Customer Experience Diagnostics - OpinionLab

Customer Experience Diagnostics - OpinionLab

Customer Experience Diagnostics Deliver the actionable customer insight and context necessary to improve each customer experience by Rand Nickerson, ...

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Customer Experience Diagnostics Deliver the actionable customer insight and context necessary to improve each customer experience

by Rand Nickerson, Chief Strategy Officer & Executive Chairman, OpinionLab

March 2015

A strong consensus is emerging around the importance of customer experience (CX). Executives across industries are investing unprecedented sums of money into Voice of Customer (VoC) programs that are designed to improve CX consistency. This white paper discusses the role that real-time CX diagnostics play in providing unique visibility to CX and empowering teams to engage with customers to take action to reduce CX inconsistencies – while complementing the role of traditional, evaluative CX tracking. CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: THE NEW BATTLEGROUND Customer experience is the lifeblood of the current economy. Defined by Gartner as a “customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, channels, systems, or products1”, the customer experience is justifiably one of the preeminent C-Suite preoccupations for 2015. Executives, analysts, and the broader business community all recognize that growth, profitability, and long-term competitiveness belong to the brands that are capable of repeatedly providing


of marketing leaders said they expected their companies to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience by 2016.

better, more consistent customer experiences relative to Rising shopper expectations are shattering many of the old

their competitors.

rules governing the consumer-brand dynamic. Consumers are This is why corporate strategy and enterprise budgets are

more fickle and more likely to defect than ever in the face of a

steering toward the customer experience. When Gartner

negative experience. According to a recent Oracle study, 89% of

surveyed 200 marketing leaders, an overwhelming 89% said

consumers have switched brands as a result of a poor customer

they expected their companies to compete primarily on the

experience.3 In addition to downside risk, however, there is also

basis of the customer experience by 2016. The research firm also

upside opportunity associated with delivering an exceptional

predicted that by 2017, 50% of consumer product investments

experience. Another Oracle study demonstrated that 81% of

would be redirected to customer experience innovations.1

consumers are willing to spend more with a company if that company can demonstrate a commitment to improving the

Customer experience is rapidly skyrocketing to the top of

customer experience.4

priority lists in the C-Suite. According to a recent report by Econsultancy and Adobe, 24% of North American business

Brands are responding enthusiastically, embracing the notion

operators view the customer experience as the single most

that customer experience is the new marketing. In a brilliant

exciting opportunity facing their brand in 2015, while 78%

recent example of leadership, Gap announced a bold move

indicated that they strive to create ongoing differentiation

to eliminate global CMO positions and replace them with

through the customer experience.2 Consistently exceptional

heads of customer experience–new roles designed to create

customer experience is truly the biggest competitive advantage

a unified sales and marketing approach built totally around

in 2015.

the customer.5

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Although an evaluative measurement program of this sort is important to track long-term success and justify ongoing

It is no surprise that leading brands across industries have

investment, in isolation, it is insufficient as the measurement

begun investing significant sums of money into technologies,

basis of an effective CX management program. Evaluative

programs and platforms designed to improve the customer

systems measure and track the cumulative impact of actions

experience. A recent market assessment performed by

taken to improve customer experience. Diagnostic measurement

MarketsAndMarkets projected that the total amount of

systems provide the visibility and understanding essential to

money expended on Customer Experience Management at

taking action to improve CX at the individual experience level.

the enterprise-level would reach a staggering total of almost

The systems go hand in hand, but confusing one system for

$8.4 billion by 2019.

the other can lead to very disappointing results.


Many of these expenditures are directed toward VoC programs,

For example, the evaluative methodology is seen by many

which are designed to help organizations measure what their

as highly inconsistent with the overall objective of customer

customers think and feel about experiences across channels.

engagement and involvement with the brand. Representative

Better CX measurement yields enhanced understanding of

sampling and online surveys are tenuous concepts in today’s

the customer experience, which in turn creates the conditions

world of the empowered consumer.

for more intelligent management of the experience. So what

understand that the over use of surveys is abusive to consumers

constitutes better CX measurement?

and that surveys, by their nature, disrupt the customer

Successful brands

experience. The net result is that you cannot survey each

Today’s consumer expects the brand to listen continuously to them.

and every consumer and you are typically limited to gathering insight after the experience rather than from within it using a survey. Today’s consumer expects to play a role in building the

To date, a significant part of the investment in improved CX

successful brands they are loyal to. Few will tolerate the

measurement has been evaluative in nature, evolving from

concept that they need to be selected to provide insight to

traditional customer satisfaction measurement. The usual

the brand or that the brand should choose the timing of such

methodology is the online survey delivered after the experience

engagement. Today’s consumer expects the brand to listen

to a representative sample of customers or panelists to

continuously to them. The consumer expects to be able to

produce an overall tracking score. Question phrasing and

provide insight in an easy and predictable fashion, in their

response scales might vary, but without exception, evaluative

own words, about anything, at any time (particularly from

methodologies are designed to solicit an evaluative or

within the experience), and from any touch point or business

descriptive rating of overall customer experience performance

process. And, they expect their feedback to be taken seriously

based on a sampling that is, hopefully, representative of the

and acted upon.

typical range of experience. This tracking score is frequently supplemented with modeling to predict where the overall

In short, a different methodology is required to monitor

score might trend in the future, given the implementation of

every customer experience and engage customers at every

certain suggested strategies or priorities.

touch point. The customer is in charge and the methodology must reflect that fact. Said differently, most online survey experiences would likely rate very poorly on Forrester’s 3Es of customer experience.7

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of CX professionals say their companies’ programs actually improve the customer experience. Moreover, brands sometimes become confused and expect their evaluative measurement system to move the CX Key Performance Indicator (KPI) needle rather than report the KPI needle. Only a diagnostic technique can help move the CX needle. If a brand is taking action to improve CX but its evaluative CX KPI needle isn’t moving, it probably doesn’t have a diagnostic CX measurement system providing visibility and understanding to guide its actions. In a world of rising consumer expectations, ubiquitous connectivity, and continuous, cross-channel engagement, monitoring, tracking, and trending the sum of customer interactions and generating a rolling experiential score are certainly important functions. But as important as evaluative measures are, they provide little guidance on how to improve the customer experience, as they typically only provide visibility into the direction the overall experience is trending without the necessary detail and context to take action at the individual experience level.

gives visibility to poor, inconsistent experiences and experiences that delight the customer beyond the standard. As a result, they can take action to eliminate the poor experiences and leverage those that delight. These diagnostic measurement systems give visibility to inconsistent experience with sufficient context to understand and act, often in time to save a customer in crisis. They also help evolve exceptional CX standards in a competitive marketplace. Evaluative measurement systems measure the impact of the diagnostic efforts. The descriptive nature of evaluative research prevents it from providing actionable guidance about where, why, and how customer experience breakdowns or outperformances are occurring. To achieve accurate measures of consistency, and to drive meaningful and sustainable improvements to the customer experience, brands cannot rely on evaluative systems–they must measure in the moment of experience and focus on actionable intelligence to guide action. That’s where advanced customer experience diagnostics enter the picture. CONTINUOUS, REAL-TIME CX DIAGNOSTICS With customers interacting across a limitless set of touch points, making data actionable is challenging. Being descriptive in nature, evaluative research can only go so far toward providing a clear and compelling roadmap for action, and provides limited accessibility to concrete fixes. As brands invest in technology to measure, monitor, and improve the customer experience, they

As with many things in the business world, the devil is in the details. If a brand’s overall CX score is low or trending negatively, it likely has a consistency issue. That is, a larger proportion of customer experiences are inconsistent with the CX standards the brand has established. The brand needs visibility, granularity and context to address the consistency issue and it has to be addressed at the individual experience level, one experience at a time. After a lot of diagnostic work and remedial action, evaluative KPIs will start trending in the right direction.

must measure throughout the experience and focus on context and diagnostics. No matter which way a brand structures its multi-channel VoC program and no matter which set of evaluative KPIs it uses, the one indispensable component–and the key to achieving true consistency in the experience– is real-time, contextual customer experience diagnostics. This concept is borne out by independent analysis, which suggests that VoC programs predicated solely on evaluative research fall short when it comes to addressing the root causes of customer frustration. According to Forrester, only 25% of CX

Exceptional brands create exceptional customer experience standards and evolve a diagnostic measurement system that

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professionals say their companies’ programs actually improve the customer experience.8 Programs that fail are plagued by



two very critical problems: by relying on aggregates and

What’s more, by taking action to address and eliminate

scorecards, they fail to provide actionable insight into the

inconsistencies, brands gain an ability to move the needle on

root causes of discontent at the individual, experiential level.

core evaluative KPIs, wherever and however they measure

At the same time, they fail to provide insight into the key

them. Thus, real-time customer experience diagnostics provide

drivers of delightful ones.

intrinsic value by identifying and addressing the root causes of CX inconsistency and attacking them, one experience at

By not clearly illuminating the root causes of customer

a time. As experiences become more consistent and adhere

dissatisfaction and the key drivers of customer delight,

more closely to organizational standards, and as exceptional

evaluative research obscures visibility to suboptimal practices.

standards evolve based on enhanced visibility, organizations

These practices then persist and multiply, while executives

are able to extract greater value and deeper meaning from

remain frustrated over their inability to “move the needle” on

their evaluative VoC investments.

experiential KPIs. Ultimately, risk arises in the form of diminished loyalty and increased likelihood of customer defection. That’s


why real-time, contextual diagnostics are so critical if a VoC program is to function at peak efficiency.

Real-time customer experience diagnostics truly add a layer of unparalleled actionability that complements evaluative

Brands are evolving beyond passive, evaluative monitoring of

measurement, but also creates new vistas into the experience

the customer experience at periodic intervals. This evolution

that are simply not possible with traditional methodologies.

is moving brands towards true real-time diagnosis of the

Investing in diagnostics allows the enterprise to pivot away from

root causes of customer discontent and the key drivers of

passive, longitudinal tracking and toward daily engagement

satisfaction, measured by empowered consumers providing

with the customer voice and continuous optimization of the

insight in the moment of experience and augmented with

multi-channel customer experience, including taking action

critical context. The result is actionable insight that can be

while the customer is still engaged in their experience.

operationalized in real-time on the front lines in both digital and non-digital channels. Rather than simply scoring past interactions, brands are empowering customers to opt-in and provide feedback in the moment of experience, and that feedback is being mined and transformed into actionable insight that drives meaningful and visible change across the organization.

CX diagnostics add a layer of unparalleled actionability that complements evaluative measurement.

Diagnostics are necessary if a brand wants to ensure its stakeholders are truly focused on their customers. Across

As brands map out their investments in diagnostic platforms,

all industries, brands are recognizing that if they empower

they would be wise to stay mindful of several best practices.

customers to tell them about each and every experience

Many vendors that support VoC methodologies, including

they have, at any time throughout the experience, and if

evaluative research companies, will purport to also have

they wrap context around it, they can use that diagnostic

diagnostic capabilities, so it is critical to be able to distinguish

information to eliminate negative experiences, scale

true diagnostics from marketing spin.

around positive experiences, and increase overall customer experience consistency.

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Real-time CX diagnostics add unparalleled actionability that

Advanced diagnostics should also be able to wrap context

complements evaluative research. Truly effective customer

around each and every incoming piece of customer feedback.

experience diagnostics should begin with effective feedback

At scale, this context is what provides the brand visibility to the

collection. Diagnostic platforms capture a continuous stream

exact dimensions of the experience that lead to it contributing

of feedback collected through universally accessible opt-in

or detracting from the brand. This context could be a specific

listening posts. In this sense, diagnostics are predicated on a

group of pages, a single store, a particular contact center agent,

different type of input than evaluative research approaches.

time of day, or an entire geographic region. Context can also

Today’s consumer wants to be able to speak with brands when

pertain to device type, form factor, or operating system–helping

and where they want to, and few consumers will tolerate the

the brand distinguish, for example, between the experiences of

notion that to be heard, they must be sampled or recruited.

iOS users versus those of Android users. Layered with context, actionable CX diagnostics can be routed within seconds to

Advanced CX diagnostics are the critical component of any successful CX management program.

the right people in the organization, those best poised to react and respond to issues and opportunities, in the moment. This creates an opportunity and a roadmap for intelligently prioritizing responses to customers in crisis. As mentioned earlier, advanced CX diagnostics are the critical component of any successful CX management program and

Moreover, diagnostics draw their precision and specificity from

are an important complement to evaluative methodologies.

the fact that respondents are actual customers, reporting in

By linking a KPI score to each and every experience at all

their own words, engaged in real experiences, with rich context

organizational touch points, enterprises can prioritize responses

added as opposed to preselected customers struggling to

to customers with experiences that score poorly on evaluative

answer structured questions and recall the exact factual details

KPIs, while at the same time, mining and leveraging experiences

of an experience that might have occurred days, weeks, or

that trigger positive KPI performance.

months ago. Finally, advanced customer experience diagnostics create Additionally, diagnostic platforms should provide a pulse of the

visibility and engagement around CX data, building consensus

customer experience in real-time across all organizational touch

around the importance of timely action and guiding CX

points. Since they are engineered to automatically filter through

investments. Over time, the cumulative effect of this process

noise, diagnostic platforms should be capable of identifying

engenders greater alignment around the customer and

the most relevant themes, issues, and opportunities affecting

transforms the organization into one that is truly customer-

the multi-channel customer experience as these issues emerge

centric. Truly customer-centric enterprises are capable of going

to help evolve exceptional customer experience standards. The

beyond reactive repairs; socialization of best practices derived

customer should choose the topic of his or her feedback, not

from customer experience diagnostics creates a climate where

the brand. The customer defines “moments of truth” in their

brands are able to prevent customer frustration before it

experience. This granularity provides true visibility to unseen

happens, or intervene simply by engineering their standards

or unanticipated issues and opportunities.

and processes in ways that better anticipate customers’ needs, wants, and aspirations.

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CONCLUSION The rush to fulfill rising expectations for the customer

To achieve these mission critical objectives and to truly deliver

experience has spawned an entire ecosystem of VoC

consistently remarkable experiences, brands should evaluate

vendors, many of which base their CX tracking tools on the

deploying real-time CX diagnostics. These diagnostics will

principles of evaluative research, relying on representative

empower their customers to provide insight from within any

samples of consumers or panelists using surveys delivered

experience touch point and consequently help the brand act

post experience. While useful as a measure of overall success,

to reduce CX inconsistencies and evolve exceptional standards.

evaluative techniques fall short when it comes to providing the

CX diagnostics are a powerful and necessary complement

visibility, engagement, and insight necessary to take action at

to evaluative systems that track the overall success of CX

the individual experience level and improve overall consistency

programs and guide further investment.

to exceptional CX standards.

ENDNOTES Jake Sorofman. Gartner Surveys Confirm Customer Experience Is the New Battlefield.

1 Econsultancy. Digital trends 2015.

2 Oracle. Global Insights on Succeeding in the Customer Experience Era.

3 Oracle. 81% of Shoppers Willing to Pay More for Better Customer Experience, Oracle Research Shows.

4 5

Advertising Age. Gap, Banana Republic Eliminate Global CMO Roles. MarketsandMarkets. Customer Experience Management Market - Advanced Technologies, Touch Points, Adoption Trends, Market Size & Forecasts.

6 Forrester. Introducing Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, 2014.

7 Forrester. Voice Of The Employee Can Cure Broken Customer Experiences, But You Need An Effective Program To Mine It.

8 an_effective_pro

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ABOUT RAND Rand has spent his career helping brands find effective ways to measure consumer behavior and response across new channels and touch points. A noted authority in analytics and measurement, he has 25+ years of success in developing disruptive technologies that drive customer experience improvements. Rand currently serves as Executive Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer of OpinionLab, guiding the company’s strategic vision for driving business action through real-time feedback. He has authored numerous technology patents, including a dozen pioneered at OpinionLab, and currently acts as an advisor to the Cameron School of Business at University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

ABOUT OPINIONLAB OpinionLab is a high-growth SaaS provider of continuous Voice of Customer listening solutions that drive smarter, real-time business action to deliver a high quality and consistent customer experience. The world’s largest brands, including: 4 of the top 5 U.S. retailers; 8 of the 10 largest American banks; the 5 largest U.S. insurance companies; and 3 of the top 4 U.S. airlines use OpinionLab to optimize customer experience and drive engagement across channels. OpinionLab continuously introduces new innovation to serve marketing and customer experience leaders, and is accelerating all aspects of its business to best serve the needs of its global customer base. In 2014, OpinionLab was recognized by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in the nation. For more information, visit, read the blog or follow on Twitter.

OpinionLab, Inc. 549 W. Randolph, Suite 401 Chicago, IL 60661 312.800.4500 [email protected]

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