoppers have been happy to open their wallets this season. And while the overall spend is up, retailers have experienced some unhappy surprises in just how and when consumers are buying. The Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend used to be the pinnacle of the purchasing frenzy. This year it was an unqualified bust.

Most estimates say sales for the day dropped about 11 percent over last year—which wasn’t a great Black Friday year itself, with those sales declining for the first time since 2009. The trend seems clear: Consumers simply aren’t as interested in participating in what had become a mass shopping event.

What’s Holding Black Back?
Many in the retail industry have theories about why shoppers aren’t jumping into what used to be the most beloved of all shopping experiences. Some say the economic recovery is partially to blame; now that shoppers have a little more money in their pockets, they feel they don’t have to fight the crowds to get that discount. Others say shopping fatigue has set in, with online deals, one-day only sales and all other manner of discounts happening throughout all of November and December. Or maybe Black Friday is being pushed aside for the shiny new Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas, expected to be filled with all sorts of last-minute deals for procrastinating shoppers.

In sum, consumers are still happily spending. Overall retail sales for November were up about 5.5 percent from last year. People aren’t shopping less and spending less money, they just aren’t doing it en masse like they used to.

What the Shoppers Are Saying
As a Customer Experience company that serves some of the best retail brands in the world, we wanted to understand the “why” behind the numbers, so we conducted a survey to see how consumers actually feel about shopping over the Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend. Here is a sample of what we found:

  • A whopping 62 percent of shoppers think that Thanksgiving/Black Friday shopping is harming family traditions.
  • Even more than that, 65 percent said they won’t shop on Thanksgiving Day, no matter what the deals may be.
  • As is probably expected, the No. 1 motivator against shopping on Black Friday was the crowds.
  • On the flipside, for those who do shop on Black Friday, the deals were, unsurprisingly, the biggest motivation. However a fun experience and family/social traditions were close behind.
  • And here’s where it gets really interesting: Nearly 90 percent of shoppers said that their customer experience over the weekend was the same or worse than any other time of year. It just stands to reason that a consumer is less likely to shop somewhere if they know they are going to have a bad experience doing it.

Help Them Shop the Holidays Their Way
There may not be an easy solution to getting consumers to return to “shopping holidays,” and, with overall holiday sales rising, maybe the bigger question is whether this strategy is as critical to retailers as we once thought. Considering the response, maybe opening your store’s doors on Thanksgiving to get a head start on Black Friday is actually not the way to go. Both this year’s sales figures and this survey seem to say that approach may actually hurt your brand.

What we learn from this can be applied to shopping not just around the holidays but throughout the entire year. If you want to drive sales, you have to give your customers what they want, when and where they want it. This could be an online promotion for those who want to avoid the crowds or a more pleasant in-store experience for those who value the tradition of shopping events. But how do you know what your customers want if you aren’t already engaged with them?

That’s why always keeping the customer experience in mind is so important. It’s not something you can just trot out during the holidays either. Meaningful engagement with customers should be happening year round, so when it comes time to make plans for Holiday Shopping 2015, you already know what your customers want and can give them the most positive experience possible.

Posted in All

The Text Analytics “Duck Test”

If it looks like text analytics, behaves like text analytics, and is called text analytics, it’s probably text analytics, right? Not necessarily.

A text analytics solution may identify key words and phrases, but that does not ensure any level of comprehension or insight. Text analytics should help tell the customer story and empower your brand to make operational adjustments in an instant.

All technology is not created equal. Take a long hard look at your current text analytics solution and decide for yourself if it’s the real deal.

Industry-Tuned Models
A generic text analytics solution can be a powerful addition to your Voice of the Customer (VoC) program. A text analytics solution fine-tuned to the nuances of your industry, on the other hand, is invaluable. Many text analytics programs use the same classification model—regardless of industry. As a result, accuracy suffers and customer insights are potentially overlooked. Take our custom-built Monitor™ analytics for example, where we’re able to categorize incoming customer comments in real time, providing your brand with relevant and actionable insights the minute the data comes in.

Real-Time Analysis
Customer “moments of truth” are formed instantaneously. Your text analytics solution should be able to keep up with critical functions, which operate in real time, and allow for instant notifications on key issues, questionnaire branching changes, and management reporting. As management sees spikes or changes in customer issues, they can drill down with the touch of a button and view the individual comments fueling a customer experience trend.

Speech-to-text technology allows customers to leave voice comments and have their words transcribed and analyzed in real time. This capability enables management to listen to the emotion conveyed by the customer and opens up additional—and less time-consuming—channels for customers to share their experiences.

Insight Accuracy
The average recall score—the percentage of relevant words or phrases retrieved by a text analytics model—of your standard solution is around 50%. That’s essentially the same odds as flipping a coin. Your chosen text analytics solution should have a recall score that clocks in around 90%. Those are good odds.

Comprehension over Computation
Many text analytics solutions employ a statistical model, which counts words. What they tend to be missing is the use of a linguistic model using a natural language processing (NLP) engine. InMoment’s NLP is powered by IBM’s Watson technology and enables our computers to read customer comments and uncover the customer story. Both solutions have their merits, but a linguistic model excels at uncovering experiential customer data.

The Experience Hub™
Wondering what the Experience Hub is? It’s the platform in which we gather loads of experiential customer information. Some of the most valuable data we collect comes in the form of unstructured customer comments. Because your brand should be able to mine insights from any feedback channel, we’ve embedded our text analytics inside of all our products and services.

Introducing the InMoment Experience Hub™

Back in June when Mindshare and Empathica packed the best they had to offer into a shiny, new package called InMoment, something beautiful happened: Our Experience Hub was born.

Why a Hub?
In uniting and rebranding, we found that one-plus-one didn’t just equal two. InMoment was more than the sum of our former parts. Think of bread. You put some yeast, warm water, flour, maybe a little salt and oil together. And in a few hours, those separate ingredients are transformed. The result of our transformation was a new name, but more importantly, a new way of looking at the Customer Experience landscape, and the opportunity to offer our clients even more than we had imagined.

Enter The Experience Hub. We wanted a new vocabulary that reflected our new vision. The Hub started as an idea in the mind of our CEO John Sperry, born out of a dissatisfaction with linear expressions of the way customers tell their stories, the way we capture and mine them for meaning, and the many ways we then tell these stories back to our clients so they can take immediate action.

The Hub is both aspirational and a reflection of what we can deliver today. It was created to evolve as we continue to push ourselves to innovate, to do more, and to help our clients do more for their customers. Here are a few of its essential elements:

Data, Data, Everywhere
We have a lot of expertise in gathering what we call “experience data,” the rich, experiential information that tells you WHY your customers feel the way they do about your brand. Over the years, we’ve collected hundreds of millions of these “whys.” And while getting this information is critical, it’s not really the point. Experience Data, as well as other types of data—CRM, POS, etc.—are just a means to the end.

We gather to understand, so we can help companies act in ways that improve their customers’ experiences—and help their own bottom lines. And so the Hub is data agnostic. As long as it’s quality information, we don’t care where it originates. We will gather some. We’ll partner and build APIs to bring in the rest. We embrace it all.

The Secret Decoder Ring, aka, Highly Tuned Text Analytics
Gartner estimates that by 2017, enterprise data will grow by 800 percent, and 80 percent of it will be unstructured. The good news: This kind of data contains really, really, really valuable information (think contact center recordings and the comment fields in surveys). The bad news: It’s very hard to work with. And so, we’ve spent years and a lot of resources to build what we feel is the best Voice of Customer text analytics tech out there.

Here’s why and how: We built it on a solid foundation, the same Natural Language Processing engine used by IBM’s Watson (remember Jeopardy?). Next, we spent years developing additional layers of proprietary technologies to fine-tune our text analytics capabilities to understand both VoC and specific industry vocabularies. We also take the additional step of calibrating it to individual client needs. Text analytics is a form of artificial intelligence; you have to take time to train it to understand the specific language you want it to read and understand, or it’s just not that effective.

The impact of the time and resource investments we’ve made is huge. Our text analytics are super smart about customer experience, your industry, and your company. Plus, we’ve embedded it inside of our products and services. Smart AND seamless.

Simple and Elegant
This concept is so important to InMoment that it’s one of our brand attributes. What we mean by Simple and Elegant is that, regardless of how complex the collection process or technology might be, because the information needs to be understandable to anyone—a store manager with a high school education or the CEO—the end products and services must be infinitely simple, while at the same time dripping with insights. Simple and Elegant isn’t easy, but it’s mission critical for us.

In the future, we’ll introduce new products and capabilities that add even more functionality and value to the Experience Hub. Stay tuned.

Text Analytics: Separating Hype from Reality

Has anyone not heard of text analytics? How about big data? They are big. They are important. But, they have also become business buzzwords in the customer experience industry, which rival some all-time greats such as: “Web 2.0,” “The Cloud,” “iWhatever,” and “Social Media Marketing.” The problem is that all of the talk makes it extremely difficult for organizations to separate hype from reality. This often means that everyone’s expectations get skewed, and folks are upset when they don’t get the results they thought they would.

Just How Big Is Big Data?
Most of us think of data in terms of gigabytes (1,000 megabytes) or maybe terabytes (1,000 gigabytes). It is estimated that a gigabyte can hold the contents of a bookshelf about 30 feet long and 10 terabytes can hold the entire Library of Congress. Companies that are serious about Big Data usually have several terabytes of data at a minimum and usually much more. From there, we move into petabytes (1,000 terabytes), exabytes (1,000 petabytes), zettabytes (1,000 exabytes) and so on. Estimates put the amount of data for everything that moves across the Internet in a year at about 250 exabytes.

If we were to think of big data as a mathematical formula (channel Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory for a moment), it would look something like this:

BD = Vo + Ve + Va

In this equation, BD is big data, Vo equals the sheer volume of data or records being processed, Ve is the speed at which the data is processed, and Va equals the variety of structured and unstructured data sources.

Big Data, Little Data, and Text Analytics
Gartner defines big data as “high-volume, high-velocity, and high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making”. So, big data really means big data. Yet, few of the companies serious about it really play in the Big Data league, at least at the scale that defines big data. From what we have seen at many companies, they have a big data problem when they don’t have the right tools to process and mine insights from the data they have. The problem doesn’t reside in the sheer volume of the data but rather in the ability to leverage it effectively across the organization.

Enter the realm of text analytics, which is the process of gleaning information from unstructured text sources. Text analytics holds the promise to help organizations tame the beast that is big data by helping to find key content across a sea of information, identify trends in business operations and processes, classify information based on key pieces of content, and offer insights into the nature of commentary on topics and what is driving the discussion.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “What can I do with the data I have today?” Don’t fret. Start by thinking in terms of “little data.” Little data is the process of using collected information about individuals or groups of individuals to customize or improve the individual or group of individuals experience with an organization. For example, rental car companies know a customer’s vehicle preference based on past rental experiences.

Focus on the following when planning out an approach to text analytics and little data:

  1. Harness the “little data” you have. Know which data available to you is going to be the most impactful—to your customers, as well as your organization. Data quality matters. Keep in mind the old software adage “Garbage In… Garbage Out.” Get the data right before you try to analyze it.
  2. Use “little data” to drive actions. Stay focused on your organization’s priorities and what key opportunities are in your data. Let text analytics provide actionable insights that can be acted upon quickly rather than searching for the proverbial “needle in a haystack.”
  3. Let “little data” become a real-time process. Don’t wait for weeks or months for data from text analytics to make changes to operational processes. Build the right capabilities, so insights from structured and unstructured data can be acted upon quickly across the enterprise—bottom to top.
  4. “Little data” drives the future. Look for a text analytics solution that can dive deeper into the data, revealing emotion and sentiment as well as frequency counts. Keep in mind that new capabilities are coming from text analytics engines, which can mine customer data for better and deeper insights.

How to Overcome the Outpatient
Feedback Challenge

While most NHS trusts have successfully achieved their inpatient response targets since the Friends and Family Test (FFT) was launched in April 2013, many have found it more difficult to collect responses from patients using their Emergency Departments and community maternity services. This not only hinders them from gaining valuable insight to drive improvements but also has a financial impact as trusts earn funding by achieving their response rate targets.

This challenge is set to get bigger for trusts as the Friends and Family Test extends to cover all outpatient departments. The FFT is set to become a firm fixture for all users of health services in England as the planned roll-out across primary care services will encompass GPs, pharmacies, and opticians, as well as all NHS Trusts.

Overcome the Challenge of Collecting Feedback
To date, some NHS trusts have achieved a good response rate from inpatients by ensuring they collect feedback before patients leave the hospital, although this does require investment of time from the ward staff. However, in busy outpatient clinics with people constantly coming and going it can be hard to get patients to stay long enough to provide feedback—of course, many will be dashing to retrieve a car, do a school run, catch a bus, or get back to work!

Yet, the challenge of collecting feedback from busy people going about their daily lives has long been overcome by many commercial organisations. Over the last ten years, more and more commercial companies have collected feedback from users of their services—usually by handing them a small card or something similar, which invites the customer to call or go online to give feedback once they reach home or get back to work. Millions of customers annually give feedback in this way across a whole range of customer experiences including grabbing a coffee, the weekly shop, or a host of social occasions in pubs, restaurants, and even the cinema.

Translate Commercial Experience to NHS
There are a number of best practices gleaned from the commercial sector that translate well to the NHS. Many of these have already been taken up by healthcare providers who work with InMoment to collect actionable feedback from their patients, including Boots pharmacies and opticians, The Transform Group, and Surrey & Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

Understanding people’s motivations for providing feedback can help organisations identify the important factors in achieving a strong response rate. When InMoment asked respondents to their customer surveys why they took the time to give feedback, the survey showed that the most frequently mentioned reasons for customers giving feedback were, firstly, that the customer had an experience that was important to them that they wanted to share and, secondly, they wanted to help the organisation to improve and continue to provide a valued service for the local community. Both these reasons are equally valid for outpatient NHS services as they are for commercially driven services.

Commercial experience also demonstrates the value of employees being engaged and enthusiastic about hearing from customers and driving improvements. Response rates vary significantly and retailers can drive a ten-fold increase when their staff members get involved in letting customers know they value their feedback and want to hear about their experience.

Commercial experience demonstrates that a well-designed programme that is easy for patients and valued by enthusiastic staff can successfully deliver feedback from robust patient numbers year after year. As one enlightened Patient Experience Manager told me, the people attending outpatient clinics and using community services are exactly the same people who are completing InMoment surveys after visiting Starbucks, Boots, Tesco, and Waitrose!

They’ll Never Forget…

Originally published at

I’m a lucky man. As part of my job, I’m able to meet with leadership at some of the largest and best brands in the world. These executives are already evangelists for creating stellar customer experiences. They’ve invested in the best technology, changed their processes, the executive teams and boards have bought in; they’ve infused customer-centricity into their cultures. And they’re seeing results in the form of higher CSAT and NPS scores, lower churn and better retention, not to mention more engaged employees.

But these men and women don’t invite me into their offices to boast about their accomplishments. They come to me hungry, wanting to know how they can do more. Having already raised their bars, they ask what else they should be doing to take their companies even higher.

Where Metrics Give Way to Stories
With all the traditional CX boxes checked, the conversations always turn inward to the promises they’ve made to their employees and customers, and how well they feel they’re keeping those promises. At that point, metrics fall away and they share stories. Stories about how they want to make their customers feel about doing business with their companies. And how they and their employees feel when they get it right.

It’s a fascinating process, especially since these are the same executives who continually beat the drums of “measurable results” and “ROI.” And they should. Because as crass as it sounds, the success or failure of companies and careers is defined by how many widgets we sell.

This conflict between the very human and the down-to-business sides of what we do in the realm of customer experience is real. And because our ability to measure and prove will always be central to how we define success, it’s more difficult to articulate and value the “softer” side.

Thankfully, we’ve got a few things going for us. First, we’re all customers, and as such, we get the importance of feeling valued at a gut level. We don’t need ROI numbers to know how big a role emotion plays in the brands to which we commit ourselves in our personal lives.

Loyalty Is a Feeling
There’s also a growing body of both qualitative and quantitative research that confirms how critical the emotional component of customers’ experiences are to our success. I recently attended Forrester Research’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals. VP & Principal Analyst Megan Burns discussed the results of research titled “Introducing Forrester’s Next-Generation Customer Experience Index,” which the firm recently conducted across a variety of industries.

They found that how customers feel about their experience has more impact on loyalty than any other factor for 11 out of the 17 industries that they test—more than how well a product works, how much it costs, or how convenient it is to get or use. And for the other six industries, how customers feel is at least as important as other factors.

When people in our business use the word “loyalty,” it means something. Loyal customers spend more money with our brands, purchase more often, and refer friends and family. They’ll pass up lower prices, closer competitors, and other temptations to engage with us. Loyal customers are our Holy Grail.

So how do we focus on making our customers feel more valued, and at the same time keep our eye on the bottom-line prize? How do we make sure our motivations and efforts stay authentic and don’t stray into the smarmy and manipulative? We’ve already seen some organizations bring in top-level executives charged with sitting in for the customer at the decision-making table. Other companies are changing how and who they hire—focusing on frontline team members with higher EQs (emotional intelligence quotients).

And these are great places to start. But what about the C-suite team? Are your CTO and CFO customer-centric? How about your KPIs? Are you incenting and empowering employees at every level of your organization—from procurement to programming—to think about how each action impacts the people at the end of the chain?

Balancing the Practical and the Aspirational
We can all do more. We can stop asking what we want to know, and start listening to what our customers want to tell us: their stories, in their own words. We can stop abdicating our responsibility to bureaucracy, technology, vendors, or partners and just do what needs to be done to make it right.

In her remarks, Burns cited a quote from the late poet Maya Angelou that we should all adopt as a mantra:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

If we can achieve that sublime balance between the practical and the aspirational with our customers and continually seek to do more, they will respond. When we stay true to our brands, which are the souls of our organizations, and keep the promises we’ve made, we won’t have to worry so much about that bottom line. It will take care of itself.

How Technology Has Changed the Customer Experience

The customer experience is not the same today as it was years ago. Technology has played a pivotal role in that evolution.

Today, customers have the ability to leave feedback in any form they like (in-store, online, by phone, etc.). And if these channels aren’t available, customers can take to social media to share their brand experiences. No matter the circumstances, if a customer has an interaction with your brand, chances are they’re going to talk about it.

Customer expectations are higher than they used to be, and the way customers experience brands has changed. Technology enables companies to learn, adapt, and exceed customer expectations.

Feedback without Friction

By offering a convenient channel for every customer to leave constructive feedback, your organization can begin to understand the root causes behind changes in performance—at any level.

For many customers, social media is the most convenient channel to leave feedback. Until recently, companies had no way to tap into the unstructured customer data being shared on popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Now, customers can share their feedback on their social media channel of choice immediately after a brand interaction. Tools like GoRecommend™ and OpenTell™ allow customers to publicly share their experience without the friction normally associated with traditional surveys.

Text analytics has also played a crucial role in the evolution of the customer experience. Brands are able to analyze open-ended, natural language comments (unstructured) as well as customer feedback collected from standard surveys (structured) and identify root causes and suggest clear plans of action to resolve and prevent customer issues.

Perfecting the Customer Experience

VoC feedback solutions provide vital insights explaining the cause and effect of customer perceptions. The right customer experience platform will automatically aggregate and analyze all customer voices to reveal opportunities for improvement in full detail—advising for issues at specific times of day, geographical locations, demographics, languages, and other defining parameters.

In this way, companies can balance the wants and needs of their customers with the financial and strategic priorities of the organization to create a mutually beneficial relationship with their customers.

Social Media for Customer Support & Brand Advocacy

Business itself—not just marketing—is now happening outside of the old business district. Out “there” where marketing has already wandered, there is now actual shopping, purchasing, couponing, and… customer support.

That’s right. Customer support.

Customer support, by nature, has traditionally been a “we’ll be here if you need us” type of operation. And not long ago that was enough. It was very generous of a company to dedicate a sector of their business for customers to visit or call. How convenient, right? Not anymore. Customers will decreasingly come to find you, especially as other businesses make the effort to find them first.

In an article published by The Wharton School, we learn that, “When companies today try to meet their customers where they live, they increasingly find that it is on social media. Now that such sites are an integral part of the culture, using them for customer care is moving from cutting-edge concept to business necessity.”

So, how do you proactively support customers over social media? Here are just a few words of advice:

Connect “Support” and “Advocacy” in Your Agents’ Minds

Redefine support. Even a goal to “resolve customer concerns” leaves a lot of ambiguity. Clearly communicate to your agents how customers are to be treated. Drill that into their minds even more than your policies and company lines. Once the standard of service has been set where it needs to be, there are ways to help ensure it’s met. Use the voice of your customers to learn where your agents need the most training and motivate the right behaviors by sharing positive customer reactions to the support they were given.

Encourage social advocacy. I’m with Nicole Fallon of Business News Daily, who says, “Instead of figuring out how to manage and respond to those negative comments, businesses should focus on providing such excellent service that they create a strong, loyal customer base that will advocate on their behalf if someone has something bad to say.”

Having customer advocates means you’ll have voices defending your brand on forums where someone may have posted a negative comment. When using social media for your support, you also have the advantage that the support channel and the advocacy channel are one and the same—so someone receiving timely customer support responses through Twitter or Facebook is perfectly positioned to turn around and share their positive experience with friends, family, and followers. You can and should even create a strategy for encouraging them to do just that.

Stay True to the Sample Size of One™

Reply to Everyone. The technology is out there to alert your team whenever your brand is mentioned on social sites, including blogs and forums. With the right strategy, not only can you reply to every customer comment, you can do it within 16 minutes (the recommended time). In the words of one Sofie De Beule, “Customers show no mercy for unanswered messages.”

Take the Right Tone. In the rush to respond to everyone, it’s important to make sure responses are not canned or impersonal. In the article “The Ignored Side of Social Media: Customer Service,” Bianca Buckridee, vice president of social media operations for JPMorgan Chase, said, “Using the right tone with customers is not a ‘set it and forget it’ model. You have to do almost continuous daily coaching and training. . . . You have to keep monitoring.” She also described how her team might look at a customer’s Facebook page, timeline, or Pinterest pinboard before crafting a response. “We strive to make it look real-time, but we’re really doing a ton of research in the back.”

Conclusion: Social media has already seen more than enough adoption to deserve a solid strategy in your business and contact center. As social media continues to evolve and diversify, it’s important to stay on top of it through proactive strategy and the real-time customer experience optimization tools for understanding how to create KPI improvements through social media.

Turning Up the Heat on Summer Sales

We are set for a scorcher of a summer, apparently, with the Met Office predicting above average temperatures for June, July, and August. This no doubt will mean a shopping frenzy around BBQs, burgers, buns, and beer—and that’s before we look at salads, sauces, and suntan cream!

We Brits love a barbecue. Indeed, according to TNS BMRB, 18.5 million adults in the UK have a barbecue at home. After a couple of sunny spring bank holidays have whetted our appetites, consumers should have a huge appetite for some outdoor eating and be happy to spend money on impulse purchases as well as the essentials. Even with our unpredictable climate, the garden leisure market is sizeable. estimate that it was worth over £571 million in 2011; and with the UK climate becoming warmer, we’re seeing the barbecue season expand while demand for garden leisure products increase.

Finding Sweet Spots to Optimise Sales
From a commercial perspective, barbecues have a very broad appeal, which means retailers need to use as much customer intelligence as possible to optimise sales. Some consumer groups will want value burgers and buns and deals on mainstream drinks, while others will be looking for a much more exotic product range. The volume potential on the basics will be significant but the much bigger margins will of course be on premium food, drink, accessories, and hardware. There will also be opportunity around vegetarian options, and other special dietary requirements. Key considerations across the board being adequate stock supplies and staff knowledge.

Depending on how long the hot spell lasts, retailers will want to maintain the momentum accordingly. And this is where insight can help. The InMoment platform will help you capture customer experience data and provide the right intelligence for managers, even at a very local level, to understand the sweet spots around this very specific market environment. The reality is that a rush of traffic is the perfect opportunity to win new fans and also to build loyalty in your existing customer base. New shoppers may well be tempted by strong merchandising and great customer service, especially if their regular store is falling short. And existing customers should spend more if you delight them with great service and a range of products to meet their needs.

Local Insights for Consistent Experiences
Today’s customer experience programs are focused on helping local managers to uncover what elements are most important to a great experience, and also help drive the right frontline actions to ensure those key elements are consistently delivered. These programmes help to provide accountability to local managers, ensure consistency across every location, and coach local managers on what to fix and how to execute, eliminating wasted time spent reading and interpreting reports.

Having the tools in place to ensure a consistently great customer experience becomes especially critical at opportunistic sales peaks, like a random heat wave, because getting it right could result in recruiting new customers who may be converted for the long term—way after the sun has set and the rain returns!

Translation Is Just the Tip of the International Customer Experience Iceberg

Nan Russell, head of our Global Centre of Excellence, offers her expert advice to set your international customer experience management (CEM) programme on the right path and ensure your brand doesn’t get ‘lost in translation’.

The potential of going global with a brand is often an attractive prospect. Establishing an international customer base, favourable overseas economic conditions, and competitive cost of goods mean many companies seek to expand into new international markets. Their success depends on how well their brand offering is received by customers in each market, and a robust customer feedback programme is an essential foundational element to shape a brand’s development. But international consumer engagement is beset with pitfalls for the ill-prepared, as several well-publicised cases have highlighted.

We’ve all heard of some infamous international brand faux pas. Vauxhall had to relaunch its Nova model as the Corsa in Spain upon discovering the literal translation of ‘Nova’ in Spanish is ‘it won’t go’. Similarly, when fast food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken opened its first restaurant in Beijing, its famous slogan ‘Finger-lickin’ good’ was translated to ‘We’ll eat your fingers off’! In fact, numerous world-famous companies have stumbled when expanding into new markets, risking damage to their brand reputation and sales.

These days, social media quickly amplifies such mistakes around the globe, meaning those responsible for brand reputation have to work even harder to avoid the ‘bad translation’ (and resulting schadenfreude) at every stage of the customer journey. While it is essential for brands to engage customers in the language of the location, achieving this across borders and during every customer interaction poses a number of major challenges.

Don’t just translate the right words; use the right tone
It’s certainly not as easy as simply translating an invitation or survey from one language to another. Brands seeking to communicate their own brand values overseas must also consider local cultural values, rules of conduct, tone, and linguistic nuances such as humour and slang. Does the formal use of honorifics such as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ set the right tone for your brand in Japan, where their use is often mandatory? Or is your brand casual and breezy, and would your customers be more comfortable with a less formal approach?

Measure on the right scales
The cultural impact on market research scoring patterns is one of subtle complexity. On a 5-point scale—with 5 being the best score—does a 4 mean the same thing in Germany and Japan and Mexico? German schools use a rating system in which 1 is the best score and 5 would be near failing. Knowing the correct scoring scales to use in each market is crucial.

Use the right interpretation
Market and cultural differences in relative ‘hard’ or ‘easy’ grading complicates use of American-designed indices, such as the Net Promoter Score. Customers in some markets would be shocked that their scores of an 8 (on a 10-point scale) are not considered Promoters. There is wide variance in how customers in different markets rate great service; it is important not to assign meanings that they did not intend.

Set the right targets
Once you’re using the right scales, how do you drive improvement? Many businesses want to set a single, global target. For example, every market is expected to achieve 70% on Overall Satisfaction. But the reality is that goal may be simply out of reach for markets that are ‘hard raters’; an Overall Satisfaction score of 65% may be much harder to attain in Germany than a 75% is in Italy.

The meaningful comparison typically is not the score but the improvement ratio. By targeting a level of improvement (for example, all markets are expected to improve six percentage points in the next fiscal year), each market can identify ways to drive their improvement within the relevant context.

Provide the right support
As part of that drive for consistent improvement, it is not enough to report scores; it is essential to support in-market teams with action planning tools. Location managers are often fluent in languages other than those spoken by the corporate executives. Reporting and action planning must be delivered in the language of the people driving the business on the ground.

For further expert advice, read our white paper
Top 10 Tips for a Successful Global Customer Experience Programme

One Size Doesn’t Fit All When It Comes to Designing Great International Customer Experiences

International ShoppingWith more than 25 years of experience in global research design and implementing multinational, multichannel customer insight programs, Nan Russell, head of our new Global Centre of Excellence, offers her expert advice to help you to prepare a successful multi-cultural customer experience management (CEM) programme to set you on the road to international business success.

The Chancellor’s latest budget announcement to double the UK Export Finance lending scheme and cut lending rates by a third, was welcomed by many brands looking to expand and export overseas. Well-established brands seeking growth increasingly look to expand into international markets as domestic markets become saturated. Key questions start to emerge around how best to put the customer at the heart of the business across widely different markets and ensure global consistency while addressing local customer needs.

Consistently delivering great experiences is a huge competitive advantage in emerging markets and a key differentiator in mature markets. However, achieving this across borders, markets and cultures poses a number of major challenges which can make or break a growing business.

To manage a business globally, being able to compare performance across locations and countries is crucial. But some businesses make a mistake in trying to make all things the same. A ‘one size fits all’ approach is certainly not the way forward and recognizing that you’re not working on a level playing field in different markets is a vital first step. In global CEM, there are multiple layers of challenges – from differences in technological capabilities and readiness to adopt customer experience strategies to cultural restrictions.

Cultural challenges In some countries the concept of ‘customer service’ is a new idea, and being asked to give your opinion even newer. In markets where people have not previously had the freedom or the cultural impetus to express their preferences, it can be a challenge to drive responses.

Ten years ago, when implementing the first CEM programmes in Asia, clients repeatedly said ‘no one will respond – they’ve never been asked to provide their opinion and are too reserved to make their opinions known.’ In reality, CEM programmes have thrived in Asian markets when they have provided a culturally appropriate opportunity for continued engagement with the brand. It is a mark of respect to appreciate your customers and ask for their insight.

Technology challenges Countries are at different points in their CEM journey. Some still use mystery shopping and/ or paper-based surveys; some have leaped to full scale CEM, whilst others have yet to begin to focus on the customer experience at all. Some markets have taken advantage of the newest technologies, seeking customer feedback via tablet and Near Field Communication and QR codes, while others have only ever received feedback via pen and paper. However, don’t simply go for the lowest common denominator – just because some of your target markets may not be ready for a web-based survey methodology does not mean that all markets need to wait implement it.

Service challenges For markets that will be using CEM for the first time, it can be scary to hear directly from their customers. They may not like what they will hear. In such markets where the business focus on customer experience is new, coaching managers to deliver a consistent level of experience is difficult; helping front line staff see the value of consistently engaging their customers is even more daunting.

At Empathica, we assess market readiness carefully in designing a bespoke global programme for each individual brand. We work with you to build the optimal programme under the opportunities and challenges of each of your target markets. What is crucial to the programme design is to understand what drives successful adoption within each particular brand’s business and build on the type of introduction that works in that business.

For further expert advice, read our white paper – Top 10 Tips For a Successful Global Customer Experience Programme

Seven Ways Tablets Are Changing Restaurant Customer Experience

Tablet at RestaurantThe inexorable rise of mobile technology continues to shape the way we shop, dine out and use our leisure time. According to the latest figures from e-tail industry body IMRG and advisory firm Capgemini, while total online sales rose 18% year-on-year in December to £11.1bn, sales via mobile devices doubled to £3bn. Indeed, mobiles and tablet computers are now used for nearly 6% of all retail sales as Brits embrace shopping anytime, anywhere. This trend presents both a challenge and an opportunity for brands in the eating and drinking out sector. With consumers increasingly carrying the technology around in their pockets, brands also have the opportunity to communicate with customers more frequently, and savvy brands are using technology to improve their guests’ experience. Tablets are a driving force behind innovations in the front-end restaurant customer experience, whether in a quick service or a fast casual establishment. As more and more restaurants embrace tablet technology, there are several ways that they are revolutionizing the restaurant experience for brands and consumers.
  1. Seamless Dining Experiences – Inspired by the ease of exceptional online buying events, guests value restaurants that provide seamless, hassle-free experiences from the moment they are seated through to the moment they pay. In many cases, restaurants are using tablets to offer table-side payment or other activities that streamline and improve the guest’s dining experience.
  2. Cut the Queues – Fast food restaurants are using tablets to speed up the food ordering process and cut down on waiting time for customers. Orders can be taken from queuing customers on a wireless tablet to be ready for quick collection and payment at the counter, thus creating a positive brand experience.
  3. Enhanced Interaction – Opportunities for enhanced interaction are prime targets for restaurants interested in improving customer experiences with tablet technology. Restaurants on the leading edge of tablet deployments have installed tablets at tables, allowing guests to interact with menus, place orders, pay bills and perform a range of other self-serve functions. Similarly, restaurants are exploring the use of promotional content or pay-as-you-go games that provide entertainment or customer engagement opportunities while guests wait for their food to arrive. These kinds of activities drive bottom-line improvements by leveraging customer experiences to increase loyalty.
  4. “On the Fly” Data Insights – Tablets offer a non-threatening and engaging resource that restaurants can use to capture customer insights. While many guests are hesitant to provide personal information when they pay their bills or at the request of their servers, they are less resistant to providing data on their own terms, especially if the submission of data is tied to a discount or contest. Multi-site restaurants can leverage tablets to capture data insights at the local level, helping them tailor the customer experience to the desires and preferences of local consumers.
  5. Guest Reviews – A great time to capture guest reviews is before they leave the restaurant, while details of the experience are top of mind. Willingness to provide feedback is also much greater with this immediacy, since even the most satisfied guests often don’t feel compelled to rate their experience later. In the restaurant industry, reviews are a key element in customer acquisition, and table-side tablets offer a ready-made resource for encouraging guests to share feedback about service, cuisine or other aspects of their experience. Reviews captured via tablets can then be used to build brand reputation and modify the customer experience based on guests’ suggestions.
  6. Multichannel Feedback – Consumers use many different touch points to connect with the restaurant brands that are important to them. Surveys and other tools delivered on tablet devices create feedback that can be shared across all available channels, increasing the impact of brand advocacy and positive mentions. In particular, restaurants need to prioritize the use of tablets to capture feedback that can be distributed via social channels.
  7. Enhanced Employee Engagement – One of the largest challenges with customer feedback is how to use the results when they arrive. Tablets can help to reshape this challenge by bringing results to life in a meaningful way to customer facing staff. Data visualization capabilities on tablets are extensive, but again the challenge is more than simply presenting guest feedback in a “pretty” way; it’s presenting it in a meaningful way that motivates staff and will drive guest experience improvement.
The real innovation in the use of tablet technology is that it enables restaurant brands to forge meaningful, direct connections among guests, restaurant managers and their staff. The deployment of table-side tablets gives guests more immediate options, inviting them to participate in activities that strengthen their relationship with the brand. Just as importantly, tablets can significantly improve a restaurant’s ability to capture feedback and provide local guest insights—important factors in the brand’s ability to create and deliver enhanced customer experiences.

Customer Surveys in the Social Media Age

We’ve come a long way since lengthy paper surveys were first introduced to gather customer feedback. Technological developments over the decades have transformed the way brands interact with, and learn from, consumers into the sophisticated tools we see today. We have also seen explosive growth in customer reviews over the past few years. Now, the ongoing saga and court case over fake reviews on Yelp have shone a spotlight on the growing importance (and hazards) of online reviews for brand reputation. The power of such customer reviews is undeniable. A recent study from the Nielsen Company found that 84% of people trust online recommendations from friends and 68% trust consumer opinions posted online, which rank #1 and #3 respectively in terms of trusted advertising sources. And not only do people trust these recommendations, they are also using them to make purchasing decisions: Three quarters of people say they use Facebook to make decisions about where to eat or shop, and half have tried a new restaurant based on a recommendation they saw on social media.

So, are we witnessing the latest feedback evolution? Are social media reviews the new customer surveys?

For brands, the emergence of review sites is a double-edged sword. Amateur critics tend to write about either great or terrible experiences, and leave reviews full of glowing praise or angry complaints. And it is the recognised power of these online comments to either make or break a business’ reputation that lies at the heart of the Yelp court case. The 4 Main Challenges with Review Sites Quality of Reviews As the Yelp case highlights, because reviews may or may not be from real customers, their quality is questionable at best. Indeed, Yelp admits that one in five reviews on the site are ‘suspicious’; it just can’t be sure which ones are fake. Quantity of Reviews With typically only a handful of customers posting an online review, there just aren’t enough reviews for a consumer to make a well-informed decision. Recency of Reviews Reviews are often old and not a fair representation of what is actually happening NOW at the location. Focus of Reviews Because consumers are commenting on whatever they choose (rather than being directed to answer questions about the service elements most important to brand loyalty), there is no way to know whether the comments will actually help brands to improve. A reviewer saying the ‘food was poor’, for example, gives the location manager nothing to go on to know which element of the food was poor—was it the taste, temperature, portion size, or all of the above? Embracing Newer, Diversified Data While we can acknowledge that reviews are definitely a new type of survey, they’re unlikely to displace all other types. Reviews do provide a good indication of overall performance and how a location measures up against a few basic key drivers. But brands also need to delve deeper by asking specific questions to enable managers to understand which elements are most important to a great brand experience, and also help drive the right frontline actions to ensure those key elements are consistently delivered. So, how can brands uncover the needles of actionable insights in the ever-growing, ever-diversifying haystack of customer feedback? In particular, how do they best leverage the growing phenomenon of online reviews? The good news is that, since those days of paper surveys, we’ve gained decades of experience figuring out what data has to say and how to make use of it. Through today’s enhanced text analytic tools, businesses can now gather any unstructured text feedback, such as online reviews, and view it alongside structured survey feedback to give enhanced customer insight to drive operational improvements. Transparency Is the Trump Card In today’s ‘Yelp-gate’ age, transparency has become of paramount importance for brands wanting consumers’ trust and custom. Products such as OpenTell™ have been developed to overcome the current challenges brands face with review sites, collecting authentic reviews in high volume and only allowing verified customers to publish reviews to avoid fraudulent activity from skewing customer ratings and influencing public perception. If social media has taught us one thing, it’s this: power is now in the hands of individuals, and every customer counts. Brands must learn to leverage their feedback to gain insight and harness the power of online reviews. In this data-driven age, using the right tools will help brands to stay ahead of the competition by empowering them to turn insight into the right operational actions that drive business improvement.

The 4 Keys to VoC Success: Key #4 – Continuous Evolution through Research & Analysis

Welcome to the final part of my four-part blog series. So far, I have discussed getting full executive sponsorship, going beyond surveys to build an ongoing customer connection, and making feedback data actionable at the location level. If you’ve been following along, you’ve seen how closely intertwined these elements are. The trend continues below with Key #4 to VoC Success.

Key to Success #4: Use Research & Analysis to Adapt to Evolving Program Needs

Know Your Results

Like any major initiative and investment, the impact your VoC program has on your brand must be understood in clear terms for it to be successful. Gaining this type of understanding first requires effective measurement and management of program results.

With so many sources of disparate data to sift through at a brand and location level, this is no small task. Frankly, the best option for handling it is to… have someone else do it. Really. Make sure the VoC vendor you are working with is delivering an accurate representation of your customers’ perceptions. And make sure they’re making your life easier by delivering it in a simple, understandable format.

Adapt Your Program

Once you begin to understand the results coming in, you can identify meaningful customer trends and opportunities for improvement. On top of that, though, you’ll likely begin seeing areas where more or different information would be helpful. Again, your VoC vendor should be able to help. This is where you need to make sure regular adjustments are being made to your program, through research & analysis.

The figure to the right outlines a simple four-step process for helping you stay focused on the most impactful elements within your customer experience—by ensuring you get the most detailed and useful information you can. Survey design & build, loyalty modeling, multivariate statistical analyses, and regular strategic reviews are all key to continuous program evolution.

Deliver on Your Brand Promise

By incorporating the 4 Keys to VoC Success (as discussed in this four-part series) any brand can understand and deliver the experience their customers want. When delivering on your brand promise, they will happily make return visits and become active brand advocates. In return, you will be rewarded with increased revenue, accompanied by positive reviews and recommendations.

Red Shoes Pillar #3: Stories

This article first appeared in the opinion section of Aftermarket News
on April 11, 2014.

It was originally written as a guest commentary by Lonnie Mayne.

Photo taken by Flickr user Garry Knight

Everyone Has a Story

Every last person out there has their signature features—visible clues that tease out their story. It could be a glaring flaw or a glowing trait: a tendency to talk too fast, a flair for the dramatic, a hard time getting out of bed, an appreciation for birds, an addiction to texting, a love for baseball, even a broken finger that never healed right.

It doesn’t really matter whether it’s negative, positive, or neutral—what matters is that it’s there and it outwardly marks their experience.

These unique clues are powerful elements in the customer experience, because they are personal—just like good business is today. Commerce has taken on a very integral role in our daily lives, and I’m not saying this as a lament that “Corporate America” and “the Material World” are taking over our lives; I’m saying that technology and community have (thankfully) allowed personal life to reassert itself within the workplace and marketplace.

We can’t afford to forget what Christopher Locke so perfectly states in his book, The Cluetrain Manifesto:

“Corporations are legal fictions, willing suspensions of disbelief. Pry the roof off any company and what do you find? The Cracker Jack prize is ourselves, just ordinary people.”

Journey to the Center

I hearken back to childhood often, and I invite anyone who will listen to do the same. The reason I do this is that it gives me perspective. There’s something amazing about looking back on a person so innocent and so different from us—yet who IS us.

Viewing our personal leap from then to now is both awe-inspiring and instructive. By retracing the knotted thread that ties us back to our childhood selves, I believe we get closer to our true self. We get closer to finding an answer to North’s question in Rise of the Guardians, “What is your center?”

That thread, that magical twine that perfectly explains your lifelong metamorphosis, is your story. I encourage you to retrace it whenever you get the chance.

The Things You Keep

We all began this life without much more to our name than an appetite—for food, for knowledge, for love.

Our interests and possessions increase quickly, and fairly suddenly, but we outgrow most of them in a matter of months. We advance through our early development so rapidly that what’s useful one day is outgrown the next. I can name so many things from my childhood that I no longer have use for: my onesies, my liquids-only diet, my diapers, my 11-hour nights, my bib, my night light, my tricycle, my wagon, and the list goes on.

We do so much outgrowing of childhood things that we can be excused for feeling like everything from the past is meant to be outgrown and left behind. But the reality is that the most important things from our childhood—the relationships, the bonds, the purity of motive—are meant to grow with us.

When you retrace your story, pay attention to the things that have grown with you. Those are the things that define your story the most.

See Your Customer’s Story

Customers can connect in a more meaningful, committed, and loyal way to the human side of your company than they can to the material or operational side. That’s not to say loyalty isn’t contingent upon fulfilling transactional expectations, but the hard, historical truth is that people are wired to connect best with each other. It’s through other people that we find validation, positive emotion, and meaning.

When we, as customers, interact with company employees who are guided first and foremost by human empathy, our instinct is to welcome that employee, and the brand they represent, into our lives. Yes, companies should train employees to make sure they are also guided by brand attributes and company policies, but they can’t afford to bury employees’ personalities under scripted procedures.

The key to fitting your company into a customer’s story is to help them validate their own story through yours. That takes human understanding. If we as leaders can cultivate a culture of human appreciation that reaches frontline employees and empowers them to see, appreciate, and validate the stories of individual customers—then we will have won.

Who Knows Yours?

Looking and listening for clues into your customers’ stories should take priority over publicizing or promoting your own—but that doesn’t mean you can take without giving. As individuals and as brands we must be willing to openly share our real, imperfect selves with others if we expect to gain their trust and loyalty.

I’ll speak more about this in Pillar #5, “Putting Yourself Out There,” but it’s worth asking right now if you have retraced your own thread recently to get a sense of your story, self, and center? Have you done anything recently to show that true identity to others? Who knows your story?

If you have a moment, which I know many of you don’t, I encourage you to check out BYUtv’s Story Trek. This wonderful program follows reporter Todd Hansen as he knocks on doors and finds amazing stories behind every single one.

You can do the same.

Entrepreneur Article: Evolve or Die in the Age of the Customer

Entrepreneur was recently kind enough to lend me their Webspace for sharing some thoughts on business and customer experience in today’s market.

I’ve been around long enough to see a pretty significant and cool change take root in the way business is done. And while I cherish the learning I did long ago in an environment rather dissimilar to today’s, I love reimaging those formative scenarios in the advanced confines of the modern market.

That’s the approach I’ve taken for examining the “Age of the Customer,” Big Data, and the importance of evolution in my article “Evolve or Die in the Age of the Customer.” Check it out by clicking the link(s).

The 4 Keys to Voice of the Customer Success: Key #3 – Action at the Location Level

We are now on Part Three in this four-part series on VoC success. Check out the first two keys now if you missed them earlier: 1. Get full executive sponsorship and 2. Go beyond surveys to build an ongoing customer connection. These two keys will drive your third key to VoC success.

Key to Success #3: Make Customer Feedback Data Actionable at the Location Level

Every location manager brings a unique skill set and level of maturity to their job. This creates slight variations in the leadership approach at each location and even each shift. These variations in leadership aren’t a problem in and of themselves—but when regular communication of key deliverables is lacking, it can lead to significant straying from the brand promise.

With clear communication of location-level deliverables, however, a wide variety of management styles can be equally successful in engaging employees and creating a great customer experience. The real problem, then, is that most traditional enterprise feedback management (EFM) reporting does not communicate the right things well, if at all.

Some reports may address only generic companywide talking points that don’t specifically apply to a single location. Others get down to local data but never make the figures understandable to those of us without a PhD in statistical analysis. Location managers simply don’t have the time or training to wade through piles of data tables and reports to get the answers they need.

Simplicity Is Quick, and Quick Is Empowering

The key is to empower location managers with tools that will help them to quickly identify local, branded needs, so they can take the necessary actions (in their own management style) to implement positive changes in the customer experience.

Take our Coach Local Dashboard for example. It was designed specifically for location managers to take the complexity out of customer feedback data, helping them to deliver consistent and memorable customer experiences. Through interactive visual cues, the dashboard eliminates the need to search through complex reports in search of customer experience improvement insights and leverages prescriptive reporting technology to set focus areas.

As a result, location managers can create, edit and execute action plans that address these challenges, as well as monitor and track progress against their goals toward encouraging return visits and increasing your brand strength.

The dashboard also facilitates social sharing of community-sourced content, giving location managers insight into a living best practices library of what’s working for the top-performing locations and how it could be applied in their team.

Just one more key to go in this series on VoC success! Stay tuned for the final installment, where I will discuss the fourth and final key to VoC success: Use research and analysis to adapt to evolving program needs.

Don’t Bank on the Weather, but Great Customer Experience Will Always Pay Off

While meteorologists argue over forecasts for May, recent glimmers of warmer weather have increased our hopes for a sunny spring and a repeat of last summer’s heat wave. With two bank holidays to look forward to, this could be very welcome news for operators in the leisure and retail industries.

What’s Worth Paying For?

A recent report reveals many Brits consider eating out at a high-end restaurant an experience worth paying for and are as likely to save up for fine dining as for a holiday. This is good news for brands offering eating & drinking destinations and days out, who could well enjoy some positive outcome here.

Despite continued caution in consumer spending, families are still spending an average of £40.50 per household per week on eating out at restaurants and hotel breaks, and £19.80 per week on other recreational activities such as days out and visits to cinemas. Apart from the potential immediate sales boost from two long weekends that embrace Mondays, there is also a fantastic opportunity here to engage with new customers and build loyalty that results in long-term commercial benefits.

The key is to implement a Customer Experience Management (CEM) programme that delivers real insights into what your customer really feels about their experience with your brand. By asking the right questions, you will be able to understand what elements of your offer are most important to a great experience, helping to drive the right actions for ensuring those key elements are consistently delivered.

The Right Feel for Guests & Families

You need to gain a deep understanding of how a great experience looks and, more importantly, how it feels for your customers. You need to connect with your customers at an emotional level to understand what really makes them tick. There’s a world of difference between asking whether a restaurant appeared clean and whether the customer felt it to be welcoming and inviting. The right questions should always be personal to both your brand and your customers.

Bank holidays are big family occasions. So, what are the key issues for parents eating out with small children: speed of being seated, speed of ordering, speed of delivery? Do people want child-size portions of adult dishes or the perennial children’s favourites? Are customers looking for innovative ways of getting their “five a day” or are they looking for a break from the routine of healthy meals? Is the provision of play areas or simple tabletop activities more important for a great customer experience? It’s only by asking the right questions that you can gain valuable insight into what real customers think and feel about your brand, giving you the knowledge you need to help your brand succeed. Only then can the right actions be determined, as you know the right issues are being addressed.

The best CEM programmes help brands to stay ahead of the competition by empowering them to turn research into great experiences.

Don’t Bank On The Weather – But Great Customer Experience Will Always Pay Off!

Family at restaurantA recent report reveals many Brits consider eating out at a high-end restaurant an experience worth paying for and are as likely to save up for fine dining as for a holiday.  This is good news for brands offering eating and drinking destinations and days out, who could well enjoy some positive outcome here. And, despite continued caution in consumer spending, families are still spending an average of £40.50 per household per week on eating out at restaurants and hotel breaks, and £19.80 per week on other recreational activities such as days out and visits to cinemas. Apart from the potential immediate sales boost from two long weekends that embrace Mondays, there is also a fantastic opportunity here to engage with new customers and build loyalty that results in long term commercial benefits. The key is to implement a Customer Experience Management (CEM) programme that delivers real insights into what your customer really feels about their experience with your brand. By asking the right questions, you will be able to understand what elements of your offer are most important to a great experience, and also help drive the right actions to ensure those key elements are consistently delivered. You need to gain a deep understanding of what a great experience looks and more importantly feels like for your customers. You need to connect with your customers at an emotional level to understand what really makes them tick. There’s a world of difference between asking whether a restaurant appeared clean and whether the customer felt it to be welcoming and inviting. The right questions should always be personal to both your brand and your customers. Bank holidays are big family occasions. So, for example, what are the key issues for parents eating out with small children – speed of being seated, speed of ordering, speed of delivery? Do people want child-size portions of adult dishes or the perennial children’s favourites? Are customers looking for innovative ways of presenting their five a day, or a break from the routine of healthy meals? Is the provision of play areas or table top activities more important for a great customer experience? It’s only by asking the right questions that you can gain valuable insight into what real customers think and feel about your brand, giving you the knowledge you need to help your brand succeed. Only then can the right actions be determined as you know the right issues are being addressed. The best CEM programmes help brands to stay ahead of the competition by empowering them to turn research into great experiences.