Tone Deaf in CX: The “Music” Most Companies Miss

CX thought leader and prolific Forbes contributor, Micah Solomon, recently posted an article titled “13 Ways Leadership Can Lead Employees to Provide World-Class Customer Service.” In it, he outlines ways leaders can infuse, inspire, and support their teams in providing the best experiences for their customers as possible.

Often, articles about customer experience focus on two areas: programs, process, and technologies; and customer interaction (both digital and in the real world). What struck me about this piece was that it recognizes that in order to do good things outside of your four walls, organizations must first have their own houses in order. It places unequivocal responsibility on leadership to empower employees.

As CX continues to mature, it’s important that leaders embrace the essential role of each and every employee—customer-facing or not—plays. They know your customers from a range of perspectives, and they know your business. Number 11 on Solomon’s list is “Ask for suggestions [from your employees].” I’d like to propose a 14th, complementary point: Invite your employees to be co-creators of the customer experience.

There are some people who paint the millennial workforce as entitled, even lazy. I wholeheartedly disagree. Sure, most aren’t clamoring for an 80-hour workweek. Instead, they’re spending time with friends and family, or giving back to their communities. I’ve found that what they want, no, yearn for, is more meaning in everything they do. And while for some that means working for the Peace Corps or Humane Society, most of these young people simply want to contribute in very real ways to their teams, to your customers’ happiness, and to your business.

This presents a profound opportunity for companies that want to be ridiculously successful. Your employees are in the ideal position to identify root causes, anticipate problems, and see opportunities far down the line. But you’ve got to ask. Putting out a suggestion box paired with those mini pencils isn’t enough. Adding a gratuitous question to your annual Employee Engagement survey simply won’t cut it. You’ve got to listen.

Several years ago, violinist virtuoso, Joshua Bell, carved out a corner at a metro station in Washington, D.C. and played. Most passersby didn’t pay much attention. They were isolated in their own thoughts, mentally solving problems, planning, or tuned into a playlist. A few recognized the beauty, stopping for a few minutes to listen. He collected $32 in tips. Interestingly, the people who paid the most attention were small children, although they were quickly whisked away by their busy adults.

Bell performed for 45 minutes. He played one of the most intricate compositions ever written to perfection on an instrument worth $3.5 million. Just a few days prior to this public appearance he appeared before a sold out crowd of fans who paid an average of $100 per ticket.

Your employees are playing beautiful music. But because they’re not high-paid consultants or change management experts, their insights often go completely unsolicited and unheeded.

If you’re serious about CX, get serious about listening to your employees. Provide them with formal and informal forums in which they can engage in ongoing dialog with leadership and each other. Ask specific questions about customer challenges. Invite advice on improvements. Listen closely to their music, but only if you are willing to act on what it has to say.

Employees are a treasure trove of wisdom. You know who they are, what they do, and how to reach them. There’s no excuse. By giving them equal floor time, you’ll open up a vast new landscape of business intelligence that will help you achieve CX nirvana—that magical and yet non-imaginary land where great relationships and business success meet.

Lonnie Mayne has dedicated his career to helping companies drive bottom-line results by transforming their way of doing business from the status quo to a high-performance, customer-centric model. His 20+ year professional journey includes running worldwide sales & marketing operations and serving on international boards of directors.

How Voice of Customer Data Can Spark Brand Loyalty

This article was originally published by Loyalty360

Predictive analytics−the finding and analyzing of historical patterns in historical and transactional data to identify future risks and opportunities−has been used by marketers for years to determine the best possible time, place, and messages with which to target prospects.

Until recently, Voice of Customer data (customer data derived surveys, social media and other sources that tap into customer perception) has been left out of the predictive mix. Now, however, some brands have been harnessing this rich resource to better predict, not just the who, when, and where, but the “why” of customer behavior.

In this article, Cody Bakken, Director of Analytics for InMoment, answers questions about how the resulting insights can help marketers, and the special insights Voice of Customer data can add to your understanding.

Predictive analytics has been around for a while. What does the addition of customer feedback and VoC data bring?

Bakken: True, marketing departments have been using predictive models for quite some time in a variety of ways—identifying buying trends as well as items customers will purchase together. Financial services firms have been applying them for even longer, forecasting stock prices, determining insurance rates, and so on. On the other hand, predictive analytics is new and relatively untapped in customer experience.

There’s a lot that customer experience data brings to predictive inquiries that other types of data can’t—particularly when it comes to identifying root cause. Predictive analyses using just the unstructured comments from surveys can uncover a treasure trove that can tell you not only how occurrences affect customer behavior, but— and probably most importantly—why they did. We can also build predictive models off of customer scores (NPS®, overall satisfaction, level of effort) with good results, but the truly unique modeling comes from using the rich data from unstructured customer comments paired with other contextual customer data.

Using this distinctly advantageous data set, our predictions can say: “This customer visited this certain store location, rated these elements such and such a score, and mentioned this reason for their ratings—therefore, they are highly likely to return, or not return, or call your contact center for support, or spend more on their next visit.” We can steer the analyses to target just about any desire business outcome.

And on top of the predicted outcome, those same customer comments provide detailed clues on what action can be taken to avoid or optimize an impending situation, depending on the situation. We are still in the early stages, but initial indications show massive potential.

With business outcomes being the ultimate predictive goal, which types of outcomes do you view as being helpful for marketers?

Bakken: One outcome we have worked on with marketers is loyalty and likelihood to return. With one client, we have implemented several predictive models that show which customers, based on post-transaction feedback, were on the track to become loyal and which ones were most likely just one-time shoppers. If we can take our experience data that we collect and tell a client, “Hey, this customer is likely to leave you” or “This customer is likely a repeat customer” and here’s why, they can take what that prediction tells you at a high strategic level and then you can also take it a step further and recommend action to best respond to that knowledge.

Another marking application is in the area of customer personas and demographics. With predictive analytics, we can slice the data along different lines and get more targeted information. For example, we were able to look at the behaviors of one brand’s first-time customers in contrast to existing customers and learn that, while over-the-top “wow” service is certainly appreciated, it has far less impact on the loyalty of first-time customers who are much more focused on understanding whether or not this brand will fit them functionally: Does it carry the products and promote the image they want?

Beyond marketing, what other types of outcomes are businesses typically looking to predict using customer experience data?

Bakken: One thing that nearly every company has across its departments and locations is a sales plan or a conversion plan. That’s something that the customer experience data can help predict, because if you know what’s going on in each location that is having a major impact on metrics, you can understand the direction you’re heading and how to improve your odds of hitting that sales plan. We’ve done some simpler predictions as well, like forecasting Net Promoter Scores and identifying the top drivers for that metric.

Another common outcome that is easily tied to ROI is reducing defection. Predictive analytics can tell you which customers are at highest risk to leave your brand. Pair that information with lifetime customer value and you have a specific “revenue at risk” number that can be extremely helpful in driving much-needed change.

We recently did a fairly unique model for a telecom company, where we used feedback from physical retail locations to predict which customers from which stores would be calling into their support center within a specific time period based on information gleaned from the retail interaction. These findings helped the company understand exactly how to retool its training program to reduce call volume in its contact centers−a major expense.

How do most organizations use predictive analytics?

Bakken: Use varies depending on what the business is trying to accomplishments. Some organizations have sophisticated analytics departments that want assistance building predictive models, and then the raw data so they can manipulate and explore it themselves. More often, however, companies turn to an outside expert to help. In this scenario, we start with the business objective and create a preliminary model based on that. We run a small test and vet with stakeholders to ensure the model is producing data that both rings true and can illuminate the objective. Once we’re confident that the models are producing reliable actionable insights, we’ll move to the next step of visualizing the findings.

Often these findings live inside executive dashboards that allow the company to track the outcome over time in a highly visual and intuitive manner. That’s always the goal. The model will then continuously run the data to provide a real-time view into the future of that outcome. And within a dashboard, you can segment the outcome by demographic, location, or whatever else is appropriate for the organization. It’s critical to periodically refine the models to ensure continued accuracy.

What’s next for predictive analytics in the customer experience arena?

Bakken: From a technical standpoint, we are always working to integrate more types of customer data and build new models. The more streams you can bring together, the more accurate the output will be. On top of that, we’re also working on the ability to run data through multiple models at once to identify the strongest predictors.

The ultimate goal for using predictive analytics to better understand customer experience is to surface predictions across well-defined customer journeys. Right now, most of the analysis is targeted at predicting along specific touch points or segments. In time, we will be able to see the direction a customer is headed across their journey. Instead of just focusing on whether they’re going to leave or not, we’ll see that they have taken certain actions, and based on those behaviors and activities, this is where they’re heading next—for the good or bad. This will give brands new, very customer-centric ways to engage. When done well, we’ll be able to help companies intervene to stop negative experiences, nurture relationships along, and reach out when customers want to engage−all based on what customers “tell” us through their data.

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Highlights from InMoment’s CXE 2016 European Conference

This article was originally published by MyCustomer

Earlier this month, CX professionals from across the UK and Europe descended on Birmingham for InMoment’s annual European Customer Experience Elevated conference. Hosted at Aston University Business School, the conference attracted nearly double the number of attendees as the previous year. They keynote session featured a senior Forrester analyst, with brand representatives from Post Office, New Look, Genting Casinos, iNTERTAIN – operators of Australian-themed bar Walkabout, Zizzi, and more also speaking. VP, Head of Customer Services and UK Country Head James Bolle looks back at some of his highlights from the conference.


“This year’s conference reflected both the rise of customer experience as a defining business strategy, and our company’s continued growth on the global stage. The calibre of CX leaders coming together to share best practices, explore innovative technologies and find new ways to elevate their own programmes was impressive. Once again we welcomed CX professionals from both the UK and Europe, and they shared best practices in customer experience in general, and in specific sectors including retail, hospitality and utilities.”


“This year we mixed things up a little and introduced roundtable sessions throughout the day. The roundtables drew fascinating parallels across all topics, and the big ‘a ha’ was the need to focus more on the stories customers share and the intelligence inside these , and less on performance scores in isolation.

“These customer “stories” emerge by taking a holistic view of customer data, including: scores; other metrics like transaction amount, frequency, etc.; and most importantly unstructured data such as written and voice comments, social reviews and even videos. Stories tell a brand why their score is what it is, how to fix problems, and why customers value them. In fact, stories can reveal a myriad of other insights as well — from vendor underperformance to whether a marketing campaign is resonating. to what new services customers would like to see.”


“Our keynote speakers this year brought two very different views of the customer experience. Joana van den Brink-Quintanilha, Senior Analyst at Forrester, spoke about mapping the customer journey at every touchpoint, and then monitoring those points continually to ensure a real-time, holistic understanding of the customer experience. Laura Chamberlain, Lecturer in CX & Consumer Behaviour at Aston Business School, reviewed findings in her research on consumer behaviour, highlighting the difference between habit and loyalty. Both speakers stimulated plenty of new ideas.”

“It was an honour to host such a distinguished group and we look forward to welcoming everyone back for our conference next year.”


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Ground Broken on InMoment’s New Global Headquarters!

InMoment Founder & CEO John Sperry joins President Lonnie Mayne at the controls of the excavator

Just hours ago, InMoment officially broke ground in Utah’s high-tech corridor, on what will become its new global headquarters. The early afternoon saw local employees board the nearby commuter train, FrontRunner, at Murray Station and arrive en masse at SoJo Station, both a c-o-n-v-e-n-i-e-n-t train stop and a blossoming transit-oriented development (TOD) in the heart of Silicon Slopes.

Read the press release.

InMoment employees cross in front of UTA’s commuter rail at the future site of their global headquarters

Over at the ceremony, InMoment’s international offices were represented by Toronto-based Director of Human Resources Mickie Armstrong and Birmingham-based Country Manager James Bolle. Their fellow coworkers from the eastern side of North America and across the pond tuned in via livestream. The proceedings were especially timely amidst the worldwide 2016 company theme of “Room to Grow. Reason to Rise.”

InMoment employees and leadership from the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. take part in the ceremonies

Dignitaries and InMoment leadership shared canopied space with beautiful renderings of the future office, a large time capsule brimming with InMoment history, and, of course, a deep fryer portending good things for the much more immediate future. Remarks were shared by South Jordan Mayor Dave Alford, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, and the most visibly excited attendee, InMoment CEO John Sperry (and rightly so, as the key-holding tenant and the first in line to operate the excavator).

InMoment Founder & CEO John Sperry keeps his remarks short to allow for more time in the excavator

After the ceremonial shoveling, Sperry led the way in operating the excavator, looking less intent on the ceremony and more intent on expediting the headquarters’ fall 2017 timeline. Fellow InMoment executives Lonnie Mayne (president), Kurt Williams (co-founder & CPO), and Mark Webb (CFO) also worked the heavy machinery. Meanwhile, the deep fryer made good on its promise, producing french fries and chicken wings for the buzzing building site.

Members of local government and the Utah Technology Council break ground with InMoment leadership

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CX Comes to Campus: Higher Education Embraces Customer Experience on Both Sides of the Pond

A New Generation of CX Professionals
As customer experience (CX) evolves and matures, its influence is reaching more industries and more global markets than ever before. And now higher education has come on board, dedicating research dollars, hosting lectures, and building programs to train the next generation of business professionals on the value of creating great experiences for customers.

Arizona State University was one of the first, offering a certificate in customer experience. Now two of ASU’s peers have created programs of their own to train up the next generation of CX professionals.

Aston University, Birmingham, UK
InMoment recently held our European CX Elevated 2016 best practices conference on the campus of Aston University in Birmingham, UK. The event is part of a larger collaboration with Aston Business School that includes guest lectures by InMoment leaders and an internship program where Aston students gain real-world experience working with some of the world’s greatest CX brands and thought leaders.

At the forefront of Aston Business School’s CX program is Laura Chamberlain, lecturer in marketing. We caught up with her and asked a few questions about the university’s initiative and her background in customer experience.

Q. How long have you studied CX?
A. I have been researching consumer behavior for over 10 years, which has naturally progressed to examining the customer experience. It’s a fascinating and rapidly changing area, and I think there is a lot of scope for some really exciting research. I am particularly interested in researching the importance of consumer emotions, customer sentiment, trust, loyalty, and how to influence customer behavior. I am also a member of the Aston Behavioural Insights Group. We are a multidisciplinary team who apply social psychology to the workplace at an organizational level and form insights to create better relationships with customers.

Q. How long has CX been a part of the university’s program?
A. I have pioneered the introduction of customer experience to our curriculum both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. At Aston Business School, we have an outstanding graduate employability rate, and I believe it is of utmost importance that our students are well equipped to become our business leaders of the future. In line with this, it is vital that customer experience is taught throughout our education.

Q. Are you seeing a rise in CX? Is it crossing over to other subjects?
A. Absolutely! The fact that CX is fundamental to business success is reflected in our teaching. It is hugely important to us at Aston Business School that we take a holistic approach to educating students. This means that we have modules that specifically examine the customer experience but also it is a component of many of our modules, ranging from market research to services marketing, strategy and brand management, to name a few. As organizations are placing more emphasis on CX and embedding it into their culture and strategy, we are reflecting this in the way we teach. We also place importance on the consideration of innovation in this context and how customer behavior and expectations are changing at a dramatic and accelerating pace. Therefore, we also consider potential future trends and how companies can gain fresh insight in order to be agile and innovative.

Q. What is your experience with InMoment?
A. It is an absolute pleasure to work with the team at InMoment. Their passion for generating insight and taking an innovative approach is apparent in all the work they do. The InMoment team are clearly invested in learning and also sharing excellence. James [Bolle, Country Manager at InMoment] kindly gave a guest lecture to my undergraduate students, which was invaluable and received excellent feedback. We have identified some exciting opportunities for collaboration. Bringing different perspectives and experiences together has the potential to generate cutting-edge insights and forward-thinking approaches to CX.

Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA
Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey recently launched its own CX program. Rutgers is one of the first major institutions in the country to create such an expansive and in-depth customer experience program.

InMoment’s VP of worldwide strategic accounts, Erich Dietz, is both an alumnus of the university and a new board member of their customer experience initiative. As a member of board, Erich’s role is to partner with other board members and faculty to ensure that Rugers’ CX program is best-in-class and supports the creation and ongoing development of passionate, well-trained CX leaders.

Q: What does it mean that major universities are now recognizing and adopting CX programs?
A. It articulates demand and that the current learning curve is too long. For obvious reasons, the business community eyes universities as a club in their minor league system: a talent pool they draw from when searching for their future leaders. The fact that such prominent educational institutions are having success with their CX programs—even at such an early stage—validates the demand for this type of training. While on the job training is absolutely essential, if that’s the only education available to an individual, the learning curve is longer. Learning as you go also limits expertise development to a single person or team’s way of doing things. However, when individuals are able to receive a more formal, foundational education built upon the experiences of many, their acumen typically rises much more rapidly. CX is growing fast, and the current talent pool is thin when searching for those who have a well-rounded education and experience. Businesses don’t have time for the next crop of leaders to go through the OJT curriculum of Suzy Snowflake. They need more individuals and teams who are already well versed in CX when they show up at their door, fresh out of university with bright eyes and dreams of conquering the world.

Q: What are today’s emerging CX leaders learning that is different from what you learned in college?
A. Easy. They are learning that “CX” means customer experience. When I was in school, CX did not exist, except for perhaps a variable in some ridiculously complex mathematics problem. However, what remains constant is the concept of optimization. I studied industrial engineering, which has a heavy slant toward business process optimization. It’s focused on how to achieve greater business results and impact by rethinking the way something is done and applying it to any business area (e.g. manufacturing, sourcing, logistics, revenue management). In today’s CX coursework, they are simply turning the discipline of optimization loose on CX—and for good reason. Brands aren’t the bosses anymore. Customers are in a fundamentally different place: the driver’s seat. The challenge of how to respect and leverage that as a business professional used to be essentially “how to manipulate your customers.” Now it’s about creating relationships that deliver value to both the customer and the brand.

Q. What’s the most important skill for new CX professionals to learn in order to be successful?
A. I’m not sure I have just one. At this stage, the best CX professionals I know share a genuine passion for customer service, a keen understanding of business economics from a wide array of perspectives, and strong political savviness that enables them to build bridges across the business.

The Art & Science of Customer Experience
No matter the industry, experience is everything. It’s what sets your brand apart and what keeps people coming back. What’s so exciting about customer experience is that it is continually evolving. It’s an art and a science that businesses and professionals are both working tirelessly to perfect.

One of our core values at InMoment is innovation. We believe in doing things better and in making things better. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve. As the education industry continues to innovate and improve, our hope is that new CX professionals will spring up and continue to make brand—and customer—experiences better.

Transform Your NPS: From Score to System

If you’ve spent more than about 2.5 seconds engaged in any type of Customer Experience (CX) activity, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the Net Promoter Score℠ or Net Promoter System℠ (NPS). In fact, it’s difficult to avoid it—and with good reason.

Since its release in 2003, NPS has received worldwide attention in nearly every business publication on the planet, been adopted by some of the largest and most prestigious brands, and helped transform Customer Experience from a theory to an imperative. In fact, it is now so prevalent that 48 percent of companies with more than $500 million in revenue are using NPS as their primary indicator for measuring customer experience success.

At the end of the day, NPS has become the foundation for today’s most successful enterprise-level CX programs and a force that, when implemented widely and wisely, can add fuel to your efforts. Download our white paper on NPS to find out more about what is it and how it works, the difference between the score and the system, and finally, how InMoment can help you take your NPS practices to the next level.

Download the whitepaper here.

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Socialising Customer Experience—The OpenTell Way

This article was originally published by MyCustomer

This May, during InMoment’s Customer Experience Elevated 2016 European Conference, Andrew Dean, Customer Experience Manager at iNTERTAIN, will be sharing Walkabout’s story of ‘socialising’ the customer experience. In advance of the Conference, Andrew looks back over the past year, highlighting why iNTERTAIN decided to socialise its customer experience using OpenTell™.

“In the summer of 2015 we updated our customer listening programme, ‘Talkabout Walkabout’, to better inform the way the business interacts with customers, with the clear goal of dramatically increasing customer satisfaction and sales trends. As part of the update, we implemented InMoment’s OpenTell™. OpenTell™ allows verified customers to publish their feedback to a public review site, displaying a much more accurate, honest and timely view of the experience prospective customers can expect to have – far outstripping review sites such as TripAdvisor in timeliness, accuracy and veracity.

We decided to make the move to publishing all the feedback we receive through OpenTell because we felt existing review sites were no longer perceived to be entirely reliable and wholly transparent. We wanted to cut through the uncertainty, straight to the heart of how our customers felt about their experience.

Of course, it took some getting used to at first, as we were essentially sharing absolutely everything our customers say about us – the good, the bad and the ugly. However it’s vital to acknowledge that the volume and authenticity of comments have been essential in helping us connect with customers and make positive and evidence-based changes to our businesses at both a macro and micro level.

Using OpenTell™ has allowed customers to publish their comments via a neutral third party site to Walkabout’s current customer base and potential new customers. Moreover, because of the geo-targeted capability of Walkabout’s website this means that on each venue’s homepage (the landing page for any consumer), we can both invite guests to share feedback, and link them to the that location’s OpenTell page, which contains a rich source of customer ratings and detailed reviews.

Regardless of whether customers choose to make their reviews public, we utilise all feedback internally to pinpoint exactly what creates great customer experiences and where there are opportunities to improve. We’re always striving to do more and better for our customers. Through the programme, we can make continual changes to the experience, and ensure they benefit both the business and its customers.

The volume and authenticity of comments we’ve received through Talkabout Walkabout and share through OpenTell have been essential in helping our venues connect with customers and provide them with the most accurate and timely view of the experiences they can expect at each location. And of course, we’re constantly re-evaluating and enhancing the programme, in partnership with InMoment, as business focuses and customer requirements change. For a business like ours, in a highly competitive market, it’s vital we don’t sit still and continue to respond to the changing needs of our customers.”

InMoment’s European Customer Experience Elevated 2016 conference takes place 11-12 May at Aston University Business School and will feature speakers from Zizzi, New Look and iNTERTAIN, as well as welcoming keynote speakers Joana van den Brink-Quintanilha (Forrester Research) and Dr. Laura Chamberlain (Aston University Business School).

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Boost Your CX Success with Employee Engagement

Customer experience programs are wells of business potential, but without engaged employees to deliver on your brand promise, your organization won’t be tapping these wells anytime soon.

Employees have a huge impact on your brand’s CX success because they are on the front line interacting with customers every day. Invested employees set a higher CX standard across your entire organization.

Our recent infographic “Engage Your Employees. Boost Your CX Success.” covers some great ways to get your employees engaged, gain HR department investment, and achieve the CX objectives of your brand. Not only will you gain a more comprehensive understanding of what’s working on the CX front, you’ll deepen your employees’ investment and satisfaction in their own jobs. In addition to directly addressing employees’ experiences, you’ll tap into their firsthand wisdom on customer experiences as well.

If you’re ready to take your CX program to the next level, complementing your existing VoC efforts with an employee engagement program can dramatically increase your customers’ overall satisfaction with your brand.

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From the Road: Owning and Extending the Customer Experience with Cheryl’s On 12th

Evidence of an On-Site Owner A word of advice: Never pass up the opportunity to experience something done right—especially where food is involved. There is a lot to be learned from the things that get people buzzing—and one place that has been buzzing in my hometown of Portland, Oregon is a restaurant called Cheryl’s On 12th.

The owners of Cheryl’s on 12th are Ed and Cheryl Casey. Their résumés are packed with the full range of relevant skills, from server and mixologist to VP of operations and owner/operator of 23 franchise locations. And while their experience is noteworthy, it’s just one ingredient that makes them special.

I traveled back to the City of Roses a few weeks back to visit one of our flagship clients and took a group with me for brunch and a little customer experience “research.” What we found there was definitely buzzworthy and showcased a few lessons that can help anyone interested in creating better experiences for customers—or really anyone.

  • Lesson #1: Extend Your Experience Outside the Box
    Before I even got my party through the front door, I was met on the sidewalk by an experience that spilled welcomingly outside. While people waited to be seated, they didn’t have to wait to be served, because Cheryl’s was already providing complimentary coffee. Cheryl and Ed understand their “customer experience” is larger than what happens inside their four walls, and they embrace it to great effect. This principle can be applied in many ways to any business model—so I invite you to rethink the furthest reaches of your experience and extend them further where it makes sense.

  • Lesson #2: Spread Importance through Ownership
    Back to the owners. Once we entered the restaurant, we were greeted by a man who asked my name, quoted me a wait time, and then moved along through the hopping restaurant. After 10 minutes had passed, I caught the man to double-check that we had made it on the list. He said, “Yeah. Lonnie, right?” Given the crowds coming and going, I was very impressed. That was enough for me to take my “research” online.

    Sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed. When the man came to seat us, I said, “You’re one of the owners, aren’t you.” To which I was answered with a “Yep.” Isn’t it funny how quickly and simply an owner who cares can be identified? The clues can be so seemingly insignificant, but they communicated loudly that this person is invested. They communicate that this place—and my experience in it—are important to him.

    This whole customer experience thing we’re involved in is also about empowering employees at all levels to give them the confidence, autonomy, and investedness that accurately reflects that vital vibe of ownership. There is a lot that goes into it, and it is probably never done to perfection, but having an owner on-site, leading out front, showing an example definitely rubs off—both on employees and guests. It was apparent in the service and product I received during the remainder of our meal.

  • Lesson #3: Expectation Set and Sustained
    This lesson combines elements of the first two. With the greeting of the experience immediately hitting high notes, this place had to be ready to deliver. They knowingly set the bar high with every confidence that, as a team, they could carry it through. (The jump from complimentary coffee to free beignets was an excellent, and delicious, touch.) When you’ve got the experience covered (from extended end to extended end) and an ownership mentality in house, I sense it’s easy to be confident in delivering on your own lofty expectations.

For those of you wondering, I ordered the Portuguese Fried Rice, and it was fantastic in every way. It’s a variation of a dish my mother makes, and this one compared favorably.

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Voice of Employee: A Critical, Often Neglected Key to CX Success

In most organizations, customer experience initiatives are designed, executed, and owned by marketing or operations. We see more CX-specific leaders and departments coming online as well in an attempt to move more of the organization towards customer centricity.

Regardless of who “owns” customer experience, their view is inherently limited to the types and frequency of interactions they have with your customers. This produces blind spots in the holistic lens of customer experience. This limited view causes over-generalizations based on non-representative samples of Voice of Customer data (VoC), shared mythologies generated by compelling anecdotes, and often misses key attributes in the customer experience. Unless CX “owners” are keenly aware of these blind spots, the particular data they’re privy to can actually create a form of skewed groupthink, obscuring the broader truths that exist in customer-brand interactions.

Enter Voice of Employee.

Voice of Employee

We hear a lot about the impact Employee Engagement has on Customer Experience. Most times, Employee Engagement is viewed in a vacuum. Every year or year-and-a-half, the Human Resources department trots out a survey asking employees to rate their satisfaction with various aspects of their jobs: benefits, pay, management, work-life balance, and so on. Rarely, if ever are employees explicitly asked about their perspectives on the customer experience. What are their perceptions of what’s working, and what’s not—and more importantly—why? What would they recommend as solutions? What new ideas do they have to improve how your brand delivers on customer expectations? This is Voice of Employee.

Forrester Research defines Voice of Employee (VoE) as “Any feedback from employees or partners that pertains to their ability to deliver great customer experiences.” Without it, you have a huge blind spot in understanding your customer experience, and in achieving positive relationships and business outcomes.

A Frontline View

Your employees are the face of your company. They are the primary representatives and executioners of the company’s customer experience. Not only do employees interact with customers, they often have a broader view of the operational performance of your organization. Think of it this way: While a single customer can share his/her perceptions of their experiences at specific touchpoints and throughout their journeys, they provide an important, but limited, sample size of one. A single employee, on the other hand, may interact with hundreds of customers each day and therefore the depth of their feedback around the customer experience is much greater. Also, the breadth of their perspective is greater as they can see all of the elements that contribute to a good or bad experience. The elements that may frustrate an employee, whether it be making a customer wait in line, poor service from customer care or billing, or any myriad of issues, are often the same things that frustrate customers.

And their perspectives contain unique and powerful insights. A recent survey by CustomerThink of CX leaders in business-to-business organizations reported that two-thirds of those leaders feel employees are the top source of actionable insights about the customer experience.

If employees can provide you with such a large percentage of actionable, success-driving insights, asking for their opinion cannot be relegated only to the normal 18-to-24-month Employee Engagement survey cycle. As gold mines of insight-laden information, smart brands should provide a variety of employee feedback forums.

Owning the Experience

Soliciting employees for feedback about the customer experience comes with other benefits. Asking for their best ideas and opinions creates a sense of respect and value from the organization and its leaders. Unlike scheduled employee surveys, the process of gathering VoE feedback is, in and of itself, an engaging experience. Essentially, it tells employees that they matter and that they have ownership in customer experience, significantly increasing the likelihood your CX initiatives will achieve the desired results.

Broadening Your Perspective

The key to broadening your perspective of the customer experience is to listen through multiple channels to multiple stakeholders. After customers, employees are the next stakeholder group you must tap into in order to gain an increasingly broad and deep understanding of how all of the factors in your organization are coming together to deliver on what you’ve promised. Just like your customers, your employees are able and willing to help you succeed. If you let them.

Will Marketing Kill CX?

This article was originally published by Loyalty360

Somewhere, someone is dreaming about being a marketer who drives millions of people toward their brand. As a chief marketing officer, I’d like to say I was that someone, but I wasn’t. In fact, I took only one marketing class during college—and I thought it was a waste of time.

I wanted to preface this article with that bit of information not because I hate marketing. (I love my job, and I love marketing.) I just want to emphasize that—like customer experience (CX)—marketing is constantly evolving. What worked 20 years ago simply would not fly today.

Back when I was in my marketing class (and still today, no doubt), marketers were taught The Four Ps of Marketing: Price, Product, Promotion, and Place. While the four Ps certainly have their merits, they are also one of the main reasons marketing is killing the customer experience.

The majority of marketers receive compensation and bonuses for creating brand awareness and pushing people to buy whatever product or service their organization is selling. Unfortunately, this system promotes brand selfishness and creates a disconnect between customer experience and brand expectations.

In a recent article by Sean Hargrave from MediaPost, he argues that customer experience and brand value are the same thing. Based on my experience and the evolution of marketing and the customer experience I’ve witnessed in my career, I would agree.

The article cites research from brand valuation specialists Markables, who report that the contribution of brand value in a company’s overall valuation has decreased by half from 2005 to 2014, while the value of customer relations has doubled.

Customer experience expectations are increasing by the day. This is a good thing. Instead of brands differentiating themselves through product offerings, brand image is now a mirror image of how your organization treats people. Your brand’s value comes not from what you say you’re going to do but what you actually deliver. With social media platforms and people spending hours upon hours on the Internet each day, customer perception of your brand is everything. Customers will be loyal to brands that value them as people not numbers.

5 Ways to Align Customer & Brand Expectations

Start with a Vision

A mission statement is all well and good, but to be an effective CX vision, it needs to be clear. For marketing, this means listening to employees and customers and closing the experiential gaps that exist between them.

Interweave Methodologies

It’s common for different specialties to have different words for what turn out to be the same thing. For example, marketing approaches campaigns in terms of personas. In CX, they approach things in terms of customer segments. They’re the same. By interweaving methodologies, we can eliminate confusion, communicate, and ultimately create a better experience.


Similar to interweaving methodologies, we need to get rid of silos and create solutions that we’re aligned on within our organizations. Increasingly, I’m seeing the CX function move under the marketing umbrella. In this new leadership role, marketers need to get outside of themselves and take ownership beyond the close of the deal. We need to understand how the brand promise is delivered on the front lines.

Connect Brand and CX Metrics

Brand perception and NPS (Net Promoter Score) are not all that different. Look for opportunities to measure CX in terms of brand promise. Is your brand’s customer feedback aligned with the experience your organization has committed to delivering? If not, why not?

Become a Storyteller

For this point, I’ll quote Joana van den Brink-Quintanilha, senior analyst at Forrester Research, who said, “The power of storytelling is undeniable. A quota-busting salesperson knows how to tell a story in which the product is the hero. An effective CEO uses an emotional narrative about the company’s mission to attract investors and inspire employees. And a great CX pro can weave a story that helps employees understand their role in a customer journey.”

As brands, we have to take an honest look at who we want to be. Are we going to go the route of traditional marketers and place more value on sales over experience, or are we going to ground our business firmly in CX and integrate this longer-term perspective throughout every level of our company?

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In Uncertain Times, Customer Experience Is Even More Critical

Recently, Forrester VP, research director and customer experience thought leader Harley Manning looked at the current volatility of the global economy, referenced trends in consumer behavior, and urged a wise course of action for businesses: Keep investing in the customer experience. His article outlines a few well-backed financial points of reasoning and also dishes sound advice.

It makes economic sense—especially in uncertain times—to invest in the customer experience. But if it makes so much sense, then why does Manning worry that businesses will be tempted to do the opposite? Over the past five years, there has been a pronounced surge in companies investing in the customer experience. As top companies have increased their advantages through superior customer treatment and as the financial sense of customer-centricity has been proven, nearly everyone has taken note to at least some degree.

Know Your Existential Imperatives
Here’s where the worry comes in, though: When times turn uncertain and fear creeps in, human beings cling to what feels safe. In business, this usually means those existential imperatives like operational efficiency and reduction of costs. While a focus on these core elements may achieve savings in the short term, this limited view often comes at the expense of one of its most important assets: the customer. But those who really understand the customer experience and why it is a profitable investment will say the true existential imperatives are, in fact, customers, employees, people. And that’s the test. What’s your answer when the chips are down?

Customers have a different perspective. What matters most to them are relationships of trust established over time, regardless of the health of a company’s bottom line. So, when times and economies destabilize, you have to show customers that they matter most to you if you want to matter most to them. Frankly, consumers do not care about a company’s bottom-line. They care about how well brands are delivering on their customer experience promises. More importantly, macro-economic factors that affect business performance often have the same impact on consumers, thus, making them more concerned with the value they receive from brands.

Stay Strong. Stay Savvy.
Thankfully, recent history shows that companies are generally savvy to this reality. Through the Great Recession of 2008–2013, customer experience budgets showed resilience, and overall consumer opinion on the American Customer Satisfaction Index saw a rise that spiked in 2013. If anything, indications are that volatility presents the greatest opportunity for brands to invest in their customers—and see returns on their previous efforts.

Dr. Paul Warner has a dual doctorate in both clinical and industrial-organizational psychology. He has dedicated his professional career to being both a scientist and practitioner, combining research and analysis expertise with practical knowledge to transform people and businesses. As an expert and noted author on employee engagement, he has served as a trusted advisor to some of the world’s most admired companies.

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Expert Q&A:
H&R Block’s Tim Carter on Improving CX

Tim Carter, H&R Block Director of Operations SupportFollowing his opening keynote at Contact Center IQ’s recent Customer Experience Online Summit, we had the opportunity to catch up with Tim Carter, Director of Operations Support at H&R Block. During our conversation, Tim talked about the benefits—and challenges—of evolving a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program into his uniquely seasonal organization.

To listen to the webinar, click here.

Q: How are you gathering customer feedback and implementing changes based on that feedback, especially with the seasonality of your business?

A: One of the biggest—and most effective—changes we made when we adopted a VoC program was offering post-call feedback immediately after the client finishes their conversation with the agent. Before adopting the new program, our agents were responsible for sending and facilitating an email feedback request the next day. By making this change, we’ve seen better response rates, reduced data integrity issues caused by gaming, and taken a time-intensive task off of our agents’ plates.

Our CRM (customer relationship management) system has also helped us identify specific things clients are calling about. Using this knowledge, we are able to take advantage of InMoment’s text analytics software to drill down to areas of low and high satisfaction.

The goal with these systems is to create a 360° view of our customer experience. We want as many data points as possible so, at the end of tax season, we can plan out ways to improve next year.

Q: Are there specific examples of a change you implemented based on customer feedback that made a big difference for the business?

A: By collecting and analyzing feedback from multiple channels, we discovered that our tax pros in certain geographic locations were inconsistent with keeping appointments. After pinpointing those regions, we targeted and monitored them and started implementing a process where we would confirm appointments the day before to ensure that we were holding appointments and communicating with clients each step along the way.

Another example of implementing change based on customer feedback involved agent training. Because of the seasonal nature of our business—and the relatively short training period—agents don’t always understand the connection between resolving issues and leaving customers satisfied with their experience. To address this issue, we now have agents review verbatim comments and listen to recordings of their phone calls to identify areas of opportunity and areas that they are doing well in.

Q: What trends have you spotted in departments at H&R Block that are less aligned with the customer experience?

A: When we adopted our VoC program, we also adopted a customer-centric approach across every level of our organization. Each team member at H&R Block is driven by the client experience. We have a goal of achieving an NPS of 80, and do a good job of achieving this goal as a collective unit.

Q: What role does H&R Block’s focus on customer experience play in hiring agents?

A: Our first priority for hiring agents is to get as many agents back from the previous year. In addition to experience, these agents also have a greater understanding of the client experience and what our goals are as a company. Right now, about 25–30% of employees come back the following year. We’ve gradually been increasing this number.

For new hires, we have an assessment based on the factors we know driver customer satisfaction. Specifically, we look for basic customer skills, empathy, problem solving, and the ability to troubleshoot. Listening to customer feedback helps us better understand how to hire and train agents who deliver great experiences.

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CX: The Art of the Possible

Customer experience is changing. Today’s most successful brands are moving away from the survey/score philosophy to viewing CX as an integrated, cultural driver of change. But taking the plunge isn’t easy. It’s a complex process with buy-in required from a variety of internal and external stakeholders. So how are these brands making the shift? InMoment’s new white paper, CX: The Art of the Possible, explores the process from beginning to end: from creating and promoting a culture of accountability to implementing the necessary human and technological requirements to take your brand from a score-based follower to an insights-driven leader. Download and read the full white paper here.

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Expert Q&A: Simon Fraser on the Future of CX for Utilities

InMoment’s Senior Director, Client Services for EMEA Simon Fraser spoke at the Future of Utilities conference in London last week where leaders from the UK and EU gathered to discuss the challenges and opportunities the sector faces today and into the future. A primary theme of the event is building strong relationships with customers. Fraser addressed the attendees in a presentation titled “Optimise your customer experience: five steps to achieve both relationship and business objectives.”

Q: What challenges does the UK/EU utilities sector face when it comes to customer experience (CX)?

A: The main challenge is that they’re perceived to be lagging behind other industries, having come to CX later than other industries. Over the past decade, the brands in highly competitive consumer sectors like retail and hospitality have pushed each other to offer exceptional customer experiences that were unheard of just a few short years ago. While the utilities sector is now starting to foster its own competitive environment, they don’t have the luxury of competing only against each other; consumer expectations have shifted overall expectations enough that even industries with minimal competitive ties are held to a higher standard.

At this point, even enterprises that have more similarities to the utilities companies—banks and telecoms for example—have a few years’ head start on them. So, in short, the challenge is needing to accelerate their CX maturity and leapfrog some of the early phases that the pioneering industries pushed through. That can be taken as a positive, as well, though. If they can look beyond just the processes and journeys they and their competitors are offering to learn from top consumer companies, they can absolutely make up the ground and start winning on loyalty.

Q: What is behind these challenges?

A: First off, the complexity of a utilities company—the number of moving parts, the infrastructure involved, the elements outside of their control—slows down pace of change, even if the desired changes are already decided. Another challenge for the utilities sector is what I’d call a true “first-world problem”: Customers are conditioned to take their services for granted. Heating, cooling, electricity—those are all things that are expected to simply work, so they are only really thought about when something has gone wrong. Consequently, customer experience is definitely still largely done in a reactive manner. Additionally, there haven’t been the breakthroughs or novelties to make it top of mind for most consumers—though the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart home technologies are starting to change that a little bit.

Q: What are you seeing in the way of customer experience innovation from this group?

A: While it might not be properly termed “innovation” at this point, what I’m seeing from the utilities sector is the beginnings of bringing all stakeholders together around the customer. Again, with their complex structures, these companies have a silo challenge that fights against a consistent experience. Also, the area where they are starting to modernise is with their online presence. Those companies that have moved meter reading online and are allowing customers greater access into their energy consumption through websites and mobile apps are starting to show customers there is some new quality being added.

Q: What is the most important advice you would give utilities executives in achieving success in their customer experience initiatives?

A: The starting point for making needed changes is simply talking about the customer at the highest levels. Top executive leaders need to be changing the lens by making it a talking point. That is definitely the first thing. Secondly, they need to turn up the volume of those conversations publicly. They must do a better job promoting the changes they’re making. Even when utilities companies have made advances or done things for the communities they support, they have done a poor job of getting press. As they make more changes in their strategies, they will get much more goodwill from them if they can get the word out about their efforts to listen to customers and better serve them.

For example, during some flooding last winter, a number of different companies came together to help communities quickly solve the problems. The narrative, however, wasn’t presented widely or as a customer-centric effort. Rather, it fell into their challenging category of being an expected civic duty.

InMoment’s John Sperry Named CEO of the Year

InMoment Founder and CEO John Sperry was named CEO of the Year by Utah Business Magazine at an event held March 16.

In addition to this honor, John has received many leadership awards, including Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year. He’s also led InMoment through 118 consecutive months of profitability.

“John Sperry is one of the true technology visionaries in the Intermountain Region,” said Stephen P. Weisz, president and chief executive officer of Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation and chairman of the InMoment Board of Directors. “Watching him mature as an executive and bring the right leaders into the company at the right time has been a pleasure to witness.”

Since acquiring one of its chief competitors in 2013, John has overseen a significant jump in revenues and size, including growing from 60 to more than 330 employees worldwide. InMoment has been recognized for consistent innovation and growth from Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 and a Best Company to Work For award, to eight years on both the MountainWest Capital Networks and Inc. 5000 lists of high-growth companies.

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Nike’s Remarkable Dedication to Listening and Willingness to Act

A decade and a half ago, Nike embraced the powerful idea of personal identity with its NIKEiD program. Recently, they showed a masterful commitment to its fundamental principles and in the process, how great brands listen to customers and do the right thing.

The philosophy behind NIKEiD is to encourage customers to express their identity, “to customize your performance, fine-tune your fit and represent your style.”

The Nike customer story I’m talking about (now making its Internet rounds) starts when Nike customer Nabeel Kaukab was on NIKEiD experimenting with customization options on a pair of sneakers. In the space provided for adding personal text, Nabeel typed in something that was an important part of his own identity: “Muslim.” He was shocked to discover that the word was not an option.

Kaukab reached out to Nike via an open letter on social media to understand why. If you watch the video above, you see examples of how Nike earns such fierce customer loyalty. Through its response, the company shows that it does not view customers solely as purchasers; rather, they seek to understand the importance of forging relationships beyond a transaction. The speed and willingness to change their own policies in response to customer concerns, and the transparency with which they welcome what some may view as a difficult or uncomfortable discussion are both exceptional.

At the heart of this story is empathy, and it’s backed by remarkable accountability. Within the logic and rationale of Kaukab’s open letter, we also see a very emotional human voice. His reaction to the unintentionally flawed policy is a great representation of just how passionate, engaged, and, yet, rational today’s customers can be. Nabeel brought to the table more than just a new viewpoint; he brought in thoughtful research and an attempt to understand the policy.

And Nike was listening. They took the message to heart. Someone on their team felt an expectation and—perhaps more importantly—an ability to make things right. In a global company of roughly 45,000 employees, Nike’s ability to escalate this issue to the right place for conversation and action shows clinical organization and dedication.

So when Senior Director of Nike Global Communications Kate Meyers says the following, it’s entirely backed up by the company’s actions: “We’re at our best when we’re listening to consumers, we’re listening to their voice and their insights, but that we’re also reflecting the communities in which we live around the world.”

What’s perhaps most impressive to me, even more than the fact that this issue was noticed and handled, is the transparent way in which it was done. First, rather than simply not allowing certain words in the NIKEiD system, Nike provided a link to documentation outlining the reasoning behind the policy. Second, when this explanation still didn’t satisfy Kaukab’s understanding, they responded to him in open admission of the oversight and presented a four-step plan to rectify it.

Our recent study on the top customer experience trends for 2016 noted the importance and power of transparency in a brand’s relationship with customers. By engaging directly through the customer’s channel (Facebook in this case), a story like this is a powerful megaphone. If your brand does have systems in place for conversing with customers and closing the loop, does it have the transparent methods in place that allow others to see it?

Resolving customer concerns is paramount, but beyond resolving “issues,” engaging in ways that show your brand’s commitment openly can spread that power further. This is a great reminder that policies aren’t foolproof, conversation is key, and customers are willing to share their viewpoint because your products, your offerings, the stance you take, the lifestyle you promote hits them personally and emotionally.


This article was originally published by Engage Customer

In 2010, global analyst firm Forrester Research declared this ‘the Age of the Customer’. Over the past six years, customer service has given way to a new more mature concept – customer experience, says James Bolle.

This is the new competitive battlefield for businesses, with 89% of companies saying this is they year most organizations will compete primarily on the basis of customer experience.[1] While customers have always been the lifeblood of business, the evolution from ‘service’ to ‘experience’ is important. Customer service has traditionally been more of a responsive action, focused on distinct interactions and resolving complaints.

Customer experience on the other hand encompasses the perceptions of all interactions customers have with a brand over time. It is also about creating reciprocal relationships, where brands treat customers as trusted advisors who can help them improve their business. To truly understand and improve their customers’ experiences, organisations must adapt their listening and understanding strategies to fully harness their feedback.

Interrogation overload – the problem with surveys

Businesses are responding to the need to improve the customer experience, with many looking to surveys as a way to gather feedback and inform their decision-making at a corporate level. Surveys enable the collection of a broad range of data that can be analysed at the individual and aggregate levels.

The urgent desire to understand customers, combined with readily available survey tools, makes it simple for every organisation’s department to send their own surveys to customers. Often these surveys are misaligned with each other, with one customer receiving multiple surveys from one company. Furthermore, many questions in surveys are not relevant to the customer’s specific experience and do not enable in-depth responses.

In attempting to improve their experience, businesses are frustrating customers by interrogation, rather than getting to the heart of genuine customer experience. This is neither efficient nor effective for gathering insightful feedback. The result is poor customer experience and feedback that does not provide valuable insight and does not allow the business to adapt and improve.

Customers have the ability to drastically change the perception of a company through positive and negative commentary, and businesses should make use of this rich tapestry of feedback in shaping the way they operate.

Those that are active in their response to customers and use feedback to make changes will be more successful as customer experience continues to increase in importance as a business barometer. This however, is often easier said than done. Brands looking to excel in the Age of the Customer need to cut through the clutter of survey barrage and find customer-centric was to listen and connect.

From scores to stories

One way brands can shift to a more customer friendly way of getting feedback is to add or enhance the ability for their customers to share their experiences in a more conversational manner.

Scores are important indicators of a general direction, however they cannot contain the essential ‘why’ information found in unstructured data like comments and online reviews that provides actionabililty. When the proper weight is given to stories, businesses have a new level of insight that can guide them in making relevant changes and improvements across their entire business.

Customers have been sharing their experiences through stories since the beginning of time. The first recorded customer review comes from Ancient Babylonian in 1750 BC where an unhappy buyer carved his complaint over receiving an inferior grade of copper into a stone tablet.

As stories remain to this day a valid and preferred method for leaving feedback through online reviews, tweets and other social content, this method of customer listening should be recognised and put it to good use by businesses.

The other advantage in collecting unstructured customer feedback is that customers naturally discuss the elements of their interactions that are most important to them, and thus, to their overall satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the experience. This stands in stark contrasts to structured questions that tend to focus on specific metrics and data the business prioritises. Were the fitting rooms neat? How did you hear about us? Which other brands to you frequent? While the answers may be helpful in marketing and selling to customers, they don’t necessarily reveal how to create loyalty.

Thanks to technologies like advanced analytics it is now possible for customers to tell their stories however and wherever they want, for businesses to automate the understanding of those stories, and find role-based insights.

Advanced analytics enables businesses to identify patterns, trends and topics as well as comments about employees, products, performance and legal and safety issues. Insights derived from the analysis can then be automatically shared with the relevant people inside an organisation.

Shorter surveys, more listening

The good news is consumers want a reciprocal relationship with brands – they want to both receive value and give value, through feedback. Sharing stories is ideal for customers as it is easy – its human nature.

In a study conducted by InMoment in 2015, one in three consumers ranked ‘shorter surveys, more listening’ as their number one customer experience trend. In the verbatim comments in the study, one in five consumers specifically asked for more concise and relevant questioning.

While customers are experiencing a ‘death by a thousand questions’ they are making it clear they want to share their experiences in different ways. In a survey by, 44% of global customers stated that they regularly write online reviews.

Reviews can be incredibly powerful – highlighting areas of the business that may be underperforming or identifying a particular employee or team that provided excellent customer service. The challenge is the verification of reviews. Due to many review sites being unable to ensure all reviews are relevant, reliable and verified, many businesses have become disillusioned with their ability to offer useful insight.

In InMoment’s study earlier in 2015, consumers ranked more reliable online reviews as the second most important customer experience whereas businesses ranked them dead last. Although these challenges do remain with review sites like TripAdvisor, verified review sites, such as InMoment’s OpenTell, take steps to ensure feedback comes from real customers.

Whilst all customer feedback should be treated as the infinitely valuable resource it is, the true insight is found in stories. Businesses that harness these stories, and use advanced analytics to delve deeper into the customer experience, will be able to benefit from the full potential of a varied listening program and harness these nuanced interactions as an opportunity to build strong relationships with their customers.

James Bolle is VP – Head of Client Services, EMEA of InMoment

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2016 CX Trends Overview: The Positive Force of Feedback on the Customer Relationship

This article was originally published by CustomerThink as “InMoment 2016 CX Trends Report: Brands and Consumers Don’t See Eye to Eye” on February 29, 2016 (Leap Day!).

The fact that consumers are increasingly expecting good, if not great, interactions with their favorite brands is nearly universally accepted at this point. And while there’s strong agreement on that point, most companies diverge sharply from their customers on a critical and related point: whether the feedback customers give about their experiences is primarily negative or positive.

Before we address the most recent study of CX Trends, though, I’d like to provide context by looking at the big epiphany from our previous year’s study, where the overwhelming learning was consumers want a more reciprocal, give-and-take relationship with brands.

In fact, when we dug into the unstructured data to understand this issue more deeply, we found that the different ways consumers used the word “value” was very telling:

  • 51.6 percent of the time they expressed a want to get value from the brand
  • 48.4 percent of the time they used it to communicate the desire to be or feel valued for being a contributing customer

It was a similar story when using the word “help”:

  • 46.7 percent of the time consumers expressed a want to get help
  • 53.3 percent of the time wanting to provide help to the brand

When asked to note all contributing factors in their decision to leave feedback, four out of five selected “I enjoy offering my feedback and making a difference,” with more 40 percent of consumers listing this as their primary reason.

Brands that recognize this shift in what customers want—going from transaction-based to relationship-based interactions—are ahead of the game. It’s not to say they are now relating to their consumers in the same way they would a significant other or a family member, but they are creating an environment of mutual respect, of value and investment, and of ensuring expectations are met with their consumers.

Feedback Is a Positive Force
In this year’s study, we went a level deeper, exploring the overall sentiment of consumer responses. It’s vital to know that when trying to understand someone’s perception, it is critical to use the correct word, as the word choice can prime the response. In this instance, in addition to asking about satisfaction and experience, we specifically chose the word “feedback.”

Interestingly, when asked if they gave more positive or negative feedback, 63 percent of consumers indicated their feedback tends to be positive, while 37 percent indicated it was negative.

In general, consumers appear to view giving feedback in these terms: “I’m offering useful information that is helping the brand.”

And while this finding could be dismissed as one-sided, the study confirms customers’ assertion, with 498 out of the 500 brands that were included in the study receiving more positive feedback than negative.

Who Gets the Most Positive Press? Who’s Out of Touch?
Which sectors came out on top? Consumers report giving the highest percentage of positive feedback to the following sectors: Apparel, at 87 percent; Full Service Restaurants, at 81 percent; Pharmacy, at 81 percent; and Home & Supply, at 81 percent.

Brands, on the other hand, do not have such a rosy view. In fact, some industries were grossly out of step with both customer perception and reality.

Those brands with the largest perception gaps, reporting they received much more negative feedback than the consumers were actually reporting, were Pharmacy, with a gap of 31 percentage points (brand predicted 50 percent positive feedback received, while 81 percent of consumers reported positive); Automotive, with a gap of 23 percentage points (brand predicted 50 percent positive feedback received, while 73 percent of consumers reported positive); Discount, with a gap of 21 percentage points (brand predicted 50 percent positive feedback received, while 71 percent of consumer reported positive); and Grocery, with a gap of 11 percentage points (brand predicted 67 percent positive feedback received, while 78 percent of consumers reported positive).

The brands whose perceptions were relatively close to those of their customers include Home & Supply, with a difference of only 1 percentage point; Multi-Department Stores, with a difference of only 3 percentage points; Gas Stations with a difference of only 4 percentage points; and Online Retail, with a difference of only 5 percentage points. Being in alignment with one’s customer creates the ideal scenario, where you are better able to predict thinking, desires, and responses, which leads to being able to better deliver on brand-related promises.

Allies Not Adversaries
There is an obvious danger in brands being grossly disconnected from their customers, especially when it comes to listening. If leaders believe that customer feedback is primarily negative, that attitude will seep into the culture and across the ranks. This bunker mentality turns customers into adversaries.

Imagine the impact this has on how decisions are made across organizations. Imagine how this affects the way frontline staff present themselves. And when feedback is viewed first and foremost as criticism, that’s how it will be received (whether it was intended to be or not), making it impossible to glean the full range of wisdom customers share. Instead of building relationships and improving your business, this dissonance invariably leads to a system of react-and-repair.

Another finding from this year’s trend study gave us even more pause. For the 37 percent of consumers who indicated their feedback was negative, we asked, “Did the company respond?” 72 percent of consumers said the company did not respond in any way. (A response may be a myriad of things, including: phone call, email, text, letter, etc.) With a 72 percent non-response rate, it is no wonder another major finding in the study is that consumers crave more transparency.

In fact, they ranked transparency, defined as “keeping customers informed on how their feedback is used,” as the second most important item, with brands putting it in fourth place.

When a customer requests a change or shares an experience and, in return, receives silence, the perceived message from the brand is “I do not want your feedback,” “I do not value your feedback,” “I do not value your time,” which is very damaging to the relationship.

By asking questions/requesting feedback, brands are setting the expectation that these are the items they value; these are the items they aspire to have favorable experiences towards; these are the items they are willing to take action on and improve. So when no actions are taken, customers are doubly disappointed.

Brands that are top of class value feedback as a gift and ensure the same attitude permeates every level of their business. They listen deeply to understand the full range of insights their customers offer up and, as a result, find a myriad of ways to improve both their customers’ experiences and their bottom lines. And those that take the extra step of continuing the conversation to let customers know their feedback is appreciated and how it is being put into action create high-value relationships that benefit both sides of the customer-brand equation over the long term.

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Customer Experience Elevated Conference – Thursday, February 11, 2016

8:15 a.m.–9:00 a.m.: Client Spotlight

Kristin Anderson

Kristin Anderson, AVP of Customer Insights at maurices, talked about how InMoment helps her organization identify which elements of the customer experience encourage—or get in the way—of a long-term relationship with maurices. With that information, her team knows exactly where and how to invest resources to both fix problems and proactively create environments that build loyalty.

Rob Brown

Rob Brown, Director of Customer Insights at H.H. Gregg, partnered with InMoment to make his organization’s customer surveys more actionable. As a result, H.H. Gregg improved its survey scores by 5% since 2014, satisfaction scores for in-store pick-up have nearly doubled since 2014, and highly satisfied customers are 18% more likely to make another purchase within the next 90 days.

9:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m.: Keynote Speaker: Seth Godin

Seth Speaking

Using real-world examples from extremely successful companies, Godin revealed the benefits of using creative, remarkable thinking to transform businesses into “purple cows” (offerings that stand out from the crowd and cause customers to take notice). Godin explored how ideas spread, why the stories companies tell matter, why treating customers with respect pays off, and how these and other business decisions determine whether your business becomes invisible or remarkable.

10:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m.: Book Signing: Seth Godin

Seth Signing Books

Following his presentation, Seth Godin took some time to sign books—and leave personalized messages—for attendees. Isn’t he just the greatest?

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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”

Brennan and Julia

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 introduced 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

Posted in All

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.

Posted in All

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.

Posted in All

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.