Marketing

3 steps toward the future of customer experience

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Consumers’ expectations for businesses and the customer experiences they deliver are being radically reshaped. Across hospitality, transportation, retail, and beyond, a wave of new online businesses — many of them digitally native — are raising the bar for how customers are being served. Customers are bringing those high expectations with them to other industries as well.

As part of my work helping companies deliver great customer experiences, I have the opportunity to see how customer experiences are changing across industries, geographics, and channels (online, mobile, etc.). Three factors are driving the great experience of the future:

1. Breadth: Collect data across all customers and their entire journey

Your company might be divided into different business units — but that’s not how your customers see you. They judge you on the complete journeys they undertake in their relationship with your business. And these customer journeys are more than the sum of their parts. Until you collect a wide breadth of customer feedback across all touchpoints (call center, physical, mobile, online) — and aggregate them in one system to get a view of entire journeys, you won’t understand the total customer experience.

NOTE: Ken Fine will be speaking at VentureBeat’s GrowthBeat conference in San Francisco Aug. 5-6. For more on GrowthBeat — including event themes, agenda, and full speaker list — head over to our event site.

A big part of getting this valuable data is eliminating friction in the customer feedback process. Long, complicated surveys of sampled customers are being replaced by simple, integrated feedback mechanisms that exist within the customer experience itself. For inspiration in enabling frictionless feedback, look no further than Uber, which incorporates customer surveys directly into the payment process and only requires users to answer a single question if they wish.

2. Synthesize data to find actionable insights

Once you’ve gathered this wide array of data, you need to identify the precious few insights that matter. And these insights need to be easily extended to action.

Focus your analysis on linking feedback to tangible business results. Which aspects of your experience affect overall customer satisfaction the most? Which affect your customers’ likeliness to return to you in the future — or even recommend you to their friends? Again, this type of analysis requires time and ingenuity.

3. Make insights available and valuable from the frontline to the c-suite

Traditionally, analyzing customer feedback was a largely academic exercise. The results of this analysis were usually relegated to a report written by the customer insights team. This report revealed what the organization needed to do better but did not break its findings out for individual teams and roles.

Those reports rarely drove impact.

As customer experience becomes an increasingly important source of differentiation, this isolated approach is no longer good enough. Feedback and insights must be made available across the whole organization — from the c-suite to the frontline.

Your frontline needs timely, tactical information about individual customer relationships, along with strategies for resolving customer issues. Meanwhile, executives and their teams need higher-level, strategic information to prioritize new initiatives and decide how best to allocate resources.

The most effective ways to gather, analyze, and disseminate customer feedback will depend entirely on the structure of your business. But when every person in your organization is tapped into the voice of the customer, they’ll create the experiences that delight customers and drive business results.

Ken Fine is chief customer officer at Medallia, which makes software to manage customer experiences.


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