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Reality Check: Four barriers to overcome to better listen to your customers

Editor’s Note: Welcome to our weekly Reality Check column where C-level executives and advisory firms from across the mobile industry share unique insights and experiences.

If only 5% of customers formally complain, where do the rest go to vent their frustrations? Many may take to posting #epicfail on Twitter, through a status on Facebook or lamenting to friends at the local pub. In the end, we may have become so embittered at the lackluster relationship that ties to the establishment are severed.

While the example may seem a bit colorful, companies are starting to acknowledge that resting on their laurels and waiting on the customer to initiate the conversation is no longer an option. Companies need to start providing real service.

A comprehensive approach to customer experience management ensures an organization is providing the experience customers expect – real service. The success of an all-encompassing CEM program requires significant organizational commitment, investment in a CEM platform and overcoming several challenging barriers, the most important being:

–Identifying the benefits of a CEM program.

–Tailoring insights to be relevant for job roles.

–Timely distribution of customer feedback.

–Effectively driving improvements using customer experience data.

What is gained from a CEM program?

Establishing a customer-centric organization that can listen and quickly react to customer concerns will boost a business’ reputation. Improving its services in areas where customers are dissatisfied, businesses can increase customer retention and improve revenue.

For example, during the heart of the financial crisis, a U.S. financial institution used a CEM program to reduce their operational costs related to employee training, rather than samples of customer surveys. With a CEM program in place, they drastically reduced their training costs, as employees only received training relevant to their individual scores.

Who gets what information?
All levels of an organization need to be able to answer: “Did my customer have a good experience today?” Even so, it is important to remember, the information relevant for the executive team won’t necessarily be what’s relevant to your line employees.

The diagram below highlights the difference in the sales rep’s customer experience scores provided by customers who have purchased a handset (sample size ~ one million surveys for the time period indicated) in an integrated telecom’s retail store.

Surveys are completed within 24 to 48 hours of purchase. The sample looks at two timeframes – first quarter 2011 and fourth quarter 2011. The improvements across the year demonstrate the huge influence a CEM program can have on the customer experience when the information is fully supported and distributed.

Satisfaction scores for sales reps (Q1 2011 v. Q4 2011)

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How is the information distributed?

Getting the right information to the right person at the right time is a key hurdle for organizations to overcome. The timeliness of this information is imperative to immediately target operational areas for customer experience improvements. However, as previously discussed, the format may vary based on the employee’s role.

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

The following case study looks at the impact that resolved issues can have on the customer’s willingness to recommend a service, as seen by a top North American airline. Each customer in the below sample provided feedback about their experience, within 48 hours, that classified them as a detractor (rating 0-6 of 11 points) on the “net promoter score” scale.

The first table indicates the customer’s original rating while the second showcases their rating after having their issue resolved.

Initial customer NPS rating (isolation of detractors).

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Same customer set, between 24 and 48 hours later, after response provided by organisation.

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

Once received, how do you use the customer experience information?

Half the battle has been won; a CEM program has been implemented. Now what? Next is deciding what to do with this information and how to turn it into actionable intelligence.

1. Review satisfaction levels: What areas are your customers unsatisfied? Observing the customer experience and satisfaction scores across various solutions, such as purchase experience, contact center experience or online channel experience, and then investigate those various experiences to get an idea of which metrics are most important for your organization to improve on.

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2. Find which metrics impact customers: Once you’ve identified which metrics to target for improvement, you must determine what impact these will have on key drivers. Conduct correlation analysis to see which metrics have an impact on customers, to understand where to focus your strategies.

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

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In conclusion

To adopt a holistic CEM solution, companies need to clear four key barriers:

–First, the benefits of a CEM program must be understood in order to garner full commitment from an organization in delivering quality service to its customers.

–Next, information must be appropriately tailored for all levels of an organization, providing executives to frontline employees with the information they need to better their service.

–Third, customer experience information must be distributed in a timely and relevant fashion, utilizing a platform that can provide automation and pre-configured alerts.

–Finally, an understanding of leveraging customer experience information must be acquired and acted upon.

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

As the president and CEO of ResponseTek, Syed Hasan is a proven leader with a wealth of experience in managing success.

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